Low-end of luxury or king of the slums?

How would you spend a couple as-yet unplanned days in Las Vegas? I’m asking myself that very question right now as I look to book the last two nights of my multi-event trip for later this month. I’m not a hotel snob – far from it, in fact – but Las Vegas can make some luxurious options affordable. Then again, I’ll be there on my own and don’t really need the luxury so much as a place where I can get a bit of work done each day and a base for day trips out of town to explore life beyond the Strip.


imageHonestly, they all look a bit the same to me.

I’ve had my share of $20 Vegas hotel rooms in the past and they were fine but I’m also considering trying something a bit different this time around. I’ve also already booked nights at Mandalay Bay and the newly rebranded Delano (formerly THEhotel) so those are lower on the priority list. Still, comparing the room rates an interesting question struck me:

Is it better to buy up to the nice room at a lower-end property (king of the slums, as it were) or to take the low-rate room at the nicer hotel.

Put another way, if my budget is $100/night do I book a standard room at Mandalay Bay or The Delano over a suite at Excalibur or Luxor? Do I move up the strip for a couple days to Vdara, splitting the difference in cost/amenities? All of them have a pool and a gym available. Restaurants and such, too.

Or even go completely off the strip. I’m not looking to spend time in the casinos so being removed from the bright lights might be a good thing, right? Maybe this is the time I should finally explore downtown Las Vegas and see if it has anything worth my time.

What do you think? Am I crazy for thinking that the “nice” rooms at the low-end properties would be a better way to spend my cash?

Or there’s always option C: Book cheap and see what $20 gets me at check-in.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. My MD goes to Vegas about once a month and has stayed at all the properties on the strip and most of them downtown. (It was his mission to try all and compare.) He told me that even though he once picked up a presidential suite at a lower end property (think it was the Luxor) he’d have traded it any time for a standard room at a nicer property since overall the suite seemed tired and the hotel not as nice, so he ended up spending most of his time in other hotels/venues and only went back to his suite to sleep. His favourites are Mandalay Bay, Pallazzo or Bellagio. I say standard room.

  2. I’d say biggest suite possible… Having stayed at most hotels in Vegas (including the new SLS), there’s always something nice about a suite with double doors and a room with 1.5 baths. Once stayed in the largest suite at the NYNY, great views. I’m usually loyal to the MGM properties (Mandalay and Bellagio specifically) but the Cosmo’s rooms with a terrance are very nice.

  3. Just back from LAS. Booked the min. Room thru AMEX FHR for 144.00 a night. Got early check in, late check out, upgraded to fountain view room. Also included was 30.00pp PP/PD breakfast credit, which we used for lunch, and a 100.00 dining credit. We used that for the buffet and even got the liquor included,
    My complaint with many LAS hotels is the resort fee.

    1. You didn’t mention which hotel, but the early check-in/late check-out won’t do me much good on this trip. And if I’m paying $100+ for the two nights and only get $150 back in dining credits which tie me to the property I’m not so sure that’s a great value.

  4. I say nice hotel. Standard room then do the $20 trick or $50 if you stay longer than 2 nights. Last time I was at Vdara and $20 got me an upgraded room with $100 resort credit.

  5. My vote is for Vdara…I think it is the best value in Vegas and is my favorite place to stay there.

  6. IIf traveling alone, I’d go standard room at better hotel. If traveling with my wife, a suite is a bigger plus since we have different sleep schedules.

    While a personal quirk, I find that the breakfasts at the better hotels are usually much more comfortable.

    My favorite is the Mandarin Oriental breakfast but the TheHotel/Delano is a close second.

  7. I’ve become an increasing fan of downtown. I do like most of the traditional Vegas pastimes of gambling, eating, drinking, and people watching (my wife doesn’t let me date, so other activities are off limits), more choices of which are available downtown. Also, the prices tend to be lower and it’s a hell of a lot closer to walk next door.

  8. Best value location-wise is the Monte Carlo. Low priced but adjacent and connected via tram to Aria, Bellagio, etc.

  9. $100/night budget? I’d do the Aria or Vdara – none of the rooms suck, and if you’re an M-Life member, you can usually get either one of those for around $80 a night. While I have been to, but haven’t stayed at the new SLS, it might be worth checking out – but it is quite a way up on the north end of the strip.

    If your planning to get work done, you want to avoid the shitholes like Luxor or Excalibur, they don’t even offer WiFi in the rooms – that was how some of my cheap ass colleagues were able to get their $25/night resort fee waived from their $23/night rooms at Excalibur last month after complaining about it.

  10. Go for the standard room, in the “nicest” property in your budget. (better yet, get someone to “barter” a comp room). My opinion, of the “lower end” properties is that the suites are never really that nice, and the biggest benefit (in a gaming destination) is that the comp criteria (theo) at these (lower end) properties tends to be lower. In that case, a smaller gambling bankroll (and less play) can get you a lot more in F&B (and other non-room) comps. In addition, in that example, you would be treated better (VIP) in the smaller property (the ‘ole big fish, small pond scenario).

  11. After 10+ trips to Vegas, I’ve started to go the other route and started booking chain hotels slightly off the strip (Hyatt, Marriott, and Holiday Inn Express so far). The benefits are that they are cheaper on the weekend, you can book with points, and you can actually get a decent night sleep since there aren’t drunks falling down everywhere or everything smelling like cigarette smoke. Plus, they are cleaner and nicer than the comparative hotels on the Strip with similar price and they have free shuttles to various locations on the strip anyway. I think if it is first couple times in Vegas or if you just want to party, go with the strip but if you are like me (do some siteseeing, catch a show, gamble a bit) I think the other arrangement is fine.

    I hear AirBnB is also quite a value as well, and I might try that next time I have a bigger party. Heck, you can probably go off the strip and get even bigger value with car rental being cheap in Vegas.

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