Shimmering from the desert haze of Nevada like a latter-day El Dorado, Las Vegas is the most dynamic city on Earth. At the start of the 20th century, it didn’t even exist. Now it’s home to two million people. Here, we take a look at some of the best places to stay in Las Vegas.
In the old days, the casinos along Las Vegas’s legendary Strip were cut-throat rivals. Each stood a long way back from the road, and was a dark, low-ceilinged labyrinth, in which it was all but impossible to find an exit. During the 1980s, however, visitors started to explore the Strip on foot. Mogul Steve Wynn cashed in by placing a flame-spouting volcano outside his new Mirage. As the casinos competed to lure in pedestrians, they filled in those daunting distances from the side walk and between each casino and the next.
With Las Vegas booming in the 1990s, gaming corporations bought up first individual casinos, and then each other. The Strip today is dominated by just two colossal conglomerates, MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment. Each owns a string of neighbouring casinos. Once you own the casino next door, there’s no reason to make each a virtual prison. The Strip has therefore opened out, so that much of its central portion now consists of pedestrian-friendly open-air terraces and pavilions housing bars and restaurants.
Bemused by the options and wondering where to stay in Las Vegas? From the new PocketRough Guide Las Vegas, we’ve selected eleven of the best options on The Strip and beyond.
In 1998, casino magnate Steve Wynn unveiled Bellagio as his attempt to build the best hotel in world history. It is undeniably a breathtaking achievement, striving to be somehow more authentic than the original town on Lake Como.
It’s perhaps not quite state-of-the-art anymore, but still at the top end of the Vegas spectrum. Plush European furnishings and marble bathrooms give the luxurious rooms a slightly retro feel. Some face the fountains at the front, others the superb pool complex.
Paris was the 1999 handiwork of the same designers as New York–New York. With a half-size Eiffel Tower straddling the Arc de Triomphe and the Opera, it’s a little compressed, but the attention to detail is a joy.
Rooms, if not the absolute pinnacle of luxury, are still pretty good. For location, views and ambience, they more than hold their own.
Caesars Palace still encapsulates Las Vegas at its best, more than fifty years since it opened. Outside, ever more bars and restaurants fill extensive open-air patios. The interior is a vast labyrinth of slots and green baize, peopled by strutting half-naked Roman centurions and Cleopatra-cropped waitresses.
The older rooms in this epitome of 1960s luxury still burst with atmosphere. Those in the newer towers are more conventionally elegant.
Unusually, the interior too is carefully realized, with some nice Art-Deco flourishes and entertaining nightlife options in its Greenwich Village area. Sheer attention to detail makes this one of the most exuberantly enjoyable places to stay on the Strip. In addition, it’s small enough that you’re not always shuffling down endless corridors.
Guarded by an impassive Sphinx, the 350-ft black-glass pyramid of Luxor remains an astonishing building. Stripped of most of its initial ancient Egyptian trappings, it’s been rebranded as the sort of “hip”, upscale casino resort that now dominates the Strip.
All two thousand rooms here have tremendous views – and they’re much larger than usual.
A mock-up of a medieval castle, complete with drawbridge, crenellated towers and a basement stuffed with fairground-style sideshows for the kids, Excalibur is usually packed with low-budget tour groups.
Some of the 4000 rooms are very ordinary, so it’s worth paying a few dollars extra to get a renovated one, which are excellent value.
CityCenter’s centrepiece, the 4004-room Aria, flaunts a modernist aesthetic that makes its plush marble-clad predecessors seem suddenly old and tired. The chocolate-brown and gold-toned guest rooms feel subdued and somewhat anonymous by Las Vegas standards. That said, Aria can be a real bargain, especially if you have the time – and weather – to enjoy the fantastic pool complex.
Located in the centre of the Las Vegas strip, the Elaraby Hilton Grand Vacations is connected to the Miracle Mile Shops. It features a health club and a tropical outdoor pool. While far from cheap, it is on an unusually manageable scale and offers smart, modern rooms in the very thick of things. There's great restaurants and nightlife, too.
Even the standard rooms at upscale Strip-giant The Venetian are split-level suites. Each has an antique-style canopied bed atop a raised platform, plus a spacious living room and marble bathroom. Access to a mind-blowing array of shops and restaurants is also at hand.
The ludicrous re-creation of Italy's Grand Canal, complete with gondolas and singing gondoliers, is quintessential Las Vegas, and as such utterly irresistible.
Since the 1980s, Steve Wynn has repeatedly redefined Las Vegas’s highest standard of luxury. In a nutshell, the Wynn Las Vegas is the Bellagio re-imagined for a younger, hipper and even richer crowd. It represents a shift away from European elegance in favour of contemporary Asian design.
The exceptionally large guest rooms boast wonderful beds with fabulous linens and super-sized tubs in the bathrooms.
More than a mile east off the Strip, the Hard Rock Hotel can’t match Las Vegas’s showcase giants for size or splendour. Instead, it’s a relatively intimate and even chic alternative, with above-average rooms, high-class restaurants and fabulous pools.
Explore more of Las Vegas with Pocket Rough Guide Las Vegas. This feature contains affiliate links; you can find out more about why we’ve partnered with booking.com here. All recommendations are editorially independent.
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