Reviews of Las Vegas
Best value on the Strip, best view of the Strip (from
the tower), awesome thrill
The Stratosphere is the best value on the Strip hands down.
Rooms are often as cheap as $37/night, and they often send out offers
for free rooms to people who have signed up for a player's card --
especially if those customers have actually done any gambling with the
card. They also give out the 2-for-1 coupons for the stage shows Bite
and American Superstars like candy. (Ask when you check in or when you
sign up for a player's card.) The Strat used to be an even better value
-- they used to throw in a free afternoon show for all guests, Viva Las
Vegas, which was actually pretty good. Alas, they killed that show at
the end of 2006, ending what they claimed was the longest-running
afternoon show in Vegas.
The Strat competes so heavily on value because they're at the
very edge of the Strip, and they have to do something to lure people
from the big megaresorts in the center.
They're not without some problems, though:
- Aggravating Website. Their website is extremely
user-hostile, and got listed as an example of how not to do a website
- Thrill ride fiascos. In two separate incidents when
riders were left danging a sixth of a mile above the Strip for an hour
and a half when the thrill rides unexpectedly shut down, rather than
the Strat making profuse apologies, they did the opposite: They said
they did nothing wrong and took no responsibility. And what consolation
did they offer the two young girls who were stuck on one of the rides
in 50mph winds for an hour and a half? A year's free pass for the
ride! It's hard to think of a stupider response.
reviewed January 2008
Wynn Las Vegas
The impression I get from this property is that it's just
full of itself. The first clue is from their website, which is done
in Flash and super-slow, because they're more interested in presenting
the site the way they want to present it rather than helping
you get what you're looking for quickly. I bought a banana in the gift
shop for $2, making it the most expensive banana I've ever purchased in
my life. Heck, even at the airport they're only a dollar. The buffet
was unimpressive. I don't normally expect great quality in hotel food,
but when a hotel is as full of itself as this one, bragging up and down
the street about their excessive quality (and charging you
accordingly), then I expect organic produce and brown rice to be
available. But it's not. You get the same pesticide-laden, tasteless
tomatoes and de-nutrified white rice that you'd get at a place that
charged half as much. The service I got from casino staff wasn't very
good, and I can get the same poor service from a cheaper hotel. The
rooms are enormous (640 square feet), as large as a suite at some other
casinos, but then again they cost more than suites at other places. A
room at the Wynn goes for as much as $439 during the week, and
is even pricier on weekends. All in all, I can't imagine any reason to
stay here unless you want to be able to brag about how much money you
reviewed July 2006
TI is right smack dab in the center of the strip, in the
heart of the action. It's not the best value, though, as you can
usually get similar quality for a lower price at places like the Mirage
(right next door), New York New York, and Excalibur. But it's a fine
hotel and there's nothing wrong with it.
I've stayed here twice. The first time I got a room
with lots of mirrors which were great, and the second time I didn't, so
if you like mirrors then be sure to ask about that when you check in.
TI is home to my favorite Vegas show, Mystere, which is the
most impressive of all the Cirque de Soleil shows I've seen. (I've seen
all of them except "O".) There's a massive cast, doing acrobatics that
aren't just interesting, but also sometimes seemingly impossible --
stuff you wouldn't believe people could do unless you saw it with your
Comps are super-easy to get. I played maybe two hours of
blackjack at $100-$500 a hand, and while that's probably more than
you'd bet, that's equivalent to a weekend of gambling at much lower
stakes. And remember, I played for only two hours. And what did I get?
I got a mailer offering me three free nights and an entry into a slot
tournament, where everyone got $125 in slot play, minimum. The
tournament itself was pretty well done, with a bumblebee theme, and
they even had an emcee bouncing around in a bumblebee outfit.
There's no bicycle rack in the parking garage but you can lock
your bike to the cable fence right across from the security guard.
reviewed May 2008
[Update: The Sahara closed May 16,
The Sahara ties with the Stratosphere on being the cheapest
hotel on the Strip, but the value isn't nearly as good, since the
property is older and a bit more rundown vs. the more modern Strat.
The furnishings at the Sahara are a lot more worn and dated, and not
especially clean. The mini-fridge in my suite had so much dust on the
top that it clearly wasn't cleaned in the last year.
Like the Stratosphere, the Sahara imposes what I call a
"bullshit fee" of $6, which is a gratuitous fee they charge everyone
for no reason other than to make more money. But unlike the
Stratosphere, they don't disclose it well. At the Strat the fee is
mentioned on posters at the check-in desk, and the clerk specifically
points the fee out to you. At the Sahara they made no mention of it
when I checked in. When I checked out I asked when the "Daily Activity
Fee" was, and the clerk (the same one who checked me in) immediately
pulled out my check-in form and said, "It's a fee we charge everybody,
and you agreed to that when you signed the form right here!" (Yes, I
signed the form, and no, I didn't notice the fee listed. Who reads the
fine print on everything they sign?) The B.S. fee is bad enough, but
staff are apparently trained to blame the customer when the customer
inquires about it. For this reason alone, I'll never stay at the Sahara
On the plus side, all the local calls I made were free -- a
rarity in Vegas. Hotels here usually nickel-and-dime you for
everything, so this was a nice bonus.
I got a room here because I wanted to test the tip that you
can often get a free room upgrade at Vegas hotels by giving the clerk a
$20 tip, sandwiched between your ID and credit card. (Innocently ask if
there happen to be any complimentary room upgrades available.) Your
chances of success are greater if you try this mid-week, Sunday through
Thursday, when there are lots of vacant suites. Anyway, my clerk said
there weren't but she could upgrade me to a suite for $50. Between the
$50 and the $20 tip, that's a $70 upgrade. The upgrade would normally
cost $120 (I checked online rather than take the clerk's word for it),
so my tip got me a $50 discount on the suite, even after the cost of
the tip. If you want a suite at a Vegas hotel, the $20 tip is
definitely worth a shot.
I had a harder time getting
comps here than any other casino I've ever been in. At the level I
bet I've never had trouble getting a coffeeshop or buffet ticket
anywhere else, but here it was like pulling teeth. When I colored up my
chips I asked the pit boss if I'd played long enough to get a
coffeeshop ticket. He said they'd evaluate me when I was done playing.
I said I was done, in fact he'd just okay'd the color-out. He said it
would take a while to get everything into the computer. I asked how
long that would take. He said they'd evaluate me when I was done
playing. We went round and round on this for quite a while until I
finally gave up. At the coffeeshop they checked my card and told me my
cash value balance. (Apparently you get actual cash value on the
Sahara's card even if you play just tables and not machines.) I got the
veggie wrap and it was smothered in grease. I ate only half of it. In
my entire adult life this is the only occasion I can think of where I
intentionally didn't finish what I ordered because it was so bad.
The Sahara has an excellent roller coaster called Speed. It does a loop, right
in front of the hotel, clearly visible from the Strip, and when it hits
the end, riders do the whole thing again backwards -- including
backwards through the loop.
reviewed May 2008
Why are there only four hotel reviews on this page?
I'm building this page slowly, one property at a time, so I've
got only four reviews for you now. But there are reviews of the other
places all over the net, so if it's not here, you're not out of luck.
Last updated: May 2008