Saturday’s Den: Notes on Las Vegas hotels where I’ve stayed……..

Places where I’ve stayed the most:
— Westgate— Best sportsbook in Las Vegas, by far; on NFL Sundays they open the theater to watch all the games, with food/betting right there. Sid’s Cafe is solid dining option and they have fancier eating options also. Rooms are pretty good but not great, but this is a good place. 

International Bar in front of the casino is very good, and the snack bar has superior cherry danish.

— SouthPoint— Rooms are bigger, pretty nice. Outstanding 24-hour cafe. Also a very good sportsbook, with a hot dog stand right near it during the day and a good bar, snack bar nearby. There is a radio studio in middle of casino, where Brent Musburger has a daily radio show. Bowling alley, movie theater upstairs; away from the Strip, but a very good place. 

— Elara— Behind Planet Hollywood, Elara used to be my go-to place until Hilton bought it and doubled the room prices. Attached to Miracle Mile shops, so in summer can do just about anything you like as far as eating/shopping and never go outside. Excellent place, but out of my price range now, and their rates don’t go down Christmas week. 

Places I like to stay Christmas week, when room rates are lower:
— Vdara— No casino, but a short walk from the Aria. Great rooms, good bar by the front door, decent Market Cafe with pretty good light food (open till midnight). You can walk to Bellagio without going outside. 

— Aria— Really good sportsbook, and I changed my mind about the pizza place right near there, it is solid pizza. There is a Starbucks upstairs near the buffet. Problem is, Aria is way too nice for me. You play video poker at the bar, has to be at least $1.25 a hand, which can be expensive if you go on an extended cold streak. Just like Vdara, great rooms; their gift shop is much better, with a wider assortment of junk food available.

— Mandalay Bay— Great room, with good layout for desk and an odd-shaped couch to relax on. Hot tub in the bathroom never hurts. Pretty good snack bar right near the sportsbook, but the book could use bigger TV screens. 

— Luxor— Room I stayed in was so spacious you could’ve played floor hockey in kitchen area; there was an excellent 24-hour deli in the casino, and the bar area was……how can I say this, full of friendly people. Sportsbook was small but good enough. 

Places I’ve only stayed once or twice…….
— Planet Hollywood— Smallish rooms, good sportsbook, excellent coffee shops (Planet Dailies); the Dueces Wild game at the machines right near Planet Dailies can be generous. Easy access to Miracle Mile shops, which are good to walk around.

— Golden Nugget— My only downtown visit; room was kind of average, but rest of hotel was top-flight, with 24-hour coffee shop that is excellent. Pool is tremendous, sports book is small but must be great in summer to watch baseball. 

Downtown Las Vegas has to be seen to be believed; lot of unique sights, just stay on the beaten path after dark. Enjoyed my ten days here. 

— Bally’s— If you go in spring or fall, Bally’s has a great pool area, trust me on this. I didn’t like the layout of their sportsbook that much, but lot of food areas close by, and it is across the street from Battista’s, one of my favorite restaurants. Didn’t spend much time in the casino while I was there, since the sportsbook is off by itself. 

— Mirage— I am almost 60 years old, but was on the young side of guests there— think it was my 4th day there before I was in an elevator without someone else using a cane or a walker.

I am told the pool there is excellent, but didn’t see it myself; I can attest to fact that The Mirage has great food options— Carnegie Deli (HUGE sandwiches, Dr Brown’s soda), a really good hamburger place and a California Pizza Kitchen. Sportsbook is also pretty good. 

— MGM— Sportsbook area is small but good; very big hotel. My walk from the elevator to my room was pretty long. Food options are solid; my room was smallish, and about 25% of the TV channels were Asian channels. Very close to the adidas outlet store, which cost me more $$$ than video poker. Nice place, just not my thing that much. Not sure the West Wing bar is there anymore, but I liked the West Wing bar. 

— SLS— The old Sahara has the smallest rooms ever; there was a mirror on the ceiling in my room, and mirrors on shower door and bathroom door, to make room look bigger. Last thing I want to see while I’m laying in bed is…….me. 

Room did have a good seating area at foot of the bed; I enjoyed my stay there, but there is only a counter to place sports bets, no real sportsbook. Hamburger place was pretty good, but I’m still waiting to win one hand of video poker— got completely crushed there, to point where I’m not sure those machines ever pay out. 

— Sun Coast— Quietest casino ever; located up in Summerlin, pretty close to where Snoop Dawg lived in the reality show he was in a few years ago. Most of time there were more security guys than customers in Sun Coast. Was told they had an incident just before my stay, which is why the security was enhanced. 

I remember there was group of Toronto Maple Leaf fans there gloating about a playoff win over the Bruins, only Toronto blew the lead late in game and those people wound up drowning their sorrows while I played video poker. 

This place looks just like South Point, just no 24-hour coffee shop; there is a good bar near the sportsbook, and the movie theater serves Orville Redenbacher popcorn, which is important if you’re watching games in the sportsbook. 

— Excalibur— Been long time since I stayed there, am assuming it is lot different now than way back then. If you like watching guys dressed up in medieval outfits juggling or playing a bugle, this is your place. Great spot on the Strip, close to MGM, Luxor and T-Mobile Arena. 

— Rio— Stayed there one night in July 2010, but their Internet wouldn’t support posting my website stuff so I left, which is how I wound up staying at the Elara. This was during the World Series of Poker, which was great fun to walk thru for 20-30 minutes, until I realized that I didn’t come 2,300 miles to watch other people play cards. 

— Stratosphere— Never stayed there, but have to recommend the Italian restaurant downstairs in the casino, Fellini’s; really good place. Old school Italian restaurant. 

Author: Armadillo Sports

I've been involved in sports my whole life, now just write about them. I like to travel, mostly to Las Vegas- they have gambling there.

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