Planning for Las Vagas
October 7, 2009 12:22 PM   Subscribe

Planning a trip to Las Vagas with a couple of friends. We're students from the UK, so any help for making the trip awesome is welcome! Particularly getting the cheapest plane tickets, accommodation and things to see.

We're planning the trip for summer, from July to September. Hopefully staying in Vagas for about a week. There will be 2-4 of us, all over 21.

1. Firstly, (and most importantly), which method will be best for buying the cheapest plane tickets? We don't care if we have to sit in the luggage hold :)

2. For hotel rooms, somewhere in the middle of the strip would be awesome, but keeping the price cheapish. Sub $40 a day/person would be great. Sharing a room is the way to go. Any recommendations?

3. We plan on playing a little low stakes poker and blackjack. Any recommendations for decent casinos? Is there anything else that is a must see? Free is best, but if it's worth going to, then our wallets will oblige I'm sure :)
posted by dragontail to Travel & Transportation around Las Vegas, NV (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
(1) You want a travel agent's best package deal. Hotels are often pretty much free when purchased in bundles, and if you all buy together, even better. The hotels are happy to have you housed within for almost-free, since they assume you'll be losing money downstairs.

(2) Again, get a package deal from a travel agent. Call around and ask for "the cheapest air-and-hotel package you have within this date range..." Bonus: if you're flexible with dates, there's often a cheaper choice a week before or after.

(3) Any of the big casinos on the strip are very well appointed for poker and blackjack. The Tropicana has a swim-up blackjack pool.

If you've never been to the desert, a day trip out is also not a bad idea.

(4) Vegas.
posted by rokusan at 12:47 PM on October 7, 2009

I recommend getting out of town one day to visit Hoover Dam. It's about forty minutes outside of the city and, if you are anything like me, will be a welcome break from the sensory overload that is Las Vegas. That link says a tour is $30, but it's worth a look to just drive out and wander around. I didn't pay for the tour when I went.
posted by something something at 12:50 PM on October 7, 2009

Also, being British, you might enjoy partaking in a truly "American" experience by going to The Gun Range.

Not exactly free, but firing a fully automatic machine gun, and/or the desert eagle .50 calibre pistol is actually quite a bit of fun. And I'm not a gun nut, I have never nor will I ever own a gun, but man oh man was that fun.
posted by Grither at 1:12 PM on October 7, 2009

You're better off at one of the just-off-the-Strip hotels, like the Greek Isles (easy walk to Strip) or even Terrible's Hotel/Casino (on Paradise, not a walk, but still very close). I've seen rooms for $20 a night at these places.

On the Strip, the lesser hotels like Harrah's or the Riviera or the Monte Carlo are the way to go.

Also, don't rule out the Fremont Street hotels, like the El Cortez or the Golden Nugget -- easy transport to the Strip, cheap, and plenty to do right there. These places will be better for low-stakes gambling than many on the Strip as well.
posted by coolguymichael at 1:43 PM on October 7, 2009

When you say "sharing a room", what exactly do you mean? two people per room, or two per bed? If you all share one room you can probably get to that $40 a night number in a Strip hotel (look at Bally's or the Venetian for good deals), but if you really want to go cheap you should look at rooms in Downtown Vegas - also called "old" Vegas. Anything on Fremont St - Binion's and the Golden Nugget and the like - will be far cheaper than anything on the Strip, and it's an easy cab ride or monorail ride to the strip from there.

Also, midweek dates are always cheaper than weekends - if you are willing to go Sun-Thurs you'll get a much better rate.
posted by pdb at 1:44 PM on October 7, 2009

downtown is much cheaper than the strip. and you can walk around down there and hit half a dozen casinos in the same footprint as a parking garage of a single casino on the strip.

mid-strip, however, the cheapest hotel is 'casino royale'. it's kind of a dump (like a little bit of downtown right there on the strip), but the location is great - between harrah's and the venetian - and the price can't be beat afaict.
posted by rmd1023 at 2:19 PM on October 7, 2009

If you're on the Strip and want to explore the different hotels, be prepared to do a LOT of walking. It's a big area. The monorail is very deceptive; you have to walk a long way, through the nearest hotel's casino, to get to most of the stops, by which time you might as well have just walked to your destination. Also, the maps are deceptive; two hotels next to each other look fine on a map, but they're pretty big and take a while to walk through. Luckily, taxi cabs seem to be plentiful, though they do cost more.

We had good luck at the Imperial (good middle-of-the-road hotel), which is on the Strip. Midweek it's something like $20/night, a little more on weekends.

For sheer novelty, I recommend the store that sells ONLY M&Ms and M&M products. Four floors worth. There's a similar store that sells only Coca-Cola products.

Also, the fountains in the greenhouse at the Bellagio hotel are amazing. I still can't figure out how they got the water to do that. Right next to that is a yummy crepe place.

Can't comment on the casinos since I'm not that type; they all looked the same to me. But we went to the Hoover Dam, the Rhyolite ghost town and Death Valley, all of which were totally awesome.
posted by Melismata at 2:24 PM on October 7, 2009

We stayed at the Sahara Hotel a couple months ago. It's on the strip, but near the end of it, away from the airport. Rooms were cheap, the pool was nice.

My impressions of Vegas and the surrounding areas are: You absolutely MUST see the Hoover Dam. Also must see the Fountains of Bellagio. Everything else we saw, I wouldn't be terribly disappointed if we missed something here and there. My point is, there are lots of things I'm glad we saw, but the Hoover Dam and Fountains of Bellagio were my highlights for sure. The 1/2 scale Eiffel Tower was pretty cool too.

We had a great time walking around, taking TONS of photographs, drinking, and just having fun. Stayed there for 2 weeks, and took road trips to the Grand Canyon (looked fake, like a huge poster), The ghost town of Bodie (many many hours away), and some other places.

The package deal through was cheap. We got airfare from Boston, hotel for 2 weeks, rental car for 2 weeks with unlimited miles for $750/person. You'll obviously pay more for airfare, but staying in Las Vegas is cheap.

We're not really gamblers at all, so having the hotels subsidized by the losing gamblers worked in our favor. It was a fun vacation, if you're looking to party it up.
posted by santaliqueur at 2:52 PM on October 7, 2009

First, I am assuming you are all 21 or older. If not, postpone the trip or leave the youngins at home. My friends have always liked the Hooter's Hotel. Can't get more american than that.
posted by nestor_makhno at 2:55 PM on October 7, 2009

Downtown usually has lower stakes - this should apply to their poker rooms, too. If you don't mind a cab ride or two, the locals places like Stations, Sam's Town, etc will likely also have lower stakes poker. (Also lower room rates, like Downtown.)

Again, if you don't mind cab rides - if you like steak, the Prime Rib Loft at the Orleans is still one of the better steak places and the prices are a lot more reasonable than you'll usually find on-strip for a good steak.

And people always forget about the Imperial Palace - mid-strip, clean, and usually cheap room rates. Worth looking into. Plus the car show upstairs is fun.
posted by krisak at 2:57 PM on October 7, 2009

The Stratosphere at the north end of the strip is usually much cheaper than the more centrally located strip hotels. Plus there are some fun rides at the top of the tower if you like that kind of thing. You can hop on the bus and ride up and down the strip for something like $2 to save yourself some walking and taxi fare. The bus stop is right outside the Stratosphere front door. If you're on a budget it's worth it, room rates at the big/famous hotels on the strip can get surprisingly expensive depending on what conventions are in town that week. Plus it's not a dump like Casino Royale or other budget mid-strip hotels.

Most of the strip hotels don't have low stakes games, or they'll have one table with low minimums and it's impossible to get a seat. You'll have to go to smaller hotels/casinos or downtown for $2 or $5 blackjack tables.

For free things to see, don't miss the Bellagio Fountain, the pirate show outside Treasure Island, the tiger exhibit in the MGM Grand, see the canals inside the Venetian.
posted by jcmilton at 3:09 PM on October 7, 2009

I've been to Vegas once, so I can only recommend the place I stayed, the Imperial Palace. It's tiny, and older than a lot of the other hotels, but it was comfortable, and for a room we didn't plan on spending much time in, it was fine. If you join the Harrah's reward club, they will occasionally send you emails with discounted rates for all of their hotels, including the IP (sometimes for a penny a night, depending on the season. I imagien summer will be more expensive). It's across the street from Ceaser's Palace, and just a short walk to the Venetian.

If you plan on doing any sleeping at all, request a room that faces away from the strip. There's am open-air dance club that doesn't stop doing its dance club thing until about 2 or 3am just below, and it's LOUD.
posted by blackunicorn at 4:15 PM on October 7, 2009

I stayed at the Mirage, right in the middle of the Strip, for a few days back in May. Big, fancy, clean rooms, and it came out to maybe $60 a person per night (three of us in one room). You can stay downtown for a lot less money but it's pretty far from the Strip and it's kinda run-down and depressing. The Fremont Street Experience was pretty cool though. If you think Rat Pack and (the original) Ocean's Eleven when you think of Vegas, stay downtown; that's where it was cool back then. If it's Rounders and Texas Hold'Em on TV, then stay on the Strip.

Things to see: everything that's a fake rip-off of real places! It's all glorious. The fake Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe, fake Venetian canals, fake Roman palace, fake Egyptian artifacts, enormous fake New York skyline... all of it is fantastic.

As far as cheap blackjack, the Mirage has $10 tables during non-peak times. If you want $5 blackjack, Slots-A-Fun is a 20-minute walk to the north. It's skeevy and charmingly low-rent (there's a fast food joint about twenty feet inside the entrance).

Probably the best meal I've had in my life was at Wolfgang Puck's restaurant inside Caesar's Palace. Super expensive, but totally worth it.

Finally, check out Cheapo Vegas for more information on pretty much everything you're looking for.
posted by xbonesgt at 4:57 PM on October 7, 2009

err. fixed link
posted by xbonesgt at 4:58 PM on October 7, 2009

I live in Nevada in Tahoe, so I can tell you one of the secrets is to sign up for as many casino club cards as you can. Even if you're not a big time gambler, the incentives they give you are ridiculous - from highly discounted rooms (many times free), to discounts on meals at restaurants / buffets and special events. It's free to sign up and a lot of them give you $10 / $20 free play just to sign up (hoping you'll continue playing and will lose at least twice that much, if not more). I think you can sign up online, that way you can get the offers in advance and know which ones you can take advantage of before you go.

There's a website called Cheapo Vegas that might be useful to you that has coupons and comparisons of hotels and buffets. Not sure how often it's updated, though.

Then there's the $20 trick, which doesn't always work but sometimes does - when you check into your hotel and they ask for your credit card and ID, keep a $20 bill peeking out between them. Look at the clerk and say with a smile, "If you've got an upgrade available, we'd love to take you up on it." Or something to that effect. I've heard that people get upgraded to much nicer rooms with this trick, though it's not always effective.

Finally, I highly recommend a trip out to Red Rocks - a taste of the Wild West without going too far out of Vegas. Beautiful landscapes.
posted by HeyAllie at 5:02 PM on October 7, 2009

oh, for sheer americanness, there is a place downtown under the freemont street experience where you can buy american beer in a plastic container shaped like an american football.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:03 PM on October 7, 2009

A good hotel option is Bill's Gamblin' Hall, which I stayed at a couple of years ago when it was still called the Barbary Coast. It's right in the middle of the Strip, opposite the Bellagio, next to the Flamingo, and is very small by Vegas standards, so it won't take you half a hour to find the exit. It's cheaper than the bigger hotels and it has the best free cabaret on the Strip - Big Elvis.
posted by essexjan at 12:31 AM on October 8, 2009

Have a look at and -- both are great resources. If you're feeling up to it, I'd very highly recommend hooking up with somebody from couchsurfing. They will be in the know regarding the best deals in the city.
posted by wandergeek at 6:08 AM on October 8, 2009

Response by poster: Thank you. I'll look into all your suggestions.

*I meant Vegas, it was a long day... thankfully it seems everyone got what I mean :)
posted by dragontail at 12:44 PM on October 8, 2009

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