I would say that the question I get asked the most from people who are going to Las Vegas is "Where should I stay?"
There are so many considerations that go into answering this question. What do you want your Vegas experience to be like? Do you want to be in the middle of things, or just have easy access to the middle of things? What is your budget? When are you going? Etc.
So I’ve put together this list, after 7 trips to Vegas in 6 years, to answer this question for my IgoUgo friends.
1. Best place to stay, period: Mandalay Bay – this hotel is always tops on my list of recommended hotels in Las Vegas. There’s only one downfall that I can see, and that is it’s location on the very end of the Strip. That minor inconvenience is easily overcome with cheap taxis, and the modern rooms, cool and well-ventilated casino, neat shops, Shark Reef, House of Blues, the new connector to the Luxor with shops and restaurants, a shuttle train to Luxor and Excalibur (though why anyone would go there is beyond me.) The staff is uber-friendly, everything is convenient, and there are great penny slots. The layout makes sense, and the rooms are easily reached from most anywhere. The wave pool and lazy river are incredibly fun. See? I love this place! You can get good deals here if you look, too.
2. Best place to stay if you can afford it: The Venetian. – One of my best hotel experiences was at the Venetian, and if you can keep an eye out and be flexible, you can occasionally find decent deals on these, touted the biggest rooms on the strip. It has the details down pat, the staff is accommodating and not snobby, there is plenty of shopping, you can request a mini fridge for your room, there’s a huge seating area in the room, and it’s center Strip, smack dab in the thick of things. With the addition of the new Palazzo extension, this place has got it all. The next time I can get a deal to the Palazzo, that’s were you’ll find me.
Best moderately priced hotel: Paris – Paris is one of the neatest of the themed hotels, with a foot of its Eiffel Tower reproduction stretching into the casino, which has tall ceilings and a sensible layout. There are lots of good places to eat, especially breakfast at Le Village Buffet, and the rooms, while not on par with Mandalay or Venetian, are perfectly fine. What are you doing in your room anyway? You’re in Las Vegas! The lobby is beautiful, and you feel like yelling "Vive La France!" as you roam the Parisian "streets." Plus, you’ve again got center Strip location, so almost everything is as convenient as it gets in Las Vegas.
3. Most overrated hotel: The Bellagio – In its heyday, I’m sure that the Bellagio was one of the nicest places to stay on the Strip – it’s certainly one of the most beautiful. It has a great location, a beautiful design, beautiful fountains, beautiful gardens, but not-so-beautiful service. In my opinion, if I’m paying for a 5-star, I want a 5-star. If I wanted a 3-star, I’d be paying a lot less over at Paris. Everything is overpriced here, from $12 drinks at the pool bar to the "who can afford this?" upscale retail shops. If you have money to throw around, by all means, throw it around here. However, one night here, with dirty dishes left outside my door from the previous guests the entire stay, was enough for me. Nevermore.
4. Next best moderately priced hotel: Luxor – If you can get a great deal here, and this is usually one of the lower-priced theme hotels on the Strip, by all means jump on that deal. Stay in the pyramid, if for no other reason than to experience the inclinator – the "elevator" that "leans" as it heads up the pyramid. The only downfall is that the Luxor is starting to show its age, from slightly worn carpet and a smoky casino. However, they’re investing in upgrades, and maybe you’ll get lucky with a room that’s newer. Again, however, you shouldn’t be spending that much time in your room anyway, so it should be just fine for the price. Plus, I think the Luxor has one of the nicer pools, and a great spa, so don’t overlook this option.
5. Hotel that I can’t even garner an opinion on: New York, NY – You know, this is one of the neater ideas for a theme hotel. The piano bar here is really fun, the Irish pub is fun, there’s New York pizza, and a roller coaster to boot. However, the room that we stayed in was so old and worn down that I was almost scared that a black light might display something that we didn’t want to know about. Also undergoing renovations, if this is the deal you get, make sure to get an upgraded room. The location is okay, not center Strip like Paris, and just not as classy, either. It’s mostly just . . . okay.