ultimate guide las vegas visitor hotels resorts

Deciding where to stay when you visit Las Vegas can be one of the most fun – and most daunting – aspects of planning your getaway. From off-the-Strip motels to flashy casino resorts, Las Vegas is home to wide variety of accommodations to suit every traveler’s needs and desires.

The primary concern for most travelers when booking a hotel is budget. Good news: rooms in Las Vegas – even luxury rooms – are often cheaper than in other major cities. Travel experts speculate that this could be because Las Vegas casino resorts make most of their money through gambling. For this reason, they can offer rooms for a cheaper rate, which leaves you with more cash on hand for – you guessed it – gambling.

Whether you gamble or not, there’s a lot more to choosing a place to stay than finding a room within your budget range! To help you find your perfect room, we’ve compiled our tips for choosing a resort, as well as some information about downtown Las Vegas, and how you can get comps from your hotel.

Here we go!

How To Choose a Las Vegas Hotel

Fourteen of the world’s 25 largest hotels are located on the Las Vegas Strip, offering a cumulative total of 62,000 rooms! It’s no surprise that choosing the right hotel for your stay can be a challenge. We can help you get started:

1. Outline your priorities

Before you start your hotel search, ask yourself one question: why are you visiting Las Vegas?

Understanding your priorities can help you narrow down your options. Are you looking for a place to crash between adventures, or are you seeking an over-the-top luxurious getaway? Deb from Aroundusty Roads prioritizes cleanliness and location over flash and fancy amenities:

A room doesn’t need to be fancy but it does need to be clean. My thinking is that I don’t spend much time in the room, but when I do I don’t want to be dodging bedbugs or roaches. The second thing I consider is location. Is the area safe? Is there parking? How close to public transportation or attractions? And my third consideration is if there is WiFi, preferably in the room and preferably free. Of course different people/families may have different needs but I think cleanliness and location are keys for anyone.

Resorts do their best to cater to every Las Vegas visitor, but each hotel has its own strengths and weaknesses, and one may be better suited to your travel style and requirements.

It can help to ask yourself the following questions:

1. How luxurious do you want your stay to be?

Luxury was a priority for Megan and Mike Jerrard at Mapping Megan and Waking Up Wild:

We stayed in a Penthouse Suite on the 32nd level of the Monte Carlo Resort. Vegas is known for ridiculous cheap room rates on luxury hotels, so luxury was an important factor when selecting our hotel. It’s the best destination to splurge – because of the competition, you get far more for far less.

Read their review here.

2. How much time do you plan on spending near the pool?

Temperatures can reach 110 degrees in the summer, so pools are a popular place for Vegas visitors to catch some rays and cool off. Some pools even have sandy beaches, wave generators, hot tubs, and waterfalls or lagoons.

las vegas hotel pool wynn

Pool at Wynn Hotel. Image by Michael Gray via Flickr.

Relaxing by the pool is Turner from American Travel Blogger’s favorite thing to do in Vegas:

My favorite thing to do in Vegas is to lounge at different pools, take in the rays and down some cocktails. The dry heat and the conga line is a great way to spend the day.

MGM Grand, Caesar’s Palace, and Mirage are all renowned for their sprawling, luxurious pools (just to name a few). If you really want to turn up the poolside party, check out our guide to Las Vegas dayclubs.

3. How much shopping do you plan on doing?

All hotels have stores and boutiques where you can pick up essentials or splurge on designer goods, but some (such as Caesar’s Palace or the Venetian) have interconnected shopping malls if you’re looking for a proper shopping spree.

4. What shows are you hoping to see?

Traveling between hotels can take more time than you’d think. If that show you simply have to see is at a hotel on the Strip, try booking a room at that hotel. You’ll save time in transit, and you may even get a discount on your ticket.

5. Are you visiting with kids?

Some hotels, such as the Palms and Orleans, have child-care facilities, while others offer kid-friendly activities to occupy your offspring while you explore.

Arienwen from Beyond Blighty recalls her childhood stay at the MGM Grand:

I was 11 when I visited Vegas and I’m now in my 30s. I still remember the MGM Grand as the largest and most impressive hotel I’ve ever stayed in. I was mesmerised by the display outside the Mirage as well!

Kid-friendly Hotels

If you’re traveling with kids, consider one of these family-friendly resorts:

  1. Circus Circus: In addition to many kid-centric activities, including live circus performances every day from 11AM till midnight, Circus Circus is located right beside Adventuredome, a 5-acre indoor theme park that’s ideal for families.
  2. Mandalay Bay: With a multi-pool complex including a wave pool, a lazy river, and a sandy beach, as well as a shark reef aquarium and easy-to-access rooms that don’t require walking through the busy casino area, Mandalay bay is a great choice for families with kids.
  3. Orleans: This off-Strip hotel offers a supervised playzone, arcade, bowling alley, and movie theater, as well as free shuttle service to the Strip every half hour.

Once you understand your priorities, you can narrow down your hotel search and focus on resorts that offer the services and amenities that will make your Vegas vacation unforgettable. If you still aren’t sure which hotel to book, this chart by Vegas Tripping can help:

las vegas hotels circus circus midway

Circus Circus midway acts. Image by Suzy S Photography via Flickr.

Family
Luxury
Shows
Food
Pampering
Circus CircusBellagioCaesar's PalaceBellagioBellagio
ExcaliburCaesar's PalaceHiltonCaesar's PalaceCaesar's Palace
MGM GrandMirageMandalay BayGreen Valley RanchGreen Valley Ranch
New York New YorkVenetianMGM GrandMGM GrandRed Rock
StratosphereWynnMirageMirageVenetian
Treasure IslandRioWynn
Venetian
Wynn

Get our tips for visiting Las Vegas with kids.

2. Set a budget

Hotels on the Strip will be more expensive than off-Strip or downtown resorts, but even on-Strip hotels often offer rates that are lower than hotels in other major American cities.

When you’re setting your budget, don’t forget about resort fees. Every resort charges additional resort fees to cover the cost of amenities such as free local calling and fitness centers. Fees vary by resort, but usually cost around $35-40 per night.

Here are the resort fees you can expect to pay at 10 of the most popular Las Vegas hotels, as of March 1, 2017:

Hotel
Resort Fee (per night)
Hotel
Resort Fee (per night)
Excalibur$30Cromwell$37
Monte Carlo $30Paris$37
Rio$30Planet Hollywood$37
Bally's$35Aria$39
Flamingo$35Bellagio$39
Harrah's$35Caesar's Palace$39
The Linq$35Palazzo$39
Vdara$39
Venetian$39
Last updated: February 6, 2018. Resort fees via LA Times.

3. Choose a location

James from Escaping Abroad has stayed at Aria, the Hard Rock, and the Luxor. For James, location was his top priority, followed by room quality and price. While most Vegas visitors opt to stay on the Strip, there are a number of hotels available just off the Strip or in downtown Las Vegas.

If this is your first visit to Sin City and you want to stay in the heart of the action, one sure way to do that is to stay right on the Strip. Victoria from Pommie Travels has stayed at many hotels on the Strip:

I try to book a different hotel each time so that I can compare them. I’ve stayed at MGM Grand, The Hard Rock, Flamingo, Tropicana, Excalibur, Mandarin Oriental, Paris, Rio and New York, New York. The biggest factor for me is always the hotel’s position on the Strip, as surprisingly it can take quite a while to get from one end to the other, particularly if you are walking. A central location close to The Bellagio is always nice. I also look for affordability and a good swimming pool, as I like somewhere with a bit of a fun, party vibe with enough sun loungers to go around.

las vegas hotels bellagio

Bellagio Resort and Casino

As a general rule, if you want glitz and glamor, stick to the Strip – Strip hotels are close to all the major attractions, and almost all have a casino.

PRO TIP: Hotels in the center of the Strip (between the Venetian and the new City Center Aria) offer the easiest access to the rest of the Strip.

For a more relaxed feel, consider staying downtown or off the Strip – you might save a couple bucks in addition to escaping from the bustle of the Strip. If you’re interested in gambling, off-Strip hotels (such as the Palms, Hard Rock, Rio, Orleans, or Gold Coast) also tend to have lower table minimums and better odds, and are more popular with the locals.

4. Read reviews

Reviews are the best way to research your resort. Take a look at what others have liked and disliked about their hotel and make your decision based on their experience.

Staying Downtown

If you’re looking to experience Vegas as the locals do, downtown Las Vegas and Fremont East are the places to go.

Sometimes referred to as “Old Vegas”, downtown Las Vegas was the hotspot for casinos and hotels in the 1930s and 40s. In 1995, this area was revitalized by the creation of the Fremont Street Experience. Now, this area is full of delectable restaurants, bars, and casinos, and they’re often cheaper than their counterparts on the Strip (with lower table minimums, too). There are even speakeasies that require a secret phone number to get a reservation (psst – it’s called the Laundry Room. Ask at Commonwealth for the number for reservations)!

downtown las vegas fremont street john phelan

Fremont Street, Las Vegas. Image by John Phelan via Wikimedia Commons.

Downtown Las Vegas is ideal for travelers who want to experience the glitz of Sin City without the daily carnival that is the Strip, which can quickly become busy and overwhelming, especially if you’re traveling with kids.

Because many of the downtown hotels are older and don’t offer the same flashy amenities as Strip resorts, they’re often cheaper and not as busy. Though the rooms downtown may be just as luxurious as on the Strip, other amenities, such as swimming pools and fitness centers, may not be as flashy. If you’re not concerned with having multiple dining options right inside your hotel, or fancy spas and fitness centers, downtown Las Vegas might be perfect for you.

Who Should Stay in Downtown Las Vegas?

Consider staying downtown if you:

  • Have visited Las Vegas before and stayed on the Strip
  • Prefer a less raucous Vegas experience
  • Enjoy hopping from casino to casino (or bar to bar) – this is much easier to do downtown where casinos and other attractions aren’t as spread out.

Consider staying on the Strip if:

  • This is your first visit to Las Vegas
  • You enjoy hustle and bustle

Learn more about visiting downtown Las Vegas.

Getting Comps

Las Vegas is all about making sure you have a fantastic time, and one of the ways that casino resorts keep you coming back for more is by providing comps. There are no surefire ways to earn comps, but we can give you a few tips that might make them more likely:

  • If you’re a gambler, concentrate your gambling at one hotel. Casinos and resorts can base comps on daily average play, so you’ll earn more credit if you stay at one casino. Comped room charges aren’t uncommon if you stay where you play.
  • Sign up for rewards programs. Two properties own most of the major hotels in Las Vegas.
Caesar’s Entertainment Corp – Total Rewards
  • Harrahs
  • The Cromwell
  • Caesars
  • LINQ
  • Ballys
  • Planet Hollywood
  • Flamingo
  • Paris
  • Rio (off-Strip)
MGM Resorts International – Players Club
  • MGM Grand
  • Bellagio
  • Mirage
  • Treasure Island
  • New York New York
  • Circus Circus
  • Excalibur
  • Luxor
  • Mandalay Bay
  • Delano
  • Vdara
  • Monte Carlo

The Ultimate Guide to Visiting Las Vegas

Find answers to all your questions about Las Vegas in our Ultimate Guide!

Special thanks to all the expert travelers who contributed their tips to the Ultimate Guide to Visiting Las Vegas!