Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Articles in this Series
Best of Frank Scoblete
Playing in Vegas: The Top 13 Casino-Hotels16 August 2007
You fly over Las Vegas at night and you come from the deep, dark desert and suddenly a city of lights explodes on your consciousness. As you fly over the town to land, you can see the casinos - the red and white lights; you can see the Stratosphere Tower reaching to tickle the feet of God; the MGM Grand pulsing green and the Luxor's skylight cutting the heavens. When you land, you can see clearly the faux New York, New York; the Luxor, the Excalibur; the Golden Mandalay Bay of the Strip's Southern end.
The inner airport itself swarms with an energy you will not find in any other airport in America. Slot machines bangle and clang; stores do brisk business and two types of travelers are to be seen. Those who are awake, alive and anxious, just coming into town and ready to challenge the gods of chance; and those who are leaving, most often tired, dragging, and down whatever they brought to gamble and party with.
Las Vegas's new advertising campaign states that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Look at the faces of those who are leaving and most of them tell you very clearly what happened to them in Vegas! Some loved; most lost; but everyone had a grand old time of it. They played and partied and sang the nights away. Some stayed up for ungodly amounts of time.
Others walked the Strip in awe watching volcanoes, pirates and sirens, water wonders and lights unending. They also watched all the other people from all corners of the planet who were watching them as well.
Las Vegas is the realist "fake" town in the history of the world. It is glitz and glitter and glamour and big white smiles for high rollers ready to part with wads of cash. Vegas girls are the most beautiful girls in the world; the handsome young men are lean, muscular and bronzed. And they are looking to party and love the nights away. That's the Vegas image certainly. Anyone who doesn't fit that image is considered a tourist - even if they've lived in Vegas for 20 years.
Nothing fits Vegas like its on-stage image - the city is Elvis in a rhinestone sparkling white jump suit and Ann Margaret in a short skirt over her sexy, long legs. Whole television shows are now devoted to Vegas. Whole networks devote endless hours to Vegas amenities. Even Las Vegas' toilets have been rated on television.
The town that Bugsy helped build rocks the days and nights away in a place that one hundred years ago was just rocks.
I've been to just about every casino in Las Vegas and I've stayed at just about all of them on the Strip at one time or another. Some of the casinos I fondly remember aren't there any more - the Dunes has become Bellagio; the Sands has become Venetian; the Desert Inn is now Wynn, the Maxim is now the Westin Casuarina; the small, local Rio is now the hot "in" partying Rio and that parcel of dry, lonely desert in Henderson is now the amazing Green Valley Ranch.
I've done the economic casinos and the expensive pleasure palaces; I've stayed at locals' casinos in the neighboring towns. I've stayed in high-roller suites and in grimy old, cigarette-stained poorly carpeted rooms that haven't been kept up since they were built decades ago. I've been to nightclubs and restaurants and parties galore. Even though I am not an official resident of Vegas, I must say that Vegas flows through my veins. Cut me and coins pour out.
There is something for everyone, on every budget, in Las Vegas. So let's take the Scobe Whirlwind Guide to my recommended 13 best casino-hotels in three price ranges: economy, moderate, and high-end. We want our casino-hotels to have good games first and foremost. If the blackjack floor is littered with those abominable 6/5 single-deck games (where players will lose 8 times more than on a normal "old" Las Vegas-style single-deck game) and if continuous shuffle machines interminably mix and deal out their "shoe" games thereby increasing the number of hands played by about 20 percent, then these casinos have to be written off by blackjack players. If the craps tables are too long and the craps crews unprofessional, then craps players will want to think twice (or three times) before spending their money at such games.
However, there's more to today's casinos than just the games, as restaurants, nightclubs, lounges, the quality of the rooms where you stay, all must be factored in as well. That I've done. In fact, there are some places that are so much fun that even though their games are not that good, you might want to stay there - but play elsewhere.
So here we go; starting at the economy end and heading to the plush pinnacle. These are Las Vegas's 13 best places to stay and, in some cases, to play and party the time away.
Just because something is relatively inexpensive does not mean it has to be cheap. Vegas offers a whole host of great, economic casino-hotels that are relatively inexpensive to stay at but offer clean rooms and good amenities. In Vegas a hotel that is economic would be a top hotel in most other cities!
Main Street Station in downtown Las Vegas has a wonderful buffet and a delectable grill, The Pullman Grill, and the property is filled with great antiques. Main Street has a great assortment of slot machines and their craps dealers are some of the friendliest and most professional you'll meet in all of Las Vegas. Their blackjack games are okay, too. Men, when nature calls, you'll want to head to the bathroom on the first floor as this was voted the second best bathroom by Travel Channel. Why? Because behind the urinals is a nice fat chunk of the Berlin Wall. Long live Capitalism! And the comps are pretty easy to get too.
Sam's Town on Boulder Highway is a great place to stay. My wife, the beautiful A.P. says, "You can live your whole life at Sam's Town!" And you can. It has a new, modern movie theatre that shows first-run features; it has continuous live entertainment every night in the lounge and dancing in their dance halls. You can buy your Western getups in their Western store. You can even take dance lessons. There are several excellent restaurants, including Fillinis, Billy Bob's Steakhouse, and Willy and Jose's Cantina. There are shops and a wonderful "park" called Mystic Falls. The guest rooms are clean, neat and well maintained. The games in the casino are good. Blackjack is played the way it used to be played, with real 3-to-2 payouts on naturals and good penetration. While the craps tables are somewhat long, the crews are friendly and the game has 20X odds. The only shortcoming is the fact that you must pay the "vig" on your buy bets whether they win or lose - not a good thing, as most Vegas casinos only charge you if the bet wins. And there are hundreds and hundreds of machines. Comps are easy to come by.
Sunset Station is my favorite of the economy hotel-casinos. Great craps games with 10X odds on $3 and $5 tables, and buy bets where you pay the vig only on a win. Great dealers. There are real double-deck blackjack games with a real 3-to-2 payoff on blackjack. They have an excellent high roller room, too. If you're looking for a rocking nightclub, you'll find it at Club Madrid. Great acts are always featured and occasionally you can enjoy outdoor concerts at the Sunset Amphitheatre. Great restaurants include, Sonoma Cellar, Capri, and Costa Del Sol. And, again, Sunset Station has its own movie theatre. By the way, you can get comped to a movie! Very few players know this - but now you do! The other comps are pretty easy to come by as well.
On the Strip, make your way to the Stardust - before it turns to twinkle dust. If that is so, then this is the last of the great "old" Strip casinos to visit and therefore you should make it a point to visit. History dies fast in Vegas. If you remember the movie Casino, it was really about Stardust. There are fine restaurants such as William B's, the Sushi King and Tony Romas. Stardust's Starlight Lounge has great acts and a comfortable atmosphere.
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Articles in this Series
Best of Frank Scoblete