If you were wondering why I haven’t posted very much this week, it’s because I spent the weekend in Las Vegas. It was my first trip there in about ten years. It’s a little hard to say which changed more, Vegas or me. It’s probably pretty close.
We went for a friends’ military promotion ceremony, but it certainly didn’t hurt that it was Vegas. As usual, we didn’t want to break the bank, so we looked for ways to get by on the cheap. Here are just my early impressions on the short amount of time we were there.
Best Las Vegas Hotel Value
I’m going to give this a tie to two hotels, even though we only stayed at one. I did look at the Trip Advisor reviews of the second and it looks like the place we’d choose next time. I’m giving this award with great attention to “cheap” rather typical “value.” The reason for that is because in Las Vegas, most people are typically only looking for a place to crash for a few hours anyway.
- Super 8 – We stayed at the Super 8 a little off the strip. While that may sound like a bad location, when we get to best value casino it earns a lot of points. It was around $42 a night including taxes. This isn’t a place to impress the ladies. While there may have been a drug deal going down and some ladies likely “practicing the oldest profession”, my theory is that it just adds to the flavor. Little known fact: At over 300 rooms, it’s the largest Super 8 in the world.
- Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall & Saloon – We stopped here briefly because we had a little time to kill before dinner one night and this was the only place we found with a craps table open. I was also curious of the food specials posted outside (more on that later). It’s got a better location than the Super 8 as it’s on the strip across from the Bally’s. I’m told you can view the famous Bellagio water show from time to time there. It seems like the pricing is competitive with the Super 8, so it’s worth considering.
Best Las Vegas Housing Value
It’s not a hotel, so I couldn’t include it above, but some friends of friends decided to rent a house. We stopped by a couple of times and it was an amazing place. It had to be about 4000 square feet. It had a two pools… one for swimming (with a hot tub) and one better known as billiards. The place was in great condition with exceptional appliances, flooring, counters, etc. It’s five bedrooms easily could sleep ten (and you could stretch that if you put people on couches. All this for $269 a night. If you have 4 or 5 couples, you could live in the lap of luxury for around $30 a night per person. You’d even save more on groceries as you have a full kitchen. The downside is that the strip and airport was about a 10 minute car ride away, so some of that savings is going to go to a rental car or cab.
Best Las Vegas Casino Value
The Ellis Island Casino & Brewery wins hands down in this category. While there are other casinos with all the bling, this is my kind of place. This was right next to us at the Super 8 (one of the reasons we stayed at the Super 8.) It has a $5 craps table… I can play twice as long to lose on the increasingly standard $10 minimum craps tables in most casinos. (Yes, I think of it in terms of how much I can play before losing. I think that’s fair to set the expectations low when the house has an advantage on you.) That’s enough for a good casino, but it’s the extra’s that make Ellis Island my favorite. Cocktail waitresses come by quite often and when you ask for a beer, they bring 20 ounces from their own brewery. In life you usually get to choose two out of three of the following: free, quality, and quantity. While I’m stretching the “free” here (as I was gambling), you can fork over $1.50 in cash for the same beer if you aren’t gambling. Beyond that Ellis Island has Metro Pizza, voted 4 years in a row the best pizza in Vegas (I concur with the decision) and the best food special you’ll find (more on that later).
While on the topic of craps, I should mention two things. 1) I’m extremely conservative so the house typically has less than a 3% advantage on me. I left Las Vegas with about $75 in total winnings. Know when to talk walk away, right?
Best Las Vegas Food & Drink Specials
- Ellis Island Casino & Brewery – The $6.99 steak special is one of the best deals you’ll find anywhere. It is a 10 ounce filet cut that would easily sell out at $20 any other restaurant. I’ve paid more than $30 for a steak that wasn’t as good. With potatoes and green beans it is a full meal. It’s available 24 hours a day, and it’s worth going out of your way for. I’ve already mentioned the beer special above, so for less than $9 you could really be celebrating in style (if you forget that it is a hole-in-the-wall casino.)
- Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall & Saloon – Yep, I’m going back here. They get an honorable mention for a steak (rib-eye) and eggs special for $5.99 available from midnight to 6AM. Sadly due to the timing of that special, we didn’t partake. I also noticed that they had $5 pitchers of Miller Lite, which is up there with the Ellis Island beer special.
I think that covers most of the deals that we found in Vegas. As for the rest, it wasn’t a deal going to ESPN Zone for the USA-Canada hockey game, but it was fun. It wasn’t a deal (and not particularly fun) going to the new hotel Aria for drinks. We were slightly positive at RumJungle in Mandalay Bay (I remember it being a lot better 10 years ago).
I would like to try to spend a week in Vegas spending as little as possible. You could stay at Super 8 for about $300 (weekend is more expensive) and eat for around $150 ($20 a day). Our flight from Northern California was around $100 round trip (Virgin America, which I highly recommend). So two people (sharing a room) could plan a whole week for about $800. If you join all the casino’s players clubs and used the free money they give out, you might even break even for the week.
Then again, a week of the Vegas lifestyle may just kill you. The weekend alone was quite a bit for me.