In a change to your regular reading, Wandering Beeb is writing today’s blog instead of Zombie Girl; taking a look at the hotels we stayed at in Vegas. I’m usually the guy behind the camera, so it might be a bumpy ride with me behind the keyboard!
The first time we travelled to Vegas (back in 2010), it was for the last part of a long road trip and we decided to treat ourselves, given that we’d been camping for a fair amount of time (the lack of showers also meant it was better for everyone if we could actually clean up).
During the planning phase of our trip, one of the group who’d already been to Vegas suggested we’d be fine booking a hotel when we get there, rather than planning ahead and he wasn’t wrong – there was lots of choice and at fairly affordable prices. After looking around, we chose Planet Hollywood as our home for the week. At the time it was one of the newer hotels on the Strip (in fact they were still building one of the towers). This meant that the hotel rating wasn’t as high as the more established ones and therefore, nor was the price. We had to wait a little while for a non smoking room to be available, which gave us a bit of time to sample some of the hotel and explore our surroundings.
As we wandered through the casino, we noticed a lot of dancers on tables, so not necessarily the most appropriate hotel for a family. For our party though, this was perfectly fine(!). Being a fairly new hotel, it was very modern and clean. Compared to some of the hotels we’d been to in Vegas, there wasn’t an over bearing smell of cleaning fluid in the carpets making it difficult to breathe (I’m looking at you Treasure Island).
It was an odd feeling to be surrounded by the casino’s artificial light and the smell of tobacco indoors, as we come from the UK where you’re not allowed to smoke in public buildings.
Planet Hollywood also hosts the Miracle Mile; a whole promenade of shops for, you guessed it, a whole mile. Plenty to choose from to cater for most tastes and some really good gear at quite cheap prices – remember to leave space in your suitcase! The pool area, although small, was really relaxed and fun. Music playing and sun shining, it was a really relaxing place to chill out and take in the sun.
When we finally reached our room, it was plenty big enough for four of us to share two double beds, with lots of space to store our gear (including sleeping bags and tent). Throughout the room, there was a celebrity theme, in keeping with the name. Somewhat randomly, one object in particular sticks in my memory: the glass coffee table with Sammy Davies Jnr’s shoes inside. Makes you wonder what other star-studded items were in the other rooms. The pièce de résistance of the room was the view from the window of the Bellagio Fountains across the road. We definitely spent some time watching the water fly from that window. My lasting view of the Planet Hollywood Hotel (at least on that first occasion) was that for the price, we got a good deal. The room was clean, spacious and we had a cracking view to boot.
The second time our group visited Vegas, we took the decision to split up our hotel stay between 2 locations. Once again, we knew we were going to be spending a lot of time camping and so we wanted to treat ourselves at the end of the trip. We booked Planet Hollywood for the second part of our stay (this time booking early online) and (based on prices and other people’s feedback) we chose The Mirage for the earlier part of our stay.
Walking into the Mirage was much more impressive that walking into Planet Hollywood. There was marble everywhere and a huge fish tank dominated the lobby. It was a very striking entrance and everyone seemed to be fairly dressed up, creating an air of expense. The hotel boasted a much larger pool than Planet Hollywood and their own mini zoo (Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat; containing dolphins, white lions, white tigers and leopards). The room itself was clean (barring one dirty pillow, which the staff changed promptly) and spacious. Despite the attractions and the larger pool, it didn’t quite match up to the Planet Hollywood. It was considerably cheaper for a room in the Planet Hollywood, which was more modern and up to date. The biggest selling point, however, was the atmosphere. Planet Hollywood was far more relaxed. We found the Mirage to be a little pretentious and a bit more of a mixed bag in the make up of the guests (the looks that Zombie Girl’s hiking boots attracted when we arrived were less than favourable).
The third time we travelled to Vegas (I know, we like Vegas, what can I say!!), we had a new member of the group with us and fancied trying somewhere different. On our previous trip we’d seen the Cosmopolitan and Aria hotels being built pretty much opposite Planet Hollywood. The photos looked good and the cost of a joint room in the Cosmopolitan was almost the same as Planet Hollywood. When we first walked in the lobby, we were absolutely blown away. It looked liked they had spared no expense when decorating as we were greeted by a massive chandelier with a bar on the inside. The sleek, video-screened reception area was eye-catching and there was more than a hint of James Bond elements in the decor throughout the whole building. This was done in a really classy way, using subtle references to 007 rather than an in-your -face approach, which could easily have been cheesy.
The room at the Cosmopolitan was impressive. It was much bigger that we’d previously experienced and definitely had a more luxurious feel to it. The quality of the finish, the classy decor and the excellent sound proofing were all nods to a well designed and beautifully executed hotel room. On subsequent trips, we have used the Cosmopolitan again and found it to be a stunning room each time. On our last trip, we did splurge a little to ensure that we had a balcony view to enjoy watching the Bellagio Fountains at night and the amazing heat in the day.
Whilst not as big as a lot of the other casinos, there was still more than enough areas to gamble, eat and shop. The pool was beautiful, with the usual mix of sun loungers and cabanas (although these cost a fair amount – probably only worth considering if you win big on the slot machines!).
Overall, places to stay in Vegas vary greatly but it’s really important to get a sense of what you want from your temporary home. Planet Hollywood was great for groups, younger couples and a cheaper, more relaxed stay. The Mirage was much more subdued and aimed at the ‘posher’ end of the market. The Cosmopolitan was luxurious and classy but didn’t feel at all pretentious – for us, it was a perfect blend of classic Vegas and modern sleek. It’s the one that we always recommend to friends.