By E.C. Gladstone
With everything to see and do in Las Vegas, a room is only a place to sleep — when absolutely unavoidable. Right? Well… no! Despite the downturn, Las Vegas hotels have been remodeling older accommodations and introducing new ones since the beginning of 2008, trying to top each other with rooms so lavish you may never want to leave. Committed to his mission, your hardworking blogger vowed to try every one of these hotel rooms, and I’m glad to report that thick pillowtop beds, plasma screen TVs, hair dryers, irons, makeup mirrors and other formerly high–end-only amenities are now virtually universal. Leaving aside the more lavish suites (we’ll get to them later), here are the favorites in standard rooms and junior suites:
The most surprising entry on the list, this aging “family friendly” theme property revamped its rooms in a modern palette without forgetting the medieval theme, blending approachable and classy effectively. Pillowtop beds, large flatscreen TVs and plush towels at this price point make it undeniably the best value on today’s Strip.
Though the rooms at T.I. (a.k.a. Treasure Island) are a bit small by today’s standards, the remodels make distinctly clever and stylish use of space with dark wood tones, a cool chaise lounge, iPod-docking clock-radio, soft linens, strong water pressure in the bath and good Wi-Fi signals. The fitness room and spa here are also better than you might expect.
This new giant on the locals-friendly Boulder strip might seem like a blinding boondoggle from the outside, but the corner window junior suites offer a functionally tasteful hybrid of modern style and comfort in a high-ceiling, 600-sq.-ft floor plan. Features include king-size bed with a high padded headboard, wetsink area with mini fridge and coffeemaker, roomy bathroom with a state-of-the-art Jacuzzi tub (sliding doors open to the bedroom for a view), and big open shower with rainfall showerhead. Floor-to-ceiling windows provide 180 degree valley-wide views.
Truly a little sister to the Station Casinos chain’s Red Rock Resort, Aliante Station is similarly mod and classy but more approachable. While it’s even farther from the Strip (off Route 215 west), the rooms are virtually four-star quality at (right now) two-star prices. Comforting earthtones and woodgrains balance geometric built-in furniture with clever touches like gooseneck night lights, an adjustable waterfall showerhead in the oversized shower, and great floor-to-ceiling window views. Property features include a well-equipped 24-hour exercise room, complimentary chair massages in the lobby and turndown service.
6) Bellagio: Salone junior suites
While the design is on the bland side, of Bellagio’s recently redesigned mid-level suites, the smaller Salone is actually the most enticing option, a great option for couples or business travelers with a layout that feels cozy but not cramped. The view and amenity level both in the room and throughout the property (don’t forget that fantastic pool deck) raise the grade.
Building on the split-level junior suite layout of The Venetian’s rooms, their new sister hotel Palazzo offers a more modern but still artfully elegant take. Natural patterns, dark woods, marble in the roomy bath, two big flatscreens, a hidden well-stocked minibar, scanner/fax/printers for business people and a heavenly bed. The Venetian/Palazzo’s destination strengths (Free Wi-Fi in the common areas, the gargantuan Canyon Ranch Spa, extensive A-list shopping and restaurants) supplement significantly.
4.5) Wynn: Tower Suites
A step between the Wynn’s just-plain-lavish standard rooms and the forthcoming Encore, Wynn’s Tower Suites have their own koi pond atrium entrance and reception, and the experience builds from there. The high-ceilinged rooms are decorated in a modern regency style, equally masculine, feminine, east and west. The beds are nothing short of exquisite — you will never want to leave their soft sheets and pillows — and the bathrooms, with marble flooring, spa tub and glass shower (excellent water pressure) have every amenity imaginable (the curtains are motorized and the bedlamps have dimmers). No extra charge for bragging rights.
Despite Trump’s exterior — not to mention global image — the standard suites here are an expression of understated New York/European elegance. All have floor-to-ceiling windows, signature bedding, 500-thread-count sheets, incredibly roomy bathrooms with deep tubs, huge showers, cool in-mirror TVs, and fully equipped kitchenettes. So on-par with Wynn that it was difficult to choose one over the other; The Wynn property overall is obviously much stronger, but Trump’s rooms are fractionally superior.
Oozing cool from top to bottom, the new Palms Place suites, designed by New York’s Yabu Pushelberg, are on par with Trump and Wynn in most respects, yet much hipper. With hardwood and marble floors, space-age bathrooms, all-stainless kitchenettes, balconies (a rarity in Sin City) ipod stereos and dimmer lights throughout, they set a sexy new standard (the one-bedroom suites are even better). Room service by Iron Chef winner Kerry Simon, Aveda amenities, and well-placed mirrors seal the deal.
2) The Signature at MGM Grand
Junior suites in the third tower of this condo/hotel property, just completed this year, are comparable to those in Trump and Palms Place, but split the difference between elegance and hip, luxury and business elements with the most user-friendly and well appointed kitchenette of all, artistic décor and spacious five-star bathrooms. Brownie points for 24-hour business center and fitness room access and free Wi-Fi.
1) Flamingo GO junior suites
I first wrote about the GO rooms months ago, expecting something would top them. Nothing has. Decorated in bright white, pink and browns these rooms are a fantasy mid-century resort tribute that deserve the awards they’ve won. Sexy highlights include the white vinyl upholstered ceiling-high headboards, surround-sound stereos, two flatscreen TVs (the one nearest the bed pulls out from the wall for multi-angled viewing), goose-neck reading lamps, motorized curtains and white-marbled bathroom — with puckered tiling, body jets in the glass shower, and sliding transluscent bathroom door. What it might lack in a nicer tub or some other touches the previous five include, it makes up in vibe. Any night here is almost guaranteed to be memorable, and a value, at that.
Palace Station (unfussy ergonomic rooms with massive plasma TVs); Mirage (internationally mod styling — request the upper floors with bigger baths); Circus Circus west tower (spacious cool, a worthy value).
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E.C. Gladstone is a former editor for AOLVegas, and interviews top Strip entertainers, restaurateurs, moguls and behind-the-scenes players for VEGAS Magazine. Like many Las Vegans, he sleeps only when absolutely necessary.