I will have to admit that, on paper, I am not really attracted to such bling-bling destinations like Las Vegas (especially compared to beautiful national parks or more authentic cities)… But it is really a must-do during your road trip on the US West coast ! We will cross the border of an American state for the first time : leaving Death Valley in California to get to Nevada ! We will see only a very small bit from this state (one city and a few highways) but it still counts, right ? Anyway, Las Vegas will probably be on your way from the Pacific coast to the Arizonian canyons, it would then be a shame not to stop to discover this unique city ! Aaaaaaall the clichés are definitely true, but that is what is funny and interesting ! Needless to plan a long stop, 1 or 2 days will be enough (maybe more like 1 or 2 nights maybe !) and you will then be able to say that YES, you have been there 🙂
» A comfortable bed and a bathroom, what’s that ?
Well, I will now start by telling the truth and admit that we absolutely cheated for this stage… And we left behind our beloved van for a few days during our stay in Las Vegas ! Honestly and objectively (as always), I think it would be a bit complicated to find where to park without being too far from the heart of the action because this city is not really appropriate for an adventurer’s life, on the contrary. And in the end, being in Las Vegas is getting into this crazy atmosphere and it is for sure from a hotel on the Strip that you will enjoy it the most. On a more practical note, rediscovering a bathroom after 2 consecutive days without a shower despite the pleasant 40 degrees in Furnace Creek was such a treat ! And enough to notice that our so-called tan was… dirt from the desert guys ! Well, enough with stupid stuff, how to get a hotel room without going over you road trip budget ?
1. Choose whether you want to stay the Strip or not : I would say yes for sure; and if you keep in mind the few next tips, you will be able to save some money, so better be in the thick of the action, right ?
2. Do not look at the hotels’ websites : Unless you absolutely want to stay at one hotel in particular (or if you put some money aside to treat yourself) do not consult the prices directly on the websites.
3. Use a price comparison website : Look for the ongoing promotions on price comparison websites to find the offer that will seduce you.
4. Book your room on Hotwire : I think it is probably the best solution. The principle is rather simple, big hotels do not want to communicate about promotions and lower prices, that is why they put their offer on third-party websites like Hotwire. You can choose the city, and the hotel category that you are interested in; and then choose a deal within a certain radius. Before you book it, you will not not in which hotel you will actually end up but “sign” for a specific standard and a services list. Once the payement has gone through, you will receive an email with the name of the hotel !
5. One last extra tip : rent a 2-people bedroom for 3 or 4 ! In est American hotels, 1 person = 1 double bed. So it is worth it to cut the costs in half by sleeping in the same bed. And after a few days/weeks in the van, you cannot tell me that you are afraid of that ! Do not go to the reception together, but once you have the key cards, you will not have any troubles.
That is how we finally stay at the Tropicana during our trip to Vegas ! It is located at the bottom of the Strip, and I think that among all hotels it is probably the most understated haha The room was great, the bathroom spacious. The casino was not gigantic but we will take on a tour of the others later. The pool was really cool, and even if it would have been a 2m² basin : what a luxury to be able to bathe under the sun, with a margarita in the hand ! The guys (yes because they were in Las Vegas at the same time !) were staying at Bally’s and also liked it.
» What is there to do in Las Vegas ?
Your stay will probably be more calm than the previous or following days, it is definitely the occasion to enjoy a peaceful moment to relax and have a break. First step : oversleeping in the morning ! You should seize the opportunity to recharge your batteries. I can only recommend an afternoon by the pool to laze around under the sun. The perfect time to write your postcards or read a bit ! Take care of yourself as well : a long shower, a manucure session, exfoliation… Enjoy this moment to chill and relax.
Apart from that, you have to get out of the hotel at some point, no matter how comfy it is ! You have to get up and down the Strip, better go at the end of the afternoon to get the adventure started. That way, the streets and hotels will be animated and the air will be cooler than during the day. Start anywhere (your hotel) and go from hotel to another to discover the casinos, but more importantly the universes : you will go from Ancient Egypt to New-York, from Hollywood to the Roman Empire, or even from Saint Marc place to the Eiffel Tower ! We have plenty to do and to impress you with all those decorations and lights. You can also try to spot the places you have seen in the movies, like the Caesar’s Palace seen in The Hangover. Do not forget to watch the water show in front of the Bellagio (every 15 minutes in the evening) and check out the M&M’s store. Want to do something cliché ? Drink a frozen margarita in a huge plastic Tour Eiffel (unfortunately, it will not fit in the suitcase to keep as a souvenir…).
Of course, you cannot leave Vegas without going to the casino ! Careful, you should normally be 21 to be able to stay and play. They do not check for everyone but can ask you to leave the games room if they come to controlling your age. I am not especially a fan of gambling generally speaking : not only I do not even know the name of most of the games, but I also have incredible bad luck. So I just tried myself to the slot machines ! Simply keep in mind an amount of money you wish not to go over so you will not spend all your savings (you easily go with the flow I admit). Personally, it was just about a few bucks; profit for the night : 5$. For the real gamblers, you can try other games, like our buddy Eirik with poker. But it is also fascinating to simply look at the people et be widespread in the atmosphere…
Well well well, time is flying, and it is almost time to leave for other places on the US West coast… But before that, a small detour through the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign for a beautiful souvenir picture ! You surely cannot leave the city without this precious memory. Just one tip : go early in the morning ! First of all, the picture will look better in daylight, but also the space is rather small and the queue pretty long. There is a small parking lot nearby, we went there on our way to Grand Canyon – it was perfect.
Here is what we did there but you can obviously find anything in Vegas : a Céline Dion concert, an illusion show or a night at the circus ? You just have to ask and you will find what you are looking for (obviously it does not come for free though). We did not stay long enough to do all that but it can be fun ! Otherwise, you can get married in one of Las Vegas wedding chapels. We did not fall for that experience, but at least it can be a good story to tell when you come back (more or less fun though…). everything is so over-the-top and touristic… But that is also why you come, and it would not be Vegas without that feeling ! By the way, if you think that I forgot about the nightlife, certainly not ! But nights in Las Vegas will be part of an upcoming article… !
PS : We also tried Las Vegas bus station when we waited for our Greyhound bus for houuuuuurs with Marijke… It is not worth the detour !