With so many Las Vegas hotels and resorts promising the world—or some tiny version of it, anyway—it can be hard to discern what’s real and what’s just marketing department smoke-and-mirrors. For those who like to gamble on everything except a good night’s sleep, here are your best hotel bets in Las Vegas right now. This is not by any means an inclusive list, leaning heavily toward the resorts that aren’t too large to offer something actually approximating luxury. (Read why Las Vegas luxury is typically different from actual luxury in our recent post, “10 hard truths about Las Vegas hotels.”)
Four Seasons Las Vegas
This charmingly normcore retreat inside the Mandalay Bay metroplex has never garnered very much buzz, nor has it gone after the attention. That’s precisely what makes it such a find. (Even Four Seasons junkies have to sometimes be reminded that such a thing exists in Las Vegas, let alone on the Strip.) There are just 424 rooms (bear in mind, small for around here) and even after recent renovations, the hotel still isn’t very flashy or, to some eyes, all that special. Couple that with a remote, southern location and you’ll find that the Four Seasons attracts almost none of the looky-loos that parade through resorts up and down the boulevard, leaving guests to enjoy quiet breakfasts on the covered patio at Veranda, treatments in the very good spa and lazy summer days by the pleasant, modest-only-by-local-standards pool (pictured up top). Got kids? Four Seasons guests have access to Mandalay Bay’s water park-esque pool complex, out beyond the decorative shrubbery.
Starting rate $245
Resort fee $35
Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas
For looks, serenity and generally making you feel like a rock star, it’s tough to argue against this 392-room stunner, hanging out 23 floors (and up) above the gargantuan CityCenter development like some kind of sleek drone. Carrying the flag of a brand with a serious reputation for service, the Mandarin, much like the Four Seasons, is as about as close as you’ll come to true luxury—versus Vegas luxury, which is different—on this patch of desert. The hotel’s small collection of bars and restaurants—among them, Pierre Gagnaire’s Twist—have their good days and not-so-hot days, and it’s still hard to feel quite as cosseted here as you would at a smaller hotel in this class, but a serious and seriously elegant spa, a strict no smoking policy and a grown-up pool scene manage to make the Mandarin the best choice for civilized adults who want to be in, but perhaps not of, Las Vegas.
Starting rate $246
Resort fee $35
Cosmopolitan, Autograph Collection by Marriott
As most big Las Vegas hotel projects do, the Cosmo debuted at the top of the pile. Time has passed, ownership has changed, priorities have shifted, purse strings have been tightened, but the hotel remains one of the best places to stay in the city based on the rooms alone, which have something that in modern Las Vegas was almost impossible to find: Balconies. Thousands of them, spacious ones, many with stunning views of Bellagio’s Lake Como and the Strip beyond. Then there are the in-room kitchenettes, where you can cobble together a quick breakfast in the morning—if you’ve spent a lot of time in Vegas hotels, you’ll appreciate a blast of air coming from somewhere else other than a dusty vent and a free cup of coffee before facing the world down below. The restaurant collection gets better and better—you can now start your mornings at Eggslut, home to some of the most creative breakfast sandwiches anywhere, followed by lunch or dinner at David Chang’s Momofuku, where the carefully-crafted ramen is priced about the same as bog-standard noodle bowl offerings in other casinos. (There’s a Milk Bar too, if you still haven’t tried their now-classic crack pie, or the cereal soft serve ice cream.) Oh, and bonus: Best self-parking in the city—you can enter and exit off of Harmon Avenue, which, once you figure it out, allows you to come and go without ever having to cross Las Vegas Boulevard. Now that’s a world-class amenity.
Starting rate $197
Resort fee $35
There’s no casino, no dining scene to speak of and the pool is just a pool—so why do so many people say they wouldn’t stay anywhere else on the Strip? Simple: The cheapest rooms in this 57-story tower, designed by starchitect Rafael Vinoly, are nicely appointed and rather spacious, at nearly 600 square feet. (The best views are past the Cosmopolitan and out to Bellagio’s Lake Como.) Like its more glam cousin on the other side of CityCenter, the entire hotel is non-smoking. It may be one (free) monorail stop from Bellagio, but Vdara remains seductively low-key – returning here at night, there’s a sense of having escaped the madness that’s basically a given from Thursday through Sunday at most hotels, starting with the more flamboyant Aria, just across the forecourt. Visiting in warmer weather? No need to stress about pool space—guests are able to reserve chairs, daybeds and relatively affordable cabanas in advance of their stay.
Starting rate $145
Resort fee $35
BUDGET PICK: The Cromwell
If you remember this hotel in its former incarnations, you’ll likely get a chuckle out of the latest rebranding. Admittedly, Caesars did put plenty of effort into renovating and rethinking what was, a few lives ago, the budget Barbary Coast. But, short of imploding the building and setting it back more than a few feet from one of the Strip’s most insane intersections, this will never be any kind of fancy resort, no way, no how, forget about it. Not that it needs to be—the location and size are actually its two greatest strengths. Here, you get a room (nicer than they’ve ever been, but still, manage your expectations), preferably with a view of Bellagio’s Lake Como or something like it, a few flights up from the Strip, which is just a short elevator ride away. Quiet? You must be joking—it’s either the world outside your window or the thumping rooftop pool & club (Drai’s) over your head, take your pick. But if you’re after a ringside seat to the action and enjoy a good deal at a hotel that now happens to be quite easy on the eyes, look no further. Note: Our enthusiasm for this hotel wanes as the price begins to climb—a frequent occurrence on weekends. Just so you know.
Starting rate $100
Resort fee $35
Booking a trip? If you’re looking for cheap airfares to Las Vegas, start your search at CheapFlights, or compare multiple sites at once with BookingBuddy. Don’t forget that bundling your flight and hotel together can save you a lot of money; give it a try at either Orbitz or Expedia—both are great places to start a simple airfare search, too. If you’re just after the best Las Vegas hotel deals, Hotels.com features a regularly-updated Vegas deals page — you can also find something similar at Orbitz. Also have a look at Priceline, where you can save up to 60 percent on any given night by taking advantage of their Express Deals feature. (This simple tool has probably saved us—no joke—thousands of dollars over the years.) Don’t forget, you can also cross-reference a ton of hotel user reviews with the best rates available from more than 200 web sites at TripAdvisor. If you need a rental car, begin your search by swinging wide to get a sense of the market—a site like Booking Buddy lets you check pretty much every site worth knowing in just a couple of clicks.