In an era where many Las Vegas hotels charge hidden nightly resort fees that can exceed the nightly rate (depending on the time of year, this is totally a thing now), a good, honest deal might appear to thing of the past. It’s not. The deals have just—for the most part—moved away from the Strip.
Typically, there are significant tradeoffs involved when leaving Las Vegas Boulevard. Transportation will probably be your number one concern, at least if you’re flying in—rental cars used to be plentiful and cheap, barely worth even a line item in your Vegas budget, thanks to short driving distances and abundant free parking.
Everything’s different, now. Rental car pickups have now been consolidated into an unwieldy and expensive new facility that renters are paying for via exorbitant fees tacked on to every bill. Parking is no longer free in a growing number of the Strip’s famously gargantuan garages. (Yes, even hotel guests have to pay.) Anyway, Lyft and Uber have now come to town and are now fully legal at the airport—no need to rely on the city’s notoriously shiftless (and scammy) taxi cartel. You really don’t need to drive.
Ideally, what you’re looking for in a Las Vegas hotel is one that doesn’t engage in gratuitous gouging, while also offering proximity and access to the action along the Strip. You never want to feel stranded or on the hook for new costs that eat away at the savings you enjoyed by booking somewhere off the beaten path.
Does such a sweet spot exist? Absolutely, and it’s hiding in plain sight, right along the much-maligned (but really, totally fine) Las Vegas Monorail. Many visitors aren’t even aware that there is such a thing, but be assured—it is very real, wobbling back and forth along a 3.9 mile route between MGM Grand and SLS Las Vegas (the old Sahara) all day, every day and well into the wee hours. (Tickets are $5, a day pass is $12, three days of unlimited rides for $28.)
To be sure, all of the rude things people say about the monorail are true—there aren’t enough stations, the stations are mostly buried deep inside casinos with almost prohibitively vague signage; it’s almost as if the casinos don’t want you to use it. But the monorail does do one thing very well: It connects the Las Vegas Convention Center district with the heart of the action in minutes.
How is this relevant to you, Mr. and Mrs. Leisure Traveler? Well, because there are hotels over there. Sensible, quiet, affordable ones, hotels geared towards serious travelers. Hotels with no resort fee, with free Internet, free parking. Sometimes, there’s even a free breakfast buffet. With monorail stations either right across the street or a few steps away, staying here is almost a no-brainer for the value-minded.
Sound too good to be true? There are times when it is—if you’re rolling into town at the same time as a large convention, deals of any kind can quickly disappear. But for a surprising number of dates each year, they’re very much attainable.
Don’t just assume that all hotels located out here are great value, though—on and around Paradise Road, you’ll find a number of hotels that appear to fit the bill. Price them out and you’ll discover some great deals and, often, no resort fees. All seem close to the Monorail, or even the Strip. But are they? Distances in Las Vegas can be tricky, particularly on a sizzling summer afternoon. While the map may show the monorail route passing by a hotel, the nearest station could be a mile away or more. The Strip could be even farther, often with zero chance of shade or relief from the heat.
Then there are the properties that may be near a Monorail stop, or even the Strip, that may offer attractive rates, but the value (freebies, no fees) too often just isn’t there. The Renaissance used to be a terrific value, often available on weekends for around $120, but they’ve too come down with resort fee fever, now charging nearly $25 extra per night. The tired Westgate, formerly the tired Las Vegas Hilton, is another fine example of this—great rates, but with a hidden resort fee of $29.95 per night and a not-so-hidden mission to get you to buy a timeshare. The Westin, which is easy walking distance from the Strip, has now decided to slap its guests with a $33 resort fee for, well, basically nothing.
In the end, just three properties meet our admittedly tough standards. All of them, interestingly, happen to fall under the Marriott umbrella. Then again, perhaps this is not so interesting—it’s a rather giant umbrella these days. All offer lightning-quick access to the Monorail, no resort fees, high standards of cleanliness, proper soundproofing, limited tolerance for loud parties and, for the most part, abundant inclusions of free stuff, in stark opposition to the gouging going on very nearly next door. Each property is also 100% smoke-free—still a rarity in Las Vegas.
Here, your best new friends in Las Vegas, hotel-wise:
SpringHill Suites Las Vegas Convention Center from $110
Spa-like décor in junior suite-sized rooms will be particularly appreciated in a crazy-making city like Las Vegas. A breakfast buffet, internet, fitness center access and parking are all free. That’s right. Free. Bonus: There’s a rooftop pool with decent Strip views, too. Hit it right and you’ll find this to be one of the best values in town.
Monorail stop Westgate
Residence Inn Las Vegas Convention Center from $127
Complete kitchens are a selling point at this hotel geared toward longer stays that’s tucked away into a secret garden of sorts. If you know the brand, you’ll be amused to find this familiar, low-rise apartment village-ish setup just one monorail stop from the glitter of the Strip. An extensive free breakfast and speedy, complimentary internet make staying here an even sweeter deal.
Monorail stop Convention Center
Courtyard Las Vegas Convention Center from $109
Here, you’re literally a crosswalk away from the monorail. There’s no free breakfast, but you still get your basic internet, fitness center, pool and parking for free. The Courtyard is located directly next door to the Residence Inn—make sure to do a price comparison, as that’s going to be the better value.
Monorail stop Convention Center
Booking a trip?
If you’re looking for the lowest fares 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, start your search at Hotels.com or 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.