Many first time visitors to Las Vegas often wonder where to stay and get the best value for their money. You may not want to book early, as it may not save you money… but early research can be the key!
First, decide which hotel it is that you’d like to stay at. Once you are settled on one, find out what the average price is. If it is more than you can afford, think of what you will be comfortable spending. Remember, it is cheap to get around in Vegas.
Next, sign up for promotions on the hotel’s website. Also, some hotels will let you sign up for their players club over the internet. Doing either one of these things will be sure to get you offers for cheaper room rates. If you have a players club (slot) card, log onto the website for that hotel-casino and select the “hot deals” or other button that is for players club (slot) card members. You will find a calendar there which will show rates for each day for several months, allowing you to consider how flexible you want to be in order to get the best rate.
In the meantime, before your offers start pouring in, start checking prices on different websites. First, look on the hotel’s website. Then, try others such as Sidestep.com, Kayak.com, Bookingbuddy.com, Expedia, travelocity.com and Orbitz. Check prices every day, a couple of times a day, because rates can fluctuate wildly. You might consider looking into package deals on those sites such as AAVacations, Yahoo Vacations, United Vacations, Frontier Flyaway, etc. Travelocity and most airline and other travel websites also offer you the option to shop for air/hotel packages. You can often get a good rate by booking an air/hotel combination while still having the option to select preferred flights and hotels.
However, as noted earlier, whenever you book through any online site, be sure to do the research first. Make sure the room type you are booking is the one you want (for example, a lot of sites offer more than one room type. Circus, Circus for example, offers discounts on Regular rooms in the Manor, which are in an older part of the hotel at the back of the property and are much less desirable. At the El Cortez, the “classic” rooms are older, and accessible only by stairs from the casino. The pavillion rooms are reached via elevators within the casino and are located on top of the parking garage with outside corridors and porch overhangs. While adequate and clean, these pavillion rooms are somewhat small. The El Cortez tower rooms are bigger than the average hotel room, but are the longest walk from the parking garage.
A number of hotels are now adding on daily surcharges for local taxes, energy, phone usage (whether you use the phone or not), etc. and hiding the charges by calling them “resort fees.” These fees currently range from $4 to $28 per day in addition to your quoted room rate. Not all hotels have these charges, but you should be aware that they may be there and budget for them. If you book directly with the property, be sure to ask what additional daily charges will be added to the room rate quoted.
Remember, when you book online you are acting as your own travel agent and you have to do the legwork. Be sure to check websites that offer “video tours” of the hotel in which you are interested. The other downside to the packages is that in a number of cases, they have to be paid in full at time of booking and may or may not be refundable or exchangeable. Some sites do offer insurance for these packages, but be sure to check the terms and conditions on the policy. Most will only cover cancellations in case of an emergency. If you opt to log in with your slot card and make your reservation by that route you will usually be immediately charged for one night’s deposit, with the remainder being charged at your check-out time. This deposit is usually refunded if you cancel your reservation within the hotel’s cancellation policy guidelines.
Try to avoid staying on a weekend, as the prices skyrocket at that time. Sunday through Thursday is usually a lot cheaper. It would also be wise to do a search on Yahoo or at lasvegastourism.com for the Las Vegas convention schedule. Do not stay there during large conventions because rates can quadruple.
If all else fails, call the hotel directly (particularly if you absolutely MUST have a nonsmoking room for health or other reasons; you must call again a couple of days before your departure to ensure that you actually get one). They will be able to tell you when rates will fall and might even be able to tell you about upcoming promotions.
In addition, you can get better rates if you are not travelling during peak Vegas times such as New Years!! That said, however, durig the two weeks before Christmas this town is practically empty and rates are cheap, too. (Be aware, though, that some of the shows and attractions are shut down during this time period, so if you are coming to see a specific show be sure to check first).
You might also consider staying at resort/casinos off the strip. For example, Sam’s Town (offers its own shuttles to many hotel/casinos both downtown and on the Strip), Fiesta Rancho, Station Casinos, Coast Casinos, and The Silverton (several off-strip casino/hotels, such as Terribles, also offer a free airport shuttle – an amenity not normally provided by the strip hotels). You can still gamble at these places and get cabs or city buses (or the Trolley from Silverton) to the strip action. The slots and tables usually pay better and the rooms are usually cheaper away from the strip. The Coast Casinos are a great option because they offer shuttle service to their casino, Barbary Coast (The Barbary Coast NO longer exists, though the shuttle may still be running. It is now a Harrahs property named Bills Gambling Hall and Saloon), on the strip. So you can stay at the Orleans for example, and take the shuttle to the strip. And Harrah’s runs a shuttle between its Strip locations and the Rio.
Most Las Vegas hotels have “Hot Deals” for room rates and special combos with meal, show and spa discounts on their own websites. If you book directly with the hotel and they post a lower rate for your date – a phone call to them will get you the lower rate – if this is done before your arrival. Prices can change dramatically according to supply and demand. If you encounter any problems with the cleanliness of your room or have any other major complaints about service – do not be shy. Let the manager know immediately; many hotels will offer compensation in the form of meal vouchers or even a further room rate reduction.
Also, once your room is booked, it’s not necessarily the final price. Keep checking the website daily. If the rates drop below what you are paying, call the hotel. They will adjust your reservation to the current rate.
And a final tip- Some properties, including those belonging to Harrah’s, offer a “best price guarantee.” Check the details on their websites, but the quick version is that if you can find a rate on another travel site that beats the rate they’re offering on one of their own sites and can follow their instructions for taking advantage of the guarantee you can get the room for even less than the third party’s price. Great deals can be lined up this way, so be sure to keep checking for lower prices even after you’ve booked a room. Of course, this only works if you’ve booked directly through the hotel and not through a third party site.
Good luck and do not give up