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These prices will make you want to party

Just like beauty, Vegas hotels and casinos are often seen through the eyes of the beholder. One person may see a luxury suite as a waste of money since they only believe the room is a place to rest before taking in everything has to over. For others, the luxury, over the top pampering is what makes Vegas unique from everywhere else in the world.

So trying to create a list of best or top casinos can be a challenge. But we are nothing if not ready for a challenge. That said, rather than ranking the casinos or justifying where you should spend your hard earned money, we’ve created a list of our favorites. We go to Vegas a lot and each time we want something different out of the trip. We choose our hotel based on that need. And we’ll share what we’ve learned with you here.

In the last year I have been (or should have been, damn you COVID-19) to a couples vacation, a bachelor party, a 21st birthday for a cousin, a guys long weekend, my birthday weekend, and soon to be Raiders games. Here’s how I decided on the hotel for every occasion.

Romantic Trip to Vegas

When I go to Vegas with my wife, especially if we go alone, we are looking for a nice, relaxing vacation. When people here I’m going to Vegas (again!), they expect the long hours at the casino and all out party extraveganza that they did when they they were younger and went to Vegas.

The romantic trip is not that. We stay at the Aria, Vdara, Wynn, or The Cosmopolitan typically and usually upgrade to a mid-level suite. We have always considered Venetian, but never have comps there, so it’s typically significantly more expensive because of our status at the other hotels.

We also like the center of the strip, as we typically do nice dinners and want to easily be able to go to shows. We are less concerned about clubs and pool parties and very concerned about nice, relaxing pool areas and fine dining options.

All things equal, we would usually choose a 1-bedroom fountain view room at The Cosmopolitan. It’s our favorite room, offers amazing views from the balcony (which is rare in Vegas), and is in a great location in the center of the strip.

The Cosmopolitan has a number of my top restaurants including Zuma, STK, and China Pablano. There are tons of other great restaurants, including a number of affordable restaurants in Block 16 Urban Hall and we have been comped Wicked Spoon buffets which are one of the best.

Overall, Cosmo has a cool vibe, great food, sweet views, decent pool, & fun bars. It can be expensive and isn’t part of a larger rewards program, so while it’s our favorite, it’s not always the choice.

We also love the Wynn & Encore for many of the same reasons. Awesome food, beautiful designs, cool vibe, & somewhere that has everything we need. Again, it can get expensive and being on the north strip, it’s not as easy to get to everything Vegas has to offer.

Typically we consider the Wynn or Encore when we are staying for a shorter trip (2-3 nights) or as part of a multi-hotel stay (2-3 night at the Wynn then to another hotel for 2-3 nights). We are not in the “you can’t do Vegas for a week” camp, but if we do stay longer, we like to break the hotels up so we get to see and do more.

When it’s all said and done, we often end up staying at Aria (or Vdara). We love the pool area and the central location, access to shopping, ease to get to other MGM properties (because MLife is our best rewards program). We always get good comped rooms and rates at Aria and often stay in the corner suites.

When we have tried to stay at other hotels to save money or try something new, we don’t have as good of a time. Park MGM is great for guys trip or to watch some VGK, but it didn’t live up to what my wife is used to from a room size or amenity standpoint. Same with NYNY and even Bellagio to some extent, although we are staying there in June when Vegas re-opens, so I may update my POV after another stay.

Overall, there are great options for a nice, relaxing romantic weekend in Vegas and we recommend splurging a bit if you want the luxury experience.

Guys Trip to Vegas

When I go to Vegas with the guys, there’s definitely a different set of requirements. Hotels we like for group trips include The Mirage, Caesars Palace, MGM Grand, Park MGM, NY-NY, and the Flamingo. The Venetian and Wynn/Encore would be an option here and a number of hotels like Planet Hollywood, Treasure Island, The LINQ, Harrah’s Bally’s, etc. would also fit the bill.

Typically, I like the Mirage, MGM Grand, Caesars, or Park MGM. My dark horse is always NY-NY, as I love the vibe in the casino, but it’s lacking in the pool area, so we often skip it. I tend to land in the MGM resort camp, as I typically get at least 4 nights comped in this level of hotel, so it’s hard to go anywhere else.

If you are not loyal to a reward program or don’t go enough (2-3 times a year can get you good comps), there is a wide net of solid choices here. Typically I am looking for great pools, good location near whatever we are doing, and the best rates. You end up eating at the hotel you are staying at often, so that gives MGM Grand, Caesars, and Park MGM a big boost, as each has some of the best food and bar areas around.

Bachelor/Bachelorette Parties in Vegas

So there’s lots of options here, similar to a guys/girls trip, but there are things you need to consider. You are likely going to be drunk and trying to move a hoard of people in one direction that may not all know each other. This is why we recommend picking a hotel that can accommodate all your needs.

When I think bachelor/bachelorette party, I instantly think MGM Grand. It has Hakkasan nightclub, Wet Republic dayclub, awesome pool area, good high-end restaurants, a less expensive food court, Top Golf, & a huge casino that has something for everyone.

If you want to find a hotel and hunker down for a couple days, MGM Grand is a great option. Plus, you can usually get a pretty good deal on rooms or you can ball out on a sky suite. Basically, it’s the swiss army knife of Vegas partying.

If budget is less restrictive, everything I said about MGM Grand, you could say about Venetian but nicer. It also has the benefit of being close to both Caesars and Wynn, so if you want to break out a bit more, Venetian is an awesome choice. It’s nicer and more expensive, but would be an awesome place to call party home.

Aria, Cosmo, and Caesars have cool amenities, good pools, and are close to some of the hottest parties around, so they are good choices. They again have a higher price tag, but could definitely be great time.

Overall, I would consider MGM Grand, Caesars, & Venetian as the go-to bachelor/bachelorette party locations, but would also consider Encore, Aria, and Cosmo if you have the budget or Flamingo, NY-NY, or Planet Hollywood

Another awesome bachelor party idea is heading to downtown Vegas. You can get great deals and the vibe might be more your style if you want something a bit less glitz and glam.

We like the Golden Nugget, The D, and Downtown Grand. Circa (coming in 2020) would also likely be a great choice. With a downtown location you get lower table mins, you can still find 3:2 blackjack, the food is cheaper, the beer is better (i.e. less expensive), and the vibe is more low key.

If that sounds like your group, don’t hesitate to take advantage of everything Fremont Street has to offer like live music and interesting characters all around.

Vegas Events

Vegas is the entertainment capital of the world and hosts events nearly every week throughout the year. If you are heading to Vegas for an event, we typically recommend staying with the group even if it’s a bit more expensive. It can seem easy enough to get around on the strip, but everything is further than you think and you don’t want to spend time hoofing it down the strip to get to your 9AM meeting.

That said, there are other events that take over the entire strip. Conventions like CES, sporting events like March Madness and the Super Bowl, concerts and shows from A-list stars all are part of the Vegas charm.

In addition, Vegas is officially a world-class professional sports city, as fans have embrassed the Vegas Golden Knights and wooed Raider Nation to make Vegas home in 2020.

If you are heading to a Vegas Golden Knights game, NY-NY and Park MGM sit between The Fortress and have awesome gameday vibes. For the Raiders, we expect Mandalay Bay, Luxor, MGM Grand, and NY-NY to be the center of the action, but Caesars and most other resorts will have plenty going on. With the stadium at the south end of the strip, MGM resorts have a huge proximity advantage, including some tailgating opportunities.

Honestly, there’s really no way to go wrong with a hotel in Vegas if you go in with the right expectations. Vegas often has great deals in comparison to other tourist destinations, so take advantage of good deals, sales, & do your research. You can often find a great hotel and casino for less than you expect! And be sure to understand what you find important. Fun can be had at every Vegas resort, but that doesn’t mean it will be perfect for you!

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