Cliches roll round my mind faster than coins in an unlucky slot machine. This city – “The Meadows” or “The Fields” – has been the main character of so many stories, it’s now more mythical kingdom than physical oasis. You have to visit to understand. And after a week of camping, the temptation of hot water and wifi lured in my boyfriend and I…Just as poker tables, pretty girls, glitzy performances and sheer insanity have been luring visitors since the moment that famous, “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas”, light bulb-studded sign switched on.
The following steps will drop you into the culture of the city, without dropping your savings account:
1. Book your room in advance. Using an online booking site does require a few minutes of extra research; however, these are the rooms that will typically sell for less than the hotel sales price. Like buying Christmas decorations in July, these sites need to clear out their merchandise at the best possible price. Start your search for bargains here.
2. Ask for deals. Those surprising appetizer prices aren’t just propaganda in the hotel lobby. Like most other elements of Vegas, you are part of an elaborate and well-practiced illusion act: hotels and casinos are designed to twist you about, confuse your inner clock and upset your stomach. By the time you notice those $1 margarita advertisements, you should be so mired in their mazes of thematic architecture and card games, you won’t find your way to the bar. So ask someone how to get those discounts, regardless of how cheap it makes you sound.
3. Listen to word on the street. Unless it’s someone shouting “Hot girls, hot girls,” you can find unadvertised steals just by walking up and down The Strip. Restaurants and bars often give out coupons or drink vouchers to passerby; in front of the MGM Grand, employees will pay volunteers to watch TV pilots; clubs promote the night’s entertainment with tickets for free entry. Train your ear to discern the deals from the slap of paper escort cards, (“Hot girls, hot girls” again), and start walking.
4. Join the Player’s Club. If you have the patience to fill out a few forms, most hotels offer – with free signup to their Player’s Clubs – 2-4-1 drink offers, an amount of starting game chips and discount tickets for in-house shows. This is a good idea if you plan to spend an excessive amount of time in one particular hotel. And let’s be honest – no one ever plans to spend 13 hours at a Blackjack table, but just in case you do…
5. Leave the Strip. Though anything beyond Stratosphere is considered the “dodgy” end of the street, this half of the road, and the surrounding blocks, are like the ghosts of Vegas past: peeling, proud and resigned to prices that beat out their flashy neighbors. It’s as off the beaten path as you can get in a destination that attracts over 36 million tourists a year.
Next stop on our Southwest American road trip: the Mojave Desert and Joshua Tree National Park, California
Previous stops: Las Vegas, Nevada and the Hoover Dam