Vegas Hotels Compared: Where should you stay this weekend?

Last minute Las Vegas trips are always fun, but where you stay can make the difference between having money to gamble and sitting in your room twiddling your thumbs. Today, we’re going to explore pricing for a last-minute getaway to Las Vegas. We’re looking at room rates for May 20th through 22nd, so if you’re reading this at a later date, they don’t necessarily apply.

In figuring out the best place to stay, we’ve taken a look at room rates, food costs, gambling prices, and even costs of traveling up and down the strip. There are lots of other hotels worth exploring, but these three should give you an idea of what you can look forward to.


Room—Hotels.com has this room for $351 per night. That doesn’t include a Resort Fee of $35.84, which you’ll pay upon checking in. For two nights, you’re looking at $785.23, before you pony up the $71.68.

Buffet—The regular dinner buffet runs $35.99 with the Gourmet Dinner option hitting $40.99. These prices do not include taxes and gratuity. For the sake of keeping things easy, we’ll round up to $50 per person, which you’ll easily hit with taxes and tip at the $35.99, especially if you have a drink.

Gambling—You’d be hard-pressed to find table games for anything lower than $25. And on a Friday and Saturday, you’re more likely to end up sitting down at a $50 minimum table if those $25 minimums are full. Forget about finding a table minimum with $10 or less. Bottom line? You need big money to make gambling at Bellagio work.


While lots of people opt for a hotel right on the strip, there are a series of hotels and time share resorts that sit off the strip. Many of them are actually connected to the strip or various strip hotels via underground walkways with lots of shopping and restaurants, so you don’t feel so isolated. Many people opt for these properties because they offer kitchens and they’ll usually priced well below strip hotels. Let’s take a look at how Elara stacks up.

Room—You’re looking at an average nightly price of $419, which at first seems higher than Bellagio. But the good news is that Elara doesn’t have any resort fees. So, at the end of the day, you might not end up paying more, right? Well, not in this case. With taxes, your room runs you $938.56. But that’s not the whole store.

Food—Elara doesn’t actually have any restaurants on the property. Instead, you can access the restaurants in the shops below Elara, or of course exit onto the strip. But the 1-bedroom suite (and pretty much all rooms) at Elara comes with a kitchen. So you could stock up on groceries at the local store and save money on breakfasts, lunches, and even dinners if that’s your thing.

Gambling—There’s no on-property casino at Elara. Sure, that might seem odd for a town built on the concept of gambling, but many off-strip hotels (and even some on-strip hotels) don’t have gambling. If you’re the type of player who isn’t a huge gambler but you find yourself tempted by the blaring lights and flashing sounds of slot machines, Elara can help you keep your money in your pocket.

Mandalay Bay

At the far end of the strip, pretty much a cab ride from anything remotely good, sits an oasis called Mandalay Bay. It’s a pretty posh hotel, complete with its own private beach. And while it’s a bit isolated from all the good stuff, it tends to run pretty high in the nightly rate department. But if you’re booking for this weekend, you’re in for a surprise.

Room—This weekend you’ll find an average nightly rate of $190. With a Friday to Sunday stay, you’re looking at $425.60, plus a resort fee of $67.20. So far, this is the best deal, bar none.

Food—You have a great selection of restaurants that run the full gamut of pricing. But if you do want to venture out onto the strip, you’ll definitely want to set aside money for cabs or Uber trips. Because Mandalay Bay is so isolated, you’ll definitely want to avoid walking. While people definitely walk the strip, it can seem like an eternity getting from Mandalay Bay to Planet Hollywood than from Planet Hollywood to Trump. While the latter trip is greater in distance, it doesn’t feel as long of a walk with so many hotels dotting the strip and lots of people about and about.

Gambling—Gambling is fairly decent here, with a healthy mix of low tables and high roller tables. Slots are available at all rates, but that’s pretty much standard wherever you plan on playing.

And the winner is…

Definitely Mandalay Bay. While Elara is enticing with all that money you’ll save on food, you’re in Vegas. Do you really want to cook? And do you really want to save money on peanut butter sandwiches.

Even with the small sense of isolation, you can’t beat the Mandalay Bay manmade beach. Plus, even if you do venture out onto the strip for dinners and entertainment, the amount of money you’d spend on Uber rides or cabs wouldn’t add up to that much, especially if you’re heading out with a group of people.

Here’s another tip. Every major casino has a taxi stand at the back of the property. Most people are heading out somewhere onto the strip, so ask around and see if anyone is going in your direction. If so, you can split a cab and save even more money.

Want to save money on gambling — wherever you stay?
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