Just got back from my sort-of-annual Vegas trip. This one was a 50th birthday celebration for a friend. Some developments:
1. This was my first Vegas trip during the ‘slow season’ — the time after Thanksgiving with the exception of Rodeo Week. It was REALLY slow — crazy slow, even on Friday night.
2. The niceness of some older hotels depends on the “refresh factor” — basically, how long it’s been since the hotel had carpets replaced, rooms painted, bathrooms redone, etc. It looks like the Tropicana, which I’ve stayed at for their funky garden bungalow rooms in recent trips, needs another refresh. And why do so many “nonsmoking” Vegas hotel rooms smell like smoke anyway?
3. Hotels visited this time: The Trop, MGM Grand, New York New York, Park MGM (good job with the massive remodeling, by the way), Bellagio, Caesar’s Palace, the Flamingo, the Linq, TI, the Venetian, SLS (really liked the casual Northside Cafe there), the Hard Rock, the Fremont, 4 Queens, Golden Nugget, the California and Main Street Station. Also visited O’Shea’s and the Horseshoe, which don’t have hotels.
4. Didn’t blow the gambling budget but that was in part because of a really bad couple of hours in Day 2, which is the sort of thing that always sours me and causes me to gamble less.
5. Because I usually go in big groups, most of my Vegas meals are casual. Surprises on that front this time around: the aforementioned Northside Cafe, the thought put into the menu at Culinary Dropout at the Hard Rock, the buffet at Caesar’s (I’m not a buffet person but was really surprised at the overall quality here) and a really good breakfast at Tom’s Urban at New York New York (a spin on Eggs Benedict using carnitas and chopped poblano peppers).
6. Hit up a locals’ diner for the first time in a while; walked from the Trop down to Coco’s Bakery Restaurant a couple of blocks away. Highly recommended for the breakfast and the people watching. Good prices, big portions, good quality for a breakfast diner.
7. Downtown was even weirder than usual. And the 4 Queens, of which I have many fond memories, has gone straight to the dumper; it’s no longer a good gambling locale IMHO and I’ll probably avoid it in the future. And the Las Vegas Club building disappeared. And about half of Binny’s old joint is a T-shirt shop now. And I somehow didn’t go into the Golden Gate, which I love. And the renovation at the California is fantastic! And the beers from the Triple-7 at Main Street remain as good as ever.