Doing Las Vegas Like a Baller–On a Budget
The dazzle of the Las Vegas Strip has a way of making one feel like a million bucks. But in this economy, getting sucked into the fantasy is more dangerous than ever. Luckily, Vegas is a city of kickbacks, comps, and perks, and anyone can cash in.
Casino hotels bring the most glam for your buck, many offering loyalty cards that rack up rewards points every time you spend anywhere in the hotel. Sign-up is usually free upon check-in (you may get a room upgrade automatically). These days, the in crowd shacks up at The Cosmopolitan. The hot spot opened in 2010 with a clubby scene, moody lounges, and colorful LED lights. Charge up your loyalty card at the rotating pop-up store or the ambient Chandelier lounge. Then cash in 10,000 points for VIP club passes, a steam treatment and bath (normally $175) at Sahra Spa and Hammam, or dinner for two. The Cosmopolitan Identity Platinum card guarantees reservations at its 13 packed restaurants, including Stephen Hopcraft’s STK, where winners dine on $85 steaks. Penny slot types should book at China Poblano, José Andrés’ funky noodle-and-taco house (about $30 for dinner and drinks).
Deals are to be had in Vegas before you even leave your home—that is, if you know where to look. American Express cardholders who book via the Amex Platinum concierge are privy to room upgrades, restaurant certificates, and late checkout at Amex’s partner hotels, including the Venetian. Priceline, too, is an obvious place to scour perks. Grown-ups looking for something lower key than the Cosmopolitan should book through Priceline Freebies with an eye toward the Venetian of the Palazzo. You can score a $279 luxury suite with a marble bath for $203, plus a $35 spa credit and admission to buzzy nightspot Lavo. While there, walk over to Fashion Show Mall for everyday deals at Topshop, the beloved British High Street retailer that opened in March. Then swing by Tix4Tonight in the mall for half-off tickets at performances all over town.
Music lovers can’t miss the poolside club XS at Encore Resort, where will.i.am and Usher have been known to DJ. After a big night, you’ll need the comped breakfast that comes with a $319 Tower suite—no bets required. But sometimes the best way to get the real high-roller treatment is to pay for it. At check-in, slip a bit of cash to the front desk agent in charge of selecting your room. The more luxe the hotel, the more you’ll pay—a $20 or $50 “trick” depending. The key is to come on a slower day when suites are available—empty rooms are more prevalent November through January and Sunday through Wednesday any time of year—and to know exactly what you want, whether a soaking tub or a view of Paris Hotel’s Eiffel Tower. If a suite is available, there are winnings in store. For example, when you check into that Tower suite at Encore, ask for a room number that ends with 06. If it’s available, you could score a Salon suite with a massage room and private gym (usually $1,300) for just $50 more. But as always, Vegas is about luck.