This is a continuation of a travel series of a road trip I took to Vegas with my husband in late May. To start the series from the beginning, read THIS POST. The rest of the posts are HERE, and HERE, in chronological order.
The evening of our third day of vacation we arrived in Las Vegas. We arrived around supper time so we decided to check into our hotel, get a quick bite to eat, and then walk the Vegas strip to see the lights.
When deciding on a hotel for Vegas I talked to a lot of friends who had been there and I read a lot of reviews on Hotel.com. No one seemed to agree on any hotel, it didn't matter if it was a two star or a five star hotel, someone had a problem. I finally made my decision based on three factors:
1) Did they offer free parking?
That was extremely important as I had a car that would have to be parked for three whole days and I did not want a huge additional cost.
2)Location, location, location
My husband and I wanted to be right on the strip so we could walk to everything. We had already lived in our car for three whole days to get there, we did not want to fight Vegas traffic once we there.
3) Good Value for The Price
I like five star hotels as much as the next person, but spending $300 to $400 a night just to lay my head on a pillow for a few hours isn't my cup of tea. When my husband and I travel, we are out having fun and we don't spend that much time in our room, so why spend a fortune on it?
After looking at every hotel on the strip, we chose The Flamingo! Now, the Flamingo has a bad reputation and a lot of terrible reviews on Hotels.com, but I chose it anyway because I loved the price (I got the room for an average of only $45.00 a night plus the resort fee), free parking, location (it's not only ON the strip but right in the MIDDLE of the strip....making everything nearby a close walk), and it's vintage appeal. The Flamingo is the oldest hotel on the strip. They have a saying "We didn't build on the strip, the strip built around us!". I love history, and I especially love the glamorous art deco period, so I thought this was the perfect hotel for me. And I was right! We loved our stay!
We chose a "High Roller Room", which has an amazing view of the High Roller Ride and the mountains. These rooms have also been redecorated in the past couple of years, making them the nicest rooms in the hotel. From what I could understand from other reviews on Trip Advisor is that there are two parts to this hotel. One part is newly renovated and upgraded, and the other is not. All the bad reviews seemed to come from people who did not stay in a renovated room. So if your booking a hotel with the Flamingo...choose a High Roller room! It's only $11.00 more and you will enjoy your stay so much more.
The bathroom mirror even had a t.v. screen built in! I had never seen that before, but I loved it.
The maid service and staff were all excellent. Our check-in clerk was extremely helpful and welcoming. I heard a lot of horror stories about checking in and rooms getting broken into, but we didn't experience any of it. Yes, there's a lot more people checking in at this hotel and you do have to wait a bit in comparison to a travel stop hotel on a highway....but that's Vegas! There's just that many more people. These hotels hold a few thousand people, not just a few hundred.
After we checked into our room, we needed to get some dinner. I said in my last travel post that my husband almost fell over exhaustion and lack of food, so getting dinner a.s.a.p was a top priority. Luckily there was a great pizza place right in the hotel where you get a huge slice of pizza for $7.00 so that's what we did. We didn't think my husband could handle walking around looking for the perfect place to eat and then waiting for food, so the 'fast food' option seemed the best at the time. And even though it was fast, it was good! We enjoyed every bite!
After dinner, my husband felt more like his old self, so we started to explore. First up, the Flamingo gardens. We could see the gardens from our hotel room and they looked absolutely breath-taking! They are lovely paths filled with flowers and animals...parrots, turtles, ducks, and of course FLAMINGOES!!!!!
Of course we had to stop and take my picture in front of the Flamingo fountain!
This waterfall/pond area went in a complete circle around the grounds, you can even see the waterfalls from inside the hotel lobby. There are beautiful koi and all sorts of ducks and turtles in the water too!
After we were done exploring the gardens, we went out to the strip. The first thing that blew my mind were the outdoor escalators. Being from the midwest, I've never seen anything like that before. Even my husband was stunned. "Doesn't it ever rain here?" he asked. "How can they have escalators outside?"
Many of the intersections are closed to foot traffic and they redirect the pedestrians up an escalator, across a bridge, and down another escalator just to get to the other side of the street. Now you know why I had such a hard time with my high heeled shoes that I wore to a Celine Dion concert (see THIS POST): because even though a place may seem close by, it's actually quite the walk and adventure to get there.
For a desert, they have a lot of water features in Vegas. And each and every one of them is absolutely breath-taking. Just don't expect to find any drinking fountains in Vegas. There are none. I'm serious. None. Zero. Nada. I was absolutely dying of thirst when I was in Vegas and I couldn't find a public drinking fountain anywhere. I looked in every hotel lobby, by every restroom, in every establishment, nothing! Again, as a midwesterner, I found this shocking. Don't they have laws in this state requiring public drinking fountains? Apparently not. I was so thirsty, but all the drinks I saw for sale were too expensive I couldn't stomach paying that. They wanted $7.00 for a water bottle or a fountain drink. Are you kidding me? Not in this life time. I finally went to the bathroom, cupped my hands, and drank out of the sink. I know that sounds gross, but a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do. I felt so dehydrated. Eventually I found locals selling water bottles, soda, and beer out of a cooler on rollers for $1.00 each. I bought a water bottle off of them. Apparently in Vegas, if they keep moving and don't set up a stand on the strip, they can get away with it.
Before we left for Vegas everyone told us to be sure to visit the Bellagio Hotel and check out their gardens and water show. I will save the pictures of the Bellagio Gardens for a Sunday Garden Post, but here are a few pictures of the inside of this fabulous hotel.
I loved these colorful umbrellas handing from the ceiling.
All the hotels have exquisite and expensive stores inside of them. We didn't go inside any of the stores for they were all out of my price range, but we enjoyed window shopping. The Bellagio has beautiful, ornate glass ceilings that let in gorgeous natural light.
Like I said, a little out of my price range. A Gucci/Prada girl I am not. But it was fun to window shop.
Perhaps that was the most amazing thing about Vegas that I didn't know: the mix of social classes. In Vegas you will see the wealthy people dressed to the nines and driving expensive cars, but then you will also see middle and lower class people, and even extreme poverty (there are lots of homeless people in Vegas). Generally, the nicer the hotel the more wealthy people you will see, but if there's an attraction at the hotel the general public is interested in, you will see all sorts of people from many different social classes there.
The later it becomes the more rowdy and crowded the streets became. I must admit, I really didn't like Vegas after dark. The streets get so crowded you are literally walking shoulder to shoulder with other people. I did enjoy looking at all the pretty lights, however, I still prefer New York's Time Square lights over Vegas lights.
We left our DSLR back in our room because we were afraid of looking too touristy and didn't want to become a target. Stupid decision, because everyone in Vegas is a tourist and everyone is snapping pictures. So these pictures were all taken either with an IPhone or little pocket camera, thus, not the best quality. The next morning, when we walked the other half of the strip, we took the DSLR with us and had much nicer pictures!
We walked into so many different hotel lobbies that I can hardly keep them all straight in my mind. I have no idea which hotel this was, but we thought all these light strands were simply magical!
Seeing all the famous Vegas hotels in person was a lot of fun. I've seen so many pictures of the New York, New York hotel, the Venetian, and others it was a blast to walk down the street, identify them and scream "Oh look, the Mirage!" or "The Tropicana!". It was really exciting to finally see in real life what I have only seen pictures of before.
The Excalibur Hotel looked gorgeous lit up at night.
Here is another night view of the New York, New York hotel. I just love the Empire State Building topper and the roller coaster. No, we did not go on that ride!
Hard Rock Cafe's are always fun places to eat, and this Vegas one was no exception! Love that giant, illuminated guitar.
The Bellagio Water show was spectacular...as expected. It's hard to get a good view though, as people line up early against the railing and wait for each show to begin. We saw it twice while we were in Vegas, and both times we ended up at an end instead of right in the middle where I wanted to be. But it was still pretty and fun to watch.
The Flamingo Hotel is located smack in the middle of the strip. It took us all night, about four or five hours, just to walk from our hotel to the south end of the strip and back. When we left, it was light outside, and when we returned it was dark so now we got to see our own hotel lit up...it was so pretty!
We were both exhausted after a long travel day and then walking on the strip, so we called it a night with intentions of seeing the north side of the strip in the morning.
And it's a good thing we are early risers, because we had amazing sunrises to wake up to each morning with views like this!
Have a Great Day! Amy
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