JR Swift’s Blog

What I’m Thinking About Today

Scoring a room

Posted by jrswift on March 17, 2007

OK…I’m kind of back talking about Vegas again though this post will not be a full-fleged episode in my ongoing travel guide but a bit of a teaser.  So I’ll be in the Las Vegas in exactly 23 days and I still haven’t reserved a room.  I think it is because I like living on the edge  but it is also because I’ve had some of my best luck getting a great price by waiting until the second-to-last minute.

I’m going “on the cheap” this time so don’t expect me to tell you how to get a great deal at the Venetian (actually you just bid for it on Priceline but I’ll explain that later) but rather how to get by for almost nothing.   I have pretty low standards so not all the places I’m going to talk about are places you will want to stay.  They are not romantic hotels or hotels with dancing waters or fabulous pools so if those are your choices, you’ll want to wait around for another installment as I will discuss those types of places at another time.

You might think the cheapest way to stay in Vegas is to know someone who lives there and has a spare bedroom.  Not necessarily.  Believe it or not, most people in Las Vegas don’t really live anywhere near the Strip or even Downtown.  So unless they also have a spare car they are going to let you use or are taking off the whole week just to show you around, you are going to need to rent a car to do your sightseeing.  Not only that but you’re going to feel guilty (or you should) about just freeloading at their house for 4 or 5 days so you’ll feel the need to take them out for some fancy-pants dinner and that’s going to set you back.  Between the car and the insurance and the gas and the meal(s) you’ll buy, you could probably get a nice cheapo room and avoid the trouble.  Besides, if they see the dump you’re in, your friends might actually buy you a meal. 🙂

Once upon a glorious time, most every hotel in Vegas was cheap just like most every meal.  That was because the casinos just wanted people to stay there and figured they’d make their money off gambling and that would subsidize the room, food and beverage lossses.  And that was good for everyone.  Then someone (the corporate goofs who took over for the mob)  figured out that they could charge people an arm and a leg if they built really nice hotels and really nice restaurants and eveything went to hell.  Food snobs starting coming to Vegas to eat in fabulous restaurants and rich people starting coming just to stay in fabulous hotels and shop in fabulous shops and they didn’t even care about gambling.  The cost of most everything went up and the smaller, grungier casinos (sawdust joints in old-school parlance) starting closing up and selling out all over the place.  It will only get worse.  The Strip is already Disneyland on Ruffies and Red Bull so it is not a very good choice for the budget traveller.  Fortunately, they still let you walk around and gawk for free but you can do that without staying there.

So where does the poor working man stay?  Well…you’ve still got a lot of options.  If you rent a car you can have still more.  We’ll talk about some of those options in the next episode and we’ll show you how I decide where to stay.  Have a great weekend.

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