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EXCLUSIVE | Las Vegas: Where to Stay Part Three

EXCLUSIVE | Las Vegas: Where to Stay Part Three

OFF THE STRIP
Although it's a short cab ride (about a half-mile west) off the Strip, the 440-room Palms Casino Resort (4321 W. Flamingo Rd.; 702-942-7777 or 866-942-7777; $89+) ranks right up there with any casino in town when it comes to hip, trendy digs and see-and-be-seen nightclubs and restaurants. For years it's been a favorite haunt of celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio, Pink, Jude Law, and Gwen Stefani, who've flocked to both the 28,000-square-foot Rain nightclub and Ghostbar, with its outdoor 54th-floor deck that affords spectacular views of the city skyline. Such stellar restaurants as Aliz?, Little Buddha (a spin-off of Paris' famous Buddha Bar) and N9NE steakhouse (a famed Chicago import) add to the Palms' sky high cachet. The casino was also the host of the ever-silly Real World Las Vegas on MTV (you can rent the cast's snazzy 2,900-square-foot three-bedroom apartment for a mere $5,000 per weeknight, $10,000 on weekends). Standard rooms are 440 square feet and up, and deluxe accommodations have marble-tile Jacuzzi tubs and 32-inch TVs. Other amenities include a 14-theater multiplex, seven restaurants, a 20,000-square-foot spa, and a fabulous pool fringed with bamboo cabanas.

The all-suites Rio Hotel (3700 W. Flamingo Rd.; 866-746-7671; $70+) has a Latin Carnival theme, great prices, huge rooms and great views. Just west of the Strip, the Rio offers easy access to I-15, a good variety of dining options -- budget through gourmet, with diverse ethnic offerings -- and friendly, efficient service.

Fans of the Fruit Loop will appreciate the proximity of the hip Hard Rock Hotel (4455 Paradise Rd.; 702-693-5000 or 800-473-7625; $109+), the nearest resort property to the city's pulsing little gay district. Despite the cheesy reputation of the Hard Rock restaurant chain, this handsome hotel pulls in a cool crowd with its contemporary room furnishings, celeb-frequented bars and lounges, and A-list restaurants, which include Nobu, AJ's Steakhouse, and the Pink Taco. You can walk to Gipsy and FreeZone from here. A $750 million renovation, currently under way and scheduled for mid-2009 completion, will add two new towers of rooms as well as hip new restaurants and shopping.

The nearby Alexis Park Resort (375 E. Harmon Ave.; 702-796-3300 or 800-582-2228; $99+) is one of the few hotels in town with no neon, gaming tables or slots, making it peacefully attractive, more affordable than the Four Seasons, and very popular with businesspeople. It's a country club-like complex of 32 Mediterranean-style buildings set on 19 acres of landscaped gardens.

For a way gay stay in Sin City, go straight to the moon. Blue Moon Resort (2651 Westwood Ave.; 702-361-9099 or 866-798-9194; $89+) is an all-male, clothing-optional, Palm Springs-style resort with 45 rooms and suites; it's a converted chain motel in the shadows of I-15, but it's just a very short drive to the Strip. Expect a nice array of amenities, such as pillow-top mattresses and down comforters, an on-call masseuse and steam room. Lounge by the lagoon-style pool with waterfalls and a 10-man Jacuzzi grotto. Day passes available.

Lucky You Bed & Breakfast (call for exact location; 702-384-1129; $59+) is an ornate private home with four shared-bath guest rooms, just a few blocks from the Strip and gay nightlife. Amenities include a clothing-optional pool, hot tub, and indoor sauna. All rooms have TVs, VCRs and phones. Rates (which haven't changed in 20 years) include a full breakfast prepared by owner/host Ole, who once served as executive chef to Liberace.

An affordable non-gaming option, Renaissance Las Vegas Hotel (3400 Paradise Rd.; 702-784-5700 or 800-750-0980; $139+) offers a sleek 21st-century take on '50s Rat Pack glam. Located next to the convention center (and right by a stop on the city's fun but overpriced monorail), its mid-century modern rooms delight design-minded guests with groovy, low-slung furniture and flat-screen TVs. It's a great alternative to the over-the-top glitz of the Strip, and its ENVY Steakhouse is superb.

The Golden Nugget (129 E. Fremont St.; 702-385-7111 or 800-846-5336; $59+) is the best choice in downtown Vegas, elegantly appointed with spacious rooms and extra-large beds.

Loews Lake Las Vegas Resort (101 Montelago Blvd., Henderson; 702-567-6000 or 866-563-9792; $179+) is on the north shore of Lake Las Vegas in Henderson, 17 miles from the Las Vegas Strip, on the former site of the Hyatt Regency Resort. A private 320-acre lake surrounds the hotel, which features 493 guest rooms. An 18-hole golf course, full-service spa and European-style casino are among the features. Get "tee'd off," tempt Lady Luck, get roughed up, or just plain luxuriate at the sumptuous spa.

A snazzy Ritz Carlton (1610 Lake Las Vegas Pkwy., Henderson; 702-567-4700 or 800-542-8680; $179+) is also in the Lake Las Vegas area. The Mediterranean-style luxury resort features 349 rooms and suites, a full-service spa and fitness center, 36 holes of championship golf, beach and lake activities and Italian gardens. It doesn't get any more elegant in these parts than the Ritz, which offers incredibly deft service and a serene ambience that sets it well apart from luxury hotels on the Strip.

ON THE HORIZON
Major upcoming casino projects include the Grand Hyatt Las Vegas at the Cosmopolitan Resort & Casino (3708 Las Vegas Blvd. S.), which will add another 3,000 rooms to the Strip in late 2009; and -- hold on to your hat -- CityCenter Resort (www.citycenter.com), which MGM is developing along a forlorn but huge plot of land between the Monte Carlo and Bellagio resorts. At $7.4 billion, it's being billed as the most costly privately funded building project in U.S. history. If all goes as planned, it'll open in 2009 and boast 4,000 rooms, plus another 400 rooms each in three chic boutique hotels -- one will be a Mandarin Oriental.

Other local construction highlights include the 63-story Fontainebleau Las Vegas project, which is expected to bring another 3,800+ rooms to the former sites of El Rancho and Algiers (north of the Riviera) in Fall 2009. In 2010, look for Las Vegas branches of the luxe Mondrian and Delano Hotels to open as part of Echelon Resort (www.echelonresort.com), an -acre complex on and arou the former Stardust site on the north Strip.

Part One | Part Two | Part Three

Related Articles:
Las Vegas: Intro
Las Vegas: What to Eat
Las Vegas: Where to Play/Meet
Las Vegas: What to See and Do
Las Vegas: Resources

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