Thursday, January 19, 2012

Stratosphere "Select" Room Review and Pictures

The last night of the trip was at the Stratosphere in a "Select" room, which is their most recently remodeled room. As a long time veteran of the Stratosphere going all the way back to it's opening, check-in often is the worst part of the stay at the Strat. Fortunately this trip, that wasn't the case and I was immediately helped and on my way to the room on the 17th floor in minutes. The room is decorated in dark red, brown and beige and screams "Vegas" but isn't over the top. The space is a decent size and the choice of furnishings worked to fill it without feeling cramped. It was a top to bottom remodel with all new furniture including a flat-screen TV, decent lounge chair, small table and desk area. The bathroom was included in the remodel with a new granite vanity and tile flooring. Aside from the oddly mismatched, uncomfortable desk chair and the plain white generic shower/tub combo; the rooms was pretty nice, especially for what they are usually asking for them.

Downstairs there has been quite a bit of work as well. The valet is now by the front door, where it should be, and the entire casino floor has been redone. In terms of machine spacing, the casino may be the most spacious in Vegas as well as the darkest. It definitely has a different vibe than most other Strip casinos. For restaurants, there is really only 4 restaurants plus a few quick bite places. Dinner at the 50s-themed diner Roxy's (Open 24/7) was pretty good coffee shop fare and the menu is affordable. The service was fast enough that I only had to suffer through 1 song by the singing waiters! They also have a middle of the road buffet, a slightly above average Italian joint and the Top of the World restaurant in the tower. The place has an amazing rotating view of Vegas with prices to match. The food, while excellent, is a notch below the best in town.

Overall, it was quite an enjoyable stay at the Strat. The remodeled rooms are certainly a big upgrade and fairly nicely done especially for a place that isn't trying to be Bellagio. Compared to the stay at the Flamingo 2 nights earlier, the Stratosphere is the winner hands down. The major downside to the Strat has always been the location and with the closing of the Sahara, there is now nothing within walking distance. If your plan is to walk the Strip your entire stay, it not the place for you! The bottom line is... If you want a nice, moderately priced room with just about anything you could want from a Strip resort and can deal with the location issue, definitely consider the Select rooms at the Stratosphere.

Stratosphere Select Room Pictures

Stratosphere Select Room Picture

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Four Queens Review and Room Pictures

It was Day 2 of the trip and it was on to downtown and the Four Queens. Although I frequently find myself downtown during my trips, I don't often stay there and never before at the Four Queens. I don't have any great expectations of any hotel downtown except for the Golden Nugget but after the train wreck at the Flamingo the night before, it would be hard to be disappointed. I checked in at 2PM and there wasn't anyone in line at the front desk. In just a few minutes I was up in my room on the 18th floor of the South Tower, the furthest from the Fremont Street Experience. The room had been somewhat recently remodeled though a little sparse on the furnishings. In addition to the king bed and night stands was just a small TV Stand/Dresser, desk and 2 chairs. Like the "Fab" rooms at the Flamingo, the bathroom looks to have been untouched in the remodel. Overall, the room was pretty decent for a $30 hotel room. The bed was comfortable, the carpets and furniture in good condition plus a nice flat screen TV with HD programming. The main knock on the room was the hideous multi-colored decor that screamed 1990 Las Vegas. The bathroom also suffered from a similar issue. While all in perfectly good shape, the tile vanity and shower felt dated. Also, I oddly ran out of hot water towards the end of my shower which shouldnt happen in a 700 room hotel!

The rest of the place is a fairly typical downtown hotel with all that goes along with it, good and bad. The casino isn't the largest in the world but within 50 feet from 4 other ones. The Fremont Street Experience is right out the front door; great if you want to see it, not so much if you want to sleep between sundown and midnight. The collection of restaurants won't be mistaken for MGM but there is a decent coffee shop and the classic old school Vegas gourmet room, Hugo's Cellar.

The stay at the Four Queens was better than I was expecting and actually a much better experience than at the Flamingo the night before. The hotel itself was pretty decent for what it is and if you prefer to be downtown then you can't go wrong with one of these rooms. Personally, the lack of amenities like a pool rule it out as a regular stop for me but if you just want a good, solid room at a great price, the Four Queens is a great way to go.

Four Queens Room Pictures

Four Queens Room Picture

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Monday, January 2, 2012

Flamingo "Fab" Room Review and Pictures

The first night of the trip was at the Flamingo in one of the newly renovated "Fab" rooms. After about a 15 minute wait, I get to the front deak and am told that they don't have the view room I had booked and have to settle for a pool view. It's kind of hard to believe considering it's the Tuesday before Christmas but no problem, its just one night. However, this is just the first of the disappointments over the next 24 hours. I proceed to the far elevators near the buffet and find only 1 of 8 working with about 25 people waiting. After about 10 minutes, they get a second one running and finally make it up to the room on the 17th floor.

The first thing that hits you as you walk into the room is the flamingo pink scattered about the room. In a 2 queen room there was a single night stand, small TV Stand/Armiore, desk and work chair plus a funky, pink polka dotted lounge chair. The new flooring, at first glance, appears to be wood but is really just linoleum. They placed a black and pink throw rug on the floor in front of the beds but it had no backing it and slide around. It actually was a little dangerous after a few drinks! The bathroom appeared to have not been renovated at all with old ceramic tile floor and even still have the old-school tissue holder/bottle opener/razor disposal unit built into the wall. There is just a single sink and a shower/tub combo.

Even putting aside the fact that they completely ignored the outdated bathroom, this has to be the worse "remodel" I have ever seen in my life. The night stand, armiore and desk were all old and beat up (see room pics.) The 1980s headboards remain above the bed and if they weren't going to change the wallpaper, they could have at least cleaned it. Really all that remodeled was the floor, bedding and a new flat-screen TV. Outside of the room, the Flamingo experience wasn't much better. The hallways leading to the "new" rooms haven't been repaired in ages with torn and stained carpet and I think that room service tray from next door may still be there. The elevators never were fully working and the ones that were working were filthy. One had a completely busted control panel that barely stayed closed. Perhaps I have been spoiled staying at the latest and greatest Vegas has to offer but if this was my once in a lifetime trip that cost me top-dollar, I know I wouldn't be planning my return trip to Vegas anytime soon. In a town that should be all about top-notch hospitality, this was quite frankly an embarrassment. It is not confined to Flamingo either. This is my second stay at a Caesars Entertainment property in the last month and Rio was in a similar state of disrepair. This company spends big bucks constantly ripping up their casino floors to add and remove restaurants but have completely ignored basic routine maintenance. You can add every trendy tropical themed restaurant in the world but your guests are subject to a disgusting experience, they are not coming back. It's plain and simple but it wouldn't be the first time an MBA running a casino didn't see the obvious.

Flamingo Fab Room Pictures

Flamingo Fab Room Picture

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