Surprising Facts about Las Vegas Hotels and Casinos

If you are planning on your first Las Vegas trip there are a couple of facts and or tips about hotels you should be aware of. There are extra costs or surprise fees that you might not be aware of.  Many visitors to Las Vegas are often shocked at resort fees, lack of in room fridges and coffee makers in their hotel rooms. These are all just normal facts about Las Vegas. Lets have a look at some of the surprising facts about Las Vegas Hotels and Casinos.

Surprising Facts about Vegas Hotels and Casinos

      • Mini-Fridges – Mini-fridges in most Vegas hotel rooms are not for personal use. They are stocked with expensive snack and drink options and have no room for your personal items. The fridges will often work off of pressure sensors that charge back to your room when an item is taken out. The hotels will often charge you if they catch you with your personal items in the mini-fridge. You can order a personal fridge in most hotels but that of course comes at an extra expense. It’s best to check with your hotel first to see if they offer a fridge. Treasure Island for example, has personal fridges in their rooms as well as higher end suites in most other hotels. We basically purchased as collapsible cooler from Amazon which is easy to pack and large enough to keep our stuff cold.

Las Vegas Hotels

      • Resort Fees – Resort fees are always a shock to first time Las Vegas visitors. Most hotels will charge you an extra daily fee per room on top of your posted rate. The fee is for WiFi, gym use and other things you will never use in Vegas such as boarding passes and newspapers. The fee is paid directly to the hotel. If you are booking via a third part site such as Expedia and Travelocity you will still have to pay this fee to the hotel at the end of your stay. It varies but can range from $20 – $40. Resort fees are rarely waived unless you are a higher tiered member or high roller. You can see the fees in our Current Las Vegas Resort Fee Guide.
      • Coffee Makers – Much to the dismay of many Vegas hotel rooms do not include a coffee maker. The casinos do not want you in the room drinking coffee. They want you on the floor playing or spending money in their shops. Every hotel has a coffee shop or Starbucks but it is not cheap. Prices are generally pretty high. Many people who insist of having coffee bring a smaller coffee maker with them or even pick one up when in Vegas. We detailed a few coffee places in our Where to get coffee in Vegas post.

Coffee in Las Vegas

      • ATM Fees – ATM Fees at machines in Casinos and along The Las Vegas Strip can really vary from place to place. It’s best to check first as some along the strip can be as high as $10. The Walgreens and CVS stores are reported as being respectable at a few dollars. The best is Casino Royal located beside Harrahs at only being $1.
      • Snacks and Drinks – Buy your snacks and drinks anywhere besides a Casino store. The prices are often very over inflated. The best spots are again The Walgreens and CVS stores which are located all over the strip. You will be very surprised what a Casino store will charge you for a simple bottle of water. We always buy a small case from Walgreens or CVS.
      • Not so Cheap Breakfast – The days of finding a cheap breakfast at most of the casino restaurants is long gone. Every casino and hotel will have a breakfast spot on site. The problem is that the cost of that breakfast is way over priced. We tried a couple of places in hotels and were shocked with a $60 bill for a regular breakfast for two. We would have been better off with the Breakfast Buffet price and food wise. You can still find a McDonald’s or Denny’s on the strip for a cheaper breakfast.  The area around Casino Royale has a few cheaper fast food breakfast type spots or we recommend Hash House at The Linq or Peppermill Lounge. If you want to dine cheap you will really have to do your homework.

Essentials to Pack for a Vegas Vacation

A Vegas Vacation is a unique travel experience. The weather can be hot during the day and it can be quite cool at night depending on the time of year you visit. The properties are massive in size which means lots of walking. Having the proper gear and supplies for a trip to Vegas is important. We will Lets just assume that you will bring a bathing suite and shorts, that’s is given. Lets look at some of the essentials to pack for a Vegas Vacation.

Realistically, you don’t have to load all of this stuff up on the plane with you. You can pick up many of the items listed below at a Walgreen or CVS store. Just don’t buy they from your hotel or casino store, they are way over priced.

Clothing Essentials

  • Comfortable Shoes – We were logging anywhere from 6 to 10 miles a day on our last Vegas trip. There is no way you want to do that in a pair of uncomfortable shoes. I bring a pair of walking type shoes for daytime gawking and a pair of dressier shoes for fancier dinners or functions.
  • Jacket or Long Shirt – One, it can get cooler at night and secondly you might need a long shirt if you are going anywhere with a dress code.
  • Long Pants – Same reason as above.
  • Hat – That sun can get to you if you are sitting around a pool or just walking up and down The Vegas Strip. If you plan on being outdoors bringing a sensible hat just makes sense.
  • Sunglasses – Again the sun is merciless in Vegas and who is kidding who, you might want to hide those bloodshot eyes the next day.

Toiletries

  • Sunscreen – No brainier here. You have to keep that skin protected in the hot Vegas sun.
  • Lip Balm – You might forget about this one but my lips always get chapped in Vegas. Hotels are dry at the best of time add that to the dry desert air and it’s extra dry.
  • Nasal Spray – It happens every trip. My nose dries out in the dry desert air and when it does it’s uncomfortable. Nasal Spray is on the list this year.
  • Pepto Bismol – I prefer the Pepto tablet. They are easy to carry around and they do the trick when I get that “buffet tummy”.
  • Headache Pills –  This one is self explanatory.  Who hasn’t had a sore noodle in Vegas?
  • Ear Plugs – If you are unfortunate enough to get a room over top of a night club you will be glad you packed these.

Misc

  • Water Bottle – Some people like to have their own water bottle to carry with them. Vegas is one those towns where drinking water is important.
  • Solo Cups – I usually grab these when I get to Vegas. I like to pour a drink from the hotel room and take it with me or when I buy one on the Strip pour it in the cup.
  • Beer Koozie – I have a Beer Koozie in the pocket of every jacket I own. They keep your hands dry and your beer cold.
  • Small Cooler – Most hotels do not have a fridge you can use. They are stocked with snacks and drinks. We bring a small collapsible cooler that we can fill with ice to keep our drinks cold.

Tech

  • USB Plugs – More and more hotels in Vegas have usb plugs in the room  but it’s not guaranteed. I throw a few of these in my bag.
  • External Batteries – When you are away from your room for longs periods of time taking photos or posting on social media  you can drain your battery on your phone or camera fast. You can find small portable batteries or even phone charger cases on Amazon fairly cheaply. We have noticed more USB Charge stations over the past couple of years.

Documents

  • Drivers Licence or Passport – I was at Ellis Island on my birthday and my drivers licence expired that day.  They would not give me a card or let me use my coupons because the computer would not accept my information. It’s important to make sure you have your information up to date and handy. I am not a fan of walking around with my Passport but some clubs and bars will not accept a drivers license and require a Passport.

Vegas Vacation photo

Christmas in Las Vegas Guide

We have been visiting Las Vegas during the Christmas season for the past four years. We have put together this guide to show you what type of weather to expect, attractions and Christmas displays to visit and what to expect in general from crowds.

Christmas Weather in Las Vegas

The average temperatures for Vegas in December is a high of 58° F (14° C) and a low of 34° F (1° C).  We have found that the temperatures can fluctuate quite a bit from day to day. There have been days where we have been able to wear shorts and a t shirt by day and a long sleeve and pants at night. Probably more often than not you will require long pants by day and night, a short or long sleeve shirt by day and a light jacket at night. When the sun goes down and the winds pick up at night it can fairly chilly.

Las Vegas Crowd Levels at Christmas

There seems to be differing opinions about crowd levels in Las Vegas over the Christmas Holidays and December in general. By the first week of December Christmas decorations will appear in hotels and along the strip.

The first two weeks of December has The National Finals Rodeo in town for 10 days. This is the time period that we generally are in town for. It is  considered by many to be a busy time in Vegas but it’s a bit relative. Any of the casinos like The Mirage, MGM or Orleans that host nightly concerts or events will be busier than others that don’t. The NFR Experience website has a list of after dark events.

The following week and right up to Christmas Eve or a couple days before is generally fairly dead or empty in terms of crowd. This is because Christmas itself leading to New Years can be quite busy.

Vegas Shows Go Dark

Before you plan your big Vegas Christmas Vacation you should know that some shows go dark in December. This is especially true leading up to Christmas itself. It’s always best to check schedules in case you get your hopes up about seeing a show. For example, we never get a chance to see Brad Garret at his comedy club as he takes a few weeks off before Christmas and New Years.

Christmas Decorations and Attractions

One thing we have noticed over the past 5 years is that Vegas seems to be getting into the Christmas spirit more each year. There are lots of amazing Christmas Tree Displays. The Christmas music is hit or miss but you will find it in the lobbies, shopping areas and around the buffets. Lets take a look at some of the main displays and attractions.

Holiday Menus and Buffet Lines

Vegas is open on Christmas like any other day. It would be impossible to list where to dine for Christmas dinner. Your best bet would be to search out where you want to dine and look at their website or call to see if there are any Christmas dinners planned. Buffet lines can be fairly busy especially during NFR in early December and closer to Christmas. Plan accordingly.

The Bellagio Conservatory Christmas Display

You can expect crowds as The Bellagio Conservatory is the Cadillac of Christmas displays in Las Vegas. This is probably one of the most stunning Christmas displays you will ever see.  There is moving train, moving polar bears and a small area where it snows.

Bellagio Christmas Display Vegas

Las Vegas Christmas

Christmas displays in Vegas

Aria and Crystals Mall

Our next top spot is to a less degree Aria lobby and more importantly the Christmas Tree at Crystals Mall. This first photos is the display at Aria and then the tree at Crystals.

Aria in Las Vegas

Crystals Las Vegas Christmas Tree

The Wynn

Last year was our first visit to The Wynn. We went to see the Christmas display and we were not disappointed. Not as grand as The Bellagio it was still a site to behold.

The Park and T-Mobile Arena

The Park area is relatively new but that doesn’t mean that they don’t celebrate Christmas. You will another large Christmas tree as well as decorations, lights and music. It is especially lively if there is a sports event or concert in the area. Visit at night to get the full effect of the lights. Last year in 2017 they had a skating rink but it was not real ice. It was plastic surface and it was very small.

This view is from the the open outdoor bar inside the t-mobile arena.

Golden Knights Vegas

Fremont Street Experience

I wouldn’t say that Fremont St goes overboard with the Christmas spirit but they do have a tree. They also have a number of filthy Santa’s but they might have those on any other given day.

The Best of the Rest Christmas in Las Vegas

Many of the casinos will also decorate their main lobbies or their shopping malls with Christmas cheer. For example, The Mirage, Caesars Palace and Harrah’s put up miscellaneous decorations. The Venetian also does up the area where the waterfall is located (photo below).

Christmas Activities in Las Vegas

There are a few Christmas themed activities to visit which we have not taken part in but are recommended. This would be The Ethel M. Chocolates Cactus Garden holiday display which is free to visit. There is also The Glittering Lights at Las Vegas Motor Speedway where you can drive the track or take a tram which is lite up Christmas lights and decorations. There are generally Groupon deals for both of these activities.

Ice Skating in Las Vegas at Christmas

Our first trip back in 2014 there was ice skating located at Caesars Palace and we have heard that there was also skating at The Venetian. For the past couple of years there is only ice skating at The Cosmo. They have a real ice surface on top of their pool and you can rent skates.  You can also reserve a fire pit area and do the whole smores experience. There is also a Groupon for this event. We tried it one time and had a great time.

This is a stock photos as ours did not turn out well.

 

Las Vegas Swimming Pools Guide

One of the greatest activities in Las Vegas is it pools. Pool season in Las Vegas is a life of its own. Most of properties have a number of pools and options to suite everyone’s needs. If you are looking for a family pool experience or more adult pools you will be able to find what you are looking for on our Las Vegas Swimming Pools Guide.

The following list shows:

  • A link to each hotels pool page, if they have one.
  • Notes if the pools are year round or seasonal
  • Hours of operation
  • Temperature (which may not be accurate)
  • Links to any specialty pools or clubs

Las Vegas Swimming Pools Guide

Aria
Year-round;
8:00 AM – 8:00 PM (hours are seasonal)
82°F (spa pools heated to 101°F)
Liquid Pool Lounge (adults only)
Bally’s
Seasonal; While pool is closed guests can use the pool at Paris
74°F
Bellagio
Year-round;
7:00 AM – 8:00 PM. (hours are seasonal)
84°F
Binion’s Gambling Hall
Seasonal; Guest from Four Queens may use pool at Binion’s
Not heated
Caesars Palace
Year-round;
8 AM – 7 PM. (hours are seasonal)
83°F
California
Seasonal (Until September 30);
8:00am – 8:00pm
Not heated
Circus Circus
Seasonal;
Pool 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM – Daily
Slide Tower – Only Mat Racer Slide Open | 2:00 PM – 6:00 PM – Weekdays
Slide Tower – All Slides Open | 10:30 AM – 6:00 PM – Weekends
82°F
Encore
Seasonal;
8 a.m.-7 .pm
.82°F
Excalibur
Year-round;
Pool Hours Vary
80°F
Flamingo
Seasonal;
9 AM – 5 PM
74°-84° F
Go Pool – 21+
Four Seasons
Seasonal
85°F
Fremont
Guests use the pool at the California
Not heated
Gold Coast
Year-round;
Winter hours: 9 a.m.- 6 p.m.
Summer hours: 9 a.m.- 9 p.m.
80°F
Golden Nugget
Year-Round;
Winter hours: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Summer hours: 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Not heated
Green Valley Ranch
Year-round
Not heated
Hard Rock
Seasonal
85°F
Harrah’s
Seasonal;
9 AM – 6 PM
Not heated
Hooters
Year-round;
Daily 9 a.m – 8 p.m.
90°F
LINQ
Seasonal;
Mon. – Sun., 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Luxor
Seasonal;
While pool is closed guests can use the pool at Excalibur
80°F
M Resort
Seasonal;
10 a.m.- 6 p.m.
82°F
Las Vegas Swimming Pools GuideView of Treasure Island Pool, May 2017
Main Street Station
Guests use the pool at the California
Not heated
Mandalay Bay
Year-round;
9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
82°F
MGM Grand
Seasonal;
8:00 AM – 8:00 PM
82°F
Mirage
Seasonal;
Daily 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM
(Closed for maintenance in December)
75°-78°F
Private Oasis Pool and Bare Pool
pools in las vegas
View from The Mirage Pools, May 2017
The Park
Seasonal;
8:00 AM – 7:00 PM
80°F
New York-New York
Seasonal;
9:00 AM – 8:00 PM
70°-75°F
Orleans
Seasonal;
9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. Daily
78°-80°F
Palace Station
Seasonal;
Sunday – Thursday: 9 am – 10 pm
Friday & Saturday: 9 am – 11 pm
Palazzo
Year-round;
Winter hours: 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Summer hours: 9 a.m.-7 p.m. (hours are weather permitting)
82°F
Palms
Seasonal 9am – 7pm
75°F
Paris
Year-round;
10 a.m. – 7 p.m. (hours are seasonal)
83°F
Planet Hollywood
Seasonal;
10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
71°F
Plaza
Year-round
9am – sunset
Heated
Red Rock Resort
Seasonal;
9 am – 5 pm Monday – Thursday
9 am – 6 pm Saturday & Sunday
78°F
Rio
Seasonal;
9 AM – 6 PM
Not heated
Sam’s Town
Seasonal;
8 a.m.-10 p.m.
Memorial Day through the first week of September
78°F
Santa Fe Station
Pool Currently Closed
Signature at MGM Grand
Seasonal;
8:00 AM – 8:00 PM
82°F
Silver Sevens Hotel & Casino
Year-round;
7 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Not heated
Silverton
Seasonal
78°F
South Point
Year-round;
9 a.m.-5 p.m. (hours are seasonal)
Stratosphere
Year-round;
Winter hours :9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Summer hours: 9 a.m.-8 p.m.
78°F
Suncoast
Seasonal;
7:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Sunset Station
Seasonal;
9 am – 8 pm
74°F
The D
Year-round;
7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Not heated
Treasure Island
Seasonal;
Varies 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Closed Mid Nov to Mid Feb
78°F
Tropicana
Seasonal;
10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Heated
Tuscany
Year-round;
Winter hours: 9 a.m.- 9 p.m.
Summer hours: 7 a.m.- 10 p.m.
75°-80°F
Vdara
Year-round;
8:00 AM – 7:00 PM
83°F
Venetian
Year-round;
Main Pool 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
Venezia Pool: 9 a.m.-7 p.m.
Hours are seasonal
80°F
Westgate Las Vegas
Seasonal;
84°F
Wynn Las Vegas
Year-Round;
Winter Hours: 9 a.m.- 5 p.m.
Summer: 8 a.m.- 7 p.m.
82°F

We have gleaned our Las Vegas Pools Guides from a number of sources but mainly from each pools website. Vegas is always changing and while we strive to keep our list updated it may contain errors. Please let us know if any of our information needs updating. Make sure you check out the rest of our Las Vegas Guides.