Downtown is a great fun place to be, though it offers a totally different experience from the Strip. Until they add a touch of elegance to downtown, The ‘high-end’ resort in downtown Vegas is still Golden Nugget (see below for details), though many others are going through a modern face-lift to attract a more ‘chic-seeking’ crowd. Plaza and Golden Gate are among those. Main Street Station, on the other end, is where you must go for a taste of Vegas history and unique charm.
El Cortez. We like this hotel; it’s not for everybody and I would not recommend the cheapest rooms if you want luxury, but it’s always clean, well kept, dignified and with some modern comforts such as very large, good quality HD flat screen TVs. It is one of the most affordable hotel you can find in this city yet it offers quality and plenty of space, as well as good customer service. It is an expanding hotel (with an older casino) and its new wings offer high-end remodeled rooms and suites with a modern, modern 24 hour fitness area and (in the very near future) a great pool. The older building offers ‘rooms which are clean, very spacious, comfortable and very affordable; I would avoid the cheapest in the low-floor, oldest building, but the towers are fine. We have stayed here for 15 dollars a night at times and we have often found the best weekend deals in Vegas. Now the prices is a bit more than 15 dollars (but still one of the lowest in town) but they offer free stays once you have been a guest once and, equally importantly, everything else a very good Vegas hotel would offer, only much cheaper. Their casino used to be renowned for being one of the ‘better-paying‘, having ‘loose slots’, but we found it not to be the case recently. We have a few videos of El Cortez as well as other resorts of downtown Vegas, and you can scroll down our many videos on our video channel.
Even the most modern parts of this hotel are often offered at excellent prices (on their own website): the suites range from around 25+ to 50+ dollars depending on the type but this downtown Vegas hotel and casino offers matches the rate with free play and food credit. A very good deal if you are happy to eat and play here rather than go to the Strip.
The use of wristbands for paying guests and the 25 dollar penalty for un-booked guests
The wrist ban has been introduced in order to prevent guests who have not properly pre-booked from illegitimately staying at the hotel. Guests with a proper booking (I will give you an example) do not have any additional fee; this means it is not true that guests with a proper booking have to pay anything for the wristband. Hopefully this example will make this clear: if 2 people booked a double queen room, but intend to ‘squeeze in’ 2 more guests without paying, this will not longer be possible because you now must show a wrist band before going to your rooms (checked at the entrance or by the elevators). If those 2 ‘illegitimate’ guests wish to stay (continuing on this example), they will have to pay 25 dollars each (25 x 2 = 50 in total for 2 guests, per night or per booking, depending on the type of booking), after which they will be given a wristband to keep for the length of their stay. But the original guests will not have to pay… Only the ‘illegitimate’ ones, up to the maximum amount allowed per room. This new trend will most likely be implemented by other budget resorts, given the rise in room guests without a booking ( = booking for 2 when in fact 4 or more people are staying in the hotel).
A note on downtown Vegas: we have often ‘shunned’ this area of Vegas as visitors because it was ‘cheesy’ and occasionally tainted with ‘seedy’ situations. However, having just been here after our usual round in what seems to be a very greedy, depressing South Strip (poor customer service and extremely ‘tight’ slots – with the exception of MGM Grand – with not-so-generous players clubs) we were pleasantly surprised to notice that downtown Vegas (Fremont Street and immediate surroundings) is now very cheerful, festive, fun and extremely lively, though somewhat ‘low-brow’ in some areas. On weekends the multiple live bands can burst your ear drums and it’s definitely not for everybody. What seems to be happening is that, as the Vegas Strip companies built expensive ultra modern resorts thus now trying to extort every penny from an every-squeezed customer, some visitors are opting to stay and play in downtown Vegas, thus rendering it more and more lively with a much better variety of visitors. If you are on a budget, you will like it and ‘forgive’ its shortcomings. Even if you are not on a budget, why waste your money, some would say? You can still have classy stay at a place in some of the wings at Golden Nugget (but not all rooms are so, as we explain on our dedicated page), a remodeled Plaza or in one of the remodeled suites at El Cortez.
Traveling from El Cortez to the Strip. Traveling from El Cortez to the Strip is extremely easy, since the Deuce bus stop is right outside (and it’s the beginning of the route so you will always find seats!). The Deuce is a modern, comfortable bus taking visitors from downtown Vegas to the Strip 24 hours for very well priced 24-hour passes or 3 day passes. They have an express version of it too, stopping at fewer stops and, for that reason, an excellent, air-conditioned, modern bus which will take you to the Strip in now time.
Airport Shuttle. El Cortez offers a free airport shuttle. What can I say? Excellent customer service through and through.
24-hour modern fitness room. Another great aspect is that they have a modern exercise room which is open 24 hours, a real rarity since most resorts and casinos want you to gamble rather than keep yourself fit. We really love this aspect of El Cortez Hotel & Casino.
Note: it seems that lately the maximum number of nights for the cheapest rate is 7. Over 7 nights you may have to pay a surcharge. If you try to book online for more than 7 nights, it may not be possible, due to a new ‘rule’ in Vegas where resorts can’t have you stay longer than 7 nights. You may wish to confirm this with El Cortez directly, just in case.Address: 600 Fremont St, Las Vegas, NV 89101
Golden Gate (1 Freemont Street) was never an option for us in the past because, although cheap, its rooms were tiny and very much ‘old’ motel style throughout. Today they have remodelled all their 106 bedrooms; the outcome is that it is much, much better than it used to be. Now you can enjoy very comfortable beds and mattresses, flat screen TVs, mp3 players in your rooms, all the modern comforts one expects from a good hotel.
The rooms are obviously still small in general although they all vary in size a little. Those facing Fremont Street can be extremely noisy of course, since they face the busiest area of Fremont Street and one of the live band stands (but if you like the party atmosphere this may be for you); if noise is an issue for you opting for a back room can be a solution. It’s not a resort, but it does have a casino on the ground floor.
All in all, if you want to stay downtown for a really great price (we pay, on average, 19.95 dollars per night here!) this is probably one of the very best options for you, given that the rooms are actually all properly remodeled. Only if you absolutely require a gym or a pool is this not a good option, since this hotel and casino is not a full-blown resort; in this case, the nearby (remodeled) Plaza will be a good alternative.