Las Vegas Hotel Review: The Signature @ the MGM

The Signature suites at the MGM hotel is one of the best places for families to stay in Las Vegas.  The suites are large and fairly well maintained, they have full kitchens, comfortable and stylish furniture and great bathrooms.  We have stayed there twice already, in August 2012 and 2014, and my kids want to go back already.

The Signature is a condo-hotel. That means that most of the units and individually owned, mostly by investors but there are some people who actually live in their units.  Unit owners can chose to rent out their units through the MGM management, through another company or on their own.  The first time we went, we reserved our unit through VRBO, though the second one my husband’s company travel agent made reservations directly with the hotel.  Both have their advantages/disadvantages, which I’ll discuss below.

Most rooms come with standard decorations and they include a king size bed with incredibly comfortable and high quality mattresses, pillow and bedding.  There is a sofa which turns into a queen size bed, which is not too uncomfortable either.  There is a table/desk with a couple of chairs and a full kitchen area.  If you reserve through the hotel, you will need to ask for any plates/pans/utensils you may need for cooking – though private units may come fully equipped.  There is a closet with a dresser, another small bar area, and the bathroom.  The bathroom is my kids’ favorite place. It’s large, it has a huge jet tub, a separate shower and a small TV which you can watch from the bathtub.   Some rooms come with balconies, which I would fully recommend as you can use them to dry out your swimwear.

Like most hotels in Vegas, the Signature charges a resort fee, which includes fast internet. There are also plenty of outlets in the unit.

The hotel itself doesn’t have much in the way of frills.  Each building (there are three) has a swimming pool. These are large, rectangle, kept at a nice temperature (neither too hot nor cold), appropriate for swimming, and not very busy.  One of the pools is designated for adult use only, which I appreciate as a parent.  Each pool has an attached hot tub, also very nice and relaxing.  The pool bars are not too ridiculously expensive, and the whole pool atmosphere is just relaxing.

One of the building has a small restaurant, which serves pizzas, soups and sandwiches.  The food is excellent and reasonably priced.  Unfortunately, they don’t take phone orders, but it’s not too inconvenient to go and get the food.  There is a bar and a Starbucks at another of the buildings also serving excellent food and drinks.

The Signature is located in the back of the MGM casino & resort.  It’s a 10 to 15 minute walk, depending on how much of a hurry you are in.  There are people movers, but it can still be challenging to get there for those who have mobility problems.  While the walkways to the MGM are wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs, the MGM itself is very crowded and I don’t think too comfortable for wheelchair users.

When you stay at the Signature, you can take advantage of the MGM pools.  There are pretty amazing, but they get very busy during the weekend – so it’s really good to be able to use the private Signature pools as well.

There are a couple of cons about staying at the Signature.  The main one is that it’s really far away from the strip.  It’s a long walk getting there, and at the end, you have to go through the casino – which means exposing yourself/your children to cigarette smoke and crowded areas.  We usually just took taxis, even to hotels a couple of blocks away (but this was August and we were there with my 80-yo dad).

If you do drive, there is no self-parking.  That means having to tip a couple of dollars every time you get your car – but also having to wait for your car.  This makes it harder to go in and out of the hotel.   Ultimately, I think these inconveniences are what keeps the suite prices so low.  You can usually get a suite here for the same price than what a regular room would cost you on the strip.

If you do stay here, there are both advantages and disadvantages about booking directly with the owner or a representative.  The advantage of going with an owner is that you will probably know exactly which unit you will be getting – that means, you’ll know in which building it is, how high up and what sort of view.  So if you want to make sure that you have a high-up room, with a balcony, a fully stocked kitchen and a view of the strip, a private booking may be the way to go.  We did that during our first stay, and we really got a great room.  Privately booked rooms can also be cheaper – though don’t count on it.  These rooms usually don’t include daily maid service, and during our first stay we noticed that we really missed it – in particular, the changes of towels.

The big advantage of booking through the hotel is that if there any problems, the management is there to help you.  When we checked in during our second visit, their computer system was down so they couldn’t actually check us in and take us to our room.  Instead, they comped us $75 for food/beverages at the The Lounge, and made sure we were comfortable while we waited.  I don’t think they’d had done the same if we had booked privately


The Signature at MGM Grand

145 E Harmon
Las Vegas, NV 89109
http://www.signaturemgmgrand.com/

Marga’s Hotel Reviews

Las Vegas Hotel Review: Palms Place

For the last four years, the kids and I have joined Mike in Vegas for the annual Defcon conference.  He goes to the conference, we hang out.  That means that I want to stay at a comfortable hotel, with plenty of room and amenities, that is also centrally located.  Though it’s off the street, the Palm Place is a pretty good alternative.

The Palms Place is a condo hotel, built before the Las Vegas real estate market collapsed in 2008.  Many of the units are privately  owned, though they are available to rent as hotel rooms through the hotel management.  They are identically decorated.  It follows closely the model of the MGM Signature Suites, where I’ve stayed twice, but the Palms Place has a cheaper look.  Still, it’s a very comfortable place to stay with a family.

The studio room features a king size bed, an L-shaped Italian sofa that converts into a queen size bed, a comfy chair, a large desk/counter area and two wall mounted TVs, one facing the bed and the other the sofa.  Only one of the TVs worked during our stay.  There is a kitchen area by the door, which comes with all the basics for keeping/cooking your food.  It had a desk, but it was somewhat uncomfortable to use.

The bathroom featured a beautiful, large and deep jet bathtub in its own enclosure, next to a floor shower. The walls are translucent so anyone in the room can see you bathe.  The tub is very noisy, so it’s not the best place to relax, and it’s literally impossible to hear the TV from the tub, but it’s still a very fun tub.

The room was all in all very relaxing and comfortable. It felt utilitarian rather than luxurious, but it was large and stylish enough.  One big minus, however, is that you cannot open the windows or go into the balcony (if your room has one).

The hotel didn’t have too many amenities itself, but it was also comfortable.  The hotel pool is on the 6th floor, along one side of the hotel. This high up, it can get pretty windy and this may be the one spot in Las Vegas where you can actually feel chilly outside in the middle of an August day.  It usually doesn’t get too crowded, and the kids and I had fun playing there.   Bear in mind that the pool hugs Simon, one of the restaurants, so you cannot really swim in privacy.

Palms Place gives you access to the facilities at the Palms next door – which you can access via a covered walkway.  Unfortunately, we never found the swimming pool at the Palms’, so I can’t report on how it was.  We did take advantage of the cheap but top-quality buffet restaurant and the movie theater – which is conveniently located near the walkway to the Palms Place.   We also went to the Palms to take the free shuttle to Caesar’s Palace.

All in all, the Palms Place provides and affordable and relaxing alternative to the strip.

Golden Nugget – Las Vegas – Hotel Review

Golden-Nugget-Las-VegasMy first introduction to Las Vegas came through a TV show that I watched as a kid in Argentina called Vega$.  Dan Tanna, a private detective played by the very good looking Robert Urich, went around the Las Vegas casinos solving crimes and helping get people out of trouble.  The show had plenty of scenes involving show girls, cocktail waitresses and gambling rooms, and that’s what I think of when I think of Las Vegas.  Staying at the Golden Nugget brought a little of that back, though the hotel has been modernized significantly.

Our real reason for staying, though, was that my youngest daughter, Camila, wanted to go to its pool.  The Golden Nugget has a very cool pool. It has a large, tall aquarium in the middle, which is full of pretty fish and sharks.  A 3-story high slide circles around the aquarium, depositing you in the pool.  The pool itself is pretty small, but I liked the in-water lounge chairs.  As things turned out, neither my husband nor Camila were particularly impressed with the pool.  The line to go up the slide was very long, which meant they only could go once, and the trip down is too fast to see anything.  My 12-year-old, however, really liked swimming around the aquarium, and said that changing hotels for a night was worth it for that opportunity.  The pool, by the way, is open until 8 PM in summer, though only until 5 PM in other seasons.

We stayed in the Rush Tower.  Our room was large and very nicely appointed with stylish furniture. There was plenty of storage space, though not as many easily accessible outlets as I wished.  I particularly liked the modular sofa/lounge chair in the room.  My oldest daughter was able to sleep there for the night, though I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone tall.  The room doesn’t have a fridge, though apparently you can rent one. It has a TV but with few cable channels and no children channels.

The room was fairly, but not completely, clean and ready.  There was no toilet paper in the bathroom (though some was brought up immediately after we asked for it) and a dirty towel had been left in the bathtub.  What would have been of larger concern, had we stayed more than one night, was the “view”.  Our room was in the fifth floor and faced the roof of a building.  There were too flood lights on these roof which were turned on at night, fortunately the curtains were heavy enough to not let any of the light come through.  However, even with the curtains open, the room was very dark.  We had to turn on the light to be able to see around, even during the day.  I’d recommend that if you stay here, you ask for a room on a higher floor, and on the other side of the building (an even number room).

The king size bed was quite comfortable, as were the pillows.  All in all we all slept quite well.

What I didn’t like about the Golden Nugget is how they nicked-and-dime you.  Internet was $13 extra a day; the room had a coffeemaker, but if you wanted coffee you had to pay $10 for it.

Mike and I did a little bit of gambling at the hotel’s casino, and I found it enjoyable enough, even though I lost.  It’s a smoking casino – as are most – but the smell wasn’t too bad.  It probably took 1/2 hour before a cocktail waitress approached me, but she was very nice and efficient when she did.  I had to wait less later when we were playing roulette.

We had dinner at Grotto, one of the more affordable (and yet, still expensive) choices at the Golden Nugget.

I don’t know that I’d stay at the Golden Nugget again, mostly because I prefer the strip, but it’s a definitely a good choice if you want to stay downtown.  It does feel much more intimate and comfortable than the hotels in the strip – but perhaps I perceived it like that because by the end of our four days in Vegas, I was tired.

Golden Nugget Hotel
129 East Fremont Street
Las Vegas, NV
(702) 386-8221
http://www.goldennugget.com/lasvegas/

Marga’s Hotel Reviews

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Luxor – Las Vegas – Review

Last week we stayed at the Luxor hotel in Las Vegas for 3 nights, over the weekend, while Mike attended a conference.  It was just the girls (Mika, 9, and Camila, 6), most of our time there, and in all the Luxor provided a good base.  Its biggest pluses are the moderate prices and the cool ancient Egyptian theme. Its minuses are the location at the far southern end of the strip, a less-than-great pool, and staler air than at other hotels. In all, I’d stay at the Luxor again if the price demanded, but I’d prefer to stay somewhere more central to the strip if I could.

Why we chose this hotel

We were staying in Las Vegas over a weekend in August and hotel prices were quite high.  I wanted a hotel on the strip and had first considered the Circus Circus, but it’s pretty far from the other hotels and I knew transportation would be a problem.  The Luxor was more expensive, but it was still reasonable and it had the advantage of both being closer to the strip and having an ancient Egyptian theme.  Mika used to be very much into Ancient Egypt and she really wanted to stay there.

Hotel Rooms

I was concerned about staying at the Luxor as I’d read many negative things about its hotel rooms.  Fortunately, we lucked out and got a very nice room in the pyramid (the rooms in the Tower are nicer, but Mika wanted to stay in the pyramid).  The room was decorated in an ancient Egyptian theme, hieroglyphs adorned both the headboards and the armoire, and there was a large stone (or stone like) carving of an ancient Egyptian theme decorating the wall.  It’s true that our carpet had seen better days, there were some stains, but it was clean.  The furniture was in great condition and didn’t look 15 years old.  The room had two queen size beds (but they were narrower than my bed at home, so I think they’re actually doubles), one night table, an arm chair with a floor lamp, a small table, two chairs, a small desk, and an armoire with drawers and space to hang your clothing.  It was a nice size for four people (larger than our room at the MGM), and I felt it was quite comfortable a room.  We were at the back of the pyramid with a view of the airport/parking lot. Not the best view, but not a big deal either.

The beds were quite comfortable, and while neither the bedding nor the pillows were are nice as those at the MGM, we slept quite well.  The bathroom only contained a shower, but it was large enough for two people.  My kids are old enough to take showers now, but if you have younger kids you may want to stay somewhere with a bathtub. Note that while the Luxor gives you soap, lotion, body wash and shampoo/conditioner, they don’t give you conditioner by itself – a problem, I find, with those with longre hair.  The room and the bathroom were both very clean.  Also note that the TVs are the old style type, not a big deal but it means you can’t easily connect it to a computer if you want to watch a DVD.  They seem to have plenty of channels, but the only one we watched was “nick”.  The room has its own climate controls, and the air conditioning worked quite well.  The room was cool when we got there.

The Luxor only offers wired internet, the wire is in the closet.  This wasn’t a big issue for us as we brought a wireless travel router that we just connected to the wire, and gave us secure wi-fi throughout the room.  However, be aware that if you don’t bring something like that you will probably only be able to plug one computer to the internet at a time, and you won’t be able to use your wireless devices.  The lack of wireless had one advantage, however: fewer people were using the network and thus download speeds were very decent (better than what we get at home).

The rooms come with an iron/ironing board (Mika loved that!) and a hair dryer, but there is no fridge or coffeemaker.  Of course, they want to encourage you to consume more at the hotel.  You can rent a fridge for $25 a day, which I find ridiculous.  Instead we brought a cooler, filled it with ice, and were able to keep our milk there.  Our room was close to the elevators/Coke machine, and sodas (Pepsi brand) were $2.

Pool Area

The Luxor features three pools, including a paid one.  The area around it is mostly cement (or whatever they make the floor from), there are a few plants and palm trees, but it’s not in the least lush.  There is practically no shade whatsoever, the only place you can find it is under the bridge, on the way to the bathrooms (but this area is small and gets filled quickly), and very partially against the wall by the entrance.  If you come here, prepare to sunbathe.  And believe me, when the sun is shining and it’s over 100F, it’s bloody hot.  The swim area has adequate bathrooms but no changing rooms.  There is a towel service and a bar serving drinks (and I think snacks).

The pools are fairly nice, but they don’t have anything exciting to them.  There is a tall, but fairly narrow, waterfall on one side, and while visually imposing, the water falls close to the wall, so you can’t swim under it or anything like that.  Basically, this is a wading pool.  The pool is 3 1/2″ deep, which is actually a good depth.  My 6 year old could reach the bottom on her toe tips, but it was tiring for her so I ended up buying her a noodle at the pool store ($4).  One thing to keep in mind is that the water at these pools doesn’t seem to be heated and it’s very cold when you first get in.  After a while, under the hot sun in 100+F weather, it’s very refreshing – but once the sun comes down it became too cold for us (even though it was still about 100F outside).

We went to the swimming pool early in the morning (it opens at 9 AM) and later in the day (it closes at  8 PM) and at those times it wasn’t very crowded and we had no problems getting lounge chairs.  The kids could even swim.  But I hear the pool is super-crowded in the middle of the day.

In all, it was an OK pool area but not a compelling one.

Hotel Grounds

Our main reason for going to the Luxor was its ancient Egyptian theme, and while the hotel is a bit worse for wear (we stayed here for New Years 2000), the theme is still in almost full swing.  That means that for an Egyptologist-wannabe it’s wonderful.  There are sandstone-like walls inscribed with hieroglyphs, columns, colossal statues, and lots of architectural details that make you feel – with a bit of an imagination – like you are in ancient Egypt.  My girls loved it.

Though according to Wikipedia the Luxor is the 6th largest hotel in the world, it really didn’t seem that large.  The central area is taken over by the casino (which is smokey, though not as much as it was a decade ago), there is mezzanine with a food court (just McDonalds, Nathans and another restaurant), venues for shows and the wedding chapel), which we found useful to cut through the hotel without having to go through the casino.  There are nice shops and restaurants in the way to the Mandalay Bay and the Excalibur.  There are several restaurants as well, the only one we at at was the Pyramid Cafe (which was OK).

Check In/Out

We tried to check in on a Thursday around 1:30 PM, but we couldn’t get a room high in the pyramid as we wanted.  They asked us to come back later, and we were able to get such room (26 floor) around 3:30 PM.  I had heard that lower rooms in the pyramid suffered from casino/disco noise so I wanted to avoid them.  Lines at both times were fairly short.

We tried the $20 trick, but we weren’t able to get a room upgrade or even a complimentary fridge.  The people are the reception desk were all no-nonsense and all-business.

Check out on a Sunday morning was more painful, I may have waited in line for 20 minutes.  You don’t have to go to the reception to check out, you can just leave your keys in a box, however.

Atmosphere

The Luxor is and feels like a moderate-priced hotel. There is no sense of snootiness here.  Though it’s one of the preferred hotels for families, we didn’t really see many kids around, but I didn’t feel uncomfortable having the girls there.  The crowd was very heterogenous, with people of all ages/races/nationalities.

Overall Impression

In all, I found the Luxor to be a nice, comfortable, 3-star hotel.  It’s a good – but not great – place for families.

Luxor Hotel and Casino
3900 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, NV
1-877-386-4658
http://www.luxor.com/

Marga’s Hotel Reviews