As much as I wish I were a world traveler, I’m just not… Yet! Maybe one day. Unfortunately my finances don’t allow me to go wherever, whenever but I can do Vegas on the cheap! I’ve been 4 times and have paid between $350-$420 (USD) for flight and hotel (incl. tax) every time. I thought this was pretty standard because it’s the pricing I’d always been able to work to get but after chatting with people about it, I realized that what I was doing was actually giving me quite the deal and I had secrets to share!
Before I lose you to skepticism and before we get into all the nitty gritty I want to make 3 things very clear:
- Each time I stayed in the very nice, big name hotels right on the strip.
- I had convenient (favorably timed), direct flights every time.
- Every stay was 4-5 nights.
Now, I’m not going to tease you with saving the best for last. Let’s get right into the good stuff.
Before I actually tried this for myself I was very apprehensive but jeez is it ever worth it! Booking my hotel through Hotwire made those big name, directly-on-the-strip, where-all-the-movies-are-filmed hotels so much more affordable. Even the 3 star hotels on the strip are pricey when you book with them directly. If you choose to stay off the strip, you’re going to pay the difference in cab fare anyway.
With Hotwire, you don’t know exactly which hotel you are going to end up with (you find out for 100% once you pay) which is scary but you do know the area (strip center, strip North, strip South-indicated on a map) and star rating. For me, that’s good enough. During a Vegas trip you spend so little time in the hotel room that you have to ask yourself if you’re okay with only knowing, for example, that you’re going to stay at a 4* hotel in the Center of the strip for $100 a night. You know (more on this, below) that you’re going to get either: LINQ, Paris, Planet Hollywood, or the Westin so does it really matter which of those 4 awesome hotels you end up with when you’re getting such a score?! Not to me it doesn’t.
How do you know what hotels you have the potential of ending up with? The BetterBidding forum, that’s how. This site lists out what Hotwire options are available for which region and star rating. Not only does it tell you what the options are, but it lists out possible amenities that Hotwire will list for different bookings. You can cross reference what amenities Hotwire is listing against Better Bidding to get a good idea of which hotel you will get. I have used this method every time and have always known what hotel I was going to end up with. I should make clear that this isn’t to act as a guarantee but if you do your research, your chances are pretty good. I’m 3 for 3.
Hotels I’ve stayed at in Las Vegas (yes, within this price point!):
- Palazzo (huge suite!)
- Flamingo (not booked with Hotwire-this was my first trip, before discovering Hotwire)
This one is bit tricky because sometimes there just isn’t much you can do about flight prices which leads me to my first tip: be flexible with your dates. Plan well ahead to try to travel on a cheap weekend by looking at the airline’s “rates by date” calendar. I’ve often found that dates that are more affordable to travel on with the airline end up coinciding with affordable hotel dates as well.
My second tip is open your flight search up to nearby, smaller airports with smaller airlines. Flights tend to be cheaper from smaller airports, with smaller airlines that fly smaller planes.
Transportation once you land:
Do not pre-pay for your transportation from the airport to your hotel. Get a cab from the airport and you’ll save money. When you get in that cab, don’t act like a novice (even if it is your first trip to Vegas). If a cabbie senses that you have no familiarity with the route then they may take you on a more scenic ($$$$!) route than necessary. You could look up the most direct route on Google maps but I wouldn’t recommend it as traffic can get crazy in Vegas and sometimes the longer way will be better if it avoids gridlock traffic. Simply saying that you’re excited to be back in Vegas (and going back to ____ hotel again) should be enough for them to realize they can’t pull a fast one on you.
Getting around Vegas:
Walk! Not only will this save you money on cab fare but it will give you a chance to see more of Vegas (not all-there is just so dang much!) and help you burn some of the extra calories I’m sure you’re going to consume. If walking isn’t an option, be sure to take advantage of the complimentary tram (the Monorail, however, is NOT free). If you must cab, try to get on the same side of the strip as you need get to/same direction you are going. Every turn in Vegas traffic around the strip takes way longer than you’d expect.
My last tip for getting you to Vegas for cheap particularly applies to a Girl’s Trip. If you are going with your 3 best girlfriends, why not all share one room and make it a jumbo slumber party? Sure, it’ll likely be a bit squishy (unless you’re in a suite like Palazzo) but as long as you have 2 Queen beds, you’ll be a-okay so long as everyone gets along and loves each other. You can specifically book a room with 2 queen beds and sometime you need to pay a bit extra for that, sometimes you don’t. If you’d don’t purchase a 2 Queen room in particular then you run the risk of getting a King.
Your options here are:
- pay a bit more to guarantee the 2 Queens upon booking
- call the hotel a couple weeks prior to request 2 Queens
- arrive at the hotel and bat your eyelashes asking for 2 Queens
- end up with a King and request a cot for 4 sleeping spaces (no, 3 girls in one King bed is not ideal but hey, you’ll be so tired at 4:00am when you go to bed that you won’t even care.)
Additional little tid-bits:
- Hotel stays are substantially cheaper in Vegas Sunday-Thursday than Friday and Saturday night.
- Usually a room’s capacity when booked for 1 King or 2 Queens doesn’t technically allow for 4 guests. So just have 2 of you check in. I’ve never ever had an issue with this, we were just sure to not be blatantly obvious about the fact that there were actually 4 of us upon check-in.