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LAS VEGAS / SPECIAL ISSUE: UPTOWN STYLE, DOWNTOWN BUDGET
| STAY SMART

Ultimate low roller's guide

Hotel deals you can dig, baby

December 03, 2006|Beverly Beyette;Catharine Hamm;Vani Rangachar;Chris Erskine;Rosemary McClure | The Times staff

Yet the king bed was comfy. Plus, I could see Fremont Street Experience from my window. And even though a woman was crawling around on the floor down the hall from my room as I walked in, I felt safe enough. I don't think she was praying. Still, a room for less than $90 a night in Vegas is something to get down on your knees for.

Price paid: $87.69, including tax

Parking: Free

Amenities: Restaurant, rooftop pool, room service.

Pros: In the heart of downtown, a more navigable place than the Strip. No huge casino lobby/maze to walk through.

Cons: The room decor was dated, and the TV was so old it could have been a museum piece. The shower wasn't any worse than mine at home, but that's not exactly a compliment.

Catharine Hamm

**

Carriage House

105 E. Harmon Ave.; (800) 221-2301 or (702) 798-1020, www.carriagehouselasvegas.com.

If you want to be close to the action, Carriage House occupies a sweet off-Strip spot. MGM's green glow is within sight, the fake rainstorms of Aladdin's Desert Passage shopping arcade are across the street, and the roar of engines at Harley-Davidson Cafe is a block away.

When the glitter and noise of the casinos enervate instead invigorate, Carriage House's location is a plus, because the nine-story "all-suite hotel," as it bills itself, is far enough away to allow recuperation in a soothing room whose beige and pastels are easy on the eyes.

Technically, the 30-year-old Carriage House is a time-share property, said manager Amy Lowell. But it typically rents out 30% of its 155 rooms to the public, she said.

I stayed in the smallest, a 300-square-foot studio, which held a king-size bed and a sparkling kitchenette. It had two burners, a mini fridge and microwave oven. A cupboard and drawers held pots and pans, serving dishes and cutlery and dinnerware for four, though four around the room's small table would have been tight.

The hotel's biggest rooms, about 700 square feet, contain a full-size kitchen, living room and separate bedroom.

Carriage House isn't at all flash, but it's close enough to dash to all that.

Price paid: $158, including tax. Rates for studio $89-$145. Larger rooms to $119-$185, excluding tax.

Parking: Free

Amenities: Fitness center, tennis court, pool, whirlpool, hair dryer, full-size iron and board, stocked kitchens or kitchenette, large closets and in-room safe. Coin-operated washing machines. Concierge 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Sundays and 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Mondays-Wednesdays.

Pros: Secure building that's locked at night. Guests need a key card to enter building and activate elevators. Within walking distance of some of the Strip's finest casinos.

Cons: The hotel is sandwiched between two towering, high-profile properties. To the east, you'll see the cranes and construction of the 40-story MGM Grand towers. Mercifully, on the Saturday morning I was there, they were silent. In the studio, the bathroom, with tub and toilet, is tiny.

-- Vani Rangachar

**

Hooters Casino Hotel

115 E. Tropicana Ave.; (866) 584-6687, www.hooterscasinohotel.com.

This is the sort of post-collegiate playpen where the Owen Wilsons of the world come to play, flirt and make frat-boy fools of themselves while their pregnant wives wait back home. If that's your C-cup of tea, this loud, lively and intentionally tacky casino-hotel may be for you.

Be honest: Hooters is only marginally naughty to begin with. So in the bawdy context of Vegas, this casino seems almost sweet and all-American. The pert, friendly waitresses walk on their tiptoes like cheerleaders vying for homecoming queen. The Hooters girls, in fact, may wear more clothes than any other barmaids in town.

Hooters Casino, open since February (next door to the Tropicana), is trying to tap into the chain's reputation for sports and good, leering fun.

Rooms are casual -- orange lampshades, anyone? -- and beds are comfortable enough. You don't have to walk a mile to reach your room.

The casino floor is packed with the latest available games and also offers a sports book and poker rooms. There is a sort of beachy pool area that draws a decent late-afternoon crowd. Dan Marino's restaurant is the best of half a dozen restaurant options.

The ultra-casual Hooters Casino Hotel isn't for everyone. But, then, neither is Vegas.

Price paid: $165.79, including tax

Parking: Free

Amenities: 24-hour room service, 700 Hooterific hotel rooms (on site of former Hotel San Remo), spa, fitness center, poolside bar.

Pros: Relatively small as casino hotels go. Nearly walking distance to the airport, free easy-in, easy-out parking. With 200 to 250 Hooters Girls, it is said to be the largest such staff in the world. (This may be hype.)

Cons: The congested casino floor is tough to navigate. Good luck finding the elevator to your room after a few drinks. The parking garage is not well-marked. Yes, it's tacky. That's the point.

Chris Erskine

**

South Point Hotel Casino

9777 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; (866) 796-7111, www.southpointcasino.com.

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