Golden Nugget, Las Vegas

Façade of Golden Nugget, Las Vegas

On our last trip to Las Vegas, we decided to stay on Fremont Street for the first time. After exploring our options, we chose Golden Nugget, which is sometimes described as the most Strip-like hotel in the Downtown area. Whether you’d agree depends, I suppose, on what you like or don’t like about the Strip.

The good

My first impression of Golden Nugget was positive when we set our bags down in what was certainly the nicest room I’ve had in all my trips to Vegas, including rooms that cost twice as much. It was modern, clean, comfortable, and roomy. The front-desk clerk apologized for the view of Fremont Street because of the noise on a First Friday night, but the room was high enough and the glass was thick enough that it was a non-issue.

Another highlight of the stay was a steak dinner at Vic & Anthony’s, which had been recommended to me years ago by travel blogger Tom Bartel. A couple of perfectly cooked steaks, along with the impeccable service, made the five-hour drive from Phoenix seem worth it.

And on what turned out to be one of the hottest weekends of the year, I appreciated the location on Fremont Street. It was delightful to be able to walk out of the hotel and be in one of a half-dozen other hotels in five minutes, all without leaving the shade.

The bad

We expected hot weather in June, so Golden Nugget’s pool area was a major selling point for us when we booked. However, the pool area was practically unusable, largely because they let non-guests use the pool for a fee. By early morning we couldn’t find a place to lie side-by-side and gave up. At least we could drown our disappointment in cocktails from the bar next door.

Another disappointment was the resort fee, which included almost nothing of value. I’ve grown accustomed to the resort fees charged by Vegas hotels, a practice that borders on fraud, but this is the first time I’ve paid a fee and not gotten in-room coffee.

Which leads me to another complaint, which is that Golden Nugget doesn’t have a decent coffee shop. There’s a Starbucks, but I’m no fan of Starbucks, and even if I’d settled for their shitty coffee this one time, it wouldn’t have mattered since they weren’t open 24 hours, which in Clark County ought to be grounds for denying a business license.

On the other hand, as I mentioned earlier, other casinos were just a short walk away, and the coffee shop in Four Queens was full of customers at 4 am, including several LVMPD officers. That’s usually a good sign.

The balance

So would I go back again? If the price is right, yes. The good was quite good, and the bad is avoidable now that we know our way around a little better. As for the in-room coffee, we’ve already bought a travel-size electric tea kettle for our next trip later this month. We’re not staying at Golden Nugget, but I’m not taking any chances.

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