As I’ve mentioned before on my blog, Las Vegas consists of more than just the Strip. Fremont Street, aka “Downtown”, has a lot to offer, too. Prices are more down-to-earth, and so are the people. I go there one evening during every trip. But on my last trip, I did something I’ve never done before: I actually stayed Downtown for two nights at the Golden Nugget. Staying on Fremont Street was definitely different than staying on the Strip. The Nugget did not disappoint.
I decided to move from Planet Hollywood to a Downtown hotel because Strip prices jumped a bit too high for Christmas Eve and Christmas Night, which happened to fall on a weekend this year. I managed to score a $59/night rate for the Golden Nugget. I’ve always thought that the Nugget was the nicest hotel Downtown, and that impression remains fixed.
I stayed in the Carson Tower in room 1775. This is the older tower, hence the cheap rate. It was much nicer than I expected. Overall, I was quite happy with it. What I liked: The seashell theme in the bathroom, the liberal use of polished granite counter tops throughout the room, how spacious the room felt, and the robes in the closet. What I didn’t like: The floral fabrics, the old lady perfume smell in the room, and the ungodly loud, hyperactive heating unit. Still, it drowned out the sound of traffic outside and my neighbors in the next room, so I used it.
The public areas of the Nugget are very attractive (especially in the newer Rush Tower) and nicer than several of the Strip hotels. One of the biggest selling points for the Nugget is the swimming pool, complete with a slide that goes through a shark tank. It was barely 60 degrees out, but there were plenty of guests (braver than I) who were out there swimming anyway. There are also outdoor blackjack tables in this area.
There is a good variety of restaurants here, including an Italian place that looked nice (The Grotto) and a sushi place (Red Sushi). The lunch buffet was pretty good for $11.99, but what really impressed me was the setting of the buffet. It felt pretty darned upscale for a Downtown buffet. I ate in the Carson Street Cafe for breakfast, which was fine, but not really notable. If you only eat one meal at this hotel, let it be dinner at the Chart House restaurant (in the Rush Tower). The service, the food, and the beautiful aquarium make it one of the best restaurants Downtown.
The Rush Lounge is a sweet little bar that offers live music at night. By the time I thought about wandering in to grab a drink and listen to some music, it was standing room only. I guess you really need to stake your claim to a bar stool early here. The Golden Nugget also offers a ticketed show–impressionist Gordie Brown–which I have not seen and cannot comment on.
My only real complaint with the public areas of the hotel is the same complaint I make of most of the casinos in Las Vegas: the cigarette smoke was thick enough to choke a horse. That got old real fast. I did well gambling here, though, on a lucky bank of Amazing Race machines at the foot of the stairs to Gold Diggers, the hotel’s nightspot that has a balcony overlooking the Fremont Street action.
The Golden Nugget has a terrific location right in the center of it all on Fremont Street. You shouldn’t have any trouble keeping yourself occupied at night here. Dance in front of the outdoor stage where a band plays live music nightly. Watch the Fremont Street light show overhead. Ride the new zipline. Stroll in and out of other casinos, check out all the bars of the Fremont East district, stop and watch the spray paint artists ply their trade, and enjoy the “street theater.” People-watching is the highlight of being Downtown.
Do I recommend the Golden Nugget for solo travelers to Las Vegas? Yes. Especially if you want to take advantage of the lower table limits, better odds, and cheaper food, beverage and hotel prices Downtown. You can catch a bus to and from the Strip or a free shuttle to Sam’s Town (where you can catch a movie and see their Atrium show, “the Sunset Stampede”). Don’t forget while you’re at the Golden Nugget to check out The Hand of Faith, the biggest gold nugget in existence, weighing in at 61 pounds. It’s in the lobby. Or for smaller amounts of gold, check out the new vending machines where you can buy your own little strip of gold.