The Monte Carlo Las Vegas: Bigger Bang For Your Buck

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I dare you to hear the words Monte Carlo and not immediately think of the French Riviera, men in tuxedos driving seductively expensive sports cars and ordering martinis (shaken, not stirred), and beautiful women in slinky dresses with slits up the thighs. There’s no doubt that was the image the Monte Carlo Las Vegas was trying to evoke when it was first built. You can still see elements of European class in the exterior architecture–if you look past the kitsch of Diablo’s Cantina and its giant She-Devil out front. But, except for its 32nd floor luxury hotel (Hotel32)–which I unfortunately didn’t see–the Monte Carlo is now a down-to-earth and affordable resort on the south end of the Las Vegas Strip.

Monte Carlo Las Vegas

Monte Carlo Las Vegas

I stayed at the Monte Carlo Las Vegas for two reasons: 1) the price; and 2) I had never stayed there before and wanted to review it. Yet here it is six months later and I’m just now getting around to reviewing it. Don’t read anything into that except laziness and a lack of creativity on my part.

Hotel reviews are tough to write. You don’t want to just list what you liked and didn’t like about the place, you want to tell a story of your stay there. But sometimes, there’s no story to tell. Except maybe: Don’t judge a book by its cover.

When I first checked into the resort, my first impression was: You get what you pay for. But by the time I checked out, I was thinking: I got great bang for my buck!

How the heck did that happen?

Monte Carlo room

Monte Carlo room

My introduction to the Monte Carlo was underwhelming. Check-in took a ridiculously long time for just a handful of people. In my room, I immediately noticed signs of aging (scuffed lampshades, a loose electrical outlet—Hello, Fire Hazard!–and a wall safe so loose, I could have pried it out of the wall with my bare hands), design flaws (no towel rack near the sink for a hand towel, lampshades so enormous they took up too much space on surfaces), and supply oversights (no bar soap for the shower, no Do Not Disturb Sign).

Tram to Aria

The Monte Carlo’s tram to Aria, CityCenter and Bellagio is one of its best features.

But over the course of my stay there, the resort slowly won me over, first with location–close enough to the cluster of South Strip hotels that it doesn’t seem daunting to visit them on foot, accessible to center Strip by the free tram to Bellagio, and with a CVS Pharmacy and Walgreens nearby to stock up on water and snacks. Then it wowed me with its awesome pool area. The hotel also houses one of my favorite shows in Vegas, the Blue Man Group, and has two very appealing standalone lounges: Minus5 Ice Bar and Ignite Lounge. I quickly warmed up to its easily manageable size, its fun casino and its cleanliness.

Ignite Lounge

Ignite Lounge

I don’t mind if a resort is older and fading a bit, but cleanliness is super important. Other than the soap oversight on my first night, housekeeping did a great job at keeping everything fresh and tidy. I left a tip on the pillow every day and was practically drowning in toiletries by the end of the week.

My room was plenty large enough. The bed was comfortable, and I slept fairly well (for me). The room had a flat panel TV, not that I watched it. Naturally, there is a resort fee here. There’s a resort fee at almost every hotel in Las Vegas now. (Boo.) At least this one provided me with things I actually wanted and didn’t mind paying for: Internet access, in-room Keurig coffee, and 2 small bottles of water per day.

As someone who is pretty much ruled by my stomach, I was also very pleased with the inhouse dining venues. I’ve stayed at resorts before where I felt like there was nothing to eat on-site because either the restaurants were terrible or they were too expensive (or both). And there’s nothing worse than getting hunger pangs at midnight and being too tired to leave your hotel, but being too cheap to order room service.

d.vino

d.vino Restaurant

If you’re staying at the Monte on a tight budget, there’s a food court (Subway, McDonalds, pizza, etc.), the Cafe (I highly recommend for breakfast), and the “Big Belly Buffet” (which I just couldn’t bring myself to eat at based on the name alone), as well as Dragon Noodle, where you can get a plentiful lunch for under $10. Mid-price restaurants include Diablo’s, d.vino, and the Pub (great for a beer and watching the game, though the service is very slow). If money’s no object there is upscale dining at Andre’s and Brand Steakhouse (where you can actually dine and drink on the cheap during their awesome Happy Hour). And if you want to indulge a craving, you can visit two Starbucks locations, a frozen yogurt shop, a frozen drink bar, and a cupcake shop, all without leaving the hotel. Need I say more?

How is it for solos? The only negative I noticed is that I never saw anyone checking room keys at the elevator. But I felt perfectly safe there, and honestly, it quickly started to feel like “home”–or at least, my “Vegas home.”

Monte Carlo Las Vegas

Monte Carlo Las Vegas

Perhaps the primary reason a solo traveler might want to consider the Monte Carlo is that it offers great bang for your buck. When you travel solo and don’t have anyone to split the cost of a room, rates matter. Two other women I was meeting in Vegas who were also traveling solo booked the Monte Carlo for its great rates at the same time I did–and we all did it without knowing the others were going to! When you can book a hotel that offers everything this one does for as low as $48/night—and I did—that brings a trip to Las Vegas into the realm of “Yes, I can afford to go!”

Despite the resort’s flaws, I really enjoyed my stay here and would happily book it again. I’ve stayed at other “budget hotels” on the Strip—Harrahs, Ballys, the Flamingo, the Imperial Palace (now the Quad)–and I’d pick the Monte Carlo over any of them in the future in a heartbeat.

Got any questions or impressions of your own about the Monte Carlo? Feel free to comment below.

15 thoughts on “The Monte Carlo Las Vegas: Bigger Bang For Your Buck

  1. Jeff @ GoTravelzing

    Las Vegas has spoiled me with the value of its rooms. If you go at the right time the deals are amazing. On my last trip I had a gigantic suite at the MGM which costs a total of $300 for two nights with all the fees and taxes. Plus I got a $75 food credit on top of that.

    Of course I did not need the suite but it was only $10 more than a regular room and was still cheaper than lesser rooms at other hotels.

    1. Gray

      Oh, I know what you mean, Jeff. I always get sticker shock when I travel to other destinations, because Vegas has spoiled me rotten. It’s so hard knowing you can get a five star hotel room in Vegas for the same price as a single room with shared bath in New York City.

  2. Hetz

    The MC is on my bucket list. Someday! I agree with both of you. Rooms are more expensive in my town of 7,000. Although my comped offers seem to dropping off I still can find very good room rates. It just takes a little effort. My next trip to LV is a couple months away with Europe ten days later.

    1. Gray

      LV is practically bargain basement prices compared to Europe, Hetz. Still, it’s worth the extra cost to see Europe. Which country/ies?

  3. Nate

    What I love about Monte Carlo is that it’s a budget hotel that doesn’t feel like a budget hotel. Just about every aspect of Harrah’s, Flamingo, and especially the Quad makes it clear that you’re staying on the cheap, which can set a totally different tone for a vacation. Monte Carlo’s rooms can feel a bit dated (they were still using CRT TV’s last time I stayed there, good to hear they finally joined the 21st century and put in flat-screens), but the property itself has a very elegant atmosphere, along with locations that can satisfy literally any budget. You can eat at McDonald’s and buy a $5 souvenir, or you can dine at the Steakhouse while wearing your new $6,000 Tag Heuer watch. It’s one of my top places to visit while in Vegas, even if I don’t stay there every time.

    Word of advice: Don’t try to impress people by ordering your martinis “shaken, not stirred”. The bartenders will just laugh at you, and you’ll feel very stupid. Or so I’ve heard. (cough)

    1. Gray

      LOL, Nate. I love how you always make me laugh with your comments. I think I’ll avoid martinis altogether just to be on the safe side. 🙂

  4. Dan

    I stay at Vdara, but I love to use MC as the easiest conduit to/from the south part of the strip, it’s such a quick and easy walk from the tram through the lobby. I also use the food court when I need a quick bite. I always seemed wary of the other food options, but I think I’ll give them a shot next time I’m there!

  5. Hardware

    About to book a trip to Vegas. Not solo. I have long wanted to stay at MC, for no other reason than a lazy river at the pool. I read your pool review of MC earlier, and considering my stay would be two weekdays in early April, the pool sounds like a nice place to be without being crowded… too soon for the young partiers, and not really a young partier destination from what I read. (I will be staying downtown for the first two nights of the trip.)

    A deluxe room via a deal on the MC website: $106/night. Too much.

    But if I book via Expedia, I can get the Delta flights we are eyeing (I’d prefer Sun Country, but not gonna happen this time) and for about $54/person can get two nights at MC. I am tentatively booked at Orleans for those two nights, and I estimate those nights at about $50/person with their modest resort fee and taxes. The only thing I’m uncertain of is how much extra it would cost in resort fees if I book via Expedia, as I’m sure that’s not covered in their quote.

    Gotta make a decision in the morning, as soon as I get my vacation request approved. I know what I’m getting from Orleans: very nice room with a king bed and a decent pool area, but not spectacular. Two afternoons in the sun are very important on this trip (yes, we’re at the mercy of the gods). Decisions, decisions.

  6. Hardware

    My mistake: not $106/night, $106 for two nights…. so booking a room with airfare via Expedia is not really a savings. (Sometimes you get amazing deals by pairing a partial stay with airfare via Expedia.)

    Only advantage to booking the rooms via Expedia is if the rate includes resort fees. The trip details says the total price includes taxes and fees, but I’m banking it doesn’t include the resort fee.

    1. Gray

      I would say you’re probably right, Hardware. I doubt Expedia includes the resort fees. Let’s just hope nobody is on spring break in early April, and you should be all set.

    1. Gray

      Fantastic, Hetz! Sounds great. Which cruise company are you using? I’d be interested in hearing how this goes.

  7. Anant

    Hello, great MC review Gray! I stayed at the MC back in 1999 for NYE. Haha..showing my age. Anyway, I’m contemplating a vegas trip in April. Would be about 6 years since I’ve been back. I plan to go solo..Do people usually meet up monthly or only during your annual meetup? thanks!

    1. Gray Cargill Post author

      Hi, Anant – My readers only meet up with me when I’m there and set up a meetup. Are you on Twitter? If so, you might be able to use that to connect with others who are going to be in Vegas at the same time. People on other Vegas message boards set up meet and greets all the time, too. Try TripAdvisor’s Vegas forum or Lasvegas4ever.com. If there isn’t a M&G already set up, you could set one up. Obviously, not everyone will be solo (maybe most won’t), but you’ll all have something in common: Vegas! 🙂

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