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.
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?
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).
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.
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.
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.”
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.