The only time I’ll go to Vegas and feel like a high roller is by staying at a rad hotel. Because let’s face it, the slot machines don’t like me, I still don’t understand how to play craps and in typical California fashion I can’t stand casinos for very long because the cigarette smoke gets to me. Call me a sissy if you want, but if there’s one thing I’ll bet on when it comes to Sin City, it’s finding great accommodations.
Enter the Palms Place Hotel & Spa, part of the off-strip Palms Hotel and the one tower that was built as residential condos. I’ll preface this review by saying: it ain’t my style. But it is surely many a traveler’s, in that sleek, minimalist, textureless way that makes you feel hip and uber-modern just standing in the lobby. Check-in seemed complicated – I’ve ne’er seen a front desk agent (stenographer?) tap as many keys on her computer as this one. And be forewarned, they charge a “resort fee” for all guests to have access to the pool and fitness center. (What? Mandalay has their own beach, and it’s free).
But my annoyances were vanquished upon entering our corner room – with floor-to ceiling views on one side looking toward Summerlin and the other side off to the glittering Vegas Strip, it was almost enough to distract from the other high points: a working gas fireplace, enormous living room, full kitchen, long hallway, large marble bathroom and a surprisingly comfortable bedroom worthy of reviving you to the fullest possible letter after a night of Sin City carousing. You want electrical outlets? The suite has 24. Washer/dryer? Hidden behind a panel in the foyer. Second bathroom we didn’t even notice for a good 30 minutes? It exists. Heck, there were 2 closets, a vanity mirror alcove, DVD player and something like 3 showerheads in the shower. Did I mention the Villeroy & Boch whirlpool bathtub IN the bedroom? Yea. Vegas finery, all of it.
But once we were done reveling, we discovered a few things. The poorly-lit living room was desperate for some light that didn’t come from a wonky, sculptural fixture located near the fireplace, but the other 3 lamps in the room didn’t work. 2 giant patios beckoned from either side of the suite, but in typical Vegas fashion, there was no way to get outside to enjoy them (teases). The dividing walls between the rooms and along the hallway were made of extremely tall, dark wooden panels, which, combined with the narrowness of the hallway space, made me feel quite claustrophobic indeed. The kitchen table still had a mass of dried crumbs from the previous occupant. And the opaque glass pocket door separating the toilet area from the sink and shower area operated by pushing and pulling it through a large open hole instead of a handle. Nice if you want to flash someone brushing their teeth while you pee.
My issues aside, Palms Place is a very adequate hotel. The bed was ultra comfortable, the fireplace warmed the chilly evening right up and, had we remembered to close them, the dark curtains all around shut out any hint of daylight, in case you want to postpone your hangover. The living room, bedroom and bathroom areas all had pocket doors to separate the spaces, which would be great for entertaining. And the couch pulls out into a queen-size bed – you know, in case you make a few new friends at one of the Palms’ nightclubs – Ghostbar, Rain or Moon.
Also enjoyable was the fact that we were completely able to avoid the chaos of the Vegas Strip, their horrendous taxi waiting lines and ridiculous cover charges. If you’re a guest at the Palms or Palms Place, VIP access to any of the 3 aforementioned clubs, or anywhere inside the Palms (accessible by the nifty Skytube) is your perk to enjoy. So once we’d taken our 2 for 1 drink coupons (thank you, Front Desk) and used them at the tacky bars on the casino floor, we checked out the clubs, if only to guzzle a couple of $20 champagnes, admire the sensational views of the city from the balconys and marvel at the outrageous Halloween costumes donned by brave clubgoers in each place (including, but not limited to, a GIANT bear, Buzz Lightyear, Beetlejuice complete with hammer arms, countless women in cheek-less shorts even the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders would blush at and several supremely creepy Deadmaus creatures). The casino floor at the Palms is just okay - not as flashy or fun to walk around as some of the others on the strip. And just a side note: video roulette really ought to come with instructions.
Also of note – Simon Restaurant & Lounge, while very hotel-ish in its decor, presents celeb chef Kerry Simon’s organic cuisine nicely. We went for pre-dinner cocktails and appetizers, and brunch in the morning (before the rest of the hotel had come to, apparently) and though service was sloooooow, the food was really tasty and the room gets a lot of natural light, which is a nice alternative to disingenuous mood lighting that no one wants at 8am. And you guys – they have ALL YOU CAN DRINK Bloody Marys at brunch. That may not seem like a deal at a cheap Vegas buffet, but at Simon? Classy. The restaurant also overlooks the extensive pool area, which while untested by yours truly, looked supremely tranquil.
So in short: the positives – comfortable, spacious, amenity-filled room, plenty of on-site entertainment and a decent dining option. The negatives – in-room maintenance and cleaning issues, expensive drinks (I know, I know, its Vegas, thanks), off the Strip (in case that’s your thing – you gotta drive).
Oh, will I ever find a Vegas hotel that I love? Perhaps one day. Mandalay Bay came pretty close. I admit that part of the lack of appeal comes from what I said earlier – I’m just not cut out for Vegas. But I’d love someone to change my mind – find me a great hotel and I’ll find a soft spot in my heart for a small corner of Nevada.
Details (this excludes any amenities available from the Palms):
- Hotel Amenities include Drift Spa & Salon, a pool, hammam (the city’s first! This is a Turkish steam bath, fyi), tanning, fitness center, restaurant (Simon), bar/lounge (Rojo) and blow dry bar
- 599 rooms range from studios to 1-2 bedroom suites to one of 4 penthouses. You can also own one, if you’re so inclined
- Rates on Expedia can start as low as $79…so you can afford all those taxis you’ll need
- Internet is included in your resort fee
- Valet or self-parking (self parking is FREE!!!!!)
- A shuttle service DOES go to the Strip (to the Forum at Caesar’s Palace) but only twice a day. Not at 3am, crazies.
- Our room had a fax machine. How cute!