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EXCALIBUR

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South Strip

3850 Las Vegas Blvd. S.

Las Vegas, NV 89109

800-937-7777

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4008 Rooms

$49 and up double

$100-$150 per night

$30 per night plus tax

$8 per day self; $13 per day valet

64

AT A GLANCE

Highs

Wacky Vegas styling; can get some good deals here.

Lows

Casino is a dungeon (no, really); lots of families.

Location: 10

Hard to do better than this prime South Strip location.

Price: 7

You can find some real bargains here.

Value: 6

If the rooms are expensive, it doesn't feel like it's worth it.

Rooms: 6

Simple and a bit bland but comfortable.

Casino: 3

Too dark and dungeon-like with its castle decor.

Amenities: 7

Rooms have the basics covered and a few extras.

Facilities: 8

Lots of things to do.

Service: 8

Friendly and competent but a little slow sometimes.

Fun: 5

Fun in a kitschy Vegas way, but that's about it.

Bonus: 4

Not one of my favorites in Vegas.

Total: 64

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FULL REVIEW

It's important to look at Excalibur in a historical perspective. When it opened in 1990 at the corner of The Strip and Tropicana there was no New York-New York, Luxor, Mandalay Bay, or MGM Grand a few feet away to compare it against so its giant medieval castle theme was both outrageous and impressive. If you're able to look at it with a bit of tunnel vision, it still can be.

Ignore the fancier neighbors and from the outside Excalibur is pretty cool - giant colorful turrets, a moat, and even a (non-functioning) drawbridge. It's like something you'd expect to see in the theme park inhabited by a certain cartoon mouse.

Inside the theme continues with all public areas designed to look like the inside of the aforementioned castle, which brings up my first problem with the place. Castles, as a general rule, are not usually warm, inviting places and neither is The Excalibur. I know I said I wasn't going to make comparisons, but it's hard not to here. Everything is kind of dark when you compare it to the other places in town, with deep reds and grays lending to a vaguely oppressive air. It's almost dungeon-like... okay, a dungeon with slot machines but you get the point. I often get a strong sense of claustrophobia when visiting.

Improved lighting in the casino has alleviated some of the gloom and there is certainly more than enough gaming action to keep you entertained. Slots of all denominations are available as are a host of table games, a poker room, keno, and a race and sports book.

The other "problem" I have with The Excalibur is strictly a demographic one and runs more to my personal taste than anything else I discuss here. This place, like its sister property Circus-Circus, seems to attract a lot of families with children. It's not that I don't like children it's just that I don't believe that Las Vegas is the best vacation spot for them. This city has always been more of an adult playground and I prefer to be with adults on the jungle gym here (so to speak).

The general trend in the city as it continues to refocus in a more adult manner is that there are fewer kids in general, and Excalibur is certainly a part of that change in perspective. The fire-breathing dragon out front is gone and there's a male strip show in one of the theaters so it's not quite the family Camelot it was when it first opened. But if children are around, this is one of the places you'll find them so if you don't want to be around kids at the pool, the restaurants, and other non-gaming areas, don't go to The Excalibur. If you have kids - or don't mind being around them - it's one of your few reasonable Strip options.

There are more than 4,000 rooms divided into four towers. Getting to the elevators can be a bit of challenge, especially if you're carrying luggage, since you have to traipse through the casino all the way to the far fringes of the building. This is old school thinking ("Maybe they'll stop and gamble on their way to the room!") and just an all around pain.

The new as of 2016 Royal Tower rooms are probably where you want to lay your head for the evening. These remodeled rooms feature upgraded bedding and furniture, 40" flat screen televisions and more. They're not the kind of places that you're going to want to take pictures of to send back to family and friends to make them jealous of your Vegas adventure, but from a design perspective they are fine. Expect the kind of lodging you'd get at a typical Holiday Inn or Hyatt Garden in some other town that doesn't have giant castle-shaped hotels.

The Resort rooms are similarly styled and also pretty bland and really the only significant difference between them and the Royal rooms, other than colors here and there, is that the stuff in them is a bit older. That and you'll probably pay about $10 less per night for the rooms.

All rooms come with high-speed Internet access, cable television, hair dryers, and irons and boards plus standard bath amenities.

There is a large pool area featuring four pools of varying sizes including a beach area, a bar and grill, and a more contemporary adults only section.

On the second level above the casino there is a a small Sherwood Forest shopping gallery, lots of restaurants including a satisfying moderate-cost buffet, a medieval dinner-theater show, those male strippers we mentioned, and a large arcade that includes some virtual reality/motion simulator rides. See the related reviews below for more information on some of the things you can do here.

The price is one of the biggest reasons to take a look at Excalibur. You can often get rooms mid-week for as low as $39 and sometimes below $100 on the weekend. Of course that's before the mandatory $30 per night resort fee is tacked on. That gives you Internet and gym access plus a few other minor perks.

And don't forget about the fees for parking that were instituted in 2016. It costs $8 per day for self parking and $13 per day for valet for hotel guests and non-guests alike. The only way to get out of it is if you have a players' club card at the Pearl or above level, which gets you free self-parking and the Gold or above level, which gets you free valet.

The Excalibur is not one of my favorite hotels but it isn't because there's anything expressly wrong with the place. It's not like they make you swim the moat to get in or lock you in a dungeon if you do something wrong. In fact, it's one of the few good choices for families in Las Vegas and one of the last remaining places on The Strip for people on a budget. And those newer rooms certainly do add to the package.

But placing history and tunnel vision aside for a moment, it's hard not compare this hotel to all the others in Las Vegas. When I do that, Excalibur just doesn't stack up.

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