The Golden Nugget got new owners a few years back (The Landry's Restaurant chain) who immediately threw millions of dollars at the property to transform it from a very good hotel into a great one. Their attention to detail - which has continued in the years since they have owned the hotel - shows from the gorgeous casino to the fantastic pool to the nice rooms and beyond.
Start at the landscaped drive leading to a Porte Corchere and a lobby designed primarily for the newer Rush Tower rooms but available to anyone checking in. It is done in golden earth tones with a swirling crystal chandelier structure offsetting a 75,000 gallon aquarium at the Chart House restaurant right behind the main desk.
The rich color scheme of earth tones throughout the public spaces - deep browns, creamy whites, glowing oranges offset by vibrant splashes of green and red here and there - is nothing short of gorgeous. I know, I used that word already but there's no need to rush off to the thesaurus - gorgeous applies.
The casino is still a bit cramped for space but the good news is that they pack a lot of gaming options into that area, with slot machines of all denominations, plenty of gaming tables, a race and sports book, a poker room, and more.This is a genuinely enjoyable place in which to lose your life savings.
Since owners Landry's is first and foremost a restaurant chain, it's no great surprise that there are several of their signature eateries on site (Vic & Anthony's, Chart House, and the Grotto) plus a nice buffet, a Cadillac Grill, and a Claim Jumper. A showroom that features various entertainment options and a lovely spa offer some additional distractions.
The pool area is the centerpiece of the the hotel. Surrounded by three sides on glass facing into the hotel, a recreation deck surrounds a deep (although not particularly large) pool, a giant aquarium, and a bar. Overlooking the whole thing is a second level with cabanas and the start of a water slide that actually passes through that shark filled aquarium on its way to splashdown. A third-floor area that keeps younger kids at bay features more luxurious cabanas, daybeds, a bar, and a shallow but gorgeous heated infinity pool. The whole package is branded as the H20 pool club and is open to the public for a fee.
The 25-story Rush Tower is the newsest addition to the room inventory, with 500 units available in a variety of configurations. Standard rooms feature a sizeable bathroom with wood floors and accents and a richly appointed sleeping area with tons of amenities including a built in desk, a couch, mini-fridge, flat panel televisions, DVD players, iPod clock radios, safes, irons and boards, and much more. Larger mini-suites feature more floor space, very spacious resort style bathrooms, and full sectional sofas. The decor is stellar - luxe and definitely upscale but still comfortable in varying shades of rich browns, leather, and wood. Gorgeous. There's that word again.
Rooms in the older Gold Tower were redone in late 2014. They feature a sleek and modern design (similar to the Rush Tower but not quite as swank), contemporary furnishings, revamped bathrooms with new fixtures, and upgraded technology (bigger flat panel TVs, for instance). They will probably be redoing the rooms in the Carson Tower to match at some point but for now if you want the nicest and best the Nugget has to offer go for the Gold or Rush Tower rooms.
It's worth noting that even with the check-in desk at the Rush Tower, the two check-in desks at the Gold and Carson Towers are still operational so you should go to the one that is closest to the tower you are checking into. Otherwise you're going to have a trek with luggage through casinos and/or crowds to get to where you want to go..
The Downtown area has always been known for having friendlier staff members and dealers than The Strip and that tradition continues here. Everyone I dealt with was cheerful, helpful, and efficient.
Despite all of the money thrown at the place, they are not always asking you to pay for it through increased room rates. You can still get a room here during the week for as low as $39 with the really nice Rush Tower as low as $69 - of course that's before the $27.50 per night resort fee. On weekends those prices will roughly double as a starting point but that's still a great bargain for a hotel as good as this one.