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THE LINQ HOTEL & CASINO

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Center Strip

3535 Las Vegas Blvd. S.

Las Vegas, NV 89109

800-634-6441

website

2,700 Rooms

$39 and up double

$75-$125 per night

$30 per night plus tax

$13 per day valet; self free (for now)

79

AT A GLANCE

Highs

Location; nice renovations; can be very cheap to stay here.

Lows

Not as cheap as it used to be; dumb resort fee; access issues if you are driving.

Location: 10

Right in the heart of the Center Strip.

Price: 8

You can often get cheap rooms here.

Value: 8

The revamped rooms make you feel like you are getting a good deal.

Rooms: 7

Not the nicest in town but the nicest for the money.

Casino: 8

Remodeling has made this a much better place to gamble; still friendly.

Amenities: 7

New rooms are very well stocked.

Facilities: 7

Lots to do here.

Service: 9

Among the friendliest in town.

Fun: 7

A good place for affordable fun.

Bonus: 8

The changes have been very well executed; good job!

Total: 79

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Full Review

For years, this hotel operated as The Imperial Palace, a stalwart, if not particularly nice, hotel/casino that catered to budget minded travelers. Then, a couple of years ago, they started remodeling the place, giving it a whole new look and feel in the public areas including a completely revamped casino, new restaurants, bars, and more. That new look came with a new name: The Quad. Nobody knows why.

Now, the hotel has gotten even more remodeling and yet another new name, becoming The Linq Hotel & Casino in deference to the neighboring shopping plaza of the same name. In fact, it is all considered one big thing now - The Linq is the hotel, the casino, the shopping and entertainment plaza and the giant High Roller observation wheel out back.

Almost all of the public areas of the hotel received an extreme makeover designed to remove all traces of the IP's worn Asian theme with something lighter, brighter, and more modern. The exterior has gotten an eye-searing multi-hued paint job that is capped off by a light feature at the front that appears to spin and twirl like a vortex (which is what the thing is called) but rest assured that the inside is much more subdued than that.

The porte cochere was relocated to the north side of the building facing Harrah's, which means you can't enter from Las Vegas Boulevard anymore - you have to drive (or take a cab) in through the back of the property. That's a giant pain the rear, literally, since the streets behind the hotels on that side of The Strip are a nightmarish mess of stop signs, blind turns, and too much traffic. I was there on a busy weekend and it took me nearly 20 minutes to get from the valet to Flamingo Road, about two blocks away. To be fair, it wasn't always like that but it can be so give yourself some extra time if you are driving or cabbing it.

The good news is that they have the fastest valet parking in town. Simply wave your ticket at a sensor near the front door and it notifies an attendant to grab your ride from a garage just a few steps away. I never waited more than 5 minutes to get my car whereas it took me almost 30 minutes to get it out of the valet at Caesars Palace.

But more bad news - that valet is going to cost you. It's $13 per day and while self parking is free for now, it won't be at some point in 2017.

The front desk was relocated and expanded and they also added a VIP lounge for extra special guests. Try to be one because the lines at the main registration were often epic during my visit. Again, I was there on an unusually busy weekend but at one point there were upwards of 100 people waiting to check in and none of them looked happy about it. I know I wouldn't have been.

Adjacent to the front desk is a new gaming area and lobby bar featuring a smaller copy of the exterior vortex light feature and done in a the same blue, purple, gold, and green hues that look, um, "interesting" on the outside of the building. It's a nice enough looking space but perhaps one of the best features of it is that there are electrical outlets and USB charging stations at almost every seat, making it a great place to grab a drink and take care of the drained battery on your phone at the same time.

The rest of the casino was fully revamped as well. The new look is all muted earth tones (with the occasional splash of vibrant red or orange) and modern furnishings. It's bigger than it sued to be since they expanded into the space that used to be neighboring O'Shea's and out to The Strip where the main driveway and Rockhouse nightclub used to be, but actually feels smaller since it is divided up into different sections to accommodate for walls and other structural details they couldn't move.

It's a billion times nicer than the old IP but kind of bland. They have plenty of table games and more than enough of the latest slots, although it's important to note that most of them are of the penny and nickel variety. Their "High Limit" room consists of a corner with about 10 machines that accepted $5 or $10 pulls so if you are a high roller on the slots you may want to wander next door to Harrah's or The Flamingo where they have more choices.

There are several other casino bars and a new version of the O'Shea's, complete with its own gaming tables, cheap drinks, and their traditional "leprechaun mayor."

The food lineup changed with almost every old restaurant thrown own in favor of new ones, led by an insanely popular restaurant from an insanely popular Food Channel star in the form of Guy Fieri's Vegas Kitchen. Good news - fabulous Hash House a Go Go is staying put and is reason enough to visit the place right there. Amazing news - now you can get Hash House delivered as room service in the mornings! Dinner can be ordered from any of the restaurants in the shopping promenade including Brooklyn Bowl.

The pool area has been completely redone with private cabanas, poolside rooms, and daybeds. It's worth noting that it is only open to 21 and over - if you have kids you have to go next door to the Flamingo pool.

There is no nightclub, but guests of the hotel get complimentary VIP admission to Drai's at The Cromwell just down the street.

Entertainment comes in the form of the "America's Got Talent" winner magician Mat Franco, gender bending female impersonator show Divas Las Vegas plus the High Roller observation wheel out back and various entertainment like concerts and shows at Brooklyn Bowl. And of course the classic cars on display at the Auto Collections are still chugging along.

But of course the most important part of the remodel is the rooms and they have gotten a similar extreme makeover. The first place where you can see the difference is as soon as you step off the elevators. These areas used to be almost utilitarian, with exposed concrete walls and tile floors. Now they have nice wood walls, carpeting, paint, and lighting that immediately creates a much nicer impression.

The rooms themselves are all sleek, modern, and youthful with wild iconic Vegas inspired murals and contemporary furnishings. It's very IKEA in look and feel although from the upper end of that company's catalogue - it is actually more substantial than it looks at first. There is a built in desk, a huge flat screen TV, comfortable beds, and lots of easily accessible places to plug stuff in. I had just stayed at Caesars Palace the night before I stayed here where I had to pull a nightstand out from the wall to access an outlet for my phone to charge overnight. At The Linq, I just plugged it in to the outlet on top of the built in nightstand. My back thanks you.

There are a handful of rooms that have an added bunk bed above one of the queen beds, completing the youthful dorm feeling. It's worth noting that the extra person charge above double occupancy rule applies on these rooms just like they do on any other, so if you decide to cram five people in here, you'll pay an extra $90 per night (presuming you tell them you are going to cram five people in there).

Although roughly nine billion times nicer than the old rooms, there are still a few downsides when comparing them with newer, nicer resorts. They are smaller and darker to start and the old-school wall-mounted air conditioner, while highly effective, reveals its 1970s origins. It's also a bit of a bummer that they got rid of the balconies but I'm guessing that was a strategic decision based upon the younger crowd they are hoping to lure here.

Bathrooms were completely revamped as well with new fixtures, marble tile, and rainfall showers. They aren't very big but a sliding pocket door improves the space issue a little bit. There's also a nicely organized closet with an organizational cubbies, drawers, and hanging space - again, very IKEA, but nicer.

A couple other minor complaints. The elevators were modernized but this includes a sensor that you have to wave your key at to get to your floor. If there are 10 people getting on the elevator at once, all going to different floors, all 10 people have to wave their card at the sensor and to say that it was finicky is probably understating things. I saw several people take rides to floors they didn't want to go to because they didn't hit the sensor fast enough. I was one of them.

Noise can also be a factor depending on where your room is located. Mine had a Strip view, which was nice, but it was overlooking the main porte corchere and Carnaval Court bar next door at Harrah's. The honking (from the overwhelming traffic) and the live bands were loud enough to be distracting.

Of course, all of this updating means that the prices will be updating as well. The IP and Quad era rooms may not have been much to talk about but they were darned cheap. As The Linq, things are anywhere from a little to a lot more expensive. The cheapest you'll find is about $30 and that's during a summer weekday. $50-$75 will be more common and weekends range from $100-$200. And that's before they tack on the mandatory $30 per night resort fee.

This is still a ridiculous bargain compared to the rates at nearby hotels, which will always be more expensive for rooms that aren't necessarily that much nicer. I think the changes the hotel has made are worth the increased cost and make this hotel equal to, or better than, other mid-range properties. You won't find a better hotel on the Las Vegas Strip for this kind of money.

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