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PLANET HOLLYWOOD RESORT LAS VEGAS

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Center Strip

3667 Las Vegas Blvd. S.

Las Vegas, NV 89109

866-919-7472

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2,567 Rooms

$99 and up

$150-$250 per night

$35 per night plus tax

$18 per day valet; self free (for now)

87

AT A GLANCE

Highs

Nice casino and rooms; location.

Lows

Prices can be high.

Location: 10

In the heart of the action.

Price: 7

Expensive but not as bad as some nearby hotels.

Value: 7

You get a lot for the money, no matter how much it is.

Rooms: 8

Gorgeous, fun, and very comfortable.

Casino: 9

A huge improvement over the Aladdin days.

Amenities: 9

The rooms have everything you need.

Facilities: 10

You never need to leave the hotel if you don't want to.

Service: 8

Very friendly, especially in the casino.

Fun: 8

Fun rooms, fun casino, fun entertainment.

Bonus: 7

Just because I said so.

Total: 87

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FULL REVIEW

Eschewing the kind of over-the-top Tinseltown idolization that puts their restaurants in theme park territory, the look and feel of Planet Hollywood is upscale and modern, at times even dramatic, and a vast improvement over the Arabian Nights detail this place had when it was The Aladdin. Dark woods line the walls of the casino and act as accents to the vibrant colors and warm lighting details, infusing the entire space with an air of classy energy. Notice the support columns - all gauzy cream fabrics, backlit to give them a healthy glow, and then offset by iron and ebony stained wood. It is design details like this that set this gaming space apart from ones that focus more on the games themselves than what surrounds them.

Even the slot carousels have been turned into works of art, many of which topped with eye-catching sculptures and flat panel televisions. It's a refreshing change of pace from the gaudy "Quartermania" type slot toppers that adorn most rows of one-armed bandits.

The casino floor is well laid out, with plenty of space between machines and tables and soaring 100-foot high ceilings to keep the claustrophobia level near zero. All of the usual slot machines are offered in the main casino along with all of the popular table games. In addition there is a poker room and a race and sports book in you are so inclined.

I have done very, very well at this casino, which doesn't necessarily mean you will also. You could say that it makes me more inclined to like a casino and you're right. Winning money makes me happy, sue me.

A mezzanine level surround the casino and features several restaurants, a theater, a wedding chapel, and a spa.

There are plenty of places to eat. Restaurants include the popular coffee shop style Planet Dailies; a branch of the Chinese favorite PF Chang's; a tremendous steakhouse, the bordello themed Strip House; the Asian inspired Koi; and the Earl of Sandwich, a deli-style concept from the descendents of the guy that first put meat between two slices of bread about 400 years ago; a burger joint from Gordon Ramsay; and more. Out front along The Strip are even more eateries including the Las Vegas branch of the famed Pink's Hot Dogs, a rodeo themed PBR Rock Bar and Grill, and Sammy Hagar's Cabo Wabo Cantina.

The whole thing is surrounded by the Miracle Mile shopping mall featuring more than 100 boutiques, theaters, and more restaurants. It used to be fun when it was the Arabian themed Desert Passage, and although some of that detail work still exists, much of it was replaced by bland, sleek marble and white walls. Kinda boring. But there is an H&M, a Sephora, and a Bettie Page Boutique so who cares about the hallways?

Headliner entertainment is the big draw here with full recurring production shows from Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, Jennifer Lopez, and more. Check the related reviews below for more shows and entertainment.

Rooms come in several forms. Each of the Hip rooms feature its own Hollywood theme, from movies like "Pulp Fiction" and "Die Hard" to music or television and beyond. Although there may be multiple "Pulp Fiction" rooms, each has its own set of glass-encased memorabilia meaning that no two of these rooms will be exactly the same. So far I've seen a Judy Garland room, a "Blade" room (the Wesley Snipes vampire movies), a "The Jerk" room (Steve Martin), and a "Universal Soldier" room (Jean Claude Van Damme). Whether you're a fan of the particular subject or not, the memorabilia and photos are undeniably more interesting than yet another abstract splash of color on a canvas or whatever is passing for high-end décor these days.

Oversized headboards are covered in crushed velvet, chairs come in leather or suede, giant armoires contain flat-panel televisions and closets, and full-sized desks have high-speed Internet hook-ups and dual line phones.

The bathrooms aren't as much fun as the sleeping area but that's okay. Who wants the bathroom to be fun? They are spacious with plenty of marble, deep tubs, and separate shower stalls.

These rooms are going away as they remodel bit by bit in 2016. They are becoming the Ultra Hip rooms, which have updated furnishings and decor in the bedroom and new fixtures in the bathrooms. It's all sleek and contemporary but without the memorabilia it's a lot less interesting.

The Resort rooms are a little bigger in terms of square-footage, most notable in the bathroom, but otherwise have similar furnishings and movie memorabilia themes.

Elara, managed by Hilton Grand Vacations, is a separate but connected part of the property with its own hotel tower and facilities. Built as a time share, most of the rooms are rentable as hotel accommodations and they are quite swank. Done in bold red, white, and black decor with more Hollywood touches, the rooms are big, comfortable, and undeniably modern. Check out the projectors that will broadcast the TV on the blackout shades - cool! Each comes with a litany of standard features that includes a kitchenette.

Downstairs in this tower is a separate lobby, all marble and multi-hued lights that change color, a lobby bar, its own pool with a cafe, a fitness center, and its own valet parking.

It's worth noting that Elara is managed as a separate property and you can't book rooms there through Planet Hollywood - you have to go through Hilton via their website or by calling direct.

There were only two complaints I could come up with about the rooms and they are both fairly minor. The window shades don't do a very good job of blocking out the bright desert sun and when you check in, be sure to ask for a room away from the elevators; they can be noisy if you are right next to them, but even two or three doors down is fine.

And as far as the overall hotel, there was only one serious thing that I could find wrong with it - the parking situation. The main valet is usually not open for anyone other than upper level players club members and charges $18 day to park there.

Unfortunately self-parking is not much better. It's free for now but won't be at some point in 2017. But the bigger issue is that the garage is located at the back of the property and requires a very, very long walk through a crowded shopping mall to get to the front desk. If you're toting luggage it isn't fun. A solution here is if you stay at the Elara the parking garage is much closer.

So how much is all of this newfound glory going to cost you? I am seeing rates as low as $79 during the week and $149 on the weekend for the standard Deluxe rooms, although $100-150 weekdays and $150-$250 for the weekends is more common. The Hollywood Hip rooms are running about $40 more per night with similar costs for Elara. Those kinds of rates are more expensive than I had hoped to see here but are very competitive with similar hotels on The Strip, especially for what they are offering. There is also the now-standard resort fee of $35 to add into this, which covers things like in-room Internet and gym access.

Service has been fantastic every time I've visited, especially in the casino where the dealers and slot attendants are extremely friendly.

Although not as wildly over-the-top as past Las Vegas hotels, Planet Hollywood does the best job in recent memory of balancing an upscale ethos with a fun and funky atmosphere. Instead of the bland luxury preferred by most new hotels on The Strip, this one does luxury without getting all serious about it.

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