Most people had forgotten about The Plaza in Downtown Las Vegas - and for good reason. It opened in 1971 at the head of Fremont Street and became a landmark in the neighborhood with it soaring towers and iconic dome restaurant at the front.
But years of neglect from a series of owners who didn't know what to do with the property pushed it into second and even third tier status - a tattered, worn, dingy place that you stayed at if you couldn't afford something better or if everything other hotel was full.
Now, finally, The Plaza has gotten a rebirth that could very well return it to icon status. Tens of millions of dollars have been spent on a top to bottom transformation of the property and the result is nothing short of a miracle that has turned the property into one of the best hotels in Downtown Vegas and probably the best deal in the entire city.
The entire property benefitted from the mothballing of the never-completed Fontainebleau hotel on The Strip. The Plaza picked up everything from furnishings to carpeting to marble floors to wallpaper and more, then stripped the bulk of the hotel to the foundation and put in all new stuff. All of that sexy, modern furnishing you see in the sparkly hotel lobby? That was supposed to be at the Fontainebleau? The beds and desks and pretty much everything else in the 1,000 rooms? Ditto.
The reason this is important is because the Fontainebleau was supposed to be a multibillion dollar luxury resort that would have, in better economic times, cost hundreds of dollars per night for a room. At The Plaza you can stay in a pretty good facsimile of what the Fontainebleau would have been for as low as $29 a night.
But probably the coolest thing they have done with the hotel is maintain a sense of history, both for the hotel and the neighborhood. Although they have put in a lot of new stuff, there is still a lot of refurbished "classic" stuff including some gorgeous chandeliers in the lobby. And check out the amazing black and white photography of old Vegas in the rooms and scattered around the hotel - it'll have you shouting "Vegas Baby!" for sure.
The rooms are sleek and stylish, done in warm earth tones that include modern furnishings, 32" flat-screen televisions, built in desks, and fine fixtures in the bathrooms. The change from the old rooms is night and day - a dramatic improvement that makes them among the nicest in Downtown Las Vegas by a mile and puts the on par with mid-level hotels on The Strip. Rooms are generously sized although the bathrooms are pretty small so you'll have to set up a schedule if you are sharing it with someone.
Amenities are pretty standard and include wireless Internet, an in-room safe, clock radio, irons and boards, hair dryers, and other niceties.
Mind you, these digs will never compete with the $300 per night rooms on The Strip but they also won't cost you $300 per night, so take the "nicer than they were before" thing and run with it.
The 80,000 square-foot casino has contemporary carpeting and wall treatments, lighting, gaming tables, and slot machines. It may not be the Cosmopolitan in terms of cutting edge modernity but it is stylish, comfortable, and airy in ways that most Downtown casinos aren't.
They also have a bingo room (the only one in Downtown Vegas) and a race and sports book operated by Cantor gaming.
There are plenty of dining options including a branch of the fantastic Hash House a Go Go; Oscar's, a restaurant from former Mayor Oscar Goodman located in the iconic dome at the front of the hotel; a really good beer and brat place known as Bier Garten; Island Sushi, a branch of a local favorite that serves Pacific Rim cuisine; Zaba's Mexican Grill, another local restaurant offering south of the border specialties; McDonald's; Subway; and more.
There are two theaters - a classic showroom and the 75-seat theater belonging to the Insurgo acting company. The former has a variety of different entertainment while the latter stages formal plays.
The pool area is getting a major rehab in 2016 that will put in new cabanas, daybeds, dining areas, bars, and greenery in addition to upgrades to the surfacing and the pool itself.
It's important to note that although this is a major, almost epic, improvement over the old hotel there are still shadows of the old property here and there, most notably in some of the elevators, the parking garage, and valet area, the latter of which shares space with the Greyhound bus terminal. It's not a major turnoff especially if you can keep remembering how low the rates are.
As mentioned above, rooms can go as low as $29 per night during the week with weekend rates as low as $59, although as with any Vegas hotel rates vary wildly from week to week. Their reservations calendar is showing some non-holiday weekends as high as $149, but paying anything more than $100 is probably going to be rare. Remember the $18 per night resort fee when looking at prices, which is usually quoted without that included (it's buried in the terms and conditions).
The marketing phrase for The Plaza is "A Classic Reborn." I think this is one of those rare times when a marketing phrase is more than just hype.