Jutting up more than 100 stories, The Stratosphere and its observation tower (the tallest west of the Mississippi!) has become an iconic part of the Las Vegas skyline. Surprisingly, though, it has never quite achieved a level of must-see/must-stay for most Las Vegas visitors. Everyone knows it's there but it doesn't seem to be at the top of too many people's list of places to visit in Las Vegas. That's too bad because if you do choose to visit it offers affordable accommodations, lots of entertainment options, and probably the best views in town.
The Stratosphere sits in a geographic netherworld that has hindered it from reaching its true potential. Although I consider it to be the northernmost hotel on The Strip, it technically is a few blocks past where the rest of The Strip ends (at Sahara Avenue). And while it is part of Las Vegas proper (as opposed to hotels on The Strip which are in an unincorporated part of the county) it isn't Downtown either. Since it isn't within walking distance of anything and the neighborhood surrounding it is not exactly the best for relaxing strolls late at night, The Stratosphere is the kind of place you have to decide you're going to go to, instead of somewhere you just wander into because it's the next one in the line.
Upgrades over the years have kept the hotel current and for the price you probably can't do much better.
The "Select" rooms are simple but very tastefully done with sleek, modern furnishings and fabrics done in browns and reds, big leather padded headboards, writing desks, stone and marble bathroom fixtures, and comfortable furnishings. They are not luxury level but they are definitely a big step up from the standard rooms which are pretty motel basic and are absolutely worth the extra few bucks you're going to pay to stay in one. All rooms come with one king or two queens, an iron and board, hair dryer, safe, high-speed Internet, and in-room pay-per-view movies.
Some of the larger suites offer a unique touch, with Jacuzzi tubs behind blinds that can be opened for a romantic view out the windows while you luxuriate.
The casino feel warm and intimate, with soft lighting and a decided lack of the typical casino madness. Don't get me wrong - all the gambling basics including slots, video poker, table games (blackjack, roulette, craps, pai gow poker, and more), a race and sports book, and keno games are covered but it doesn't feel as overwhelming here as it does in some casinos around town. It's worth noting that if you are a $1 and above slot player your options here will be very limited. The vast majority of their machines are penny, nickel, and quarter denominations with only a handful of the higher limit ones available. Know your audience, I suppose.
When the hotel first opened the valet entrance was at the front but then they moved it to the back, requiring a big schlep across the casino to get to the lobby. Now it is back in the front where God intended it to be and the entrance is contemporary and sleek, with a VIP check-in area, a lobby lounge, and more.
There are several restaurants including Top of the World, a terrific gourmet restaurant atop the tower (it rotates!); Roxy's, a retro-50s diner with entertainment; an inexpensive buffet; one of my personal favorites Fellini's; and more.
There's a big 67,000 square-foot pool deck on the 8th floor above the casino. It is fantastic with a huge pool, cabanas, café, shop, an entertainment area, and probably the best view of any in town.
For the shopping inclined, don't forget the Tower Shops, a collection of stores that can either be called an overgrown arcade or a small mall depending on your point of view. There's also a showroom with a couple of entertainmen options. See the related reviews further down on this page for more details about things to do at The Strat.
Of course those with stronger stomachs and nerves than I have will want to head immediately to the thrill rides atop the tower. If you prefer you can just visit the indoor or outdoor observation areas after paying an admission fee. They also have a bar and a lounge way up there, which is where I prefer to spend my time when more than 1,000 feet in the air.
Service is excellent all the way around, something that has always been a hallmark of The Stratosphere.
Prices vary wildly here just as they do with most casino/hotels in town. Older standard rooms can go for as low as $30 during the week and $75 on the weekends. The Select rooms are about $15-25 more per night. There is a $24.99 per night resort fee but it includes access to the tower (normally $20) so it's actually a pretty good deal.
Those are terrific rates for a hotel that offers as much as this one does.