A week prior to my fortieth birthday in Las Vegas, my first trip there, I heard Elvis singing in my head.
So, you have no idea how pumped I was to hear the flight crew cue up “Vive Las Vegas” as we waited to exit the plane. Not a gambler, I was unsure if I would place my bet on Vegas. I did and I can tell you with confidence that Vegas is a must-have life experience you simply can’t miss out on. It’s that fun.
I want to share with you the many ways you can get the most out of a few days in Vegas using my super, awesome insider tips when staying at The Bellagio. Yes, you can enjoy Sin City without completely blowing your budget. Let’s do this!
We booked our trip two months in advance with Allegiant. It’s not easy departing so late at night (9pm) and the airline’s many cost restrictions didn’t help. But when you’re as hyped for The Strip as we were, it was worth the booking it direct with them.
You need to realize when flying Allegiant that they charge you for EVERYTHING. Want to check a bag? It’s a fee. Want to bring a carry-on? It’s a fee. Drink water? Say it with me…it’s a fee. Oh, and don’t have the agent print your boarding pass. That’s a fee! And don’t expect reclining seats or free snacks either. The reason your flight is so cheap is because they charge you for every detail of your experience to maintain their discount airline status. You may wonder why so many people fly Allegiant. Because it’s a direct, inexpensive flight.
But, I know how to help you survive flying Allegiant!
Roll your clothes in order to get three days worth of clothes into your carry-on. I packed for my boyfriend and myself in one carry-on bag. Yes, three nights in one carry-on for two people and that included three pairs of shoes too. It’s possible to pack efficiently if you roll your clothes and carry a backpack per person on the plane. (I did not carry a separate purse but stashed a clutch bag and an empty cross body bag inside my backpack.) Pay for your bags online in advance and be sure to download the Allegiant app to receive notifications.
Pro Tip: Pack light snacks and an empty water bottle. Fill the bottle at the drinking fountains after you pass through security. Don’t forget to also pack a neck pillow and eye mask. When you sit super close to neighboring passengers on a discount airline, falling asleep on a dark plane is awkward when you doze in their direction. Your neck pillow keeps you comfortable and upright when sitting in the middle seat. Ladies: The cabin is very cool on the flight there, so I recommend wearing socks and sneakers to keep your feet warm rather than some bedazzled sandal and to pack a light sweater.
Transportation from the Airport:
Now you’re ready to head to the hotel and start the Vegas fun! You have several transportation options from the airport to your hotel. Taxis and shuttles are always lined up outside of baggage claim exits. However, be prepared to wait awhile for one. If you don’t mind stopping a numerous hotels in route to your own, take a shuttle with strangers. Prefer a private taxi? Get in line…a l-o-n-g line that winds for a mile inside of a sectioned off area near the street. Share a cab (up to 5 people) and you’ll spend probably spend about $25 to your hotel on The Strip not including tip. When the cabbie asks you, “Do you want to take the route of The Strip or the highway?” opt for The Strip. It will cost much less and you can see the city scenery. Vegas cabbies are typically not friendly and drive incredibly fast.
Pro Tip: If taking a cab from the airport to your hotel, ask them to stop at a liquor store on the way. Stock up on canned beer and wine enclosed in plastic (to take to the pool later). Our cabbie turned off his meter for us so we hurried to make our purchases. The final cost, including the stop, to The Bellagio from the airport was $21 plus tip.
You have dozens of choices for hotel accommodations in Vegas. While you could save some money by staying off The Strip or at an older hotel, I want to give you the information you need to stay at a luxury hotel for less cost. We booked The Bellagio as part of a package deal with flight on Allegiant’s site at $800 per person for 3 nights and four days. While that sounds like a lot, consider that the same hotel charged $700 a night only a week later on their site. If there are conventions in town (and when isn’t there in Vegas?), the hotels jack up the prices. Our booking also included a buffet meal allowance of each day. Once we arrived, we used The Twenty Dollar Trick and mentioned that it was my birthday (true) to try to score upgraded accommodations. It worked! Not sure what The Twenty Dollar Trick is? Read about it here.
The desk agent upgraded our room to the floor directly below the penthouse suites that included a nice view of the pool. He called his manager to try to give us a room with the view of the famous fountains, but it was a no-go. We were given a VIP business card that allowed us to the cut the l-o-n-g line at the hotel’s buffet. Our package deal included $80 per room per day in buffet credit, which was deducted from our itemized bill at the end of our stay. Don’t underestimate the buffet! The food options are endless and include more than the usual omelette or prime rib station. You can enjoy endless mounds of crab legs and shellfish or sushi. They serve king crab legs cold, but will heat them up for you by request. Prefer a culinary delight from another country? The Bellagio serves that as well from pastas to unique salads. If you want to eat like a high roller, dine on caviar or eggs benedict at brunch at no extra cost.
We highly recommend opting for a bar seat when dining at the buffet. The bartenders are hospitable, hilarious, and they work hard to make sure your dining experience is top-notch. One of our bartenders had worked there for 18 years! Each one took an interest in where guests traveled from, how they preferred their drink, and even answered concierge-worthy questions. You can pay at the bar so by-pass the cashier station when you arrive.
Pro Tip: Get a table for the buffet at 2:45pm and enjoy a cocktail while you wait for the kitchen staff to switch lunch to dinner. You’ll get to enjoy savory dinner entree options or the price of a lunch ticket. Sit at the bar to avoid a wait. Sometimes the bartenders will come out and recruit guests to sit at the bar instead of regular seating. Go! It reduces your wait by 30 minutes or more.
From the tile bathroom floors to the pillow top mattresses, the room is luxurious. Guests can hang their clothes on wooden hangers in a well-lit amoire that also contains an ironing board and iron, a must-have item when you roll your clothes to pack everything in a carry-on bag. Sit in velvety soft chairs to view the oversized flat screen television or use the provided barware to pre-game before hitting the strip. The only drawback to the room is that it does not include a coffeemaker. After a night of drinking, you need your own bottled water and coffee in the room.
If you prefer your room temperature on another setting, you can change them using this life hack to override the thermostat. It worked for us!
Pro Tip: Do not drink or eat from the provided snacks in your room. In fact, don’t move an item at all to make room for your liquor store booze. The hotel charges $50 if they have to replace items. Call the front desk and tell them you need a courtesy refrigerator brought to your room. The same size refrigerator is wheeled to your room at no cost.
Swimming or lounging at The Bellagio pool is amazing. The weather, the people watching, the water, the view…oh my! Vegas weather in October was a perfect 75-80 degrees the day we visited so we dipped our toes in the water. It’s not so warm that you can’t enjoy one of their many hot tubs and it’s warm enough you can swim at your leisure in their temperature-controlled pool.
Pro Tip: Don’t order poolside drinks, including water, from the waitresses. A Bloody Mary ($17) in a plastic cup with lid will set you back quite a few bucks and the bar charges a “service fee” on top of your cash tip. If you order a filtered water, you’ll pay $10. If you bring an empty bottle, you can fill it at a water station near the bar service area. Thankfully, we (and other guests we witnessed) were able to bring in liquor store booze in cans and plastic containers without issue.
The pool staff never searched our bags or asked us about it while we openly drank. Also, if your friends are staying at another hotel, have them meet one of you in the lobby and slip them one of your room cards. Couples only need one room card to enter the pool area. Each person is issued a towel upon entry.
You can wear casual to business attire on the casino floor and fit in just fine. You will see people dressed sequins and birthday sashes to jeans and t-shirts. You’ll be hard-pressed to get a spot to play a table game on a busy night during a holiday weekend. If you’re not willing to wait, take Uber ($11) to Old Vegas and walk right up to one of Binion’s tables. (Note: Uber is the safest, cheapest, and easiest way to get around Las Vegas. Just remember that Uber drivers are not allowed to pick you up in hotel valet or limousine pick-up areas. Sometimes signs indicate where Uber picks up, but if not, follow the small crowd around the corner to the side of the casino. Ask the valet where Uber pick up is located. When in doubt, call your Uber driver and ask where they will pick you up.
Pro Tip: Like many hotel casinos in Vegas, as long as you’re gambling, you’re drinking for free. Well, nearly free. Don’t forget to tip your waitress. A good rule-of-thumb is to tip them $2-5 the first time they stop by your gaming table or slot machine and then a $1 per drink after that. The more you tip, the more likely they are to visit you. The casino floor is busy on a Saturday so don’t expect to see them often. However, the early morning shift of waitresses is depending on your tips since it’s not as busy so tip big and take advantage of speedy service. The drinks are not weak! You can sip on anything you desire from champagne to craft beer.
Many of Las Vegas’ best venues are on the grounds of the hotel. It has impressive restaurants and bars, a Cirque du Soleil show “O”, high-end shopping, and botanical gardens. If you want to watch your budget, window-shop. While it may be tempting to buy a designer purse or watch in one of the many fancy stores, don’t.
The Bellagio has a grab and go convenience shop that is a bit hidden. At one point, I was hungry for a snack while other guests slept in until the brunch hour. I was able to buy whole fruit ($2) in a store across from the convention rooms. Did I mention how important it is to pack your own snacks for Vegas?
Pro Tip: Buy show tickets on the day of the show from the hotel ticket counter, but do it early in the day. If you’re staying at The Bellagio, you save 20%. You can also buy discounted tickets on the strip the day of the show from Tix4Tonight. We opted to see Penn and Teller’s show at The Rio instead, which set us back about $100 per person including taxes and fees for lower level seating close to the stage. Some Vegas show tickets start at $100 or higher, so consider any show under that price a good deal.
Not interested in a show? Put on comfortable walking shoes and cruise the hotel. The Bellagio’s Conservatory & Botanical Garden changes with the seasons and is a whimsical wonder of flowers and outdoor features. It’s free and makes a nice backdrop for selfies or family photos.
Just around the corner from the gardens you will spy a floor to ceiling chocolate fountain behind glass. It’s nestled inside a grab-and-go cafe that sells gift items. It’s a must-see stop for dessert lovers!
A breathtaking water show, the Bellagio fountains run on a frequent schedule and are best witnessed at night. The most surprising element about viewing the fountains is how powerful the water canons are to spray water to the height of the hotel’s top floor windows. Amazing! A crowd forms around the fountains and cheap beer and water can be purchased off of local vendors with coolers for $5.
One look at the checkout line on Sunday and we knew we were not going to wait in it. We called the front desk and asked for a late check out, an accommodation they provided at no cost. Usual check out was 11:00am but they gave us until noon. Does that mean the cleaning crew is knocking on your door at noon? Probably not. While guests in our party on another floor were asked if the cleaning crew could get in their room at noon, we were not. The hotel key card will work one hour after your check out time.
Pro Tip: Use your room’s TV remote to go to the channel “Check Out” and simply check out with a few clicks of a button. As long as you agree with the charges on the screen, the hotel will automatically charge the card on file. Don’t agree with the itemized invoice? Call the front desk. Bypassing the long lines in the lobby affords you the time to relax before catching your flight home or try one last attempt to win at video poker.
If you’re one of those travelers that has put off a trip to Vegas because you think it’s just a mecca of 21-year-old partiers and high rollers, you’re wrong. Vegas has something for every kind of traveler. Book a trip this year!
Let me know what you think of Vegas in the comments below. What questions do you have? Ask me!
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