If there is one stop on your road trip around Western USA that you’ll consider hopping out of your van or RV to stay in a hotel room, it’s Las Vegas. Over 140,000 rooms available, Sin City constantly makes the list of US cities with the highest number of hotel rooms in the world. With rates starting as low as $19 a night for a standard room at Circus Circus and soaring up to almost $40,000 a night for the Hugh Hefner Villa at Palms Resort, there’s something here to suite everyone’s budget and interests.
But is a hotel room in Las Vegas right for you or are you more suited to camping out?
I tried both on my recent trip and found both have their perks and limitations. Inevitably one is not better than the other, but more right for the visitor. Before getting swayed by cheap prices or visions of how you’re suppose to spend your time in Vegas, consider these questions when choosing between staying at a hotel or campground on your next trip to Las Vegas.
Where is it located?
Hotels easily have more options on the Strip, for less too. You can find a few campgrounds in prime locations either on or near Las Vegas Boulevard, such as Circus Circus KOA RV Resort and Oasis Las Vegas RV Resort. Most are located within two miles of the main attractions in Las Vegas. So if you want to be where all the typical Vegas action is taking place, you’ll have more options with hotels.
But this might not be for everyone. Visitors to this city of debauchery might not realize all the natural beauty that surrounds it. When you only see Vegas at night or stay indoors lost in casinos throughout your stay, you might not even realize the mountain scenery that surrounds the desert city.
If you’re looking for a calmer, naturally pretty place to stay not far from Vegas, you would be best off camping in national parks like Red Rock Canyon or Lake Mead. Both these places offer an array of camping options, surrounded by stunning scenery, no more than 20 minutes from the centre of Las Vegas.
What does it include?
That depends how much you’re willing to pay.
Las Vegas boasts some of the most luxurious and expensive hotel rooms in the world. Suites with their own personal concierge and hot tubs, even pools. So if you’re looking to go that high end, there really is no competition, but if your tossing up between camping out or staying in a budget to average priced hotel, here are the things you should consider.
Overall you can easily find campgrounds and hotels at the same price that come with free wifi, access to pools and spas, concierge services, shuttles and security. That said, really look into what is included with both options. Hotel rooms in Vegas don’t cost $20 for no reason. Some literally only come with a bed and there is a wide range of campgrounds, so do your research.
Some perks of staying in a campground include dog walking and washing facilities (most hotels will not allow you to have a dog) and easy parking (most parking at hotels is in a garage, which have height restrictions usually lower than the height of RVs and camper vans, if you have either, call the hotel of your choice ahead to find out if they have any outdoor parking options). Some perks of staying in a hotel room, I’m going to be blunt and say it’s really nice to have AC and a bathroom that doesn’t require a code when you’re hungover and feeling awful.
How much is it going to cost me?
If you’re staying near the strip you will almost always find staying at a hotel is your cheapest option. The amount of competition allows for really affordable rooms, ranging from $20-$60 for a budget or average room depending on the time of year. It depends on the time of year you visit and the size of your camper, but expect to pay anywhere from $40-$90 at a an RV park, most containing similar amenities and services as a hotel.
When staying off the strip, hotel rooms usually will not go much lower than the rate mentioned above. but campsites will. At Lake Mead National Park, camp rates start at $10, on top of a $10 entrance fee which is good for seven days.
Now there are some other things to think about when it comes to cost. Guests usually cannot cook in basic hotel rooms, whereas people can in campgrounds. The cost of eating out in Vegas will be much higher than cooking for yourself. Some hotel rooms require guests pay a resort fee on top of how much they pay per night. A lot of campgrounds and hotels come with shuttles, but if they don’t, you need to think about the costs of public transportation, fuel, parking or taxis. Finally, think about the extras, such as internet. Does the place you wish to stay include the extras you want? If not, how much more is it going to cost?
What’s the major difference?
The great outdoors or the neon lights of the casino floor.
It’s possible to never go outside during your stay in Vegas. The major hotels and casinos have a wide range of food options, means of gambling, shows, bars, spas, rooms and people can smoke inside. This is an actual nightmare for some. While some casinos do things in style, a lot are dimly lit, noisy, and lost in time (meaning there are no clocks). It can often take a half hour just to find a door to the outside world.
Staying in a campground, you get to breathe real air, whether it be in a national park or just in a parking lot outside. You’re forced to see the sun and there’s a certain level of genuine hospitality that is lost in some hotels in Las Vegas. Everyone at the campground I stayed at were very friendly and helpful in a way in which I wasn’t being forced to pay more or sign up for a casino card. At the average hotel, I was pretty much shuffled around, three counters at check-in, which felt like a method they took to get the most out of their guests. It took at least an hour.
But this was an average hotel. High-end hotels and casinos are known for the caliber of their hospitality.
So where should I stay? (Final thoughts)
It really depends on what you want, who you’re traveling with and how much money you have to burn in Las Vegas. If all you need is a cheap bed to rest your hangover, go for a hotel. If you’re on a budget with a family and/or dog, a campground would probably be best for everyone. If money isn’t an option, well it really comes down to what you prefer.
There are so many things to do in this city and so many ways to see it. Your trip may center around camping or staying in a particular hotel, but if you get lucky (i.e. on a roll or, well, I don’t need to explain…), a bed might not even matter.
Thanks to Jucy Rentals USA for sponsoring my trip out West. Visit their website to start planning your own US road trip. Use the code “BobbiUSA” to receive 10% off your booking. Follow my trip right here on Heels and Wheels, as well as on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
As always, all opinions are my own.