Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

June 28, 2011

Little Vegas insider moves

Posted by daveschwartz

Everyone wants to feel that they're a Vegas insider. It might be something as basic as knowing that the airport connector isn't the most direct route from McCarran to the MGM Grand, or it might be something as esoteric as being able to quote, from memory, the names of all of the bouncers at every Vegas nightclub.

Basically, it feels good to know that you're doing Vegas right. There are so many rookie mistakes to be made (and hey, even locals make them all the time) that it's great to know that you didn't waste your time or get ripped off.

After the jump, I'll share a few secrets that probably won't help you save money and might not even be that fun (hey, some of them might actually inconvenience you a little), but rest assured, they will make you feel like a real insider.

1. The secret Cosmopolitan pizza place
I almost didn't put this one on here, since I'm almost positive that everyone who would read this blog already knows about it. But you'd be amazed at how many people don't know about it, considering the amount of pre-opening PR the place got. Then again, not everyone follows this stuff religiously. So next time you've got someone new at the Cosmopolitan, take them in here for a slice. They'll be impressed.

2. Alternate parking for CityCenter
Moving a little to the south, here's a tip that I've used for somewhat easier access to CityCenter.

If you're coming up from Metropolitan Henderson or taking the 215 from the Greater Summerlin Area, you can exit onto Frank Sinatra Drive and park at the Monte Carlo garage. Then it's a quick walk past the Monte Carlo lobby and through its retail area before you hit the monorail stop. In about five minutes, you're right in front of the Aria poker room. It's a longer walk than if you'd parked at Aria, but you don't have to fight Strip traffic to get in or out--which may be a consideration if you're going during peak hours. And you have the off chance of being accosted (in a friendly way) by folks taking the "drink like the village idiot" ad for the Brew Pub literally, which can be fun. And who wouldn't walk a little further just to hear the melodic strains of duelling pianos?

Frankly I don't know why CityCenter doesn't have better access from Frank Sinatra. If it really was going to be a residential hub, they would have needed a way for residents to get to work/school/shopping without driving on the Boulevard.

3. The Batcave exit to Desert Inn from Wynncore
I will confess that there's never I time that I've taken this that I haven't felt like an absolute badass. Even in an aging Honda Civic with car seats in the back.

If you park at Encore, there's a little tunnel that will take you out of Desert Inn East. It's perfect for getting back to Paradise, say, if you want to return to UNLV after meeting people at Wynncore. If you park in the Wynn garage, you can also use this, but you've got to do a quick u-turn.

There's no sign reading "Gotham City Limits" when you pop up on DI (yet!) but whenever I take this route I think of this:

Even when I'm just heading back to the office, I feel, for a few seconds at least, like I'm hauling ass out of Wayne Manor en route to Commissioner Gordon's office in downtown Gotham City.

And now you will too.

4. Drinks at the Eiffel Tower restaurant
Lets say you're showing a guest around town. You want to give them a great view of the Bellagio fountain show but don't want to be accosted by the Super Mario Brothers/CD salesmen/crack dealers as Placido Domingo sings in the background. Lets also assume, for the sake of argument, that you didn't shell out for a fountain-facing terrace suite at the Cosmopolitan, and that you don't have access to John Unwin's office.

For my money, the best place to go to get a nice view of the fountain show without the investment of an entire meal is the bar at the Eiffel Tower restaurant in Paris. For the price of a few drinks, you can see the show from a great vantage point. It's got the added benefit of being a semi-restricted access area (tell the elevator operator you're going up for drinks, not "I want to wander around and gawk), and last time I did this there was a dress code (no sneakers for guys).

You'll look like you've got special insider knowledge, even though you'll be seeing the exact same show as everyone else.

5. Bring a sweater
We all know it's hot in Vegas. Right now it's not even 9AM and it's 86 degrees. Whether you're driving, walking, or taking a cab to get from point A to point B, you're probably be sweating quite a bit. So a t-shirt or other light clothing is really a quite sensible choice for daywear (and nightwear) in Vegas from roughly May to October. Of course, if you're from Wisconsin or UP Michigan you can rock a t-shirt and shorts during the sub-Arctic conditions on New Year's Eve, too, but your average visitor is going to want to dress a little warmer in the Vegas "winter."

Where was I? Oh yeah, wearing t-shirts in the summer heat. Great idea, but not so awesome when you're spending 2-3 inside an air-conditioned casino. One of the worst feelings in the world is getting out of your car, walking into the casino, and having that first blast of cold air hit your backsweat. Uggh.

I'd suggest bringing along a sweater or other layerable garment (if you've got the panache, try a cape!) for putting on when you get inside. It'll prevent you from getting the Vegas AC shakes, and it'll make you look much cooler. The Vegas weather is going to put a major crimp in your stylishness (unless you're MikeE), but you don't have to let it make you look like a schmuck while you're in the casino.

6. The secret entrance to Caesars Palace's self-park garage's elevator lobby.

This is the most pointless, yet most oddly satisfying, insider move yet.

Coming out of the elevators for Caesars Palace's self-park garage, you have two choices. You can make a hard right and walk through a serious-looking door that probably leads someplace where regular guests aren't allowed, or you can walk forward a few paces then make a right and hit the back of the casino. Most visitors choose the latter. Without fail, employees choose the former.

Here's a secret: that door doesn't go anywhere. It opens up right onto the casino floor, about two feet away from where you'd be if you'd just walked around it. Here's a photo from the casino side:

Caesars mystery door

Going through this door isn't a shortcut. In fact, you'll expend more effort pulling the door open than would would walking the extra foot or so to go around it. But it will make you look like you totally know what you're doing. And that's the name of the game, isn't it?


Read archived comments (14 so far)
June 29, 2011 8:29 AM Posted by jinx

Great stuff! Definitely some solid insider information.

June 29, 2011 8:31 AM Posted by Brian Fey

Good Stuff. You've probably forgotten more about Las Vegas than I'll ever even know.

June 29, 2011 9:21 AM Posted by Scott Nygard

I love #3. I used to live at Country Club Towers on Desert Inn Rd. If I was on that part of the Strip, that's usually the route I would take home, even if I wasn't at Encore.

June 29, 2011 11:59 AM Posted by Jeff Simpson

Like 'em all. Your #3, the old DI parking garage exit onto the Desert Inn superarterial, is my longtime favorite. I've never been to the Eiffel Tower restaurant, but Wynn said its location prompted him to make sure future attractions in LV and Macau were best observed from his own joints. Closer to ground level I like the patio at Mon Ami Gabi when we're entertaining out-of-town visitors.
My new favorite is my method of avoiding the Strip's worst parking garage, the Imperial Palace's pole-strewn pox on humanity. I like to park in the Harrah's garage and then cut over to the IP via the monorail platform. It's actually a shorter walk than the IP garage and, obviously, a much better garage. So for Hash House A-Go-Go goers, there's your insider tip.

June 29, 2011 5:04 PM Posted by Ted Newkirk

Since the focus on parking (and a good one at that):

Use the back entrance to the Casino Royale parking garage. From Koval, make your way along the south side of the convention center and continue straight up between Venetian and Harrah's. If you get to the garbage area and loading docks, you are on the right track. Just before you rear-end McDonald's, make a right hand turn directly into the parking garage.

You are literally a 30 second walk from the dead center of The Strip including Mirage, Forum Shops, Venetian, Harrah's, etc, etc, etc.

Note: Signs dictate first full floor (two half-floors) of Casino Royale garage for hotel guests only. Make one full loop up (park by the second floor elevators, always plenty of spots) and you'll find spaces for hotel patrons. Their bar drinks (including call) are really cheap. So be a patron and buy one.

Bourbon Street (now my problem they screwed the name up) has a similar set-up. You are literally parking right on top of the casino in their garage (go to the top floor to find spots). From your car to the corner of Flamingo and Blvd. is about one minute.

Boardwalk is also another winner in the parking garage location department, right on The Strip, garage is always pretty empty... nevermind. Thanks CityCenter for wrecking that one.

I know people who swear by valet parking and that is all fine and well. But if you know the garage spots that have super-quick strip access, you'll end up in your car much quicker than waiting for valet to go get it. Especially during peak times. I'm allergic to waiting.

June 29, 2011 5:41 PM Posted by BigHoss

Nice. I'll try to muster all the panache I can before my next visit. The maybe you can come pick me up in the BatCivic for trip or two out of the cave. Wait, maybe we could hire the disgraced faux-Caped Crusader to do the driving.

June 30, 2011 7:41 AM Posted by Summerlin Homes

Thanks for sharing the secret about the Cosmopolitan Pizza place.!

June 30, 2011 8:36 AM Posted by Dave

Jeff--I use the Harrah's/IP garage shortcut all the time. Wish I'd thought of it when I was putting this together.

June 30, 2011 1:38 PM Posted by BillyInLasVegas

Here's one I use all the time...

Find the VIP check in area (specially at a high end place) and enjoy the free food and drinks!

Also use your concierge to the fullest, never make a reservation or purchase tickets on your own, have the concierge do it. Not only is it free but you will get the VIP treatment wherever you go.

One more concierge tip, if you need to print your boarding pass they will do that for free too unlike the Business Center that might charge you for the print out or for internet usage.

Last one is always Valet your car (if you drove) and have a Bellman carry your bags. Wheeling your bags through the casino is the ultimate Vegas newbie mistake. Also if you over tip them (and by them I mean Valet, Bellmen and Front Desk) word will spread quickly to other employees and you will get treated very well.

July 1, 2011 11:39 AM Posted by Eric

BillyinLasVegas said:

Eh. I've been to Vegas 25+ times, and I almost always wheel my own bag. It's simpler and quicker that way. Like Ted above in this thread, I'm allergic to waiting. When I've had to give my bag to the bellman for some reason, I HATE that time spent waiting in the room for them to show up. I feel like that's wasted Vegas time -- I've just arrived, and I'm ready to have a drink, be at a table, at a meal, something.

July 1, 2011 7:43 PM Posted by Jenn

I don't understand why wheeling your bag to your room is a "rookie mistake." We go to Vegas from LA and usually for only 24-48 hours, so we have very little stuff. For just carry-on size luggage with wheels, I would feel silly asking for baggage assistance.

My insider tip is to avoid driving on the Boulevard at all costs. There are plenty of ways to avoid it - particularly Koval and Frank Sinatra.

July 2, 2011 9:52 PM Posted by donnymac

Great suggestions so far. All I can add is to use the north valet at Mirage, Bellagio and Aria as they are always less busy than the main ones. My hidden or off the beaten path restaurant recommendations are Bouchon in the Venezia tower of the Venetian, Tableau in the Tower suites side of Wynn and Verandah at Four Seasons

July 4, 2011 8:45 PM Posted by Michael James

I enjoyed the article, but just would like to take a second to comment that not EVERYONE in Wisconsin can handle the cool desert temperatures in a t-shirt.

As a matter of fact, a couple of years ago, a group of us spent a weekend playing poker in mid-November, and once the tournaments were over we were playing blackjack in the Fetish Pit at the Vegas Club. It was about 50 degrees and the door to FSE was wide open.

My buddy Scott hit - not an exaggeration - 6 blackjacks in 10 hands, and then got up from the table and left because he was too cold. We ended up at the Golden Gate watching their go-go dealers because the tables were far removed from the opening to FSE.

Me on the other hand? I was in shorts that day, and couldn't believe he was leaving a monster blackjack run due to a case of the shivers.

July 5, 2011 9:06 PM Posted by Scott Roeben

That Caesars door move is classic! True insider tidbit! I have saved a total of 40 steps over the course of five years, easy.