Category Archives: Guides

historic las vegas hotels

Five Historic Las Vegas Hotels Still Open for Business

historic las vegas hotelsLas Vegas hotels are constantly changing. Ongoing renovations, renamings and demolitions make every visit to Sin City seem new. Tourists routinely opt for the trendiest resorts and latest upgrades, or find themselves pushed toward package deals built to fill rooms in sprawling casino complexes. Those with a careful eye to the past, however, know that more than a few historic Las Vegas hotels remain in operation.

For the fascinated tourist-historian interested in staying in a piece of Las Vegas history, unique options abound both on the Strip and downtown. These five historic Las Vegas hotels blend both luxury and antiquity (at least by Vegas standards) and should not be overlooked.

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<h3>5. The Golden Gate Hotel and Casino</h3>

The Golden Gate Hotel and Casino opened as the Hotel Nevada in 1906. It remains the oldest continuously-operating hotel in Las Vegas, and the smallest with only 122 rooms. The first telephone number in Las Vegas was assigned to the Golden Gate Hotel: the number one.

The cliche of the “fifty-cent shrimp cocktail” – a parfait glass with shrimp on the rim and a dollop of cocktail sauce – originated at the Golden Gate and became a Vegas mainstay, though the price has increased since its introduction in 1959.

vegas.com/resorts/goldengate/

<h3>4. El Cortez Hotel</h3>

One block from Las Vegas Boulevard in old downtown is the El Cortez Hotel – one of the best values in Vegas. In operation since 1941, El Cortez is today on the National Register of Historic Places. It is a small property, with only 364 rooms.

Not long after its construction, El Cortez was purchased by mobsters Gus Greenbaum, Moe Sedway, Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky. Guests can still stay in “vintage rooms” original to the hotel, accessed by a wide staircase from the casino floor. The vintage rooms aren’t the only throwback to old Vegas – El Cortez still offers loose coin-operated slots, $1 roulette, full-pay blackjack and a $10.95 prime rib special at the restaurant named for Siegel.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Cortez_(Las_Vegas)

<h3>3. The Golden Nugget</h3>

Though the Golden Nugget was built in 1946, its most fascinating history dates to 1973 when a young entrepreneur named Steve Wynn became a majority shareholder in the property. At age 31, he was the youngest casino owner in Las Vegas. Four years later, the Nugget expanded and received a four-diamond rating. Throughout the ’80s, new towers were built bringing the room count to 2,419. In 2000, Wynn sold the Nugget along with his other existing Vegas properties to MGM Enterprises, and began new ventures in Las Vegas and Macau.

goldennugget.com/

<h3>2. The Flamingo Hotel</h3>

While the Golden Nugget was under construction in 1945, Hollywood Reporter owner Billy Wilkerson dreamed of opening an elegant hotel outside of Las Vegas city limits. Bugsy Siegel, having difficulty at the time with Las Vegas officials, heard of Wilkerson’s plans and bought a two-thirds stake in the venture with the help of the mob.

Siegel never stoped believing that the Flamingo would be profitable, but the opening of the hotel – attended by Clark Gable, Judy Garland and Jimmy Durante – was a flop. The casino did not turn a profit for nearly a year. Siegel’s mob investors believed that Bugsy was skimming profits. By the time the Flamingo showed profitability, Bugsy Siegel had been shot dead.

Hilton owned the Flamingo for a time, renaming it the Flamingo Hilton. Today the hotel exists as the Flamingo Las Vegas, though none of the structure original to 1946 remains. It touts 3,626 guest rooms.

caesars.com/flamingo-las-vegas

<h3>1. The Tropicana</h3>

Ben Jaffe bought 40 acres of land at the corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Tropicana Ave in 1955 with the intention of creating a massive Cuban-themed resort. Two years later, it opened successfully, with Eddie Fisher headlining a musical in the theater.

The Trop was quickly tainted by news of Mafia involvement. Not long after opening, mobster Frank Costello was targeted for assassination. Found in his pocket on the night he escaped a gunman was a handwritten note containing the exact house take of the Tropicana. This triggered an investigation by Nevada authorities that led to the dismissal of the hotel’s casino manager. Almost two decades later, the FBI opened a second investigation on the Tropicana, and found that the owners were diverting funds to the mob in Kansas City.

Over the next sixty years, the Tropicana underwent multiple renovations. An enormous stained-glass ceiling covered the 50,000 square-foot gaming hall for many decades before being replaced. The now-demolished Tiffany Theater was designed in the ’70s by Sammy Davis, Jr.

There are now 1,467 guest rooms available, including a number of villas and the famous two-story Penthouse Lofts.

troplv.com/

Las Vegas Nevada continues to evolve. Famous properties like the Sands, the Sahara, the Stardust and the Riviera are now gone from the Las Vegas Strip. Historic Hotels are not completely relegated to the past, however. Historic Las Vegas hotels continue to serve millions of tourists yearly.

travel-guide-books

Travel Guides: Are They Worth It?

 

Getting information on a place you’re traveling to is important. It’s important to know about a country’s culture, customs, language, history, cuisine, and where its safe and dangerous pockets are.

Now that we can access countless free travel sites from our smartphones, it’s hard to see why we need the traditional printed travel guide.

The worth of travel guides depends on the kind of experience you’re looking for. If you’re someone who wants to really dig deep on a country’s history and culture, then the travel guide may be the choice for you.

So, travel guides… Are they worth it?

travel-guide-books

What are travel guides?

Travel guides are basically teachers who knows everything about a location. You can get travel guides in the form of books, tapes, or as actual people showing you around.

They’re a good way to study and prepare before reaching a foreign or unfamiliar destination. Reading a travel guide is a great way to pass the time during a flight or train ride. They get you familiar with the history of the location and they give you a general understanding of the culture and of the people who live there.

Travel guides are written by experts and often by natives. You’ll get an intimate look into the local history from the people who live and breathe it.

Good travel guides will also teach readers must-know words and phrases for getting around, dining out, and asking for help. They provide maps, give recommendations on where to visit, what to see, where and what to eat, and sometimes they even give break-downs of the currency.

What kinds of experiences come with travel guides?

Imagine you’re walking around a European city, and you see a beautiful building that takes your breath away. You ask yourself, “What is this?”, and your curiosity runs rampant. Other people are stopping to look at it too, and they’re snapping photographs of this beautiful and mysterious building.

If you have a travel guide, you pull it out and look around the pages for a photograph. And then you find it, and the travel guide gives you an explanation of what this building is, and it tells you about its history, and what it means to the people living there.

Travel guides are a way to understand your foreign and unfamiliar surroundings in YOUR native language, and they can pry open your mind to new information.

If this is something you want out of your traveling experience, then yes, travel guides are worth it.

Now imagine something else: You’ve traveled a far distance and have been walking aimlessly around Rome with a rumbling stomach. You came all this way to try authentic Italian food, but you don’t know where to find Rome’s most unusual Italian dishes.

You don’t really speak Italian. You’re scared to ask a local. You want to go where most travel experts have gone and raved about. Your stomach is growling, but you don’t want pizza for the umpteenth time.

So you pull out your travel guide, and start reading about Rome’s cuisine, and the savvy local who wrote the travel guide tells you about Carciofi alla Romana, and the sounds of artichokes cooked in olive oil with parsley and minced garlic has your taste buds salivating. The travel guide suggests a restaurant that serves this dish antipasto, and within an hour, you already can’t wait to eat it again.

When is a travel guide NOT worth it?

Let’s say you studied Spanish throughout school, and you gained a pretty decent understanding of the language, the history of the Spanish empire, and the history of Spain itself.

Your trip to Spain is booked, and you know where to go and what to see in Barcelona and Madrid. Why would you still want to read and sift through a travel guide on a place you’re already familiar with?

You probably wouldn’t! If you are already somewhat familiar, and aren’t really interested in learning more facts and concrete information about a place, then a travel guide isn’t for you.

A travel guide isn’t worth it even if you know nothing about a place or its language. If you are looking to plan less and go more with the flow of things, travel guides may not be worth your time, or your money. I could argue that a travel guide can still teach you things you did not know, no matter how familiar you are with a place. Sometimes a travel guide isn’t worth it because some travelers don’t want to use one.

Looking to travel off the beaten path? Do you dislike crowds of tourists snapping photographs and tour groups congesting the sidewalks? Want to spice up your travels getting lost, navigating on your own, and stumble upon the unexpected? Then scrap the travel guide.

Let’s face it: tour groups, tour buses, and even some travel books can be expensive. Plus, history, current affairs, and places are always changing, which means travel guides change every year. So if you think you’re saving money by opting for an edition made a few years ago, you may actually be doing yourself a disservice.

If you’d rather use the money for a travel guide on a restaurant meal instead, or on a bus ticket to a neighbouring city, or for buying a round of drinks with some locals, then so be it!

It’s okay if you’re someone who likes to get off the airplane and take your travels on a whim and go from one moment to the next. Spontaneity is a great ingredient in the recipe of travel, anyways! Sometimes we stumble upon the most beautiful, the most delicious, and the most unbelievable things when we least expect it!

Investing in a travel guide

You need to do a little research to find the most up-to-date and reliable travel guide. Purchase a travel guide through a reputable book company (Fodor’s) or one that is written by a local native or travel expert (Rick Steves).

Getting a travel guide through your smartphone is also an option! In the modern age of the smartphone, where the internet is so conveniently at our fingertips, the traditional travel guide has been replaced by free, accessible online travel sites like Lonely Planet and Wikitravel. Wikitravel and Lonely Planet provide extensive yet easy-to-read articles on just about every location in the world. These great travel sites are written by natives and expert travelers who know what they’re talking about and can give honest recommendations and advice. Plus, they’re free!

You can even watch travel documentaries by experts like Anthony Bourdain to get some insight into where you’ll be traveling to. Travel shows and documentaries can only squeeze in so much information in a 30-60 minute timeframe, but at least you can get yourself warmed-up and a little more excited about your upcoming travels!

So travel guides… are they worth it?

The better question is… what kind of traveler are you?