Vegas on a Budget – The Frugal Fancy Way
Vegas on a budget is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when planning for a big weekend in Vegas. Although, we would argue that visiting Vegas on a budget is the way to go. Even if you do not gamble, it’s easy to rack up the spending when you take into account the prices of getting into A-list/VIP clubs, staying at 4-5 Star Hotels, dining at the finest restaurants and shopping in what could only be described as Paris on steroids. My husband and I believe the city makes 4 types of people. 1) The “Lets avoid going to Vegas all together crowd” 2) The “Go big or go home crowd” 3) The “Lets do Motel 6 and the Circus Circus Buffet crowd” 4) the “Frugal Fancy & Fit crowd”. There really is no right or wrong way, but for those who want to do Vegas big on a budget, we say it’s possible! After all, we spent under 550.00 this past weekend on 5 Star Hotel suites for two nights on a weekend, food/drinks, VIP entrance to a club at Mandalay Bay, roller coaster rides, gambling and a trip to Calico. Now, if you live in Southern California like we do, you have the unfair advantage of not having to pay for a flight. We digress. So here are our top tips for saving money in Las Vegas on everything from entertainment and transport to food and nightlife.
Getting discounts on Vegas Hotel stays
My husband and I have a favorite hotel app called “Hotels Tonight”. If you have an ounce of spontaneity, this may be an app worth looking into. Hotels Tonight is a FREE smartphone app available on both iPhone and Android platforms that provides great deals on same-day hotel bookings. The only downfall is that they only provide single night discounts. If you are adventurous like my husband and I, the idea of getting a hotel deal last minute can be a rush and exciting. If it doesn’t sound all that appealing, your best bet may be to research on my second favorite site “Kayak.com”. Kayak.com pulls rates from all major third party travel sites and gives you the most up to date and instantaneous hotel deals. But back on the subject of our favorite app, “Hotels Tonight”. By utilizing the app, my husband and I were able to land ourselves a huge suite at the Encore on a Saturday night for 200.00! Even more exciting, we landed ourselves a nice center view of the strip. On Sunday morning, my husband and I quickly browsed the Hotels Tonight app to see if we could score the same rate for Sunday night, and we did! Then the frugality in us set in. We found an even better deal for a large dual bathroom suite at Caesars palace with a jacuzzi for $108.00. We had the option to stay where we were and cough up the extra 90.00 or we had the option to leave, gain a new experience and save money. Our logic is always this: if we are not sacrificing quality and we are saving money, RUN in that direction.
So how does the app work? Beginning at 9:00 a.m. everyday, Hotels Tonight provides a listing of unsold rooms available at participating hotels in dozens of cities around the world. You can purchase rooms directly through the Hotel Tonight app but only for single night bookings.
(View from our Hotel Suite at the Caesars Palace)
Here are a few other tips on staying budget minded when it comes to shopping for hotels in Las Vegas:
- Look for rates on week days vs weekends
- Want to stay close to the strip? Look for rates at the Flamingo, Harrah’s or Bally’s. Why do we say this? The hotels are 3-4 stars, typically have low rates and are smack in the middle of the strip.
- Open to staying off the strip? Hotels such as the Hilton, the Rio or even downtown are great options for budget minded visitors since they typically offer low rates.
- Consider booking through hotels directly. They usually honor any published rate regardless of where you found it. If you can prove you saw it, they will typically try to accommodate you.
Total amount spent on hotels:
Encore: 200.00 + Caesars Palace: 108.00 = 308.00
Eating and Drinking in Las Vegas
My husband and I decided we would pack healthy meals for the trip, eat at fancy take outs and treat ourselves to one night of fine dining. This was our strategy and solution to saving money on food. Funny story, he and I drunkenly decided our fine dining night would be at 3am after a night at the club. Either way the food was great and we afforded ourselves a fancy Vegas dining memory (a funny one at that). We decided to stumble our way to a restaurant at our hotel called the Allegro. They had a late night menu which catered to our late night taste buds for bad food. We each ordered a pizza (how fancy is that!? lol) and quite frankly, we could have shared one. Moral of the story, we spent a whopping 80.00 on food in Vegas! This included two trips to the food court and one fine dining restaurant.
(Allegro Restaurant at the Wynn)
With regard to drinks, my husband and I decided we’d pack a bottle of Titos Vodka and call it a day. Vegas is known to charge upwards of 22.00 a drink!!! He and I carried a flask. Problem solved.
Total Amount spent on food and drinks:
Titos Vodka: 21.99 + Allegros: 50.00 w/ tip + food court purchases: 44.87 = $116.66
Here are a few other tips to saving money on food and drinks in Vegas:
Try the Buffet of Buffets, where $49.99 can get you 24 hours of unlimited access to buffets at seven casinos inluding: Caesars Palace, the Rio, Paris, Flamingo, Harrahs, Bally’s and Planet Hollywood.
Head to a supermarket to stock up on food and drinks for the week
You get free drinks on the casino floor if you are gambling (tip: stick to low value games if you want to actually save money doing this. Oh, and be sure to tip your waitress).
Look for happy hours in town.
Budgeting Nightlife in Las Vegas
This is by far the best way to get a lot for nothing. I’m surprised that people still stand in hour long lines and pay upwards of 100.00 to get in the door. Here is our little secret. Get social on facebook, instagram, twitter etc. Get to know a few of the promoters in Las Vegas. My husband and I have met great promoters who have become friends over the years. These promoters have walked us into some of the most A-list nightclubs and even hand us free drink tickets! No line waiting, no extreme spending, lots of dancing and lots of fun. It might sound crazy but it’s quite simple. The promoters get paid to get people in the door. You get in free or half price if you contact the promoter. It’s a win win situation. I’ll be honest, the act of getting in for free might not work as well in New York or Los Angeles, but in Vegas you almost have a guarantee. It’s so easy, that there are promoters standing on the streets, in the casinos and on their social media and phones waiting to meet you. The clubs know that if they hand out freebies to certain persons, they will gain a profit from the friends they bring, the tables the buy and the drinks they drink at the bar. Just a word of caution: it’s rare that gentleman get in for free but if you are a gentleman in Las Vegas, NEVER pay more than half price.
My husband and I met with friends at a club called “Light” at the Mandalay Bay. We met with a promoter outside the club at 10:00 pm and walked in the club at 10:05 pm with 4 free drink tickets!
Total Amount Spent on Nightlife:
Entrance: Zero + Drinks: Zero = Zero!
Here are a list of other Vegas Nightlife tips and tricks:
Get free club passes by signing up on this site.
Budget Friendly Entertainment:
We must admit that we are huge kids at times and like mixing nostalgia with our sense of frugal and fancy. This time around, we opted to ride the roller coasters and watch the free live shows at the Circus Circus for a cheap thrill. On our ride home, we stopped at Calico Ghost town for another fun affordable experience.
(Canyon Blaster Roller Coaster at the Circus Circus)
(El Loco Roller Coaster at the Circus Circus)
(Calico Ghost Town Photos)
Total amount spent on Entertainment: 56.00
Circus Circus Roller Coasters: 20.00 each (total: 40.00) + Entrance Fee at Calico: 8.00 each (total: 16.00)
Getting free/affordable entertainment in Las Vegas:
Get discounted show tickets by visiting Tix4Tonight. By purchasing tickets from this site, you can save up to half price. (Tip: Get there when they open at 10am for the biggest selection of tickets).
Watch free shows at the Casinos. Some of our favorites include:
The Bellagio Fountains (over a thousand fountains choreographed to music every 15 minutes from 8pm – 12am and every 30 minutes in the afternoons)
Duel piano shows every night at Paris/New York New York/Harrah’s
The Mirage Volcano (Volcano erupts every half hour from 6pm-11pm)
Circus Circus: Jugglers, unicyclists, trapeze artists and acrobats perform death-defying stunts and exciting acts every half-hour at the World’s Largest Permanent Circus.
Free light show on Downtown Fremont Street.
So those are our tips for seeing Las Vegas on a budget – do you know of any more Vegas budget tips?