A Review of the Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas
Sahara Las Vegas - History on The Strip
The Sahara is one of the oldest hotel and casinos on the Las Vegas Strip. It's been around so long, in fact, that most of the Strip has left it behind and it now sits out in a barren wasteland between the Strip and Downtown Las Vegas filled mostly with pawn shops and strip clubs. The Riviera and Circus Circus are nearby, but other than that the area just feels empty, with large plots of land where majestic hotels once stood but were demolished to make room for progress that never came. The economic downturn has left the area with chainlink fences with signs that indicate construction should be happening, but in reality it's delayed for at least the next few years.
The Sahara was once owned by Del Webb, former owner of the New York Yankees, and has hosted performers ranging from The Rat Pack to Judy Garland, and just about everyone you can think of in between.
Rooms, rates, and the entertainment
As I mentioned before, the Sahara is very old. In Las Vegas, the general rule is that the older the hotel, the worse the rooms. That mostly holds true for the Sahara, but there have also been many additions throughout the years, so chances are you will not be staying in a bed that's been around for 60 years. Rooms have been updated every decade or so, and overall they aren't awful and are a decent value for the price. The starting rate is $25 a night for a weekday, and it goes up significantly from there. I suggest paying a little extra and getting either a Superior Room or a Suite. The Suite starts at $64 a night and it nowhere near as nice as a suite at a newer hotel like Palazzo, but it's also about 1/3 the price. Internet access is extra for all rooms.
There are some pros and cons with regard to the location of the Sahara at the top of the Strip. First of all, it's not on the main part of The Strip. I wouldn't recommend walking from the Sahara to The Strip, or anywhere for that matter. On the plus side, the Sahara has a stop on the Las Vegas monorail, which runs behind the hotels on the east side of the Strip. That makes it very convenient and cheap to get from the Sahara to the bigger and newer places in Las Vegas. You can also take a bus from the Sahara to Downtown Las Vegas, aka Fremont Street.
Be sure to check out the Sahara's website for promotions before you stay there. Not only can you sometimes get good room discounts, but you'll also find things like $1 breakfast coupons and other deals for doing things like following the Sahara on Twitter. If you're a glutton for punishment on your digestive system, try the B3 Burrito. If you can finish the whole thing it's free.
The Sahara Theater has live shows every night, but mostly performers you've never heard of. While you're staying there, make sure to take a ride on the roller coaster, which goes outside the hotel and casino and right by the Sahara's sign out front.
Overall, the Sahara is cheap and a decent place to stay if you're planning on getting out of your room and exploring everything Las Vegas has to offer. If you want to live in luxury like you saw in The Hangover, choose somewhere else.
**UPDATE** The Sahara has CLOSED
The Sahara Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas checked out its final guest on May 16, 2011. One of the last remaining postwar hotels on the Strip, The Sahara played host to everyone from The Rat Pack to Elvis to The Beatles, and was prominently featured in the original Ocean's Eleven movie.
The group that runs The Sahara has said it's possible the property will reopen at a later date, but Las Vegas insiders say that's unlikely and the buildings will likely be leveled within a year or two.
This is truly the end of a an era in Las Vegas. The Flamingo stands alone as the only remaining old-school property on the Las Vegas Strip and the only surviving casino among the four that were robbed in the original Ocean's Eleven.
*UPDATE* SLS Moving in
The SLS Las Vegas Resort will attempt to succeed in the same spot where the Sahara hotel was located. Critics say it's not a great location, but they said the same thing about the Wynn and Encore, and they said Bellagio was too expensive. Perhaps the critics don't know what really works in Vegas.