Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Tucked a few blocks behind the Strip, this hotel may be off-the-radar for most Vegas visitors. Yet it's well worth considering if you want affordable apartment-style suites near the action -- or near, ahem, the Hooters Casino Hotel down the block. Despite the proximity to the Hooters raucousness the Desert Rose has a quiet and relaxing feel, making it a good choice for families, or any group that wants the option to cook dinner in-house but still be close to the action.
Formerly a Hawthorn Suites, this 278-room time-share became a Desert Rose Resort in 2007 under the Shell Vacations Hospitality network, and it has since undergone major renovations. The newness of the hotel shows -- the low-lit stone-and-brass fixtures, coupled with bold colors and geometric patterns, wouldn't look out of place in a Pier 1 store.
It's rare to find a great price, spiffy design and proximity to the Strip at one hotel. For a similar price, the Platinum Hotel offers larger and more luxurious suites, but the clientele tends more toward business travelers there.
Friendly staff and prompt service.
Service here is splendid. While you can't expect the over-the-top, don't-lift-a-finger service that high-end hotels provide, this modest time-share provides all the warmth and attention to detail of a well-run bed-and-breakfast. The front desk staff are helpful and friendly, even when I was surely the 50th person that day to ask where the nearest restaurant was. The servers at the free breakfast and evening reception are similarly efficient and polite.
Check-in was fast and pleasant, and my room was ready at 10 a.m. though the official check-in time is 4 p.m. Check-out is at noon. Guests with later flights are welcome to store luggage and use the free Wi-Fi in the lobby. Housekeeping responds to requests in under 10 minutes. A concierge is available from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m -- for after-hours requests, check with the front desk.
For an off-the-Strip hotel, Desert Rose is relatively close to the action. Located on Duke Ellington Way, a quiet tree-lined street off Tropicana Avenue, the hotel is a pleasant seven-minute walk from hotel-casinos such as Excalibur and the MGM Grand. The nearest attraction, Hooters, is just down the street. The immediate neighborhood offers little of interest. A condominium is across the street, and the nearest restaurants are a five-minute walk away, on Tropicana Avenue.
Most Las Vegas visitors want to explore all of the big properties along the densely packed three-and-a-half mile long stretch of hotel-casinos known as the Strip. One of the closest Strip hotels from the Desert Rose is the MGM Grand, where the monorail stops. Getting to the station takes 15 minutes, but half that walk is through the heavily air-conditioned MGM. The other monorail stations are Bally's/Paris, Flamingo/Caesars Palace, Harrah's/Imperial Palace, the Las Vegas Convention Center, the Hilton, and the Sahara. A single ride ticket is $5; a one-day pass is $13. If you're traveling along the Strip with at least one other person, a cab is often the least expensive option. Cabs are easy to find at virtually any time of day or night. A generally less expensive option is the Deuce, a double-decker bus that runs up and down the strip 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and costs $3.
Desert Rose has free parking. McCarran International Airport is close by, just an $8 cab ride away.
The one-bedroom suite is small at 650 square feet, but what it lacks in space it makes up for in taste. The stylish digs bring to mind a mid-priced design store like Pier 1. A mod sectional couch with colorful, geometric-print pillows dominates the living area. Guests can watch in-room movies and 30 cable channels, including Cartoon Network, Bravo and ESPN2, on the flat-screen TV. The free Wi-Fi is a little spotty, but it'll do. The kitchen has everything you need, from a blender to a dishwasher (to free hotel-brand coffee). A separate dining area seats four.
The plush bed is the best part of the suite. With eight pillows, a pillow-top mattress and a thick, soft comforter, it would take great effort not to sleep soundly through the night. A few TripAdvisor reviewers complained about the noise from the air-conditioning vents. I didn't find noise a problem, but I sleep like a log. Bedroom amenities include another flat-screen TV, a clock radio, and a safe. A copy of USA Today is delivered to the room every morning.
The bathroom is divided into two sections: an open vanity with a sink and hotel-brand bath products, and a toilet and bathtub/shower behind a door. It's small, but it's clean and looks new. Most time-shares come with a Jacuzzi, but not this one. If having an in-room Jacuzzi is important to you, check out similarly priced hotels like Wyndham Grand Desert or the Hilton Grand Vacations Club on the Las Vegas Strip.
All suites have a balcony or a patio with just enough space for two chairs and a table. Given the hotel layout, the view may simply be the suite across from your own. The two-bedroom suite (850 square feet) sleeps six.
Renovated in April 2009, the peapod-shaped pool is technically big enough for laps, but not if another guest is floating around. For a resort with 278 suites and a large contingent of families, crowding could be a problem. Lounge chairs, too, can be in high demand. The pool, which goes down to 6 feet in depth, has no lifeguards. The pool deck also houses two Jacuzzis and two partially shaded barbecue areas that are free to use on a first-come basis. The pool is open from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Past the pool is a small fitness center that you could easily miss if you weren't looking for it. More like an exercise room than a full-fledged gym, it has space for just three treadmills, two stationary bikes and one elliptical, plus a multi-purpose strength-training machine. The room gets a lot of natural light, and the shiny parquet floor looks like it hasn't been scratched. The equipment, from lesser-known brands Landice and Bodyguard, looks barely used. Open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
The single computer with a printer in the lobby -- is likewise a poor approximation of a business center. Internet use costs $3.50 for 15 minutes, $6.50 for 30 minutes. Wi-Fi, on the other hand, is free. Faxing, printing, and photocopying are available at the front desk, for a fee.
Families won't have trouble piling into the Desert Rose: Rooms come with a full-size sofa bed in the living room, so a 650-square-foot, one-bedroom suite can accommodate four guests, while a two-bedroom (850 square feet) can host six. Cribs and rollaway beds can be rented from Baby's Away for about $15 per night. It's best to place an order in advance through the front desk. Playpens are provided for free. The well-equipped kitchen will cut down on restaurant meals (good thing since there's no on-site restaurant).
Yet the hotels doesn't host any kids' club or kids' activities. The pool is the only distraction around, but parents should keep in mind that it's 6 feet deep and no lifeguards are on duty. For a similarly priced resort with extensive family features, check out Wyndham Grand Desert.
The hotel building is old, but the furnishings look brand-new. The only cleanliness battle the hotel isn't winning is with a flock of pigeons that hovers above the patio tables at breakfast, despite the owl statue designed to scare away these feathery pests.
Guests can fill up at the free breakfast and a free evening reception every day, or fix meals in the room. Decent 24-hour restaurants are just down the street.
Aside from the free breakfast and an evening reception in the lobby, the hotel has no food on-site (not counting the ice cream bars and cookies at the lobby gift shop). The breakfast includes hard-boiled eggs, sausage, bacon, oatmeal, bagels, and cereal. Available from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. on weekdays, 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. on weekends. The evening reception is only on weekdays, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., and includes red and white wines, a selection of cheeses and chimichangas. Starbucks coffee and soda fountain drinks are served in the lobby during breakfast and the evening reception.
The nearest outside restaurant is Dan Marino's, just down the street next to Hooters. Open 24 hours a day,Dan Marino's restaurant was about half full at 2 a.m. Sandwiches range from $8 to $10, and entrees run from $13 to $23. Click here for the menu. Click here for yelp.com reviews.
For diner food a five-minute walk away, visit Coco's/Denny's on Tropicana Avenue, between Koval Road and Duke Ellington Way. The restaurant says it's been "Denny's" (as in the nationwide chain) since 2007, but the sign outside says "Coco's", and the staff at Desert Rose refers guests to "Coco's." Also open 24 hours.
A 278-unit time-share near the Strip, the Desert Rose features stylish but smaller-than-average suites. Even though you'll find little to do on-site, the convenient location makes it a great base for exploring the casinos (including nearby Hooters), and the friendly service and spotless rooms make for a comfortable stay.
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