Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
A 2,496-room mega-hotel with a dark, disco-lit casino and lobby and hot nightclubs create a sexy, glam-influenced rock-and-roll vibe. Guests are equal parts partiers, vacationing couples, and business travelers.
Even in the lobby, Planet Hollywood looks and sounds like a glitzy, rocking club. Neon-colored lights abound in the casino and in the lobby, cycling through different colors. While waiting to check in (and there's likely going to be a wait), you might hear classics like the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil" and Journey's "Wheel in the Sky" blaring over the P.A. system. In the casino's Pleasure Pit, pole dancers swing above the lingerie-clad blackjack dealers. Even in the middle of the day, the hotel can feel like an oversize disco; the casino has 75-foot ceilings, an enormous floor, and constant music.
The resort's swank nightlife provides much of the appeal. The two on-site clubs, Prive and Living Room (both run by the trendy Opium Group), have hosted such celebrities as Mandy Moore and P. Diddy. Famous faces have also appeared at Koi, a Japanese-fusion restaurant with popular outposts in both New York and L.A.
In the elevators, videos featuring Planet Hollywood co-founders Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Bruce Willis attempt to ratchet up the glam factor. It works, sort of.
While the hotel sees its fair share of young partiers, I also met an equal number of conventioneers and married couples who were drawn to the hotel more for its low rates and mid-Strip location than its sexy image. And it really is just an image. At the two pools, which have cement decks and Astroturf pathways, you're likely to see a less-energetic crowd of all-day drinkers, not chichi starlets. And though the rooms are all styled with unique cinema memorabilia, the gorilla mask in my room, from the 1995 sci-fi flop Congo, didn't quite have much of that glamorous Hollywood cachet.
Typical for midrange Strip resorts, the hotel offers 24-hour room service, a concierge, help with bags at the door, and prompt response to small requests.
The service at Planet Hollywood is on par with most other mega-hotels on the Strip, like the similarly priced Paris or Luxor hotels. Long, 30-minute lines can form at check-in, but that headache comes even at higher-priced places of this size. Bellmen stand ready at the entrance to help with bags.
Generally, the staff was eager to help. The parking staff offered clear directions through the maze-like casino to the front entrance. Service requests were handled promptly: room service in 20 minutes; a toothbrush and toothpaste in 10. Checkout took 10 minutes, and before I was ready to leave the hotel I had no trouble checking my bags with the bellmen.
Planet Hollywood is in the middle of the Strip, a 3.5-mile section of Las Vegas Boulevard packed with glittering hotels-casinos. Across the street, at the Bellagio hotel, you can watch the iconic fountain show (it's even visible from some of Planet Hollywood's rooms). The Paris hotel abuts Planet Hollywood to the north. Walking south, a guest encounters a series of fast-food joints, convenience stores, and lower-rent motels before hitting the upscale MGM Grand half a mile away.
The foot traffic outside Planet Hollywood is heavy, even by Vegas standards. In front of the hotel, you're likely to spot men handing out pamphlets featuring prostitutes (careful, though -- prostitution is illegal in Vegas) across from a T-shirt-wearing evangelist who encourages the crowd to embrace Jesus.
Most Las Vegas visitors want to explore all of the big properties along the Strip. 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 to ride. There's also a monorail system, which stops at MGM Grand, 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.
Virtually every hotel on the Las Vegas Strip is a 10- to 15-minute cab ride from McCarran International Airport; the ride typically costs about $15.
Remodeled in October 2008, the standard "Hollywood Hip" rooms are designed with movie motifs. Mine (No. 1247) was based on Congo, the 1994 sci-fi fiasco starring Dylan Walsh, Tim Curry, and Amy, a fake-looking animatronic gorilla. Whatever Hollywood glamour you might imagine quickly dissipates when you're staring at the empty eye sockets of a gorilla mask inside a wall-mounted case. To some, the design might be fun; to others, it just looks tacky. Not to worry, though. Every room is modeled after a different movie; some, like the Bonnie and Clyde and Billy Bathgate suites, are even modeled after good ones.
The beds, Sheraton Sweet Sleepers with Sealy Posturepedic Plush Top mattresses and StandardTextile Centima sheets (75-percent cotton, 25-percent polyester), are comfortable, but not exactly fancy. Hallway and street noise was never a problem, so guests can count on a good night's sleep.
As for electronics, the room boasts a 42-inch Panasonic flat-screen high-definition TV, with 86 channels, if you include 12 redundant HD options. Rooms have both hard-wired (Ethernet cable included) and wireless Internet for $13.99/day.
The bathroom is quite large -- at 110 square feet, it's about as large as the entire room at the Hudson hotel in New York. The toilet is tucked away in a separate alcove from the rest of the bathroom, but bring a magazine; there isn't much to look at in that little space. There is a separate standing shower and a deep bathtub, and in the Congo room, bathers can take in a photo of the most touching scene from Congo, when Dylan Walsh reads a 3-D children's book to a gorilla. Toiletries are from the hotel's own line.
One caveat: Many rooms are quite dark. In the pool-facing Hollywood Hip rooms, the small window and darkly painted furnishings minimize the incoming natural light. The dimness isn't prohibitively negative -- it might even be advantageous if you've got a hangover -- but better lighting would've made the room much more hospitable.
The amenities you get at Planet Hollywood are commensurate with the price -- the pool falls short of the competition, but the spa makes up for that.
The fitness center, attached to the Mandara Spa, includes multiple treadmills and elliptical machines, and a set of free weights, but only one exercise bike. As is the case at nearly every Strip resort, there's an extra fee to use the gym and spa facilities. Although the fitness equipment lacks high-end goodies like personal TV monitors on the treadmills, the daily membership does include free fruit, juice, and coffee found in the lounge, as well as use of the spa facilities, like the Turkish bath. Mandara also offers facials, massages, and the typical array of spa services. To give you an idea of the prices, a 50-minute Swedish massage costs $115.
The hotel also contains the "Miracle Mile" shopping and dining area, which hosts upward of 170 specialty stores, including Shawnz Clothing, Vegas Royalty, and more affordable franchises like Fossil, The Body Shop, and Baby Gap.
The business center offers faxing, photocopying, and printing services, as well as three computer workstations and equipment rentals. Rooms also have both hard-wired (Ethernet cable included) and wireless Internet for a fee.
The two large pools at Planet Hollywood sit on a sixth-floor roof deck, overlooking the mock Eiffel Tower and hot-air balloon at the Paris hotel next door. They're basically the same -- fairly large, irregularly shaped pools with straight sides and square corners. The main difference is the VIP area with cabanas at the pool on the north side. Save for a scattering of bushes and palm trees, the deck space is mostly concrete, and the relative lack of vegetation is compounded by Astroturf walkways and empty beer cans -- it's less inviting than even the similarly concrete-heavy pool decks at fellow midrange Strip resorts like Luxor or Excalibur. The majority of guests ranged from mid-20s to mid-40s, including one couple observed making out on the deck chairs. A P.A. system plays generic classic rock ballads, and although there are almost no kids around, it's less a party scene than a collection of all-day drinkers chatting as they sun themselves. For the price, one can find more inviting pools at Paris, which has European-style landscaping, or Luxor, whose pool looks on the pyramid, has more deck space, and features concrete islands for sunbathing.
A three-acre casino floor with 75-foot high ceilings. It offers the usual spread of table games, thousands of slot and video-poker consoles, poker, and a sports book.
The multi-color casino at Planet Hollywood offers a few sexy touches, like lingerie-clad blackjack dealers and go-go girls at the Pleasure Pit. The sports book has 33 plasma screens and two jumbo TVs. Poker offerings at the 15-table room include limit and no-limit Texas Hold-'em, Pineapple, and Omaha.
The rooms are quiet and they're a reasonable size, but the pool is more about guzzling beers or fluorescent rum cocktails and the over-the-top-sexy vibe on the casino floor mean that families might want to look somewhere else, like the Mirage (which has a designated pool zone for more risque behavior).
Rooms were renovated in October 2008.
With eight total restaurants, Planet Hollywood has great variety. Simple fare at Planet Dailies, Yolo's Mexican Grill, or P. F. Chang's won't ding the wallet too hard, and the upscale places -- Koi and Strip House -- serve haute cuisine in a chic setting. Add in 24-hour room service, one of the Strip's better buffets at Spice Market, and the 15 additional restaurants at the Miracle Mile Shops for a great series of food options.
Dinner at Spice Market Buffet yields a great variety of foods -- American, Middle Eastern, and a very popular seafood station. The space isn't fancy -- there are TVs in the center of the room -- and the food isn't exactly gourmet, but for a place that'll let you load up on pizza, chicken parmesan, Alaskan king crab leg, chilled shrimp, mashed potatoes, Tex-Mex steak, grape leaves, vegetable samosas, mushrooms, a bowl of chicken-noodle soup, and a Coke for $30, you can do a lot worse. For more reviews of the Spice Market, check out Yelp.com.
The standout restaurant, Koi serves Japanese food in a sleek, mood-lit lounge. Entrees range from $15 to $49. Steak joint Strip House, meanwhile, has won numerous awards from Forbes, GQ, and Citysearch from 2006 to 2008.
Room service -- available 24 hours -- arrived at my room within 20 minutes. The $14 (plus tax, gratuity, and fees) Sicilian Deli sandwich tasted as though it had been refrigerated, but sported a generous quantity of meats, and the fries were fresh and hot.
If all that's not enough, the Miracle Mile Shops has 15 additional restaurants, including chains like Sbarro and sit-down places like Lombardi's Romagna Mia. Check out the Miracle Mile's website for more dining options.
Prepackaged no-frills weddings; options aren't bad for a large to midsize wedding, but you can find cheaper places to elope.
Located in the center of the Strip, the 2,496-room Planet Hollywood offers movie-themed rooms, hot nightlife, and a sexy atmosphere (i.e. lingerie-clad blackjack dealers), but its spa, gym, and shopping doesn't stand out much from other similarly priced resorts on the Strip, and the crowded pool is a letdown.