The upper-middle-range Grand Oasis Cancun is a beachfront all-inclusive mega-resort that’s part of a two-hotel complex in Cancun’s Hotel Zone with 1,200 rooms that prides itself on entertainment. It’s a family-friendly property with a kids’ club, but 12 bars — including two adults-only nightclubs with burlesque-style shows — provide plenty of entertainment geared towards adults. The pool is one of the largest in Cancun and features two swim-up bars, music, and DJ sessions from time to time, while the beach is beautiful and relaxing. Rooms, while clean and comfortable enough, are starting to show their age and have basic amenities. The all-inclusive package is just average: it doesn’t cover all restaurants, plus Wi-Fi, in-room safes, and access to the spa are all extra charges. It’s worth paying a bit more at Hotel Riu Cancun, which is smaller and more modern.
The 2,024-room New York-New York Hotel and Casino is an upper-middle-range themed property with a roller coaster located right on the Strip, within easy walking distance of casinos, shops, and bars. The property offers all the usual features found at most other Vegas resorts — including a lively casino and multiple restaurant options such as a buffet and steakhouse — but the mellow vibe and huge arcade with dozens of machines make it more suitable for families than for young partiers. Rooms, while spacious and comfortable, have seen better days and lack coffeemakers and mini-fridges, though that’s common for Vegas. An outdoor pool, roller coaster, dueling piano bar, and provocative Cirque du Soleil show are some of the property’s standout features. Rates are reasonable for the location, but families looking to stay on the northern end of the Strip may want to compare rates at Treasure Island Hotel & Casino.
At the southern end of the Strip looms the massive ancient-Egypt-themed Luxor Hotel & Casino, which offers affordable rates, a mix of dated and contemporary rooms, and the typical array of resort features. In terms of room count, this upper-middle-range colossal hotel-casino is second only to the MGM Grand, with around 4,400 rooms and 487 suites, all of which have flat-screen TVs, sitting areas, and safes, but no coffeemakers or fridges. A daily resort fee (common for Vegas) covers Wi-Fi. Four outdoor swimming pools, gay-friendly summer pool parties, a 120,000-square-foot casino, the world’s largest atrium, a giant sphinx, quality spa, and a host of dining, entertainment, and nightlife options help the Luxor Hotel Las Vegas stand out among its extravagant neighbors. It’s about half the price as the nearby Mandalay Bay, though it’s not nearly as luxe. Paris Las Vegas offers a similarly priced themed stay with more impressive rooms.
The upper-middle-range, 335-room St. James’s Club Morgan Bay is a family-friendly all-inclusive resort located along beach in Choc Bay. Although rooms – ranging from standard guest rooms to two-bedroom suites – are done in outdated decor that’s showing wear, they all have flat-screen TVs, tea- and coffee-making facilities, and furnished outdoor spaces with appealing views of the grounds, pools, or sea. The big draw are the resort’s reasonable all-inclusive rates, which includes food at six restaurants, alcoholic drinks at several bars, and an extensive array of activities and entertainment. Solid on-site features consist of two pools by the beach – one with a swim-up bar – an adults-only pool, and family pool with waterslides, in addition to a small spa, a well-equipped fitness center, and a decent beach. While St. James’s Club doesn’t offer anything out of the ordinary, guests seeking a convenient, all-inclusive experience are likely to be satisfied. It’s worth comparing rates with the Coconut Bay Beach & Spa Resort, another all-inclusive resort with a longer beach, water park, and more impressive spa.
The upper-middle-range Hotel Spero is a chic boutique that dates back to 1923 and occupies a convenient location three blocks from Union Square and within a six-minute walk to a BART station in San Francisco. Renovated in 2018, interiors here are full of style that melds original details like beautiful hand-painted wooden ceiling beams in the lobby with contemporary decor. A diner-like restaurant and bar serves American fare and offers happy hour specials, plus there’s a fitness center well stocked with modern Precor machines and Peloton bikes. Other features include a co-working space and five meeting rooms. The 236 rooms are a bit small, but they’re attractive and equipped with flat-screen TVs and robes. Suites add living rooms. Wi-Fi is covered by the resort fee. For a cool boutique property with more amenities like an infinity pool and spa, consider the Huntington Hotel in Nob Hill.
The upper-middle-range Titanic Palace Hurghada is a family-friendly all-inclusive resort offering tons of amenities and a stellar beachfront setting along the Red Sea. The 593 rooms are well-equipped with minibars, flat-screen TVs, hairdryers, and furnished balconies or terraces, however, decor is dated and in need of a refresh. Family Rooms and swim-up Bungalows are available as well. Highlights here are the golden-sand beach lined with loungers and the sprawling pool complex housing an aqua park with waterslides. Other top features include daily activities, nightly entertainment in the amphitheater, sports and games facilities, and a spa with massage treatment rooms and Turkish bath. There are several restaurant and bar options, including Asian, Italian, and Mexican cuisines, but food on the whole receives disappointing reviews. Also on the downside, there are extra charges for some food and drinks. It’s worth comparing rates with the more luxurious Oberoi Beach Resort Sahl Hasheesh, which offers a more posh kid-friendly experience.
Located on Fremont Street in Downtown Las Vegas, the upper-middle-range, 2,419 Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino is an off-the-Strip alternative for travelers seeking a different side of Sin City. The property may be smaller than its peers on the Strip, but it still offers plenty of entertainment options, with its 45,000-square-foot casino, two pools (one with a waterslide through a shark tank and another for adults only), multiple bars and restaurants, and a small spa and fitness center. Top restaurant options include a steakhouse, sushi at Red Asian Cuisine, and Grotto Italian Ristorante, and an all-day buffet. Live entertainment and a nightclub are also available on-site. But guests should be forewarned: booking rooms is a crapshoot, as some smell of smoke, some are a bit dated, and some are subject to late-night noise. On the plus side, all come with flat-screen TVs, free basic Wi-Fi, and hairdryers. It’s worth considering Excalibur Hotel and Casino, which is along The Strip and offers a plethora of family-friendly features.
Harrah’s Lake Tahoe is an upper-middle-range casino hotel that’s been around since the ‘50s, conveniently located close to restaurants, a ski resort, and Lake Tahoe. It’s gone through renovations and remodels since, but many common spaces remain a bit dated here, like the carpeted fitness room. There’s plenty to keep travelers occupied here, including the large casino and nice indoor/outdoor pool. A spa offers a wide menu of treatments, plus there varied dining options, ranging from a buffet to an upscale restaurant specializing in steak and seafood. A nightclub, music venue, and cigar lounge offer late-night entertainment. The 512 rooms range from those with tasteful contemporary decor, to spaces that are traditional and outdated. However, they’re all spacious and come with two bathrooms, plus amenities like flat-screen TVs, Keurig coffeemakers, and mini-fridges, but Wi-Fi costs extra. It’s worth comparing rates with the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Lake Tahoe, which has modern rooms and an outdoor heated pool.
The 451-room Cititel Penang is an upper-middle-range hotel situated in the popular downtown George Town neighborhood. Surrounded by restaurants and shops, and within walking distance of several top attractions, the convenient location is a highlight. Features are solid, consisting of a wellness center with a small indoor pool, fitness room, spa, sauna, and steam room, and there are three dining options to choose from: a well-liked buffet restaurant that’s open 24/7, Japanese eatery, and Chinese restaurant. Rooms are a bit small and dated, but they’re well equipped with flat-screen TVs, mini-fridges, tea- and coffee-making facilities, and free Wi-Fi. Suites have separate living rooms with dining areas and wet bars. For something a bit more impressive, consider the nearby Eastern & Oriental Hotel, which is a historic property along the waterfront.
Located in Lower Manhattan, in the heart of the Financial District, this outpost of the Marriott-owned MOXY brand opened its doors in 2018. The upper-middle-range property is chock-full of hip, millennial-focused features that create a buzzy vibe. Cool common areas include a basketball court that doubles as an event space, a 24-hour fitness center, and a 5,000-square-foot co-working space-slash-lounge. The latter features a lively bar, arcade games, skee-ball, shuffleboard, and more bait to attract young travelers. The 298 rooms are compact, but clean, and efficiently use the space with foldaway furniture and tech-savvy features like flat-screen TVs and automated light control. Some units add floor-to-ceiling windows that display views of Downtown Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge. However, there’s no full restaurant or spa. For a more upscale experience, travelers may want to consider The Beekman, a Thompson Hotel, which offers more amenities for similar or lower rates.