Smoking is allowed in all common areas (a pro for some!)
Non-smoking rooms still reek of smoke
Carson Tower rooms are seriously dated
Rooms facing Fremont Street are subject to late-night noise
Downtown Vegas entertainment pales in comparison to the Strip
Charge for Wi-Fi
Located on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas, the Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino is an off-the-Strip alternative for travelers seeking a different side of Sin City. The Nugget 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), multiple bars and restaurants, and a small spa. But guests should be forewarned: booking rooms is a crapshoot, as some are smokey, some are dated, and some are subject to late-night noise. The nearby D Casino Hotel Las Vegas has a similar vibe, with nicer rooms and a less exciting pool for cheaper nightly rates.
The biggest and best hotel in Downtown Vegas still can't compare to those on the Strip.
With one of the oldest casinos in the city (first opened in 1946), the 1,914-room Golden Nugget has endured in the face of overwhelming competition from the Strip. Its "Old Vegas" neighborhood had a higher profile in the 1970s, before the ascendancy of the Strip mega-resort, a shift crystallized by the opening of the Mirage in 1989. Since then, many of the properties on Fremont Street and its environs have become sleepy throwbacks to a bygone era. The Nugget is the glaring exception.
While not exactly Strip-caliber, The Golden Nugget holds its own in terms of amenities and atmosphere. If guests can make is past the smoke-choked lobby, they’ll find a modern 45,000-square-foot casino, an array of bars and restaurants, and some pretty awesome pools. Guests here run the gamut from retiree slot worshippers, to young bachelor parties, to vacationing families.
On Fremont Street in Downtown Las Vegas, about a 15-minute cab ride from the Strip
Located on Fremont Street, a 90-foot canopy-covered pedestrian thoroughfare known for late-night light and sound shows, The Golden Nugget is in the center of Downtown Vegas’ nightlife scene. Known as "Glitter Gulch" or "Old Vegas" — this is where the city first started to develop its hotel-casinos back in 1906 — Downtown Vegas consists of smaller-scale hotels and casinos than the Strip. Typically cheaper and a little less wild, Downtown Vegas tends to attract retirees, and the main draws at most casinos are the nickel slots and low-minimum tables. And while an older crowd is definitely noticeable at the Golden Nugget, it’s probably the only hotel in the area with a younger twenty- and thirtysomething scene as well. Downtown Vegas certainly has its appeals, but this is not the place for travelers looking to save some money while visiting the Strip. Costly 15-minute cab rides between the Nugget and the Strip will eat away any money you’re saving on cheaper room rates. The Golden Nugget is about 20 minutes from McCarran International Airport.
Different towers offer different room experiences -- from dated and smokey to large and modern.
Housed in four different towers, rooms at the Golden Nugget run the gamut in terms of size, decor, and amenities. Carson Tower rooms are dated and smokey. The Spa Tower has suites with decor ranging from modern and masculine to gold and gaudy. Rush Tower rooms are the newest (opened in 2009), and Gold Tower rooms are the most centrally located. Just beware when booking — anything labeled “city view” likely looks over Fremont Street, which gets pretty noisy at night.
Carson Tower rooms are the hotel’s cheapest — an attractive incentive for a lot of guests. However, the Carson Tower is the hotel’s oldest building, and it shows. Rooms have ugly striped carpeting, thick floral drapery, popcorn ceilings, and two-toned wallpaper. There are some nice in-room amenities, like a Keurig coffeemaker and plush robes, but rooms’ flat-screen TVs — probably 2005’s finest — look like an artifact of the past. Bathrooms are teeny tiny and have standard shower/tub combos with floral shower curtains to match the window drapery. Besides ugly decor and tiny bathrooms, the Carson Tower reeks of cigarette smoke, and is the farthest tower from all of the hotel’s amenities.
Gold Tower rooms are nicely renovated and noticeably larger than Carson Tower rooms. For slightly more expensive nightly rates, Gold Tower rooms have modern, masculine decor with chocolate brown tones and chrome accents. In-room amenities include flat screen TVs (that still look slightly dated), iHomes, and Keurigs. Bathrooms are still tiny, but have nicer marble and granite finishes. The Gold Tower is the most centrally located of all the towers, and is within easy walking distance to the casino, a few restaurants, and the pools.
The Rush Tower is the newest, quietest, and least smokey of the bunch. Rooms feature dark, masculine decor with chocolate brown tones and bright orange accents. In-room amenities include newer flat-screen TVs, iHomes, and Keurigs. Bathrooms are tiny, but have upgraded features like Gilchrist & Soames toiletries, deep soaking tubs, and rainfall showerheads.
For guests who want to splurge, the Spa Tower is home to some massive two-story suites. With huge living rooms, a spiral staircase, and large master bedrooms and bathrooms, Spa Tower suites allow guests a small taste of the Vegas high life. Decor varies across suites — some are gold and gaudy, while others are sleek and modern. Bathrooms include two-person jetted tubs, double sinks, walk-in showers, and mirrored vanities.
Not quite the Strip, but certainly the nicest amenities Downtown
Though it can’t quite compare with its over-the-top peers on the Strip, the Golden Nugget has a few nice amenities to keep guests entertained. The hotel’s most talked about feature is the Tank, a pool complex with a three-story waterslide that runs through a 200,000-gallon shark aquarium. The slide, a favorite of adults and kids alike, winds around the tank and shoots through it, past sharks, via a transparent tube. On the pool deck, hundreds of cushioned lounge chairs make the courtyard-like space feel a bit cramped. Of course, in typical Vegas fashion, guests don’t have to leave the pool to gamble, as there are a handful of blackjack tables a few feet from the water. Adults looking for a quieter pool scene should head up to The Hideout, which is restricted to guests 18 years and older. The Hideout has its own bar, large daybeds, and private cabanas available for rent.
Golden Nugget’s 45,000-square-foot casino is one of the largest in Downtown Vegas, and attracts guests and non-guests alike. Thanks to low-hanging ceilings and lots of smokers, the casino is routinely choked by clouds of cigarette fumes. The crowd is mostly made of of older retirees, but lots of low-minimum tables also attract a younger, cash-strapped clientele.
The Nugget has 10 varied dining options across its property, including all-you-can-eat buffets, a Starbucks, high-end steakhouses, as well as Asian Fusion, Tex Mex, Italian, and sushi options. Along with numerous bars scattered across the property, the Golden Nugget is home to Gold Diggers, a popular Downtown nightclub.
The hotel’s small spa and fitness center are located a few levels above the main lobby. The spa offers a full list of services, including couples massages, manicures and pedicures, facials, and body wraps. The fitness center is tiny, but is equipped with modern Cybex machines and floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the pool.
With 37,000 square feet of event space, the Golden Nugget is a popular place for Downtown conventions, meetings, and weddings. While the event space is impeccably kept, the hotel charges a nightly rate for Wi-Fi, which can be off-putting for business (and leisure) travelers.
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