We Stayed at the Hooters Hotel in Las Vegas, and It’s Just as Tacky as You Think
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“Remember to delete all evidence of this weekend from your phone,” the banner in the elevator exclaimed.
While it was certainly a nod to the old saying “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” it was also a fitting reminder that guests might not want to share that they stayed in the world’s only Hooters Casino Hotel.
However, my wife, Katie, and I didn’t follow that instruction as we left the hotel. Instead, we’re going to tell you all about our three-night stay at one of the cheapest — and tackiest — hotels in Las Vegas.
How did we end up at the world’s only Hooters Hotel? A combination of plans falling through, a penchant for cheapness and a sprinkling of jet lag.
We planned to head to Vegas after ending up in LA following a week-long trip to Fiji. We booked cheap award flights from LAX to Vegas (LAS), planning to review a different Las Vegas Strip hotel, but availability for the Daily Getaways package we’d booked never opened up for our dates.
So we ended up landing in Los Angeles on a Wednesday afternoon from a red-eye flight with no idea where we’d end up that night. Our other potential plans weren’t coming together, so we figured we’d take the flights to Vegas. Although we had the flights, we still needed a place to stay for three nights in Vegas — and we were booking just hours before our flight to Sin City.
Thankfully, there are apps for that. Hotel Tonight has long been a TPG favorite, so we checked there first. There were plenty of downtown options pricing at just $50 per night before resort fees. The Tropicana also was available for $50 per night, but the total climbed to $269 total after resort fees.
At cash rates this low — and Vegas resort fees being so high — we knew that using points and miles wouldn’t make sense. So we checked Hotels.com next, knowing that we could get up to a 24% return on our booking by using my Capital One Venture Rewards credit card, earning 10x miles (which TPG values at 1.4 cents each) and an effective 10% back through the Hotels.com loyalty program (offer ends Jan. 31, 2020).
An intriguing option popped up at just $30 per night at a hotel close to the airport but also close to the Strip. Resort fees would be an absurd $37 per night — more than the base cost of the hotel room itself — but we figured that’d mean we’d pay right around $200 all-in for three nights in Vegas. That hotel: the Hooters Casino Hotel.
We had no interest in the Hooters aspect of the hotel. Instead, as digital nomads, we were just looking for a cheap base to work from for a few days.
“What’s the worst that could happen?” we asked ourselves.
If we’d been well-rested, our brains could’ve more logically come up with some reasonable answers to that rhetorical question. Instead, we went ahead and booked it.
In case you were wondering, no, Hooters Girls don’t staff the check-in desk. Instead, the two women that were working registration were clearly not thrilled to be there. The hotel was obviously not full our first night, as evidenced by the $19.20 base rate that we paid for the night. So there was no line at check-in.
At check-in, we were told that we had the option of either a room with two queen beds on a higher floor or a room with one king bed on a lower floor. We opted for the higher room, hoping to have views of the nearby airport. It seems this was a trick question.
When she printed out our registration form, I read over it and found that there was a $10-per-night upgrade fee for the upgraded room we’d supposedly just requested. I explained that we didn’t request a room upgrade but just selected from two options that she presented us. She ripped up the form and reassigned us to a third-floor room.
If you’re considering a stay at the Hooters Hotel, you should be aware that there are two different towers. We were assigned to the old Bay View Tower — which dates back to 1973 when it opened as a Howard Johnson.
Right next to this tower, a newer tower was built and dubbed the Ocean View Tower — despite a lack of ocean for hundreds of miles.
Our room ended up being right at the corner of the two towers, so we could look across and see that the rooms in that tower were noticeably better furnished. Both towers were refurbished in 2005 and reopened in 2006, but the Ocean View Tower clearly seemed to be the better tower.
Based on the room number for the upgraded room, we would have gotten a room in the Ocean View Tower. Knowing what we know now, it would have probably been worth the $10-per-night upgrade fee. But cheapness is what landed us at the Hooters Hotel, and cheapness is what got us stuck in the Bay View Tower.
The agent took my credit card for the stated $37-per-night resort fee. I was expecting to pay $111, but the charge ended up being $125.85 — as the listed, resort fee didn’t include tax. I charged the fee to my Chase Sapphire Reserve to earn 3x points on the purchase.
Now let’s talk about the room itself. Our rooms had two queen beds, each with two small pillows. The beds were sharply made in both of the rooms we entered, but I’d be lying if I said we didn’t check for bedbugs. Despite the no-frills look of the room, the beds were actually quite comfortable.
Between the beds, there was a simple nightstand with an alarm clock, a phone, a Hooters scratch pad and Hooters pen. Underneath this table was an extension cord with three open outlets.
Across from the beds was a table and two chairs, which were big selling points for us in booking this room. There was a simple dresser with a 42-inch flat-screen TV on top sporting 40 channels of programming. A channel card was conveniently placed next to the TV.
Thankfully, because of the Vegas heat — which hit 108 degrees while we were visiting — the room’s wall-unit air conditioning worked very well. Unfortunately, there was not a way to set it to a particular temperature, so we woke up shivering cold the first morning.
There was a small nook between the bedroom and the bathroom that contained the two Hooters-branded bottles of water promised in the resort fee, as well as two plastic cups and an ice bucket.
The bathroom looked like any standard cheap hotel bathroom, but it was decently stocked with towels and amenities.
There was even a simple hair dryer and tissues.
The bathroom amenities (shampoo, conditioner, bar soap) were surprisingly decent and from Bath & Body Works.
Don’t be fooled by the promise of a balcony. Sure, technically it was a balcony. But there was not much space on it. Also, our balcony door lock seemed to be broken, as we’d often find the door unlocked despite locking it each time we opened the door.
One of the best aspects of the room was the view over the pool and beyond toward the airport. From our sixth-floor balcony, we couldn’t see too much of the airport or runways. However, higher floors should have a much better view, if you’re looking for a place from which to AvGeek.
There was no coffee machine, fridge or microwave in the room. There was no minibar, either, but there was a store that sold liquor right at the bottom of the tower’s elevator.
Food and Beverage
Inside the world’s only Hooters Casino Hotel, there was, predictably, a Hooters restaurant.
Not so predictably, there was also the world’s largest Steak ‘n Shake.
We tried both during our stay. First, we ate at the Steak ‘n Shake for brunch one morning. The breakfast menu was oddly limited, the entirety of which is in the photo below.
We were happy for some classic American food after being abroad a lot recently. While the food was solid diner-style food, my Country Skillet meal came drenched in a lot more gravy than I’d expected from looking at the photo on the menu.
For dinner our last night, a Friday night, we figured we had to eat at the Hooters for the sake of this review. I hadn’t been to a Hooters since high school, and I went into this expecting the worst — both in service and food. I know I’m going to be roasted for saying this, but both were actually great.
If you didn’t want to leave your room to get Hooters, it could be delivered right to your room. A room-service menu was left on a pillow when we got to the room and included Hooters’ famous wings and $15 buckets of Bud Light.
If you forgot your bottle opener, no worries. There was a bottle opener permanently attached to the bathroom door frame.
So what does that $37 per night “resort fee” get you? At check-in, the following amenities were shared as justification for this resort fee: fitness-center access, in-room safe, internet access, two bottles of water per day, housekeeping and boarding-pass printing.
Those are amenities that are typical at most hotels, and certainly aren’t amenities that’d make a place worthy of a resort fee. Yet despite setting the bar low, the Hooters Casino Hotel couldn’t even deliver these amenities. When we got to our assigned room, Room 309 in the old tower of the hotel, we went to lock our passports in the room’s safe and found this:
Yep, that’s a safe with the door pried off. I picked up the room phone, half expecting it not to work either, and called the operator. Since maintenance wouldn’t be able to look into it until the next day, we were told that they’d send someone up with keys to another room. A few minutes later, a young guy knocked on our door to hand us keys to a sixth-floor room.
This room had a safe with a door, but this safe wasn’t functional either. It turns out that Hooters Hotel safes might be BYOB (Bring Your Own Batteries). Exhausted from our journey and not sure what problems the next room might bring, we settled in and went to sleep. When we called for replacement batteries, we were told that some would be delivered soon. They never were.
Another one of the amenities included in the resort fee was free Wi-Fi. What Hooters Hotel fails to mention is that it’s a throttled connection that clocks around 4 Mbps.
In order to get a faster connection, you needed to pay for premium internet.
And multiple times during our stay, we couldn’t even connect to the free Wi-Fi network, with the login screen noting that the “network is busy right now.”
The “resort” gym was pretty well stocked with a number of weight machines jammed into one small area with around seven cardio machines (treadmill, elliptical, stationary bike, Stairmaster) available in an identical space next door.
There was one amenity not promoted by the hotel: the pools. There were two modest-sized pools next to each other in a courtyard behind the towers. Towels were available from a stand at the entrance to the pool. We visited the pool one evening. Despite the 105-degree air temperature, the pool was shockingly cold.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t share anything about the casino. Compared to the other casinos on or near the Strip, this one was the smallest I’d seen. There were around a dozen blackjack tables, including an electronic blackjack table offering $1 minimum bets.
Most of the rest of the casino was dedicated to hundreds of slot machines, although there were a couple of tables for craps and roulette. There was a limited betting center, as well.
At least there were Hooters Girls to make the stay more pleasant, right? After all, the hotel’s website proudly proclaims that it has the “largest group of Hooters Girls in any one place on the planet, over 200!” But no, they aren’t coming to clean your room or even greet you at the front desk. Instead, the only place that we saw women sporting the unmistakable uniform were behind some of the casino’s tables and at the Hooters restaurant.
With our safe not working and no need for service, we left our “Do Not Disturb sign — which is on brand by saying “No Knockers” — up the first day. We were impressed to return from lunch to find a card left in the key slot noting that housekeeping had “attempted to service your room and acknowledged your request not to be disturbed.” On the flip side, the housekeeper had filled in the blanks with the date and time they’d attempted to visit.
We had the DND sign down the next day, as we were waiting on the safe batteries to be delivered. Midday, a housekeeper opened the door without knocking and started walking in before noticing us and retreating.
The fact that Hooters charges $37 per night plus taxes as a resort fee when it can’t even provide basic hotel amenities is beyond absurd. But the fact that they don’t roll this additional cost into the room rate means that we missed out on earning 10x Capital One miles and 10% cash back on the Hotels.com booking.
With all of the issues we had with the promised amenities, I spoke with the front desk about getting part of the resort fee waived. No dice. The front desk said that the fee had already been charged at check-in and couldn’t be reversed.
Still, we got what we paid for: a (really) cheap place to stay near both the Las Vegas airport and the Las Vegas Strip. If you’re looking for the same — and don’t mind the basic room and lack of amenities — the Hooters Hotel could be for you. But I’m going to stay a bit more classy next time.
All photos by the author.
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