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There's no useful way to quote exact room rates at Atlantic City's casino hotels. Doubles vary from a low of about $95 to a high of $500 (or more at the new towers), and the hotels stay generally competitive across-the-board. Rates are usually highest on summer weekends and lowest midweek in winter, but they can go through the roof during certain events or if there's a major convention in town. Rooms in the summer are especially hard to come by at the newer resorts such as the Borgata. Always ask about packages and special promotions, which may be able to save you big bucks. And if you plan to visit again, sign up for the casino hotel's free slot clubs -- members often get special rates and packages.

A fantastic new addition to A.C.'s hotel scene is the boutique hotel the Chelsea, at Chelsea and Pacific avenues (tel. 800/548-3030; www.thechelsea-ac.com). From the smart, stylish team that owns Congress Hall hotel in Cape May, the Chelsea is a cool makeover of a former HoJo and Holiday Inn, which have been transformed into 300 modern rooms with a Miami-meets-L.A. vibe. It features a sprawling lounge space with two lushly landscaped pools, chic restaurants, and beach cabanas. Bonus: It's kid-friendly. Expect to pay from $100 to $400 per night. It's right on the Boardwalk.

If the big hotels are too expensive, you have some noncasino options. A few good motels are right on or just off the Boardwalk -- although they can be subject to similarly dramatic pricing, with rates fluctuating between $64 and $310; always ask about packages. The Days Inn on the Boardwalk, 1 block over at Morris Avenue (tel. 800/325-2525 or 609/344-6101; www.atlanticcitydaysinn.com), has rooms with ocean views. Just off the Boardwalk, near the Sands, is the Comfort Inn Boardwalk, 154 S. Kentucky Ave. (tel. 800/228-5150 or 609/348-4000; www.comfortinn.com), whose well-kept rooms feature Jacuzzi tubs.

A Vegas Resort in Atlantic City Expands!

The multibillion-dollar Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, One Borgata Way (tel. 866/692-6742; www.theborgata.com), which debuted to great acclaim in summer 2003, is the undisputed champ of the city's casino hotels. And in 2008, it unveiled a 43-story, $400-million new addition: The Water Club is an ultraglam "boutique-style" tower with its own glossy pool and cabana scene where you can sip cocktails, flirt, and snack (guests also get full use of the Borgata's facilities). Perhaps the best compliment we can give these two celeb favorites -- joint ventures of Boyd Gaming and MGM MIRAGE -- is that they the only ones in Atlantic City to remind us of Vegas. The decor at each property is sleek and beautiful: The Borgata has a magnificent lobby with Dale Chihuly chandeliers and a lovely "Living Room" seating area for guests to relax in; the Water Club is an Asian Zen wonder with a top-floor spa that has to-die-for views of the ocean. The facilities are so extensive (fitness centers; spas, pools; classic barbershop; immense casino with reasonable table limits; and multiple retail, entertainment, and dining venues), you won't want to leave. The large rooms ($129-$509 double, $379-$679 at the Water Club) are luxurious, the nicest in town: Think Egyptian cotton sheets on the comfy beds; plenty of lighting; designer toiletries; fridges (minibars in the Water Club); and immense marble bathrooms, a separately enclosed toilet, and a huge, two-person temperature-controlled shower encased entirely in marble. The suites ($209-$18,000) are even more luxurious.

Dining here is the best of the casino hotels as well (you'll need to reserve well in advance to get in on the weekends). For Italian, there's Specchio, which features modern Italian cuisine in an upscale dining room loaded with cherrywood and the chef's antique mirror collection, and Ombra, a fabulous wine bar (over 14,000 bottles) with a vaulted Italian brick ceiling. If beef is more your thing, head to the branch of New York's famous Old Homestead, where superb steaks are served amid modern ambience. There's also chic SeaBlue, designed by Adam Tihany as a backdrop for chef Michael Mina's haute seafood menu (including 2-lb. Maine lobster potpie); Wolfgang Puck's American Grille, where the celebrated celebrity chef produces his signature Spago-style gourmet pizzas as well as an excellent grilled steak with blue cheese; and Bobby Flay Steak, where classic chopped salads and gigantic rib-eyes are as excellent as you would expect from the Food Network star. For mingling, hit the Water Club pool, or head to MIXX, a trendy restaurant/nightclub where the food is Latin-Asian fusion and the music is hip; for late-night partying, there's mur.mur, a sleek lounge with pricey bottle service starting at 10pm and lasting until morning, of course. (This is a casino, after all.)

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.