One of the best ways to get your bearings when you’re in Las Vegas: Look for the Strat. It’s at the very north tip of the Strip, and whatever you do, don’t call it the Space Needle (this tower, the tallest freestanding tower in the United States, is twice the size, dammit!).

Known for its size and the whiz-bang rides at the top, the former Stratosphere Las Vegas Hotel has rebranded. It now calls itself “the Strat,” has renamed the observation deck the SkyPod, and has revamped its food and beverage and gaming offerings, hoping to be recognized as much more than a no-fuss, no-muss budget accommodation.

Heaven knows there’s an army of budget-conscious visitors just looking for a clean, inexpensive place to sleep, but now they also want it with a bit more polish. The Strat fits that bill. The exterior is still a bit dated, but the rooms remodeled in 2018 make you forget all about that. These new “Elevate” rooms and the “Select” category digs, both at an impressively reasonable price (usually) are surprisingly contemporary. The former are done in calming blues and the latter with a warm color palette of red and brown, and all have such essentials as flatscreen TVs and alarm clocks with MP3 docks. Bathrooms run small, but at these rates, who’s complaining?

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And you’ll be within spitting distance of the best perch from which to see the entire Las Vegas Valley. At the top of the tower the elegant continental restaurant, Top of the World is in motion, giving guests a 360-degree view of the surrounding area, making one full revolution every 80 minutes. Thrill seekers climb up even higher to hang out (literally) on crazy rides (click here for more on those).

The big downside to staying here? The immediate area surrounding the hotel is a little shady. At night, take a cab or car if you’re leaving the hotel.

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