One of the best ways to get your bearings when you’re in Las Vegas: look for the Stratosphere. It’s at the very north tip of the Strip, and whatever you do, don’t call it the Space Needle (the Stratosphere Tower, the tallest freestanding tower in the United States, is twice the size, dammit!).
Beyond its size and the whiz-bang rides at the top, the Stratosphere has failed, in recent years at least, to make much of an impact on Las Vegas’ tourist market. So it finally stopped trying, and today, it’s a a no-muss, no-fuss budget accommodation.
Which is perfectly fine because heaven knows there’s an army of budget-conscious visitors just looking for a clean, inexpensive place to sleep. And Stratosphere fits that bill. So what if the exterior is dated and the standard rooms are so bland you’ll have trouble remembering what they look like as you exit them? They’re just fine. And for those who want slightly better than that, but still at an impressively reasonable price (usually) the “Select” category digs are surprisingly contemporary, with a warm color palate of red and brown, and such essentials as flatscreen TVs, and alarm clocks with MP3 docks. Bathrooms run small, but at these rates, who’s complaining?
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.