The Cheaper Hotels on the Las Vegas Strip

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Wanna sleep cheap in Las Vegas? But comfortably? And within walking distance of the main attractions? It's all a matter of geography. The famous Las Vegas Strip (also known as Las Vegas Boulevard) runs north and south. The expensive hotels, with some exceptions, are on the west side of it. The inexpensive hotels, with some exceptions, are on the east side. Staying on the cheaper side of the Strip won't keep you from seeing the fountains in front of Bellagio, The Mirage's volcano, or the pirate battle at Treasure Island. In fact, you might have a shorter walk from across the street than if you were actually staying at one of the more expensive resorts. But this isn't about saving steps. The goal here is to save money. By choosing a hotel on the other (east) side of the Strip, you can pay as little as $39 a night for a room. Here are four cheap Vegas hotels (and one slightly costlier one) where you can do just that:

Casino Royale and Hotel (3411 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 800/854-7666, casinoroyalehotel.com) hasn't got a lot of space, but all of the Casino Royale's 152 rooms are priced right. For example, rates are $49 for weekdays and $69 on weekends at the beginning of June. Guests are next door to The Venetian and Harrah's, and Treasure Island and The Mirage are across the Strip. The Fashion Show mall is a somewhat reasonable walk away.

Barbary Coast Hotel and Casino (3595 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 888/227-2279, barbarycoastcasino.com) is another little place offering big value, and retaining its Old Vegas atmosphere among gigantic competitors. The eight-acre lake at Bellagio, which erupts nightly in a dazzling display of fountains and lights, is across the intersection from the Barbary Coast; Caesars Palace is directly across the street, and Bally's and the Flamingo are on either side. It has 200 rooms, and prices range from $39 on weekdays to $89 on weekends. Standard rooms are a respectable 400 square feet, compared with 510 square feet at Bellagio.

Imperial Palace Hotel and Casino (3535 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 800/634-6441, imperialpalace.com) is a big place that frequently drops rates on its 2,700 rooms to $39 on weekdays, $59 on weekends. Callers and Web site visitors can get the best rates by checking the "Casino Gold Specials."

Harrah's Las Vegas Casino and Hotel (3475 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 800/392-9002, harrahs.com), at 2,559 rooms and suites, is also a huge place and its regular rates will be among the most expensive among its competitors on this side of the Strip. But weekday rates in the $50-$60 range can be found here. Check the "Hot Deals" section of Harrah's Web site.

Flamingo Las Vegas (3555 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 888/308-8899, flamingo-lv.com) is normally a pricey place with rates reaching $200 a night. But at certain times of the year, flexible travelers will find bargains among the Flamingo's 3,600 rooms and suites. Rates were at $55 for a few weekdays in July, although they jumped to $140 on some weekends.

More tips for Vegas visitors

Check out the Web sites of any Las Vegas hotel you find inviting. Many list special promotions and have guest books you can sign. That puts you on their mailing lists for some pretty attractive invitations, including lower room rates, two-for-one offers on show tickets and buffets, and coupons to better your odds on casino games.

If you're planning a longer stay, consider changing hotels to take advantage of special rates. Let's say, for example, that you're going to be in town for six nights and find a great rate at Hotel A for the first four nights. However, the place is sold out the next two nights, or its rates aren't as attractive then. If an extra session of checking in and out doesn't bother you, drive-or simply walk-to Hotel B. You won't even draw a second glance from the other tourists, who will have seen stranger things in Las Vegas.

Visit travel2vegas.com, which gives abbreviated versions of casino ads that appear in Sunday editions of the Los Angeles Times. The site is updated regularly, and you don't have to live in California to take advantage of the specials.

You can find critical, and often humorous, descriptions of the hotels and casinos in Las Vegas at cheapovegas.com. The reviewers sometimes stretch a point in order to make a joke, but they're fairly accurate.

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