Here are some places we checked out but didn't stay (and, in some cases, wished we had). All fall within our $200-a-night budget; as with the other hotels we stayed in, rates vary depending on the dates of your stay. Weekends generally cost more.
California Hotel and Casino
12 E. Ogden Ave.; (702) 385-1222, (800) 634-6505, www.thecal.com.
Amenities: 781 rooms in a 1974 building. Garage and valet parking. Shuttle to Strip. Room service. Hair dryers, irons and ironing boards. Rooftop pool.
Pros: Basic rooms with pretty iron-and-wood furniture and Asian-themed decor. Rooms were remodeled last year.
Cons: Small signs of wear in some rooms. Dial-up Internet in rooms. Small vanities, bathrooms in double rooms.
129 E. Fremont St., (800) 846-5336 or (702) 385-7111, www.goldennugget.com.
Price: Rooms from $59 to $199
Amenities: Public areas newly remodeled as part of $100-million refurbishment, including a new poker room, new pool area ("The Tank") with a 200,000-gallon aquarium, 600-seat showroom, new restaurants and shopping.
Pros: Celebrating its 60th anniversary, the Nugget looks as fresh or fresher than many of its Strip counterparts and just as luxurious. There's even a VIP lounge and a spa. Parking is free for guests.
Cons: A distance from the Strip. Not all rooms have yet been updated so decor may feel dated. Another $100 million in construction is expected to add another tower.
Main Street Station Casino, Brewery and Hotel
200 N. Main St.; (800) 713-8933, www.mainstreetcasino.com.
Price: Doubles start at $40.
Parking: Free self-park or valet
Amenities: Lively casino scene, multiple restaurants, use of pool at California Hotel (reached by pedestrian bridge), air conditioning, WiFi in lobby.
Pros: Air-conditioned rooms are a good value; upscale motel in style with dated bathrooms. Property, a trove of Victoriana, is fun to explore. Some nonsmoking floors. Public bus and Las Vegas Strip Trolley stop nearby.
Cons: No high-end shopping arcade. No entertainment, health club or spa, wedding chapel or room service. Rooms do not have Internet. Neighborhood is not the best.
4500 W. Tropicana Ave.; (800) 675-3267, www.orleanscasino.com.
Price: Double rooms start at less than $40.
Amenities: Nearly 2,000 rooms with tasteful decor. Sprawling complex offers plenty of activities, including big-name shows. Big pool, child-care center and a 70-lane bowling center.
Pros: Giant, full-service hotel casino a mile off the hectic Strip; free shuttles will get you back and forth; big breakfast buffet for $6.50; parking is a breeze.
Cons: It's too far from the crowd for some. Well-kept but not exactly sparkling new.
Tuscany Suites & Casino
255 E. Flamingo Road; (877) 887-2261 or (702) 893-8933, www.tuscanylasvegas.com.
Amenities: The well-kept low-rise is near the Strip but away from the bright lights. Large rooms, 27-inch televisions, refrigerators, two heated pools, free fitness center, five restaurants, nicely landscaped grounds.
Pros: Good place for families or anyone who wants to avoid staying in a casino hotel. (The Tuscany's 50,000-square-foot casino is separate from its hotel rooms.)
Cons: Some rooms are a long walk from the lobby. Ask for a room near the pools or casino, preferably on the ground floor.
Villa Roma Inn
220 Convention Center Drive; (800) 634- 6535, www.villaromainnlasvegas.com.
Price: Rooms from $39 weekdays, $69 weekends.
Amenities: Motel-type accommodations with 80 recently renovated rooms, outdoor pool, free parking, satellite TV, air conditioning, hair dryers, 24-hour switchboard, free local phone calls, free coffee in lobby.
Pros: Basic, pleasantly decorated rooms with marble and granite bathrooms. Just off the Strip. Short walk to Convention Center, Circus Circus, the Riviera, Wynn, Las Vegas Hilton and trolley stop. Near Denny's, McDonald's and drugstore.
Cons: Walk from hotel to Strip can be desolate at late hours. Cabs may be hard to catch. No breakfast or casino.
-- Jane Engle