Any trip to Las Vegas comes with some built-in risks: Your number may never hit at the roulette table. The show you wanted to see may not live up to the hype. Your food and drink indulgence may turn out to be, well ... too much.
But if there’s one thing more painful than a blackjack dealer drawing to a 21, it’s getting hit with resort fees you weren’t prepared for.
Here’s a rundown of the best Las Vegas hotels without resort fees. We'll also cover strategies for avoiding these fees if you want to stay at places that charge them, plus the situations when you should just give in and pay the fees.
But first: What is a resort fee?
So, what exactly is a resort fee? It’s a charge that is added to your hotel bill, usually on a nightly basis, on top of the regular room rate and tax. Based on a NerdWallet analysis, expect to pay an average of $40 per night for a resort fee at a hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. In addition, you’ll be charged taxes on the fee.
What lavish perks do you get for $40 per night? MGM Resorts includes Wi-Fi, fitness center access, boarding pass printing and unlimited local and toll-free telephone calls. You’ll find similar amenities included in the resort fees at other hotels — large and small, Strip and off-Strip.
In 2021, Wi-Fi in a Vegas hotel should be standard, and a fitness center is hardly worth $40 per day. Boarding passes are mostly mobile these days (or can be printed for free at airports).
And who is making so many phone calls from their hotel room telephone that they still consider this a perk?
The reality is this: Resort fees are a workaround for hotels to publish lower rates on hotel booking sites. They tack these fees on later to jack up the price.
For example, you can book a night at the Excalibur, part of MGM’s M life loyalty program, for just $33 per night during the summer. This is a great deal, even for a lower-tier hotel located right on the Strip. But wait. The resort fee is $35 per night, which more than doubles your nightly cost.
These fees aren’t limited to low-end hotels, either. You may splurge for a stay at the Cosmopolitan for around $200 per night, but you'll need to pile on another $51 nightly in resort fees — around a 25% price increase.
» Learn more: Doubling down on rewards with MGM’s MyVegas games
Las Vegas Strip hotels without resort fees
Best Western Plus Casino Royale-Center Strip
If being on the Strip is a must-have on your no-resort fee hotel wish list, meet the Casino Royale, which is a member of the Best Western Rewards program. Let’s be clear about something: You’re getting a hotel room and a great location — but not much else.
The hotel is across from The Mirage and next to Harrah’s Las Vegas. You’ll find a small on-site casino and some basic food options (e.g., Subway, Pizza Hut and White Castle), but the real draw here is the great location — the hotel is right in the middle of the Strip, with easy access to shows, casinos, restaurants, bars and nightclubs.
If you’re looking for something that qualifies as a nice or upscale hotel, this is not the place for you. Instead, consider the next option on our list: Marriott's Grand Chateau.
How to book it
Best Western doesn’t have a set award chart and prices for award nights can vary greatly. When searching for nights in the summer and fall, we found them as low as 16,000 points for weeknights and as high as 28,000 points on weekends. Cash prices will fluctuate in similar ways. We found rooms as cheap as $80 per night, all the way up to nearly $300 per night.
Book early if you’re wanting to stay here. Availability into the fall was already pretty low during our searches in midsummer.
Marriott's Grand Chateau
If you want to be at a nice hotel near the Strip and avoid resort fees, you really have only one choice: Marriott's Grand Chateau.
Technically, the Grand Chateau is not on the Strip, but it’s only 0.2 of a mile away. The hotel is just one crosswalk over Harmon Avenue to both the Miracle Mile Shops and Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino. This easy access to food, shows, gambling and shopping makes it a prime almost-on-the-Strip location.
At the Grand Chateau, you won’t find a casino or any slot machines, which gives it more of a Marriott-resort feel as opposed to a Las Vegas-casino feel. The hotel is part of Marriott Vacation Club, but is open for booking by anyone — members or not. Here, you’ll find not only standard hotel guest rooms, but also two- and three-bedroom villas that come with kitchens and sitting areas.
Other amenities include free Wi-Fi, two pools, a fitness center and a couple of dining options. And most importantly, no resort fee added to your reservation charge.
How to book it
Standard rooms can usually be booked for between $150 and $215 per night. This is a Category 5 hotel in the Marriott Bonvoy program, so standard award nights go for 35,000 points per night. Off-peak rates are 30,000 per night, and peak rates are 40,000.
Travelodge by Wyndham Las Vegas Center Strip
The Travelodge by Wyndham Las Vegas Center Strip is a budget option with a motel-style setup with rooms that have doors to the outside. It's a part of the Wyndham Rewards program, and guests can expect a no-frills room, free Wi-Fi, a basic swimming pool, on-site laundry and, of course, no resort fee.
The location is hard to beat: It is across the Strip from the Aria hotel, with Planet Hollywood just across Harmon Avenue.
How to book it
We found rates as low as $67, and almost always under $100, per night through the summer and fall. You can snag an award stay with 15,000 Wyndham Rewards points per night on Go Free stays if you’re really looking to keep costs down.
» Learn more: The best hotel credit cards right now
Off-Strip Las Vegas hotels without resort fees
Our top pick: Virgin Hotels Las Vegas
If staying a bit farther from the Strip isn’t a deal breaker for you, consider the recently opened Virgin Hotels Las Vegas. This is where the old Hard Rock used to be, a little over a mile from the Strip on Harmon Avenue.
At Virgin, you’ll get the full Las Vegas resort experience: spa, beach club, pool, fitness center, casino and multiple dining options. The hotel is part of the Hilton Honors loyalty program, so you can earn and spend your points there.
How to book it
Expect cash rates to be as low as $126 on low demand nights and $500 or more on a busy weekend. There is no set award chart for redeeming Hilton Honors points, but we found many nights throughout the summer and fall for as low as 31,000 points. Expect weekends to be double or more than that.
Club Wyndham Grand Desert
Just east of the Strip on Harmon Avenue, you’ll find the Club Wyndham Grand Desert. The rooms here feature one- and two-bedroom suites with a full kitchen plus washer, dryer, dining room and more. You'll find a condo-style experience as opposed to a traditional hotel room.
There are two fitness centers, a nice pool and an activities center. Much like the Grand Chateau and Desert Rose Resort (below), you won’t find a casino here. But if you want to get to the Strip, they’ve got you covered with a free shuttle service.
How to book it
Cash rates in the summer hover around $150. If you’re looking to spend your Wyndham points, you’ll likely find rates at 15,000 points per night for a Go Free award.
Desert Rose Resort
Part of Shell Hospitality, the Desert Rose Resort is another condo-style, resort-fee-free Las Vegas hotel option just 1 1/2 blocks off the Strip behind Tropicana.
Amenity-wise, it offers pretty much the same experience as Club Wyndham Grand Desert: condo-style suites with multiple bedrooms, a kitchen, living spaces, a nice pool, fitness center, free Wi-Fi and more. There’s no casino, but it’s next door to OYO Las Vegas Hotel and Casino, so you can easily walk there to get your gambling fix.
How to book it
Shell Hospitality doesn’t have a loyalty program, and cash rates for a one-bedroom can vary widely. Midweek, you can often find rates between $120-$160, but weekends can easily be double that amount.
If you’re OK staying off the Strip at a run-of-the-mill hotel like a Fairfield Inn or Embassy Suites, you’ll have no problem finding them sans resort fee. Just expect it to feel like a hotel from any other city as opposed to one with a Las Vegas vibe.
How to get resort fees waived in Las Vegas
If you have elite status with the right hotel program or if you make award bookings at the right hotels, you might be able to get your resort fee waived.
Award nights at Hilton hotels: Hilton has various properties on and around the Strip and waives resort fees on award bookings.
» Learn more: Caesars vs. M Life: Which rewards program is better?
Sometimes you should just pay the resort fee
Do the math before blindly avoiding resort fees.
If your choices are the Grand Chateau at $150 a night with no resort fee or Park MGM for $75 per night plus a $39 resort fee (totaling $114), you can spend less staying on the Strip at Park MGM.
Factor in the opportunity cost of staying at a no-resort-fee hotel too. The location probably won’t be as good, and you might miss out on the full Las Vegas casino experience and amenities on your stay.
If you’re heading to Las Vegas
Your best bet is to comparison shop hotels and keep your eye out for resort fees, which are usually displayed before you input credit card information near the end of booking. There’s no shame in paying a resort fee as long as you factor it into your budget, but if you're dead set on avoiding these fees, stay slightly off-Strip at Marriott's Grand Chateau for the best experience of a nice hotel and no resort fee.
In reality, what happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas — like those sneaky resort fees that hit your credit card bill when you get home.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card