I've spent the majority of my adult life complaining about Christmas. I love the holiday and the time of the year, but I resented the hassle and forced following of family traditions. I was tired of always having to spend Christmas Eve eating at the same restaurant, followed by a tour of the neighborhood to see the lights and then present opening. Christmas morning was always the same, stocking stuffers followed by cinnamon rolls and then sitting around until we ate turkey at 2pm. I guess it was the adult in me that wanted to strike out and form my own holiday traditions, yet being an only child in a small family, I felt that expressing my desires would lead to hurt feelings.
Christmas 2013 was sad and awkward. My aunt, who was my last living relative, passed away just a few days before Christmas. Dan and I brought all of our presents back from her house and we opened them on Christmas morning. I couldn't sit around our home, so we went to the movies and saw The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. We ate pot roast that I made in the slow cooker for our holiday meal. Honestly, it was the low fuss holiday that I had always wanted, but it still didn't feel right.
As this Christmas approached, I realized that it would be the one where I felt the absence of my family the most. The previous year, I had been in a bit of a shock, but this year, I was feeling it. I actually missed those traditions that I had complained about, but mostly I missed the family that I shared them with. I wasn't ready to move forward with anything related to Christmas as I knew it. We decided to get out of town and Vegas was calling.
Neither of us had ever stayed in Downtown Vegas and since the Golden Nugget had ridiculously cheap rates, we thought that it was time to give it a shot. We caught a flight out of Bob Hope International on Christmas Eve and rented a car for our four night getaway.
Our first impression of the Golden Nugget was favorable. The lobby and check-in areas were tastefully decorated and we were quickly ushered through check-in with friendly staff. On the walk to our room, we could see the pool complex, which is simply amazing. In the center of the pool is an enormous aquarium with sharks and a water slide through the middle. We went on a tour of the shark tank during our stay, so more on the pool in an upcoming post.
We had asked for a room away from the elevators, hoping for less noise. This didn't work out for us. Our room was miles from the elevator and we still had plenty of noise. The Golden Nugget is both a party hotel and a hotel crawling with families. We had plenty of noise from both. Worse than the people, was a church located outside. The bells from the church rang every hour throughout the entire night. Since it was Christmas, they chimed carols. It was a tad creepy, because although we could see the entrance, we never saw a single person enter the church or even congregate on the steps. It appeared abandoned.
Our room was okay. It felt very much like an older, lower-mid range strip hotel, like The Flamingo or The Tropicana. There was nothing wrong with the room, it had all of the basics, but there was also nothing particularly special. The one feature that I did appreciate, was a small vanity with a lighted make-up mirror. The bed was also notably comfortable.
After getting settled in our room, we hit Freemont Street. Although teeming with colorful characters that provided plenty of excellent people watching, we quickly learned that Freemont Street is not our scene. It's like Hollywood Blvd, kind of scummy. We listened to some country music (which I like), grabbed a drink and took a picture of the Christmas tree. In about thirty minutes, we were done. The only other time that we walked down Freemont Street during our stay, was to grab a coffee at Dunkin Donuts.
The location of the Golden Nugget is probably the single biggest reason that we would be unlikely to return. Most of the days of our trip, we found ourselves driving to the strip for entertainment or to our favorite place, the Bass Pro Shop. There just wasn't enough that caught our interest in downtown. I think it's a great place if your interests revolve primarily around gambling and cheap alcohol.
My favorite thing about our hotel, was the wacky and quite frankly, inappropriate holiday decorations. The "fairy elves" look like they've been engaging in some naughty behavior (probably out on Freemont Street) and I love the polar bear cub that looks like he's puking. There is little that I love more than Christmas decoration fails. Hilarious!
I can't decide which of these elves is my favorite. The expressions are priceless and so, so inappropriate.
This guy enjoying his reindeer ride?
or this guy? I'm not even sure what he's enjoying, but he's clearly pleased with himself. Maybe it's his chef's hat with the gingerbread man flair? Snazzy!
A stay at the Golden Nugget wouldn't be complete, without taking a moment to admire the golden nugget.
We had a fun time during our Christmas stay at the Golden Nugget. As I mentioned, if this hotel had been located on the strip, we might consider returning, especially when on a budget trip. However, downtown held little appeal for us, so we are unlikely to return.
My biggest regret about our stay, was not having the opportunity to try out the pool. It looked fabulous, definitely competition for some of the nicer strip properties. It was just far too cold during our stay. The pool is a big enough draw that it might even sway me to return.