Las Vegas' Big Black Pyramid: The Luxor
The central Pyramid of the Luxor Hotel and Casino, with one of the towers in the near background. The red-roofed towers of the Excalibur are visible left of the pyramid.
Greetings from the Luxor Las Vegas
The city of Las Vegas is riddled with fakes. From the right spot near the south end of The Strip, you can spot a phony Eiffel Tower, a fake Camelot, and an ersatz Manhattan skyline. Oh, and don’t forget fake pyramids, the largest of which is the Luxor, that huge casino named after an ancient Egyptian city on the Nile Delta. In keeping with its Egyptian theme, Luxor (the hotel, not the city) has replicas of the Sphinx (about half size) and Cleopatra’s Needle out front, hundreds of Egyptian-style statues in its huge interior, and a décor meant to resemble worn stone blocks inscribed with oversized hieroglyphic-like markings. When viewed from The Strip, the mammoth black glass pyramid features a starward-pointing searchlight (claimed to be the brightest light in the world) and a light show crawling corners of the pyramid.
The tram connecting the notel to the Excalibur and Mandalay Bay is visible to the left; one of the towers is on the right.
About the Hotel
The Luxor stashes more than 4400 guest rooms around that huge property. Some rooms climb the inner surface of the pyramid’s sloping walls; the rest are in a pair of 22-story towers that, though more conventional in shape, manage to vaguely resemble ziggurats. The central floor of the pyramid holds Luxor’s 120,000 square-foot casino along with scads of restaurants, shops and entertainment venues. The Luxor is the middle bead in a string of three, bracketed by the Camelot-themed Excalibur Hotel and Casino on the north and the South Sea island-themed Mandalay Bay Casino and THE Hotel to the south. Guests can move from one casino to the next and the next, crossing bridges lined with restaurants and shoppes on a crooked path that stretches for well over a mile. During that entire trip, you’ll never see the sky (or a clock, for that matter). The three properties are all owned by the same corporation (formerly Circus Circus), and have some common facilities like a tram that connects the three casinos’ front doors.
An Egyptian-themed Interior
Replicas of the Sphinx and Cleopatra's Needle can be found within the giant pyramid.
I spent six nights in the Luxor’s least expensive room, which they call a “tower deluxe.” The room, a single king, was fairly large (about 400 square feet) and comfortable, although some amenities were lacking. Besides a king-size bed, the room had a pair of side chairs flanking a small round table, a desk with a decidedly beat-up desk chair, and a combination TV stand/wardrobe. In-room amenities included a hair dryer, 40-inch flat-screen TV, phones with voice mail, and iron and board. Room rates are surprisingly low, especially mid-week: I paid $54/night, and internet specials run as low as $39/night mid-week; though the more elegant room types (suites, view rooms, etc.) are more expensive, as are weekend rates.
I registered on-line through my convention housing website to get that rate. The convention rate also included a mandatory $12.50 resort fee (discounted from the usual $18.00) giving a guest access to the fitness center and “free” wired internet, plus a coupon book. They charged one night’s room rate as a non-refundable deposit. The bit about wired internet isn’t a joke: there’s no wireless anywhere in the hotel; instead there’s a 20-foot Ethernet cable wadded up behind the television in every room. The fitness center, inside the hotel’s spa and close to the outdoor swimming pool, has cardio machines and weights. There are lots of machines, though getting the one you want usually means showing up when the doors unlock at 6:00 a.m. All the cardio machines were working to some extent, but most seemed to have seen better days and several were beat-up and somewhat outdated. I imagine the Luxor is aimed more at the cigarettes and one-armed bandits crowd than at fitness buffs.
A Tower Deluxe Room
The rooms might well be in a Best Western somewhere, except for a few sort of ancient-looking objects. The 20-foot ethernet cord is not visible in this image, by the way.
More on Rooms
The room’s bathroom included both a jetted tub and a separate large shower. I found plenty of towels and some days I had two bath mats; other days only one. The shower had plenty of hot water, perhaps because my floor was near the middle, and the sink seemed to have an instant-on water heater. Las Vegas’ super-hard water left a rim of precipitate on some of the glass surfaces, and the more dimly-lit corners of the shower could have used a good shot of mildew remover. The room was otherwise clean and generally well-maintained, though it is obvious that the hotel facilities regularly take a beating from wedding parties (drunken) and spring breakers (also drunken). I was at the end of a hall that must’ve been deserted except on Saturday night; I heard noise from the hall and adjacent rooms only on the one night (I heard a little more than I like then). The public areas of the hotel and the casino seem well-maintained most of the time, though a green sequin sat on the floor in the elevator lobby of that floor the whole six days I was there. The towel count for a single was three large and medium-thick; pillow count was four thick plus a long bolster. The individual climate control kept the room comfy throughout. There was no coffee service in the room (and no free coffee at the desk or anywhere else), and no fridge or microwave, though there was a safe inside the wardrobe.
A tower room like mine is about as “Egyptian” in appearance as an average Best Western. Some of the common areas, such as the casino-level Bazaar, have been decorated in the weathered stone block look, but upstairs the tower is wallpapered and has polished marble floors. The rooms had some pseudo-Egyptian decorations, but without looking outside I could’ve easily been convinced I was in Lincoln or Lima. The rooms in the Pyramid are said to be more “Egyptian,” but no one in my party could confirm this. The more conventional décor is a result of renovations carried out in 2007; previously elements of the Egyptian theme were more widespread.
All the encounters I had with employees, including check-in/out, restaurants, shops, or just asking directions on the floor were pleasant and friendly.
The Big Guy Might be Hungry
It's More than Just a Hotel
Speaking of restaurants, you can find anything from buffet to fast food to “fine-ish” dining. I ate breakfast at More (the buffet) and at the Pyramid Café. There’s also a small food court with fast food outlets, a yogurt/smoothie shoppe, and even a small convenience store to sell snacks and drinks. Those are in addition to daiquiri bars and several nightclubs (Cat House, Aurora, and LAX). For dinner, I ate at the then-new Public House restaurant and at Tacos and Tequila Mexican, but missed Tender (surf-n-Turf) and Rice (Asian). The food is, frankly, nothing to write home about; perhaps because the chief flavoring seemed to be salt. I had better food at the Mandalay end of the chain, but a truly wretched breakfast buffet at the Excalibur. The prices seem to be the same throughout – especially the drinks, which are priced like hotels everywhere. The old story of cheap buffets for gamblers apparently doesn’t hold any more – breakfast was $16 plus tax and lunch and dinner were $19 and $22, respectively. Oh, and there are Starbucks everywhere – and it’s the only place to get coffee at 6:00 in the morning.
I skipped the shows, but the headliners at the time were Carrot Top (no thanks) and the magician Chriss Angel, there’s a revue called “Menopause the Musical,” and exhibits of “The Body” (sort of like that Visible Man model you put together as a kid) and relics from the Titanic. Shopping covers all kinds of stuff, though it’s mostly kitsch.
3900 S. Las Vegas Boulevard
Here's The Neighborhood
You can get to nearby casinos up the Strip – New York, New York; the MGM Grand; and the Tropicana – all via skybridgee from the Excalibur’s entrance, meaning you almost never need to go outside (at one point I realized I hadn’t seen the naked sky for more than 36 hours). I had better luck eating at a Japanese restaurant (Shibuyah) in the MGM. You can get most things you need inside the walls of the three hotels, as long as it involves buying something the hotel can sell you at a profound profit. There are virtually no facilities within easy walking distance – an In-n-Out is just on the other side of I-15 as are a couple of other fast-food restaurants. Of course there are massive self-parking lots (free) if you decide to go somewhere else, but if you’re traveling by shuttle and on foot, there’s nothing nearby – though public transit runs up and down the strip and the Strip Monorail has a terminus at the MGM Grand (but be prepared to cough up $5 per ride).
The restaurants and shops are all non-smoking, as are some hotel floors; but the casino and common areas are giant ashtrays. The air is saturated with cherry-flavored oxygen on the casino floor, but it doesn’t help a lot. Happily, the restaurants seem to have enough positive pressure to keep the smoke infiltration to a minimum. Las Vegas is not a town for non-smokers…
If you’re going, the casino is at the corner of Reno and Las Vegas Boulevard (The Strip), between Tropicana and Russell. It’s immediately west of McCarran International Airport, though the airport terminals and entrance are on the east side. The casino has no shuttle, but local transport is available for $8 per person each way (discount for round trip). Luxor parking is on the west side, between the casino and Interstate 15.
- Restaurants and other purchases: expensive and of average quality at best
- Room: large, mostly clean, but with a tendency to be battered
- Service: friendly and prompt
- Amenities no wireless, somewhat beat-up fitness center, no coffee service in room
- Local access: theoretically, you’re never supposed to go outside; if you do there’s nothing nearby
- Transportation: free or valet parking, airport shuttle is $8 each way
- Pets: not allowed.
Overall, the Luxor appears to have seen better days. It’s taken a beating in its 20 years – as, I suspect, has every other casino in Vegas. At least it’s not the Hooters Casino… The restaurants and accommodations are squarely in the middle of the pack; just like the Luxor is in the middle of a string of casinos. The Excalibur seems to be equivalent to a Motel 6; the Mandalay might be a Hyatt or a Hilton. The Luxor is little more than a giant Best Western or Comfort Inn. The rooms are surprisingly cheap, but nothing else is.