Travel Tuesday: Excalibur Hotel Room Review

Funny story: although my wife and I got married at the Excalibur in Las Vegas, we never actually stayed there. So, when we were looking for a cheap place to stay as part of our latest Vegas trip, we decided to finally give the place a shot — despite the fact that the chapel where we tied the knot is now gone! What we found was frankly quite surprising… but in a good way? You’ll have to check out the latest entry in my Las Vegas Content Bonanza™ to find out for sure.

Excalibur Resort Tower Hotel Room Review

Booking

I have to imagine that most people end up booking Excalibur via third-party travel sites when they see that it’s one of the more affordable options on the Strip itself. That’s kind of what happened with me, except that I actually booked directly with MGM. In fact, thanks to my MGM Rewards Gold status (which, long story short, I obtained via a long series of status matches), I was offered a deal I couldn’t refuse this time around.

When I was searching for possible places to stay in order to bridge nights we had booked at other properties, I was a little scared to see some pretty hefty rates. That was until I saw that, at Excalibur, I’d be able to get up to four nights comped. What’s more, with MGM Rewards recently overhauling its perks, the resort fee would also be waived. As a result, we had to pay just $112 for the Saturday night we were staying, while the other three nights we were there cost us absolutely nothing. This worked out even better than I could have hoped because I was able to just keep the room to store the bulk of our luggage in while we made the trek up to Crockfords for the night (after all, it didn’t cost me anything to have the Excalibur room as a bonus). Granted, I realize that most people will need to actually pay for their room, in which case I suspect the resort fee will likely exceed your daily room rate if you’re staying on a weekday.

I should also mention that we ended up booking a room in the Resort Tower while there’s also a Royal Tower. Looking at the site, there does seem to be a difference in decor between the two towers, but I’m not sure how they compare beyond that.

Check-in

Like many MGM properties, Exalibur now allows for online check-in. Using the MGM app, you can begin the check-in process and be informed when your room is ready. You can even use the app’s mobile key function to access your room. With that said, I don’t recommend you take advantage of that last step. Although the mobile key works well enough should you leave your key in your room or something, it can be a huge pain in the butt to use in the elevator (where you’ll need to tap your key before selecting your floor).

Instead, over on the side of the check-in desk, you’ll find a tablet and a card shoe filled with blank keys. In the MGM app, select the “print keys” option and scan the QR code using the tablet. Then, follow the instructions to program your key cards. At Excalibur, there was even a scanner where you could confirm your keys worked properly. Despite this extra step perhaps taking a little more time compared to just heading to our room with our mobile keys, it was still an extremely easy and quick process, which is why I’d definitely suggest using this method for any MGM stays you may have.

Elevators

Doing my duty as the unofficial hotel elevator source, I’ll note that Excalibur’s Resort Tower features two elevator banks — that are each split in half. While you’ll find banks to either the right or left when heading toward the pool, one side of each bank is for lower floors while the other side is for floors higher up. Because of this, you’ll need to pay attention at least the first time you try to get to your room. Of course, if you do get into the wrong elevator, you’ll probably notice it pretty quickly as (like I mentioned) you’ll need to tap your key to select your floor.

In my experience, the number of elevators seemed sufficient and I came to appreciate the layout as it meant we could divert to the other bank if one had a line. And while one bank was a bit closer to our specific room than the other, it was certainly nothing like the Luxor where going to the wrong bank meant hiking all the way around. Instead, we just had to pass a few extra doors. Thus, we never waited for more than a couple of minutes for an elevator car — which means I give Excalibur elevators my seal of approval based on this experience.

The room

Speaking of elevators, I was pleased to discover that our room was actually located on the top floor of the tower. While that was nice, prior to opening the door to the room, I wasn’t really expecting much. Sure enough, the room definitely showed its age — from the A/C unit to the TV to the decor. At the same time, I did find the room to be clean and well maintained.

To be fair, the bedroom really didn’t seem that bad. The beds were perfectly nice, as were the dresser, floor lamp, and curtains. On the other hand, I was not a fan of the ugly orange chairs nor the hanging lamp —although the latter did at least evoke the theme. In any case, one thing I did love was the view, which looked out on the resort’s main castle spires and out toward Tropicana.

As for the bathroom, it was a similar mix of “dated but functional.” While it may not have looked that pretty, again, everything was perfectly clean and worked well. I was especially surprised by the water pressure, which is a huge plus for me.

Another minor complaint I’ll mention is the A/C. Although it was operated by a digital thermostat that could be adjusted to a certain temperature, believe me when I tell you that the thing ran for all but a total of 15 minutes during our stay. It would shut off from time to time… only to kick on a minute or so later. I did try adjusting it slightly higher, but this just made it warmer without offering any more quiet time.

Yet, speaking of quiet, I have to say that I had some very solid sleep while staying at Excalibur — even without resorting to using my Sleepbuds. I realize that a hotel room is only as quiet as the people staying next to you but damned if it wasn’t remarkably peaceful up in our top-floor room. Really, I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t a huge factor in why I count our experience at Excalibur as an overall win.

Location

Excalibur is located on the southwest corner of Las Vegas Blvd. and Tropicana Ave. That puts it across the boulevard from the titular Tropicana and across the avenue from New York New York. Meanwhile, Excalibur connects to Luxor (which then connects to Mandalay Bay) to the south. In other words, it’s the far South Strip but is a gateway to plenty of other resorts — including being catty corner to the MGM Grand and its Las Vegas Monorail Station. Because of this, it ended up being a good location for us overall. However, I’d definitely understand if some preferred a more central Strip location instead.

Dining

Just as the Excalibur might not be on the top of many people’s lists when it comes to finding a place to stay, it probably also doesn’t rise too high in terms of dining. That said, Dick’s Last Resort seems to be a kitsch favorite for some, while Buca di Beppo is perhaps a more family-friendly table service option. Additionally, it seems that Excalibur’s buffet has returned to service.

However, I want to give a shout-out to Excalibur’s counter service options. Specifically, I’d say that the resort is home to one of the better casino food courts — if for no other reason than it doesn’t just house the same four spots as every other one does. In addition to breakfast options, such as Einsteins Bros., Krispy Kreme, Starbucks, Cinnabon (if you call that breakfast), and the aptly named Breakfast & Burgers, you’ll also find such chains as Popeyes, Pick Up Stix, Pizza Hut, and others.

Again, while this still might not be the most thrilling line-up ever assembled, it is far more diverse than most other hotels on the Strip. Plus, there are even more quick-service options to be found downstairs, including a Baja Fresh and a Johnny Rockets. In other words, you’ll have no shortage of access to relatively cheap eats while staying in your budget room.

Entertainment

Finally, with Excalibur being a Las Vegas resort, you can bet that the property features a variety of entertainment offerings. And while you’ll find more family-friendly options there than at many other resorts on the Strip, that doesn’t mean there aren’t offerings for adults as well. On that note, perhaps the most popular show at Excalibur is Thunder from Down Under — a male revue featuring “Australia’s Hottest Blokes.” Keeping with the Aussie theme, the Australian Bee Gees also perform at the resort.

Moving into the family fare, Tournament of Kings is a dinner show that easily draws comparisons to Medival Times. One of the more recent additions to Exaclaibur’s roster is magician/comedian Mac King, who previously appeared at Harrah’s. Lastly, outside of shows, there’s also the oddly-named Fun Dungeon found near the hotel’s entrance (but on a sub-ground level). Here you’ll find an arcade, 4D experience, and other offerings kids are sure to love — I definitely did when visiting in my youth. Basically, while you may have heard that the dream of the 90s is alive in Portland, the dream of 90s Vegas is alive at Excalibur.

Final Thoughts on Excalibur

I’ll admit that I was pleasantly surprised by our recent stay at Excalibur. While the room was far from the nicest or most modern I’ve stayed in, the convenience and relative peacefulness of the resort made for an enjoyable experience. Perhaps the top floor location helped but we found the room to be fairly quiet too — so I guess children are quieter than “dude bros” in the middle of the night. Plus, as MGM Rewards Gold status members, the price was definitely right.

Overall, though, it does seem hard to flat-out recommend the Excalibur. Instead, I’ll say that, should your budget land you there, perhaps it won’t be as bad as you might be anticipating. Honestly, if you’re looking for an affordable place to lay your head, while also having easy access to cheap(ish) food and plenty of “nicer” hotels, then you can definitely do a lot worse than the Excalibur.


Also published on Medium.

Author

Kyle Burbank

Kyle is a freelance writer and author whose first book, "The E-Ticket Life" is now available on Amazon. In addition to his weekly "Money at 30" column on Dyer News, he is also the editorial director and a writer for the Disney fan site LaughingPlace.com and the founder of Money@30.com.

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