Travel Tuesday: MGM Grand King Room Review

It’s time for another entry into my Las Vegas Content Bonanza™, which will close out the trio of hotels we stayed at on our most recent visit. Today, our travels will take us to an iconic hotel with one of the most recognizable names in Vegas: The MGM Grand. This is a property I’ve walked through countless times yet have never stayed at — since I don’t think The Signature counts. Thus, I was excited to finally check it out. Most importantly, with this stay, I’ve now completed the Terry Benedict Trifecta: The Bellagio, The Mirage, and the MGM Grand (if you don’t get that joke, I recommend watching Ocean’s 11 again… the good one).

Before we get started, I do want to mention that, just like at NoMad, our room for the MGM Grand was complimentary thanks to my friend’s high-roller status. Nevertheless, I’ll share my honest opinions without this being a factor. So, with that, let’s jump into it.

MGM Grand Las Vegas King Room Hotel Review

Booking

As I noted above, my stay at the MGM Grand was arranged via my friend’s casino host. However, to book your visit, you can visit the MGM site or try third party sites, such as Expedia. Personally, I’d try MGM first as you can earn MGM Rewards points and easily cancel if necessary. But, if you find a better deal on travel sites, go for it — just be aware of the resort fees you’re likely have to endure either way.

Elevators

Our elevators for our room were located just off the main lobby. Like many other Vegas hotels, the elevator banks were divided up by floor number, with a total of three banks for the tower (by my count). While we had pretty good luck as far as short waits for our designated elevators, I will say that this central area would get quite crowded regularly, which was a bit annoying at times. Still, I give the elevator situation at MGM Grand a passing grade — but you’ll see in a bit how I was totally spoiled later on.

The room

Walking into our Grand King room, the first thing I noticed were the mirrors that lined the wall behind the bed. Second to that, I noticed that there was a decent amount of space, although it wasn’t always utilized in a particularly exciting way. In fact, while I thought the room was nice and comfortable, “unexciting” is a pretty good way to sum it up. That’s not really a bad thing but, the more I think back on my stay, the more I realize how little it stands out to me.

Anyway, in the bedroom, you’ll find a nice-sized desk, two sitting chairs, and a dresser that also houses a minibar. Funny enough, we actually couldn’t figure out how to open the minibar and didn’t care enough to try very hard. Had we opened it, I assume there’d be no room for personal items, so it was of little use to us anyway.

Moving to the bathroom, it was fairly standard for Vegas, but I’d rank it in the top half of places we’ve stayed. The shower was a tub combo (as I’ve mentioned, I personally prefer solo showers), but had nice pressure and temperature. Plus, the tile was pretty nice. I also liked the lighting around the mirror, although a burned spot had me curious.

Unfortunately, what does stand out to me the most about our stay in this room was how loud the other people in our hall were. I took to calling these noisy neighbors the “dude bros,” and it seemed as though they really loved opening/closing doors. They also loved making a racket while returning to their rooms in the middle of the night. Can I fault the MGM Grand for this? Of course not. But did it impact my overall enjoyment? Indeed. More accurately, it impacted my wife’s experience as at least I had my Sleepbuds at the ready.

Annoying neighbors aside, the MGM Grand King room was plenty spacious, had some nice features, and seemed well maintained (odd mirror lighting mark not included). Alas, the room also didn’t leave too much of an impression on me overall. Well, actually, there was one kind of interesting thing: the emerald ray of light that was created across our ceiling at night. Yes, I genuinely thought this was interesting and kind of cool – so I had to share.

Location

The Emerald City of the MGM Grand (yes, that’s really what the property was previously themed to) is positioned on the South side of the Strip, at the northeast corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Tropicana Avenue. Across Las Vegas, you’ll find the New York New York while, across Tropicana is the, um, Tropicana. As for what’s to the direct north, well, that’s one minor strike against this location. Although you’ll be close enough to a number of hotels further North on the Strip and can easily cross over to the other side of the street for a better experience, the area next to MGM is currently occupied by some random retail and dining that’s not terribly appealing in my opinion. That said, there is a strange Target (that’s more convenience store than Target) and some other attractions — such as the M&M and Coca-Cola stores. Still, this is far from my favorite area of the Strip.

Amenities

Like any good major Vegas property, the MGM Grand offers a pool experience. From what I gather, it must be a pretty good pool as well, since I regularly see throngs of people heading that way — complete with raft and inner tubes. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it back there to say for sure, although I will note that the entry (located at the very end of The District) is a bit of a hike from the elevators.

But, to me, perhaps the biggest perk of the MGM Grand is its Las Vegas Monorail station. Accessed via the Underground or The District, this station is the southernmost stop on the line. From there, you can quickly travel to one of the other six stops, which stretch all the way up to Sahara. This includes the Las Vegas Convention Center, which is why I’ve made heavy use of the Monorail during past CES events. However, even beyond that, I’m a fan of the Monorail, so having it so close by was a win for sure.

Dining

I talked a bit about MGM Grand dining when I reviewed my stay at The Signature. While there, we had a chance to try International Smoke in the District, which we enjoyed. This time around, we tried a new offering nearby: Nellie’s Southern Kitchen. For the record, we actually visited during the restaurant’s soft-opening phase so things may have changed a bit. Either way, everyone in our party enjoyed their meal, including some of the more unique menu items, such as Southern Rolls (BBQ Chicken, mac & cheese, and collard green all in a crispy fried egg roll).

Sadly, there are a few table service restaurants at MGM Grand that I’d like to try but haven’t had a chance to yet. These include Morimoto, Grand Wok, Craftsteak, and many others. On that note, there are a number of high-end locations on the property that the MGM site rates with four dollar symbols. These include Joël Robuchon/L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, Hakkasan, and the aforementioned Craftsteak.

As far as quick-service goes, one of my go-tos is Pieology — located in the Underground. Pro-tip: the Pieology site and app offer mobile ordering for this location and, occasionally, will have coupons you can use. In my case, I was able to place my order, head down a few minutes later, pick up my finished order, and return to my room while the pie was still piping hot. My wife and I were also able to split the pizza, so our whole lunch cost a reasonable $15 or so. Elsewhere, there’s a food court with various staples, a Subway, and more.

Ultimately, whether you’re looking for something simple, “cheap,” and fast or you want to indulge in something pricey and unique, you’re likely to find it at MGM Grand.

A peek in an MGM Grand Skyloft

Per usual, while I was thankful just to have a free room, my friend’s accommodations were just a bit better. This time, he was put up in one of the MGM Grand Skylofts. Although I didn’t stay with him, I did get a chance to sneak up there for a look around.

The journey to the Skyloft begins with what might be the most life-changing perk for me: an exclusive express elevator. That’s right, by either heading through the Skyloft lounge or pushing through the doors found at the end of one of the regular elevator banks, you’ll find an elevator dedicated to Skyloft guests. To access it, you’ll not only need to scan your card to call the elevator but will need to scan it again in the car to select the 29th floor where the Skylofts are located. Really, this was like my Vegas dream come true.

Another big feature of the Skylofts is that the floor has a concierge desk as well as butler service. I wouldn’t begin to know what to do with either one of these personally, but my friend made use of the concierge for 1) getting me a key to his room and 2) printing our comped tickets to a show. Meanwhile, although he mentioned the butler service a few times, I only saw them when they brought our room service.

As for the room itself, this one-bedroom Skyloft was two levels. On the main floor, there was a dining room/kitchen, living room, a desk area, and a half-bath. Upstairs, there was a full bath — including a sauna room off the shower and an infinity tub — the biggest closet I’ve ever seen, and a bedroom. Of note, walking up the stairs, you’ll see right into the shower (provided the window isn’t fogged up) and the bedroom also looks into the living room. Speaking of views, being on the top floor, we also had a cool angle on the MGM Grand sign, although the airport view wasn’t all that exciting. Then again, you could see where the Monorail changes tracks, so that was a bit of nerdy fun.

Make no mistake that these lofts were damn impressive all around. At the same time, there were a couple of areas where it was clear that some updating could be in order. The primary example of this was the television, which seemed quite outdated.

If you’d like to stay in an MGM Grand Skyloft, you can actually book via American Express’s Fine Hotels & Resorts program. While I can’t speak to just how much that would cost, it may be an interesting booking, especially if you aim for a weekend in the off-season when prices are a bit closer to Earth.

Given our brief experience, I’m very tempted to book a Skyloft at MGM in the future. The private elevator alone makes this a super cool aspirational stay, while the room itself is also quite nice and functional. One day, Kyle… one day.

Final Thoughts on MGM Grand

Overall, the MGM Grand definitely has its pros and cons. First, in terms of location, the access to the Las Vegas Monorail is great, while the area just to the north of the Grand leaves something to be desired. Meanwhile, another pro is that the resort is home to a number of dining locations, including a variety of premium options alongside more affordable counter service ones. As for the experience of staying there, I suspect that your enjoyment will have more to do with your neighbors than with the room itself — with the latter being perfectly acceptable if not terribly exciting.

The bottom line is that there are plenty of reasons to stay at the MGM Grand, ranging from monorail access to just finding a good deal. Thus, I could definitely see myself staying there again if the price was right. Yet, it probably wouldn’t be at the top of my list for any particular reason since I think there are more affordable rooms with better locations available. But, should you find yourself scoring a deal here, I think your stay will still be just Grand.


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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