Update: I spoke the Guest Relationship Manager which offered to refund the resort fee charged for 5 nights and offered a free stay to make up for the trouble.
The SLS Las Vegas was just opened in 2014 on the site of the former Sahara Casino & Hotel. After a $415 million renovation it saw life first as a Curio hotel by Hilton and re-flagged just a year after as an SLS part of the Starwood Luxury Collection.
The SLS is basically a luxury prison and everyone in the hotel behaves like this. There are dedicated prison hotels outside the US but why go so far when you can have it all at the SLS Las Vegas.
Check-in at your prison is easy – you simply strip down and give up your belongings and the guards (ahem the front desk) give you the lay of the land. In my case I had done a booking through Orbitz (it was one a 24 hour sale and by the time the Starwood BRG team looked at the Orbitz rate it was long gone).
The SLS Las Vegas does NOT honor Starwood Elite status benefits on third part bookings (and it knows how to trick the BRG team as well). An SPG.com booking would have cost me 3x as much.
There was no discussion about a room (at 5 PM) – only a friendly – ‘take your room key and get the h*** out’. If that would have been a hotel check-in it would easily compete with the Radisson Libreville (which has the world most rude staff). But no this is a prison after all.
After being escorted to my cell (I would not call it a room) I discovered that it was less than 300 feet from my window to a busy construction site, a busy road and the loading bay for the whole hotel. The noise was overwhelming. I asked for my one free call per month to the front desk which again told me the ‘prison rules’ and as a Starwood Platinum I should drop my attitude and be happy that I had a room at all. No rooms would be available – of course there were plenty at the website for other ‘prisoners’ but hey I was just a Platinum guest – they mentioned I should come back when the W hotel opens (at the same property in a few months).
Incidentally the ‘cell fridge’ is a fully-stocked minibar and you cant replace an item or will be charged a fee (if it is off the sensor for 30 seconds). I would not dare touch it. Since I had no free call left would not dare disturb the guards.
I was allowed to leave my room that night and went to the pool – yes this is a luxury prison! The pool looked gorgeous (though the water was filthy – what can you expect from a Prison pool!). I asked one of the guards for towels and he would just laugh at me and sent me back to my cell if I wanted a towel – this is no hotel of course – what did I expect. If you want a towel you get yourself one. Oh but I can sell you a bottle of champagne for $250,000 (not a typo) since that is the price we charge for prison alcohol (no towels included).
In the morning I asked as the prison canteen (called the Perq) for my Platinum breakfast and the guards found that really funny. I ended up with coffee and pastries for $20.
The guards found it funny that I asked for a ‘lounge’.
To get anywhere at the prison you are escorted through the casino area. But keep in mind there are always ‘friendly’ guards. For the pool, for the room they were simply everywhere. And great guards they are – they yell at you at the tiniest infraction – i.e. when I dared not to show my room key or took my kids to the wrong pool. They are connected to the finest in law enforcement and roaming around the wrong pool will just add to your sentence.
There are really no quiet areas in this hotel – this prison soundtrack is everywhere. The only refuge is the gym a& spa which is pretty nice and well equipped (well prisoners need to work out their aggression).
The other two prison canteens are called 800 degrees and Umami burger – they sound fun but offer bland food made by other grumpy prisoners.
On the second night I was moved to a new cell – which was quieter on floor 19 (though not really quiet at all from the road noise) and had a functioning bathroom. To my surprise the WiFi was fast and free for all prisoners at 15 Mbit.
In conclusion – live a honest life and never get imprisoned here. This prison looks luxurious but the staff will make sure you know you are in prison and are beyond rude. Everyone will hate you and boss you around. Never come here and of course never pay for a stay here – its just not worth it – the fast WiFi and nicely looking pool can not make up for it. This wanna-be ‘Cosmopolitan’ is just terrible and with this attitude won’t be any better when it splits into a W Hotel in the next few months.
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About the author: Torsten is a serial entrepreneur who started almost a dozen ventures on four continents. Torsten's love for travel has brought him to 130+ countries and travel with most of the world's airlines. You can reach Torsten at [email protected]
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