Hotel of the week: Check into Park MGM, Las Vegas

There’s been much talk in Las Vegas about Park MGM, the latest hotel on The Strip that has completed a full, inside-and-out, beautiful redesign and rebranding (the building was previously the Monte Carlo). The adjacent Park Theater has been the venue du jour for world-famous Las Vegas residencies, including Lady Gaga, Ricky Martin, Cher, and Janet Jackson.

Beyond all the hype, the crowds, and the glitz and glamour of being the new kid in town, Park MGM also supplies all the comforts of a lovely hotel, at prices far below what is typical for a major casino property on The Strip.

Tell us about the “sense of arrival” when you walked in:
The entrance to Park MGM is through Eataly, an Italian food hall that features food stations of every Italian variety. The first food station is the bakery, and trying to walk past it without eating an entire loaf of bread is a struggle. Just remember: There are three swimming pools in this hotel, and that involves wearing a swimsuit in public. Go easy on the bread.

How was the check-in process?
The Park MGM uses touch-screen check-in kiosks. There was no line when I arrived, which is rare for Las Vegas casino hotels, but using that kiosk made me feel like my father trying to learn how to use his new iPhone. Fortunately, attendants stand throughout the lobby and one of them saw me tapping the screen a lot. He came over and presumed I needed help. Which I did.  He had me checked in two minutes later.

What’s the crowd like? It’s typical Vegas visitors: people in cargo shorts and t-shirts, day drinking.

How was your room?

The standard rooms are modern, tasteful, and big, with a soothing earth tone motif highlighted with cool colors. It feels refreshing when coming in from the buzzy casino floor. My room’s wall-to-wall windows faced The Strip, and when I walked in at night, the sight of the casino lights literally stopped me in the doorway. I know it’s really extra to admit this, but I gasped out loud. And then I wandered around my room with the lights off for 15 minutes because I didn’t want to spoil the view.

That’s great, but what about the important stuff: Are the amenities worth stealing?
The soaps and shampoos smell really good. I packed my entire supply every morning, so housekeeping would give me a full refill. Standard rooms don’t have minibars, suites do; but who needs a minibar when the front entrance is literally an Eataly?

How’s the food?
There are a bunch of other restaurants besides Eataly, from Starbucks to a steakhouse called Bavette’s. Primrose is a cafe located off the casino, and it has a French country vibe, with plush furniture and a flowery decor that are just girly enough to be fun. The outdoor patio (photo above) is often closed because of the Las Vegas heat, but I talked them into letting me have a table outside under the trees, and seriously it was my favorite part of the trip: beautiful setting, excellent service, and the pancakes came with a dollop of almond whipped cream. I’m sure the braised short ribs are delicious, but Primrose serves breakfast all day, and I had skipped that bread station in Eataly. I figured I deserved pancakes.

Final thoughts?
I am disappointed that I never saw Lady Gaga walking through the lobby. Can’t blame a gay guy for dreaming.

Check out the full GayCities guide to Las Vegas