Review: Elara Las Vegas

Vegas baby.  I had the pleasure of making two business trips to Las Vegas in 2012.  It was my first time back in sin city in years and I wanted to check out some place new.  I often focus my hotel stays with Hilton, but in Las Vegas this isn't easy to do if you want to stay on the strip.  There are a few options, but most of them are tied to Hilton Grand Vacations and aren't true full service hotels.  

I decided to roll the dice and booked a stay at the new Elara, A Hilton Grand Vacations Hotel, Center Strip.  This mirrored glass high rise hotel towers over the strip and is centrally located right behind the Planet Hollywood Hotel and Casino and across the strip from the Cosmopolitan.  If you want to be walking distance to some of the best casinos this is a great location.

I arrived at the hotel by cab and found it quite odd that the front entrance and valet are located one level below the lobby.  While there were valet attendands there was no one offering to assist with baggage.  You had to take your own luggage into the lower level lobby, up the escalator and over to the checkin area.  I only had a small rollerboard so it didn't bother me, but I found it odd the hotel did not have bellman.  Maybe they do, but I didn't see them.

The lobby is modern and stylish.  It overlooks a large swimming pool and sun deck.  It was raining when I arrived so there was no one using the pool, but the facility looked nice.  I quickly found the Hilton Honors check in line and waited for an attendant.  After I few minutes I realized the two front desk attendants were only taking people from the main line.  A manager must have noticed my frustration because he came over and told me I would be next.  

It was about two in the afternoon and after a cross country flight I was ready to drop my bag and hunt down some lunch.  Much to my disappointment I was told by the front desk agent, after I had waited in line, that checkin was 4:00pm and I was too early.  I was offered to upgrade to a suite for an extra $80 per night and they could accommodate me right away.  I decided to wait so I asked if they would check my bag and I would go grab lunch.  To check my bag I had to go back downstairs to the valet.  

The hotel connects to the shops that are part of Planet Hollywood so I went and grabbed lunch before coming back to check in.  This time I got in line around 3:45pm.  Again I was told my room was not ready.  When I asked about the room upgrade I was told it was still available, but only on a Hilton Honors floor.  When I pointed out my Gold Hilton Honors status she frowned, typed away on the computer and then decided I could be put on that floor.

Before I get into the rest of my review I should point out I had a long conversation with Hilton Honors after my stay at the Elara and received not only an apolgy but a bunch of free points for my trouble.  The issues regarding Hilton Honors at this property went well beyond checkin.  At the time, this hotel was new into the Hilton family and not fully aware of policies and proceedures.

Long story short I ended up in a one bedroom suite on the 52nd floor.  The upgrade was worth it.  All in, the room was just under $300/night.  I had a spectacular view of the strip looking toward the Paris.  I could see the fountains at the Bellagio and all the way down the strip to the Stratosphere.  It was definitely a million dollar view.

The room was all you would expect in a modern, chic Las Vegas suite.  You enter on a granite tile entry.  To you right is a full kithcen, including full sized refrigerator.  Past the kitchen is a large living room with a red leather L shaped couch.  This was very comfy.  A large flat LCD tv was mounted on the wall, but it was difficult to take your eyes off of the awesome view outside the floor to ceiling windows.  Probably one of the coolest features is that you can close blackout curtains with the TV remote.  That then activates a projector hidden in the ceiling and it turns the window into a giant TV screen with surround sound.  Very cool.

You enter the bedroom through this large wooden door off of the living room.  This room is totally Vegas.  The bed had a leather wrapped headboard and indirect LED lighting that made it glow.  There was another large LCD tv and oh yea a hot tub.  The tub was located between the bed and the bathroom and surrounded by mirrors.  The bathroom was spacious with a glass enclosed tile shower and a separate glass enclosed toilet.  

Overall I give the room four stars, the front desk two stars and the amenities three stars.  I average everything right around three stars.  Service may have improved, but when I was there in 2012 this was my experience.

A few items of note, the Elara is not a casino.  You will have to go to Planet Hollywood of one of the other casinos if you want to gamble.  Get a room on a high floor if possible.  The views are amazing.  If you are a Hilton Honors member remember many of your benefits that normally work at a Hilton property don't work here.  Hilton Grand Vacations properties are different.  They have early checkout times and later checkin requirements.  You also don't get free breakfast.

Would I stay here again, probably not.  There are some amazing hotels on the strip and I recommend checking them out.  If you want a great hotel that is somewhat removed from the casions the Elara is a good pick.

Photos: Some of the photos are my own, the others are from Hilton's website.