What Are We To Make Of Sahara?

The year is 2020. Sahara has been marked for death. Insert Undertaker gif.

I’ve been waffling on whether or not I like Sahara. After a recent losing visit, I think I actually kind of like it. 

Deteriorating physically, but not in novelty, the transformation from Sahara to SLS to Sahara has been a wild ride. Gossip of a potential closure in 2020 was unsubstantiated and proven false, a shocking blow to the rumormongering Vegas influencers who have a worse batting average than American League pitchers. 

I intended to review the hotel officially, but I was double booked here and at NoMad. I visited Sahara with some friends in September 2022, stumbling in while they were doing a promotional shoot with some live camels. It was an interesting afternoon. 

The hotel bones are old and the room layouts and the small bathrooms reflect this. But they did the best they could with the renovations. I booked a room for under $100, $95.24 to be exact. The resort fee was waived (normally $39.95) thanks to a promotion. I had a Marra Style King room. Marra is one of three “towers” of rooms which also include Blanca and Alexandria. Marra rooms tend to sit in the middle price-wise. 

I went to check out the room while the group was enjoying drinks in the casino. The aged hallways were musty, giving away the hotel’s age and odorous weed lingered from fellow guests.

Marra Style King room

I applaud the design with such a limited space. This Marra Style King room has only 360 square feet to work with. The soft headboard and purple and gold fit my sensibilities and feel less sterile than the bright white of some of their other rooms. 

There are some smart choices to help the room breathe. The nightstands are floating and accent pieces are noticeably but not uncomfortably slim and the vanity rack above the sink in the bathroom provides some necessary storage. Now long forgotten in value hotels, a mini fridge packs neatly in the foyer. 

The casino

Sahara’s casino is undramatic but easy to navigate. There are a few tables dedicated to each popular game. I played $15 Pai Gow this recent December, the Thursday night rolling into Friday. It was maybe the worst session of Pai Gow I’ve ever played, but the dealer was friendly and competent. I can’t blame the casino for bad luck. My friends enjoyed some bubble craps nearby, $5 minimum, while I toiled with several losing hands in a row. I’m not much of a slot person, but I’m not sure it would satisfy players who want a vast selection. Video poker terminals are also a bit sparse. But if you just need the necessities, Sahara will suit you just fine

The food and drink

This is where Sahara punches above its weight class. In Bazaar Meat it has one of the best restaurants in Vegas. Casbar, the lounge overlooking the casino floor is comfortable, mixes great cocktails, and offers a nice view of the gaming floor.

The Tangier is also a beautiful bar, but in an odd location, sitting off the rather plain walkway from the lobby to the casino. It feels like it should be tucked away somewhere, more intimate and secluded.

Those three carry the resort, with the other restaurants being more quick casual, but it’s still impressive for what I consider a budget hotel. I can’t think of other resorts with rooms under $100 with bars that feel quite as stylish. 

I don’t think Fontainebleau will revitalize the north end of the strip, but I do wonder if interest in Vegas’ newest resort will bring some attention to Sahara, which is far less expensive and has a coveted Monorail stop. I’m not kidding about that last point. It’s easier to get on the Monorail from Sahara and get to any resort on the east side of the Strip than it is to simply get out of the Fontainebleau parking garage. 

So what are we to make of the humble hotel on the north end of the Strip? It has this weird allure yet I just can’t find bring myself there with any consistency. Despite my ambivalence, Sahara has done a tremendous about-face from its SLS days. Offers are good, the rewards club tier matches, and they consistently offer a bevy of promotions. If you haven’t been, it may be time to take a ride on the monorail. 

Adam Bauer

Writer, gambler, famous travel influencer. Proud sponsor of the American Society for the Prevention of Bloggers.

About the Author

Adam Bauer

Writer, gambler, famous travel influencer. Proud sponsor of the American Society for the Prevention of Bloggers.

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