MGM Grand, Las Vegas, USA ***

Stayed January 2017

Booking and checking in
Our annual sales conference took place at the MGM this January. Booking the hotel was done via a website and the room type assigned was "run of the house" - likely this means that they will give you whatever cheapest room is available.
My room was on floor 22, number 328. The view was actually quite nice: it looked on the intersection of E. Tropicana Ave. and S. Las Vegas Boulevard, though the intersection itself was quite far away - the MGM is a big place.

Elevators are split into four sections, depending on which floor you need to go to and my elevators were designated to floors 21 and up. For some reason, these elevators seem to be the busiest - at times you had a relatively long line waiting to go up. While there were six elevators available for these floors, one apparently was broken for most of my stay.

We had been warned of long checkin lines and encouraged to use the mobile checkin. If you check in either with the special app or using the MGM website then you can go to one of a series of terminals that will read a barcode off your device (or printout) and spit out your room key. Unfortunately, the mobile check in system failed for me, as it wasn't able to find my reservation even after I'd verified it with guest services. Luckily, the line for manual check in wasn't very long when I arrived.

The Room
I'd requested a room far away from the elevators for two reasons: for one, I have had some really bad experiences with rooms near elevators due to constant noise (humming, bell sounds) 24h a day. For another, Las Vegas brings with it lots of people that stay out very late and tend to be loud coming back to their room. The farther away you are from the elevators, the fewer people you will have passing your room.

The room had two queen size beds in it and was large enough even for two people staying (I was on my own). Hangers in the closet and drawer space will be enough for two but if you're looking to save some bucks and share a room amongst four, you'll likely have a problem getting your clothes put away (depending on how many you bring, of course). There was a largish flat screen TV, a minibar (the annoying type that registers whatever you take out of it and charges your bill immediately) a desk with a lamp.

The room showed the age of the MGM quite clearly. There were scuff-marks and damage everywhere, in the bathroom, in the room, at the desk. It was clean, though, which is more important to me than wear and tear. And it didn't smell odd, which was a real plus.

The room was decidedly low tech, as well. Comparing the room at the Wynn I had at the conference last year (albeit an unfair comparison), lighting for example was all discretely switched. I.e. no central light control, not even a "put your room key in here to power up" box at the door! And yes, the room key was the very old-style magnetic stripe kind.

I'm going to estimate these lamps to be from the 80's, just by the switches used on them. The large, stand-up lamp in the corner was even more ridiculous: it had a twist switch right at the base of the bulb socket, so you had to twist your head down and look up to figure out where to put your hand. I never switched this lamp on again, it was just too annoying.

Really annoying as well was the "technology" used to darken the room. This consisted of roll-up blinds, one semi-transparent (what on earth for?) and one that cut off all light. The cleaning personnel put down the semi-transparent one at each cleaning and I would put it back up every evening when I came back from the conference. The windows are mirrored on the outside, so no one is going to be able to look into your room... the need for the semi-transparent blind is beyond me.
The annoying part of these blinds is that you pull them up and down using a chain pulley, which isn't easy and quite loud. Do this too early in the morning and you'll be waking up your neighbor.

Noise level
The worst part of the room was the noise coming in from outside. There was a long metal flap along the left window half that you could slide over and up - apparently, to let in outside air. With the (to be fair: well-working) A/C on, I'm not sure why you would want this, but in my opinion this venting system was the main cause of outside noise bleeding in. Since you're very close to the airport, you not only get abundant road noise (including frequent emergency sirens), but also airplane noise from McCarran Airport. To top it off, there are frequent helicopter fly-overs.

The bed turned out not to be very comfortable. I'm not sure what caused it - probably the mattress protector - but something caused multiple bumps to press into my back when I was lying flat, no mater where on the mattress I positioned myself. It may have been something to do with that particular bed (I didn't bother trying the other one), but it may be an issue with the age of the beds as well.

The bathroom had a clear 80's motif to it, functional but not pretty. The bathtub/shower has a double curtain, which surprisingly doesn't get sucked in. The drain is annoying enough - it is a metal disk with rubber gasket material around it that sits in the drain. To open the drain, you rotate it from flat with the floor to sticking up. The cleaning personnel alway closed this (no idea why) and you'd either have to bend way down to open this thing with your finger (yuck!) or finagle it open with your toe.

The shower head was quite ok, but getting the water to the right temperature was annoying. You only have one handle that you turn to get water flowing and to adjust the temperature. To get water to flow from the spigot into the tub up to the shower, you pull a lever, after which you get some massive air burps coming out of it before water flows freely.

The conference center
The hotel is huge and quite unfortunately, the conference center (where our sales conference was located) is at the very other end of the hotel. The walk was quite far, quickly getting something from your room generally wasn't an option as the walk there and back would easily take half an hour total.
The center is surprisingly well done - as is the case with most conferences, you have general sessions and breakout sessions and the latter weren't too far from the conference restaurant or the general session hall.
Some rooms had serious A/C issues, either they were much too warm or you had icy air falling on you depending where you sat. All breakout rooms seemed to have the same issue with lighting, however: lighting towards the front (where the screen was set up) was dimmed down, which caused the fluorescent bulbs to flicker constantly.

If you're in the market for a room in Las Vegas, then there are better (newer) hotels on or off the strip. Despite the (hopefully) deep discount my employer received for renting a large number of rooms, the room still came to 165$ per night. In my opinion, that is way too much for the quality of the room.
If you get lucky and you get a deal (apparently, there was a radio ad the day before I arrived that MGM was selling off rooms for $65), then you can certainly go for it. The MGM is positioned quite well on the "Strip" and has its own monorail station.