The Complete Guide to the STRAT Hotel, Casino & SkyPod

The strat hotel lit up at night

Antoine Taveneaux, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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The STRAT Hotel, Casino & SkyPod

Address
2000 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89104, USA
Phone +1 800-998-6937

Of all the idiosyncratic buildings that comprise the Las Vegas Strip’s skyline, The Strat Hotel, Casino and SkyPod is one of the most recognizable. Clocking in at 1,149 feet high, the tower, which is on the northern edge of the Strip, is twice as high as any building in the city. Architecturally, its claim to fame is being the tallest freestanding observation tower in the United States (the second tallest in the Western Hemisphere) and the tallest building west of the Mississippi. Thrill-seekers will know the STRAT for the rides that circle around the revolving pod at its top, including a roller coaster that teeters riders over the edge at high speed, 100 stories above the ground, and for its appearances in shows like "The Amazing Race," where contestants had to jump off the tower on the SkyJump.

Though the observation tower itself has always been a popular destination for those who want a bird’s eye view of the Las Vegas Valley, or for its special occasion restaurant, Top of the World, the hotel itself has a bit of a checkered past, falling victim to the vagaries of time as it went from owner to owner without much of a refresh. That is until the 2,427-room property was renovated for a $100 million price tag by its new owners, Golden Entertainment, Inc., who took over in 2017. The massive refresh was completed in 2020.

History of The Strat

In 1974, Bob Stupak, an eccentric (and some would say visionary) poker player, entrepreneur, and casino owner opened a small casino called Bob Stupak’s World Famous Million-Dollar Historic Gambling Museum and Casino on a small parcel of land just north of Sahara Avenue at Las Vegas Boulevard South. The building caught fire and burned down only two months after it opened, signaling the beginning of a wild ride for the plot of land that now houses The Strat. After his first casino burned down, Stupak opened his Vegas World hotel and casino in the same spot in 1979. Riding high after a string of unique and sometimes wacky—but very profitable—promotions, he planned a landmark observation deck that would be four times the height of his hotel. His Stratosphere Tower, designed by architect Ned Baldwin (known for the CN Tower in Toronto), would break ground—despite opposition from the Federal Aviation Administration, for its height—in 1991. Vegas World closed in 1995 as its hotel towers were remodeled for the Stratosphere’s new hotel.

Stupak’s spotty luck hadn’t ended: that year, he was injured in a terrible motorcycle accident, breaking every bone in his face and going into a coma only weeks after he’d signed on poker player friend Lyle Berman’s Grand Casinos as investors. The tower opened in 1996, the third most expensive casino development in history—whose financial struggle resulted in Stupak’s personal loss of $200 million, Stratosphere’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in 1997, and its buyout by Carl Icahn in 1998. It was transferred and sold twice more, with sporadic renovations, until its purchase and rebranding by Golden Entertainment in 2017, opening to much fanfare in 2020.

The Hotel at The Strat

The Stratosphere reached profitability in the early 2000s, but while other, higher-end hotels regularly renovated their rooms, Stratosphere remained musty and dated until Golden Entertainment’s purchase of the property. Today, the hotel has remodeled 574 of the rooms as part its new “Elevate” room series. The clean, bright, modern design includes 55-inch televisions, HDMI ports, custom entertainment consoles, and free Wi-Fi, plus new beds and furnishings and areas for lounging and work. Its “Elite” room category and remodeled “Grand” suites round out a 1,000-room renovation.

It’s the refreshed arrival at The Strat that really sets expectations for the hotel. New exterior signage on the tower and at the porte-cochère flashes customized LED content, and guests enter into a cool and contemporary entrance, where a massive sculpture—“Ebb & Flow,” by local artists Manny Avila and the Blue True Group—looks like two edgy pieces of gold, intertwined ribbon. The hotel’s great new public art program also includes “LOOK,” a stainless-steel piece by Nick Stiley, Adin Fly, and James Talbert that sits right on Las Vegas Boulevard, comprising three figures, reaching up to 15 feet in height.

Its pool complexes, WET24 on the 25th floor and Elation Pool on the 8th floor, were recently redone. WET24 is an adults-only, “European-style” (code for top-optional) pool that’s great for its views of the Strip’s skyline. Those with kids (or a weak constitution) will want to visit Elation Pool, whose 67,000-square-foot deck includes three big spas, water volleyball, cabanas, a special events area, a café, and more great views of Las Vegas.

The Casino

A priority for The Strat’s remodel was a full renovation of its 80,000-square-foot casino, which had always followed the old claustrophobic, what-time-is-it-in-here-anyway design mode. Natural lighting and an airy blue and gold color scheme inspired by the sky, sun, stars, and moon bring it up to date. You might even want to spend more time at its 750 slot machines and 44 tables, including a new Baccarat pit.

What to Do

SkyPod, the top of The Strat, which contains the 360-degree revolving Top of the World restaurant, 107 SkyLounge, and the newly remodeled Observation Deck, as well as the notorious thrill rides and even a wedding chapel, is the building’s most iconic attraction. You’ll obviously want to spend plenty of time exploring what it has to offer. Here’s what to see:

On Observation Deck levels 108 and 109, the indoor space that contains the two-story Observation Deck how has 108 Eats and 108 Drinks (think sandwiches and ice cream at one, handcrafted cocktails at the other), all against a backdrop of interactive video maps and fun retail shops. You can take in the city from the safety of the angled windows or venture out to the outdoor observation deck. You can also take the SkyJump powered by MTN DEW, a controlled fall that spirals you down the tower from 829 feet up at 40 miles per hour, a ride that holds the Guinness World Record for the highest commercial decelerator. 

Head to the three floors above the Observation Deck for the thrill rides. When you buckle into the Big Shot, you’ll shoot 160 feet into the air at 45 miles per hour from a 921-foot-high platform up the tower’s mast to a height of 1,081 feet and back down. Consider eating after, rather than before, this ride. The mechanical claw of Insanity lifts passengers 64 over the edge of the SkyPod and spins them at up to three Gs while turning them over to a 70-degree angle. (Our same dining advice applies here.) The notorious X-Scream roller coaster teeters riders off the edge of the SkyPod from 866 feet up then shoots them 27 feet over the edge of the tower and dangles them over the Strip.

If all this is just a bit too much action, you might want to watch other people do death-defying acts, instead. “Celestia,” The Strat’s new production, features acrobats, contortionists, and performers, including Sergey and Sasha, the hand and head-balancing father-daughter act from “America’s Got Talent,” in a 30,000-square-foot tent built right on the Strip.

MJ Live, The Strat’s Michael Jackson tribute show, features all the big MJ hits like “Bad,” “Billie Jean,” “Thriller,” and “Beat It,” with spectacularly well-produced effects, a live band, and the MJ Lie dancers. The L.A. Comedy Club of Las Vegas is a fun space, which each week features a different live comedy act. A kind of comedic incubator, the club was the first to bring Aziz Ansary, Felipe Esparsa, and Loni Love to Vegas. You’ll see plenty of breakout talent here.

Where to Eat and Drink

The iconic Top of the World restaurant at The Strat sits 800 feet above the Las Vegas Strip, and has long been a special-occasion dining room thanks to its incredible views. But thanks to its new overhaul and a refreshed menu by Chef Bradley Manchester, it’s become a major dining destination (if you’re proposing, as plenty of people do up here, special proposal packages include roses, Champagne, commemorative photos, and even a magician). Happily, the interior has gotten an upgrade, too, with cool new Kinon tables, Messermeister steak knives, and an airy new feel. Pre-game or have a nightcap at 107 SkyLounge, on the 107th floor in the SkyPod, which also has 360-degree views and a beautifully redesigned room.

At the pools, you can order cocktails and bites at Elation Pool Café & Bar, and drinks at Wet24. On the main casino floor, you’ll find REMIX Lounge, where live bands play 80s and 90s favorites on the weekends. The stage converts into an HDTV projection screen when football games are on.

Tips for Visitors

The Strat has finally become a destination that’s good not just for a single night of views from Top of the World or to ogle the Strip from the observation deck and rides. But keep in mind that you’re still at the north end of the Strip, and not within walking distance to either Downtown or the Strip. It’s a 1.5-mile hike to Wynn Las Vegas, which is at the northern end of the Strip (closer to the Sahara, but that’s also very far north).

If you’re here for the rides, you might consider trying the thrills at The Strat and then heading to Circus-Circus, which is less than a mile away. If you’re heading downtown, consider hopping on The Deuce bus, which stops every 15 minutes. You can buy 2-hour or 24-hour passes at The Strat.

Although The Strat is a little bit of a tough sell from a convenience standpoint, it is close to some eccentric Vegas icons. Don’t miss Luv-It Frozen Custard, a stand that opened on the northeast corner of Las Vegas and Oakey boulevards, within walking distance (get the Western Sundae, with hot fudge, caramel, and pecans). The self-styled “world’s largest gift shop,” Bonanza Gift Shop, is on the northeast corner of the Strip and Sahara. And although you might not need a rhinestone-encrusted “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” flask or an I Love LV snow globe, you’re also staying in a hotel whose claim to fame is propelling its guests off the edge of a thousand-foot-high observation deck, so you might as well just give in to the Vegas fun.

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The Complete Guide to the STRAT Hotel, Casino & SkyPod