MGM Grand: The Complete Guide

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MGM Grand

3799 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89109, USA
Phone +1 877-880-0880

Las Vegas boasts the distinction of being home to nine of the ten largest hotels in the United States, and MGM Grand takes the top spot on the city's list. After its opening in 1993, the property's 6,852 rooms (combined, the Venetian and Palazzo top out at 7,117 rooms), was once the largest hotel complex in the world.

With its Emerald City-green color and its iconic MGM lion statues, many people think of this resort for its cinematic roots but the resort’s real superlatives lie in sheer size. Leo, the bronze lion statue that greets visitors from the corner of Las Vegas Blvd. and Tropicana, is 45 feet tall and weighs 50 tons—the largest bronze sculpture in the Northern Hemisphere. The resort has five outdoor pools, rivers, and waterfalls on its 6.6-acre grounds, a 380,000-square-foot convention center, and the largest casino in Clark County (171,500 square feet).

With so much real estate to traverse, so many things to do, and so many restaurants to try, you’ll need this handy guide to help you navigate.

History of MGM Grand

During the swinging 1960s, what is now MGM Grand was the Golf Club Motel, which during the 1970s became a planned airport hotel extension. But in 1989, the property was purchased by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer movie studio owner Kirk Kerkorian, who had already sold the land that had become Caesars Palace and had built what was then the largest resort in the world—the International Hotel. That hotel closed in 1990 for the groundbreaking of what would become MGM Grand, but the old hotel building remained as the west wing of the main hotel building.

The emerald green building you see today actually started as a massive Wizard of Oz tribute—a themed resort that made use of MGM’s memorabilia. Visitors walked through a massive lion’s head into the entrance of the hotel. Inside, Dorothy, the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion greeted guests before they entered the Oz Casino. An Emerald City attraction included a yellow brick road, cornfield, haunted forest, and animatronic movie figures. When MGM began an extensive revamp only a few years after opening, the lion’s head was the first to go; a study by the hotel's management revealed that it was unpopular with Asian patrons due to their feeling that it was unlucky to walk through a lion’s mouth. The resort didn’t completely lose its cinematic theme; lions still greet guests inside the resort—including the famous six-story Leo, from the corner.

During its 1996 renovation, which cost more than $250 million, the resort reconstructed the entrance and added restaurants, its convention center, a retail and entertainment complex, and nightclubs. Over the years, it has renovated multiple times, building its exclusive Tuscany-themed Mansion at MGM Grand in 1999 (and adding a now-closed lion habitat to the casino), removing more Oz-themed elements in 2000; opening a new west wing in 2005; fully renovating rooms and suites in 2011; expanding its convention center in 2019; and finally selling in 2020 to a joint venture between MGM Growth Properties and The Blackstone Group. Along the way, the resort has added wings and villas, from the three Signature at MGM Grand towers to its Skylofts, a Forbes Five Star hotel that occupies the top two floors of the main building.

The Hotel at MGM Grand

The hotel itself has more room categories than you can shake a stick at. There are the main hotel rooms, with rooms that start at $57 a night and suites that can go for over $20,000 a night. There are also “Stay Well” rooms devoted to those who want to combat jet lag and the toxicity of the Strip; multi-floor suites with butler service; a 29-villa mansion with mostly invite-only villas reserved for invited guests (read: major casino players and celebs); and the all-suite, separate, three-tower Signature building. It would be nearly impossible to cover them all in this space, but here are some highlights:

The main hotel building has 5,044 rooms and suites, from less expensive west wing rooms (around 350 square feet) to larger tower spa suites (694 square feet). The resort has frequently updated rooms, and you’ll find features in grand king and queen rooms like zebrawood veneer furnishings, ergonomic desk seating, and big HDTVs. When you’re researching your room, it pays to talk to a human reservationist with a map of the property. This resort is so large that if you’re here for something specific—like easy access to the Strip, or to dine until you drop in MGM Grand’s restaurants, or proximity to the nightclub—you’ll want their help in securing a room close to what you’re looking for.

If you love Las Vegas but don’t love feeling like the Toxic Avenger at the end of your stay, consider one of the Stay Wellrooms, which have special discounted rates to the spa and also have a Cleveland Clinic online program for sleep and stress. All include a vitamin C-infused shower, a dawn simulator alarm clock, aromatherapy, and private registration in a Stay Well lounge. (You might as well be checking in to a destination spa.)

Want to live large? The Skylofts at MGM Grand are some of the best rooms for entertaining in Las Vegas. A private elevator takes you to 51 two-floor, loft-style accommodations from the Sky Lobby on the 29th floor of MGM Grand, which range from one to three bedroom guest rooms and include transportation to and from the hotel, a private butler, and infinity-edged bathtubs. You’ll have dedicated concierge service that can arrange tours, hard-to-get reservations, and more. You can even order in-room dining from several of MGM Grand’s best restaurants.

If you want to live even larger, there’s the ultra-exclusive Mansion at MGM Grand, which was available only to invited guests until a few years ago, when it began opening up a few villas for those who want to make a reservation. The palatial villas can go for $35,000 per night.

One of the best bets for business and long-term visitors is the Signature at MGM Grand, three condo towers, each with its own private pool with cabanas (as well as access to MGM Grand pools). The rooms themselves are unique since they have full kitchenettes, access to their towers’ own exercise rooms, and meeting rooms. They’re connected by a walkway to MGM Grand, but feel far enough away that those who don’t love staying on top of a casino will feel they got a little break at the end of the night.

The Casino

MGM Grand’s casino clocks in at 171,500 square feet—the largest on the Strip. You’ll find more than 175 table games, including baccarat, Let It Ride, craps, Pai Gow, Texas Hold’em, Casino War, blackjack, and plenty more. Those who love slots but don’t love betting high should check out the 2,000 slots machines, progressive slots, video poker, and multi-game machines, where you can throw in as little as a penny to get the satisfaction of playing a one-armed bandit. A special High Limit Slots area has slots with payouts reaching $500,000. Along the casino floor, the VR gaming lounge Level Up takes interactive gaming to the next level. And MGM Grand is well-known for its race and sports book, with 36 60-inch plasma TVs, and bets available for everything from football to MMA. Entertaining? You’ll want to book a SkyBox, which gives you and up to 10 people a second-level view and comes with its own beverage servers.

What to Do

If any resort on the Strip is a self-contained city, MGM Grand is it. You can take in entertainment from Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club to nightly shows by David Copperfield. The new Hunger Games: The Exhibition lets you feel like you’re right in the movie franchise, with set recreations and special effects lighting, as well as interactive exhibits that teach you about the technology the filmmakers used. There’s always something going on at MGM Grand Garden Arena, which hosts major concerts and events like the Latin Grammy Awards and the Academy of Country Music Awards. Golfers and those who love to drink, relax, and humor their golf friends will love TopGolf, the massive golf experience that not only has a Callaway fitting studio, pro shop, and 120 climate-controlled hitting bays, but also its own bars, pools, VIP cabanas, private suites, and event spaces. The Grand Pool Complex is 6.5 acres with four swimming pools, waterfalls, a lazy river, cabanas, and all sorts of extras. And for those who can’t get enough of the Vegas pool scene (and who can’t when the temps top 115 Fahrenheit?), the Wet Republic Ultra Pool is an adults-only dayclub—one of the most in-demand in Las Vegas—whose all-star DJ lineup and party scene is legendary. It’s all run by Hakkasan Group, whose massive Hakkasan restaurant and nightclub hosts resident DJs like Steve Aoki and Tiesto and even has its own nightclub-within-a-club, the Ling Ling Lounge.

Where to Eat and Drink

MGM was among the first casino resorts to invest heavily in fine dining, and in many ways, helped transform the restaurant scene in Las Vegas from the prime rib and buffet staples to the celeb chef-packed destination dining place it is today. Like many of the resorts, MGM Grand turns over its restaurants with some regularity, so there are usually new places to discover, but it does have some not-to-miss classics. Along with all the upscale places—with prices to match—it offers a good variety of casual spots and a food court (think Johnny Rockets, Nathan’s Famous Hotdogs, and Pan Asian Express) so you can choose when to splurge and when to save.

Those who are looking for a major dining pilgrimage will want to head to Joël Robuchon in the Mansion, where the late, great “Chef of the Century” dreamed up a 16-course tasting menu that is French dining at its absolute finest. Steak lovers should head to Tom Colicchio’s Craftsteak, which carefully sources ingredients from small family farms and artisanal producers in a celebration of American cuisine. Morimoto Las Vegas is a stunning, modern room to house the Iron Chef’s sushi and sashimi, A-5 wagyu beef, and yellowtail cooked at your table in a hot stone bowl. Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House is a perennial favorite (don’t miss the Creole seafood boil). A newer favorite is International Smoke, a collaboration between Chef Michael Mina and Ayesha Curry that explores world cuisine through the international language of, well, fire.

Tips for Visitors

One of the best tools among the MGM resorts is a rate calendar that allows you to search for room rates based on dates among all their properties. Depending on conventions and events in the city, rates can swing wildly, so we recommend always using this tool.

Remember that you’ll be doing lots of walking around MGM. The property itself is 6.6 acres, but you could easily walk several miles in a day around this place. Wear comfortable shoes or at least consider stashing a pair of flip flops or flats in your bag.

Dogs are allowed at MGM Grand, with a $100 deposit per night per dog (and a max of two dogs with a combined weight of less than 100 pounds). Check the dog policy.

MGM Grand’s location is terrific, on the south end of the Strip across from New York-New York and in easy walking distance to The Park Vegas and T-Mobile Arena.

Rideshares, taxis, and (paid) parking are easy ways to get around and there’s free electric charging in the parking garage, but if you just want to travel up and down the east side of the Strip, consider the Las Vegas Monorail. It can get you to the Sahara’s station at the north end of the Strip in under 13 minutes (a boon during heavy traffic times) and makes five stops between.

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MGM Grand: The Complete Guide