Wednesday, December 17th, 2008, 2:53 am
I think it’s fair to say that the Imperial Palace isn’t the most glamorous hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. I remember three years ago the escalators to the sports book were under repair and the joint looked like an aircraft carrier in drydock. Check out the clientele who gather there at 4AM and you’ll soon be thinking that the Pax Americana is a rapidly-receding speck our national rearview mirror. Still, the IP is the only Vegas hotel I’ve ever stayed at and every time I check in I feel like I’m…home.
But they say you can’t go home again, or is that you shouldn’t go home again? I think the next time I visit Vegas I might try another property. It wasn’t just that my tub wouldn’t drain and that every time I took a shower I finished shin-deep in tepid water. I wasn’t expecting my fourth-floor room to offer a panoramic view of the Strip but something a bit more scenic than this would’ve been super:
It would’ve been nice if the cigarette butts had been swept off my balcony before my arrival. Would’ve been nice if the parking garage hadn’t served as a massive concrete megaphone so I could hear in almost perfect detail every conversation held by the folks coming and going by auto. And the guy who leaned on his horn and then got into a screaming match with his lady friend about his impatience? At 7AM on Monday? You, sir, should die.
But when you stay at the IP you deal with quibbles like those. You’re getting a bed in the middle of the Strip for less than I’d pay for a room at the Comfort Inn on Route 8. So you ignore some of the warts. After I checked out on Monday I went gallivanting a bit and ended up at the IP to lose a few final ducats playing video poker. I had to visit the little boys room and, well, that was easier said than done:
I had to use a stall and as I did a guy came in with something like a reciprocating saw and made quite a ruckus burrowing into the plumbing. I don’t know how much the IP budgets for that yellow CAUTION tape but I hope they get a bulk discount because, Jesus, they sure use a lot of it. On Saturday night both the inner and outer doors leading out of the casino were partially taped shut, so if you wanted to leave the hotel you had to walk through the sliding door at the far left and then serpentine to the sliding door on the far right leading you outside. As I approached the doors I thought someone had been murdered in between and the cops had cordoned off the area.
I didn’t get any pictures of the Burger Palace up by the sports book because I just didn’t have the heart. The decor is straight out of a nightmare–the booths have wide pink, yellow and green stripes, and the overall color scheme is derivative of pastel bridesmaid’s gowns. The walls feature murals of major sporting events, like…the Kentucky Derby. OK, it’s a race and sports book and people love the ponies. But the murals probably date back to the 1980s and exacerbate the whole time-warp sensation, which doesn’t help the appetite. There’s a picture of a hockey player on the wall, he’s wearing an Edmonton Oilers sweater with the number 99 on the sleeves. I know, you’re saying "That’s Wayne Gretzky, doofus" but the guy on the wall looks more like Dean Martin that Gretzky. Couldn’t Harrah’s gut a bankrupt Boston Market or Hardee’s and renovate the Burger Palace? There’s something to be said for kitsch and camp and postmodern winks at the garish past, but I’d prefer not to deal with that kinda stuff when I’m cramming grease down my gullet.
I still enjoyed my stay, if it’s examined in toto. The IP’s downscale shabbiness is part of its allure. Going on the assumption that the IP has an allure. I’ve been fortunate to stay in some really nice hotels the past year, but it’s not like I need Egyptian cotton and an ocean view before I book a room. I’d stay at the Imperial Palace again, sure. But I think that maybe I should broaden my horizons a bit. Try someplace new. Maybe gain a fresh appreciation for the IP’s unique charms.
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