When the Sahara opened in 1952, its then-exotic African theme, from the famed camels perched outside to the Congo Showroom, seemed right at home on barren Las Vegas Boulevard. After a half-century of development, redevelopment and obliteration, the resort stands virtually alone at the north end of the Strip, an appropriate location for an operation that's far closer in spirit to the Stratosphere a few blocks north than to Wynn Las Vegas just south.
No longer exciting, the Sahara in 2007 is a somewhat faded property, ragged around the edges and soaked in a smoky fug. In some ways, though, its isolation has worked in its favour: with the Strip's headline-grabbers just out of walking distance for most visitors, guests tend to stay on site, playing in the basic casino, dining in the NASCAR Café (the hotel is hugely popular among petrolheads, especially during NASCAR weekend in March) and sticking around for a show or two.
However, hope is on the horizon. The Sahara was sold in March 2007 to younger LA developer Sam Nazarian, who was quick to state his desire to improve the property. Watch this space…
The 1,720 guestrooms range from standard through three different sizes of suite. They're usually among the cheapest on the Strip, and you get what you pay for. Still, it's a safe and secure operation.
Eating & drinking
The reborn classic House of Lords steakhouse, which does what you might expect, is the hotel's main eaterie, but there's also Mexican food at Paco's Hideaway, a 24-hour coffeeshop and a buffet. The car-themed NASCAR Café is proof of the resort's mid-America appeal.
Old classics are delivered nightly in the Congo Room by the Platters, Cornell Gunter's Coasters & Beary Hobbs' Drifters, but original members are conspicuous by their absence; hell, the show doesn't even feature Hobbs, who died of cancer in 1996, and Gunter, murdered in 1990. Late-night entertainment comes courtesy of acerbic magician the . The Casbar Lounge is where Louis Prima made a splash in the 1950s; today's performers have less potential. You won't escape without seeing the Las Vegas Cyber Speedway, an entertaining $15-million indoor racing-car simulation that offers the thrill of driving a high-performance motor without the risk.
Alas, the days of $1 blackjack at the Sahara have been lost in the sands of time. But you can still find single-deck, double-deck and shoe blackjack games with $5 minimums: among the Strip's lowest, though the single-decks pay 6:5 for naturals. Minimum crap bets are $5. Low-limit Texas hold 'em and seven-card stud games are spread daily in the card room.