Being the oldest and smallest of anything aren't normally qualities about which a Vegas property brags, but the Golden Gate manages to pull it off. Having celebrated its 100th birthday in 2006 (it's been known as the Golden Gate only since 1955; it was opened as the Hotel Nevada), this 106-room property appears positively quaint alongside the flashy Golden Nugget, the enormous brash Plaza and the garish Fremont Street Experience. Owned by likeable local maverick Mark Brandenburg, who so far seems to have shown little inclination to drag his place into the modern world, the Golden Gate remains old Vegas at its most appealingly basic.
Many original 10ft-by-10ft bedrooms remain. Some have been updated with air-conditioning, but most are still characterfully old-fashioned, replete with mahogany doors, plaster walls and tiled bathroom floors. Aside from the addition of a relatively modern key-card system, there haven't been any major technological advances here since 1907, when the hotel announced that it had taken control of the first telephone in Nevada (boasting, of course, the number 1).
Eating & drinking
In 50 years, the 24-hour San Francisco Deli has served 25 million shrimp cocktails, tangy treats in tulip-shaped glasses that never fail to make the Las Vegas Advisor's list of best bargains in the city. The Bay City Diner offers a survey of American classics, dished out by waitresses seemingly borrowed from a Raymond Carver short story.
The piano player at the back of the casino is another fabulous nod to tradition. They're very good too.
An old-time, no-frills, family-owned casino navigated by a multiitued of wheelchair-required small ramps. The carpet's worn, the tables and machines are packed like sardines, and the bosses brook no nonsense. From the far dice-table closest to the deli, you can make a dash for the famous 99¢ shrimp cocktail between rolls. The comps here are liberal: play $10 blackjack for an hour and ask for the coffeeshop for two.