Excalibur Hotel and Casino
3850 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 597-7777

Date of Visit: JULY, 2004

Damsels in distress. Knights in shining armor. A grand castle where feasting and jousting occur almost nightly. Sound like a fairy tale? Well, that's the point of the Excalibur Hotel in Las Vegas... a place where legend meets reality. Fun and frivolity greet you at every turn in this Medieval themed "castle" complete with banners, towers and turrets.

Aside from housing, the main function of the Excalibur is, of course, casino and there's no getting around that in Las Vegas. The main floor is alive with flickering lights and the "cha-cha-chink" noises of a veritable sea of slot machines. However, you don't go to Las Vegas and not expect to see those machines and the host of zombie gamblers attached to them. The hotel's décor is fun enough that you can almost pretend that you are somewhere else. And, indeed, that was the purpose of my choosing it to celebrate the 21st birthday of my older son, an avid RPG player (that's Role Playing Game for the uninitiated.) While maybe not as creepy as the dungeons in his imagination, there were just enough Medieval-style gewgaws to appeal to him so off we jetted to Las Vegas.

We arrived at the sprawling and very busy McCarran International Airport, picked up our luggage and grabbed a taxi to the hotel. (There are also shuttle buses that head to The Strip or you can arrive in limousine style for approximately $25.)

Checking in to the Excalibur seemed, at first, a little daunting as we were greeted by a massive reception desk before which a huge, winding line snaked. However, I had booked our airfare and hotel through America West Vacations and we spotted a special check in place for us that had only two people waiting! After that, check in was smooth and quick and we were soon traipsing to our room in an honest to goodness tower.

Across the lobby and beyond the slot machines and gaming tables we arrived at the entrance to the elevators to our fairy tale kingdom where security personnel stand guard. To access the elevators you must show your key to the guard (a feature much appreciated by this Runaway Reviewer.) A quick ride and walk and we were in our corner of Excalibur...

The rooms, while comfortable, are nothing to write home about. The Medieval theme is carried through only slightly with a few well-chosen pictures (copies of which, coincidentally, can also be purchased in the gift shop.) Our beds were tired and worn and sagged along the edges where a thousand behinds had plopped from exhaustion. It wasn't fancy but it fit our needs.

While at the Excalibur we had many dining options but what is Las Vegas without a buffet? Since we were at the whims of my son (because, as he kept reminding me, it was his birthday) we ended up eating all meals at the Roundtable Buffet. Overall, the food was good. However, I found the ethnic dishes bland and ended up avoiding them all together. Prices were moderate for what we got but the "all you can eat" aspect is the only place to go for people with hearty appetites.

Other onsite eateries include The Steakhouse, Sir Galahad's Pub and Prime Rib House, Regale Italian Restaurant and Sherwood Forest Cafe. If you're trying to economize, there are also many, many fast food chains in the Village Food Court.

Of course, a trip to the Excalibur would not be complete without seeing the Tournament of Kings dinner show, an extravaganza in which Arthurian legend meets 21st century staging. As the name implies, the show includes a dinner, in this case a cornish game hen dinner. The attempt is to recreate the Medieval period so the whole meal is served without utensils (but plenty of napkins) and guests are seated at long tables that circle the arena. However, apparently this time period was also before the spice routes were opened because most of the dinner, and especially the game hen, was very uninspiring.

The show, however, was extremely entertaining (at least if you're into this kind of geeky stuff.) In case you didn't catch it in the show title, the show is a jousting tournament in the King's court. Each section of the arena is represented by a particular knight and you are encouraged to cheer for him. My son and I were seated in the Russian King's section which was heck of good fun because he played dirty! We got to cheer when he knocked other riders off of their horses or do other such heinous things. And while it was "just a show" the feats of horsemanship were real and the riders doing them in great physical shape which I, and the new bride seated beside me, appreciated most heartily (who needs the Thunder from Down Under.) The evening was also peppered with phenomenal acrobatics and explosive pyrotechnics.

So, who won the joust? Well, if I told you it would give it away but let's say that good triumphs in the end.

Hotel amenities include:

Hair dryers and complimentary shampoo and conditioner
High-speed internet access
Cable TV
Irons and ironing board.

If you're into kitsch, or if you just want to stay somewhere that hints at different then try the Excalibur. Don't look for luxury, though. This is not that kind of "resort." Room prices fluctuate but, for the most part, are low to moderate for the area and accommodations are just slightly above average. However, for adult fun there is plenty to do not only on site but within the Luxor and Mandalay Bay, Excalibur's connected, sister-hotels (not to mention The Strip.)

Our rating: 2 1/2 Dashes out of 5.


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