Penthouse suites, poolside bottles, rooms with a dream view of The Strip - think they're only for high-rollers? Out of your price range? Think again.

Upgrades to your Vegas experience are readily available to the common customer; provided you're sharp enough to pull off one little trick that's sweeping the travel industry - "The $20 Sandwich."

It's common knowledge Las Vegas is a tip-driven culture. What most people don't realize is how far one little tip can go.

The Vegas $20 Sandwich Explained

"The sandwich", as it's affectionately known, is a simple tip to your check-in receptionist for their good service in the hope of receiving complimentary upgrades/enhancements to your room booking.

Executing the $20 sandwich is simple. Upon arrival, have your driver's license and credit card at the ready. Simply take a crisply folded $20/$50 bill, press it between your license and credit card, smile like a boss, and present your "sandwich" to your receptionist at the counter. A $20 bill should suffice, although if you are hoping for a larger upgrade it may be worthwhile handing over a $50 bill to ensure your message gets through. 

Most receptionists, being well aware of the process, will either take your offering and quickly place it in their pocket, or place it by their keyboard in plain view while entering your check-in data. At your first chance, simply state you're in town for a special weekend with friends, or an occasion such as a birthday, bachelor party, wedding, celebration, etc., and that you're wondering if the hotel has any complimentary upgrades available. If you have a receptionist who "gets it", it's possible they may offer this straight up without prodding.

This will not always result in a room upgrade. There are only so many suites to be had, after all. But don't forget - receptionists are much like airline gate agents. That person behind the counter has more power than you think, especially in Vegas.

So, while an upgrade won't always be available, many other enhancements to your trip certainly will be. And these things can't "sell out." How about a $100 drink voucher for the pool? Or $100 in free food at all property restaurants? Line passes/free entry for clubs? Complimentary gym and spa access? All can be had. The sandwich pays for itself!

What if it Doesn't Work?

Don't stress about it not working. What's important to remember is the risk-free nature of the whole process. You give $20 or $50, you get hundreds in value back. Or, your money comes back to you. No loss.

The biggest risk in executing the sandwich is trying it on a “rookie” receptionist who doesn’t understand the process. It’s therefore paramount that before check-in; you size up the staff and approach a receptionist who looks sharp and knows what they're doing. However, if you do end up with a rookie and they stare blankly at your sandwich, the chances are they will return the money to you. In short, you have nothing to lose!

Next time you're in Vegas, don't check-in like your average tourist. Don't just take what you're given. Try a $20 sandwich at check-in, crisply folded, with a smile.

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  1. Or, you can just ask for a room upgrade and pay the one time $80 per person fee at checkin-in. Always book coach and upgrade at the flight to first class, simple $50 fee instead of hundreds more, and always book cheap rooms and upgrade at the check-in. No need to be sneaky about it. Worked for me in Vegas and South Beach. ;)

  2. why pay $80 for an upgrade? An upgrade is a free bump.....I work for Hilton and an upgrade is what you give nice guests if you have the space we are happy to do it!