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How we got a Penthouse Suite at the Bellagio with the $20 trick. Viva Las Vegas!

a cityscape with a fountain and a tower

I definitely have a love-hate relationship with Las Vegas. While I am alternately dismayed and scandalized by so much of what happens here, I love the weather, the pools, the glitz and glam…and of course the sense of possibility that constantly zings through the city.

So far, I haven’t had any Vegas WOW moments on this trip, but I know they’re out there, waiting for me. A few months ago, I had a great one at the Bellagio when I got the biggest room upgrade of my life.

This is the story of how it happened. (Keep in mind that this post is from several months ago…but this trick lives on!)

Our trip to Vegas got off to a great start yesterday at the Amex Centurion Lounge at the airport, where we enjoyed hand-crafted cocktails made by Jim Meehan himself….and things only got better from there.

Our next stop was the Bellagio, where I had booked a “Fine Hotels and Resorts” rate for $165/night. I was super excited about this deal, because it included a ton of extra perks:

  • Room upgrade upon arrival, when available
  • Daily breakfast for two
  • $100 food and beverage credit
  • Noon early check-in, upon availability
  • 4:00 pm guaranteed late check-out

On a dare from my friend, I agreed to try the “$20 trick.” In case you don’t already know, what this means is that you sandwich a folded twenty-dollar bill between your driver’s license and credit card, then present the three items to the front desk agent as you ask if there are any complimentary upgrades available.

Honestly, I was a little scared. I had never done anything like this before! But I figured that the worst thing that could happen would be that I would lose $20…so I went for it. And it worked like a charm. The guy behind the front desk was young and hip. Perfect. He wasn’t phased at all by my request. He simply placed the $20 along with my license on his keyboard, then picked up the phone and made a couple of calls. He was speaking quietly, but I was thrilled when I thought I caught the word “spa.”

Finally he hung up the phone. “So…you were booked into a Deluxe Fountain View room through the Fine Hotels and Resorts program. I tried to get you a Fountain View Suite…but I was able to do a little better than that.”

I was hanging on his every word. “What did you do?” I asked.

“I got you the Penthouse Suite,” he grinned.

I couldn’t help myself. “Woo hoo!” I yelled.

The Penthouse Suites go for around $600/night. They are 1536 square feet, and have three bathrooms, a wet bar, a jacuzzi tub, and a steam shower.

bellagio penthouse suite
Living area in the penthouse at the Bellagio


bathroom penthouse bellagio
Jacuzzi tub in one of the 3 bathrooms in the Penthouse Suite
Wet Bar in the Penthouse at the Bellagio
Wet Bar in the Penthouse at the Bellagio
view from the Bellagio
The view from our room of the fountains at night

So, after I recovered my composure at the front desk, I thanked the agent profusely. I told him that he made our trip. And from the way he was smiling, it looked like he was glad to do it.

Viva Las Vegas!

Have you ever tried the $20 trick? Were you scared to do it? Did it work for you? What kind of room did you get?


  1. Awesome! I tried it before but it did not work for me.:( I think a lot of the hotels in Vegas are moving to the system where they allow you to select if you want a suite or not before you checkin. The upgrade amount is small compared to the actual room cost but that way the hotel gets the $20 instead of the employee

  2. Jealous! I stayed at Bellagio, via Fine Resorts, for our bachelor and bachelorette parties in October. Tipped $100 at check in and only got an upgrade from Deluxe Fountain View to Bellagio Suite. Next time I’ll go cheaper!

  3. AWSOME! I’ve never tried the tipping trick in Vegas. With my luck, I probably wouldn’t get anything. I’ve never gotten any upgrades with FHR or with elite status with a few hotel brands. I must always travel during high season πŸ™

  4. Charlie – I just had an interesting experience at the Four Seasons. I didn’t try the $20 trick here, but the guy at the desk kept trying to upgrade me for a fee (we didn’t go for it). So you make a good point.

    Dovertime – This was the first time I tried it!

    Shannon – I think timing is everything. Although the Bellagio Suite looks amazing as well. πŸ™‚

    Points with a Crew – Try it!

    Sandy – One of these days you will hit the jackpot πŸ˜‰

    Paul – πŸ™‚

  5. BTW, the fountain pic is really cool! I love watching fountain shows – I just saw the Dubai fountains that were designed by the same company that did the Bellagio. Really great!

  6. I got this exact room tipping at check-in on a 4 night stay. Except.. if I recall correctly there were actually *5* bathrooms (a his and her separate bathroom attached to each bedroom and a guest bath off the living room/wet bar area).

  7. I’ve done the $20 trick before in Vegas, 99% of the time IF it works (and in some places it will not) you will get a better view, that’s about it. And it typically doesn’t help by trying to tip more. Standard upgrades are for views at least in Vegas. To get upgraded from a standard room to a suite is very rare based on the sandwich trick. To get a penthouse suite for $20, well that may very well have been a first. Most of the time we book at the Palazzo which is all suites anyway. $20 gets you a strip view. So no one should expect a Penthouse suite, but this was a great score and I’m sure the way you presented yourself (doesn’t hurt to be cute girl talking to a young guy) made a big difference. Congrats!

  8. Charlie – Thanks for the compliment about the pic. The fountain show was so fun to watch from way up high!

    ferbster – Aw yeah.

    Gary – You got a nicer penthouse than we did. Ours was a 1-bedroom. How much did you tip? πŸ˜‰

    Kent C – Thank you! Not sure if I will have the guts to try it again, but I am glad it worked this time.

    1. I did get a 2-bedroom, 5-bathroom Penthouse suite πŸ™‚

      I also tipped $100 on a 4-night stay. And the hotel was booked pretty solid, there may not have been lesser suites available to put me in and I already had a strip view via Amex FHR.

  9. We stayed at the mirage June last year.We did the $20 tip and were upgraded to a higher floor,we also got fee tickets to the dolphin and white tiger shows,


  10. I make it a habit that whenever I go to an event with cash bar, I start off buying the first drink and tipping the (underpaid) bartender $20 to make friends. Then the rest of the nite I usually get free drinks for me and anyone with me.

  11. Colleen – Great extras! I forgot to mention that we also got a line pass for the buffet. The $20 trick can definitely be worthwhile.

    Sherri – Now THAT is what I call a good tip to know about. Thanks for sharing!

  12. What about the coup de grace? Surely on check-out you complained about the balky internet to get them to waive the resort fee!

  13. I am dying! This is just too great!!!
    I don’t think I have the guts to even fathom trying….but it’s so tempting!
    You are a rockstar!

    1. Diego – I just kept telling myself that I would never see the front desk agent again, and my friend was right behind me, encouraging me…so even though I was scared, I went for it! I’m glad I did!!

  14. That is seriously AWESOME!!!!!!!! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ Did you tip him again at checkout? Wow! I tried the $20 trcik once but I just got a higher floor. Nothing special. You’re very lucky!

  15. That $20 trick is actually very “old school” when it comes to getting deals/upgrades in Vegas. I’m in my 50s, but when my parents used to go to Vegas back in the 70s, and would go to a dinner show, they would tip the head waiter $20 to get a booth/table on the floor close to the stage. And it worked every time! πŸ˜€

  16. very good one….

    I’m starting to think that you are actually the one working at the Bellagio…. hoping that folks will come and tip you πŸ™‚

  17. Im planning a Bachellor-Party next year at the Bellagio.
    The Question is: try the 20$ trick at the check in to get an upgrade from a Resort Room(booked via a german travel agency) to a Suite or just ask for an upgrade in advance via mail? Does anybody know how much an upgrade costs? (Ist a 2 night stay from saturdy to monday)

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