We're not gamblers, but the new hotel at Prairie Meadows Casino and Racetrack offers fresh design and sophisticated rooms at surprisingly low prices that we couldn't resist checking out. An airy lobby with high ceilings, white walls and floors, a modern crystal chandelier and gas fireplaces greet visitors when they enter, and friendly desk clerks quickly handle check-ins. Elevators leading to the 168 guest rooms require room key activation, so no one who wanders over from the casino can make it upstairs without a key, a nice security measure. Dark woods, olive-and-white bedding, granite counters in the baths, flat-screen TVs and Keurig coffeemakers await in the guest rooms, which offer their own digital temperature controls and free Wi-Fi. The soft beds come lined with plenty of pillows, and you'll find extra pillows and blankets in the closet. Room choices include two queens, kings, junior suites and full-size suites, plus ADA-accessible options. This hotel also allows smoking in rooms closer to the casino, but we were surprised that we couldn't sniff a trace of smoke as we walked past them, a tribute to the air-circulation system.
The only down sides to our visit? A screaming baby in the room next door delayed our slumber, and a group of presumably drunk girlfriends stumbling down the hall in the middle of the night woke us up. But otherwise, we enjoyed our stay and the final bill; at $79 a night for an executive king room, the Prairie Meadows Hotel has to be one of the best values in the Des Moines metro area. The rate does not include breakfast, but guests can get Starbucks coffee brewed on-site and sit down to breakfast in a cafe off of the spacious lobby.