Decades ago, this was the biggest casino in the world, and one of the bright jewels in Las Vegas' crown. In the 1990's, the town went really nuts with huge resorts, and the poor li'l Riv got left in the dust. It's okay now, but aging and not drawing many new customers. It lacks the luxury, flash and amenities of the newer joints.
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Room Quality: There are four towers, all built during different expansions. The nicest and newest rooms are the Signature rooms in the Monaco and Mediterranean South towers. They are usually larger and many have refrigerators (Monaco also has floor safes for an extra fee). They have granite, flat-panel TVs and ipod docks along with better furnishings. Remember that they are still old hotel rooms, just a little nicer. They also cost a bit more, unless you can sweet-talk the front desk clerk. Older, but decent rooms can be found in the Monte Carlo tower. They still have flat panel TVs and fridges. The cheapest rooms are the oldest, and they are in the Mediterranean North and San Remo towers. The Mediterranean rooms are right over the casino, if you like a short walk. The San Remo rooms overlook the pool. They are from a time when overlooking the pool was best, because there wasn't much to see on the Strip.
Fair. This is an older hotel. If you can take care of yourself and only need a decent room for sleeping, it's okay. If you want someone to clip your toenails for you, go to the Bellagio
. Be warned, this place will nickel and dime you on phone calls and other unexpected costs.
What You Get Bottles of in the Bathroom: Shampoo, lotion and a shower cap. They used to give away a little sewing kit, but no more. Times are tough.
Clientele: Middle-aged to senior citizens of middle-class stature. This used to be one of the nicest places on the Strip, but it's been overtaken by everything built since the late 1980s and has gone down-market in response. It's a serviceable hotel, just not glitzy enough for some people.
How's the Pool? Okay. The pool doesn't have any theme except for a giant tile "R" built into its floor. It's a good place to sun or swim, but not to find hardbodies or be seen.
Resort Fee: (What is this?)
$11 per night. You get a bunch of nonsense, including fitness center access, incoming faxes, local and toll-free calls, lounge entertainment, tennis and pool access, pool towels, parking, enrollment in slot club and discounts around the hotel.
Table Games: Lots of single deck blackjack, craps, single zero roulette, baccarat and some of the kooky games. It's standard for the North Strip, meaning slightly lower limits than the Center or South Strip.
Bet Minimums: $5 wagers during the week and slow times. It can go up on the weekends. Look for standard 3x4x5x odds on craps. The single deck blackjack pays 3:2 and you can only double down on 10:11. Roulette is single zero and is a $5 minimum with $1 chips.
Machines: Nickels on up. Avoid the casino's $40 in slot play for $20 gimmick. They use special machines that rarely pay back and you're likely to end up with a crummy prize like a shirt or show tickets instead of cash. If you look really hard around the perimeter poker room, you may find some full-pay Game Maker VP machines.
Cocktails? Good cocktail service with experienced (meaning veteran) cocktail waitresses there to serve drinks and not to be ogled.
Who Gets Comps? The slot club is fair, but if you have a slot club card you can usually get a better rate on rooms by calling them directly.
Banana Leaf Asian: This little joint is low pretension and low price. The menu is mostly under $10 and is pan-Asian.
Kady's: Their coffee shop is pretty standard. If you get the pancakes, they serve you more than enough. Otherwise, ham and eggs tastes like ham and eggs. Prices here are a bit lower than the fancier places south on the Strip.
Kristofer's: A typical Las Vegas steakhouse with real old-school cred. The steaks and chops here are prepared and presented the same way they were a long time ago. And the room is cool looking in a retro way. Some of the seats are on an outdoor patio overlooking the pool, which can be nice in Spring and Fall. In the morning, Krisofer's Express serves up breakfast.
Queen Victoria's British Pub: Queen Vic's is a a 24-hour-a-day bar with live bands at night and European sports on the telly. It also promises to dish up traditional British pub like footys and bangers and some American food for all three squares.
The Riv Buffet: This is a small buffet, and it's rather unspectacular. There are the standard Chinese, Mexican, American and Italian stations. However, it is cheaper than other Strip buffets. So, if you don't want fancy, just to fill your belly, this may be your choice.
There is a Mardi Gras food court with loads of dining options, including Big Burger, India Masala, Cheesesteaks Etc., La Salsa, Quizno's and Wok Express.
Le Bistro: This lounge/showroom in the middle of the casino has tons of entertainment that is slightly better than what you'd get in other lounges, but not good enough to headline a big room. Depending on the night, you may see a variety of nostalgic acts.
Comedy Club: The Riviera Comedy Club is a pretty inexpensive way to get a few yuks. It's just a traditional stand-up shop with a few jokester's per night. The acts appear to rotate a few local comedians every week, so if you plan to return, choose wisely to avoid a repeat.
Crazy Girls: Classic Vegas Cheez. Topless Girls with enormous fake boobs dance, and an insult-comic host tells tasteless and offensive jokes. Tickets are way overpriced at $40. The show is neither funny nor tittilating, and for the price, not even good for you ironic hipsters out there.
Sandy Hackett's Rat Pack Show: Sandy Hackett, son of Buddy, revives the rat pack with a group of impressionists performing as Dino, Sammy and Frank. Sandy uses tapes of his father as an ethereal voice that brings this story about the dead legends being reunited. It's great for people who miss the Rat Pack, but if you don't miss them there's not much for you.
Starlite Theater: The Starlite Theater brings in new headliners every couple of weeks. They trend toward mostly live music for an older crowd, including old R&B, hair metal cover bands, and comics who are past their prime. If you want to relive some golden age, check who's there while you're in town. If you want to live in the present, don't bother.
Number of TVs: 47 TV's total.
Number of Seats: About 20 for sports bettors, and 16 for the races - all of which have been updated since Lucky's took over on Sept. 1st.
How Many Betting Windows? Four.
Free Drinks? No, you don't get to drink for free.
Minimum Wager: $5 for sports, $2 for racing.
Other Notes: This room is small and a definite improvement over the old one. In keeping with its theme of aging clientele, it is quiet and not busy or crowded. The bar behind the sports book has good beer on tap.
Number of Tables: Six of them. The Riv wants to get in on the poker popularity, but they don't want it bad.
Comfort of Chairs: They're nothing special. Not like us. Our moms always say we're very special.
Closed Room or Open to Casino? We get the feeling they don't figure the room will be around forever. All they did was fence off a small space at one end of the casino and tossed in a few tables.
Game Spreads and Limits: The standard $2-$4 Hold 'Em, maybe $4-$8. If you get bored with that game, why not try the exotic No Limit game they also deal when they get enough interested players? They say they also deal 7-card stud. Not very often, though.
How Crowded is the Room? This room does not fill up. Expect no wait most of the time.
Comps? Food comps served up for four hours or more of play. We saw cocktail plenty of cocktail waitresses doing what they do best, which means you'll have no trouble muddying up your head with booze.
How Good Are the Players? They're not terrible, but they're not good enough to fleece the suckers at the Bellagio and nicer rooms, so you have a shot of winning if you know what you're doing.
What Else Do I Need to Know? They have some daily tournaments, but nothing all that special. The room is non-smoking, but because it's not technically a "room," and because it's inside of a casino, it's still going to stink like cigarettes. Try to get good hands while you play here, because they offer a high hand bonus.