Ever seen MTV's Spring Break programming? Well, that's pretty much what it looks like at the pool. There are more fake I.D.'s in this place at any given time than in the entire city of Cambridge, Mass. The rooms here are quite nice, the pool is fantastic. The restaurants and casino ain't bad either. Too bad there is so much attitude and so many dips in the place.
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Room Quality: The rooms are a nice size, very clean and tastefully furnished, IKEA style. The two-bed rooms come with two queens, and the one-bed rooms have kings. Two big French doors open up onto the pool (at least those on the pool side do), or a view of the Strip or valley. There is no balcony, though, just doors that open up onto a protective railing. Rumor has it that room service will bring you Oreos and milk if you pay them enough. The bathrooms in the older tower are blah, and the sink is weird, because some designer bought really non-functional faucets. However, this is all fixed in the newer tower, where the bathrooms have tubs large enough for two, functional faucets, marble floors, counters and walls. If you love your bathrooms, make sure you get put in the newer part of the hotel. You get a robe in the rooms, but you can't keep it for free. Flat screen TVs and a stereo too. You can't keep them, either. Looking to go fancier than a regular room? Try the larger, swankier suites in the HRH Tower. The smallest suites are over 700 s.f. and have 2000 songs juke boxes, a couple TVs and the bathrooms have big 'ol tubs that seat two.
Service Quality: Good. If you aren't old, they will treat you like you belong there. It helps a lot to have a goatee (boys) or fake boobs (girls). Vice versa isn't much help. Take your I.D., though, because they are really scared of being raided thanks to their reputation a hotspot for the youth.
What You Get Bottles of in the Bathroom: It's all snooty Gilchrist and Soames stuff, which is actually made in Indiana. The bottles used to be larger than average hotel fare, but they have cut back and now the bottles are nothing special.
Clientele: Single fraternity and sorority members in their 20's, looking to become unsingle or at least get some action. There also is a perpetual cougar advisory. And, of course, sort of creepy older guys trolling for young women impressed by the appearance of wealth.
How's the Pool? Top notch. A great place for picking up chicks or guys, which is what this place is all about. It looks like it came right out of MTV Spring Break. There are sand beaches along a meandering stream-like pool, and plenty of places to ogle the opposite sex. There is a bar area with swim-up blackjack. Just bring lots of sunblock in case you get on a roll with the opposite sex. We have body-image issues, so we'll be the guys in the T-shirts down to our knees.
Resort Fee: (What is this?)
$18 per night. You get valet parking, Strip shuttle, fitness center access, local and long-distance calls (make a chatty friend in Malaysia), self-parking (so do non-guests) and pool towels.
Table Games: The casino has many tables of all the popular games like blackjack, roulette and craps. The blackjack once had generous rules, but no longer and now some are 6:5. The bastards! If you want to watch go-go dancers while you wager, check out the little Hells' Belle's area of the casino.
Bet Minimums: Five bucks or higher for craps, with 3x4x5x odds. Blackjack starts at $10, but don't go looking for tables at those rates on weekend nights when the LA jackasses hit the town. Roulette is played with $1 chips and a $5 minimum. They often have a few sucker games for $5, like Caribbean Stud and No-bust 21.
Machines: Slots from a penny to $100. The slots have "rock" themes with as well as all the typical lame sot themes based on old TV shows and movies.
Cocktails? Fair cocktail service.The waitresses (who are often very pretty) here are more likely to get a big tipper drunk, and a big tipper means $5 a drink. In our experience, if you're just an average joe who tips the average amount, they won't be back very often.
Who Gets Comps? We've gotten a couple of free nights here, but only because they thought we were someone we're not. Mostly, you need to be playing the black chips to get free rooms. At the slots, the Rockstar club gives you decent rebate in play. They also rate $10 and up bettors at their tables. Not sure what they do with that information, but we know they will rate you if you ask.
Ago: Tuscan Italian with a view of the pool. There is a fair number of vegetarian pastas mixed in with pastas with seafood and meats such as wild boar. There are also some solid meat dishes like lamb, veal and pork chops, and squab. Seriously, squab.
Hard Rock Cafe: On the edge of the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino property is the Hard Rock Cafe, just like in every other big city. The food is overpriced, the music is too loud and there is a lot of rock and roll memorabilia on the wall. This is not within the hotel, but about 100 yards away.
Johnny Smalls: The shareable menu is going hog wild in Las Vegas with taps places opening up left and right. This joint offers shareable meals, basically appetizers, including Asian, tapas, Italian, Mexican and American. It's casual, and if you eat light, cheap. If you want a meal, though, plan to bring a few friends and order several bites to split up.
Mr. Lucky's: The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino's "rockin'" version of a coffee shop is, well, a coffee shop, but with more types of appetizers on the menu. Ask the waitress what the unadvertised specials are, because they have a great steak and shrimp special that isn't on the menu.
Nobu: Outstanding food, pretentious atmosphere and high prices. It's Japanese cuisine with a Latin American twist. All we can think of is former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori. They have a reputation for having the best sushi in Vegas, but we have a suspicion that comes from the high regard this place's New York outpost owned. That's not to say it's bad fish, but we're always wary of reputations. Open for dinner only.
Pink Taco: Yes, the title is somewhat vulgar, but that's what the kids dig. It's a loud place for Mexican food by way of California. Better food can be had in California at an El Pollo Loco or Rubio's. But since you're not in California, this may have to suffice. If you need attitude with your salsa, you'll love it here.
Rare 120: They say they are taking the "stuffy" steakhouses of the past and putting a hip spin on it. Hmmm. The menu includes a lot of staples of the modern steakhouse (of which there are many in Vegas), including loads of steak, plus Chilean Sea Bass, tuna and lobster tail. They also claim their a la carte menu is revolutionary. In fact most Vegas steakhouses are now a la carte. It's just a way to make your meal cost more with looking too pricey on the menu.
There's a Starbucks here. What? You thought there wouldn't be? Want your coffee Italian-style? Try the Espumoso Caffe.
Center Bar: In the middle of the main casino is a huge, round bar where hipsters in turtlenecks and slinky dresses drink martinis, smoke overpriced cigars and partake of a mating ritual that would surely be of interest to National Geographic. Go, sit back, and watch with amused detachment as guys and girls try a little too hard.
The Joint: A rock concert venue that seats about 2000 and has very good sound. Check the schedule on their web site because they have some of the most interesting acts coming to town.
SkyBar: This joint is right by the pool and servies as a dayclub and nightclub. This is a hipster joint with super-pricey drinks and lots of places to lounge. Its best feature is probably looking at folks in bathing suits by the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino pool.
Vanity: Joining the crowded field on one-word name upscale nightclubs is Vanity. It has two marble bars, 14,000 s.f. and 50 private VIP booths, so there are plenty of opportunities to pay a fortune for bottle service (it starts at $500... seriously). Looks to us like another place that has artificially manufactured its own exclusivity.
Number of TVs: A wall of TVs, none of which are huge, but all are close enough to read the fine print in the male enhancement ads.
Number of Seats: They have about 75 seats. They are big continuous and stuffed. Nicely comfortable.
How Many Betting Windows? About seven, backed up by electronic signboards.
Free Drinks? You need to get a free drink chit when you place your bet, then pray that the ballgame you're watching doesn't go into extra innings.
Snack Bar? No snacks, and no snack bar nearby.
Minimum Wager: $5 will get you in the sports action, $2 for racing.
Other Notes: The sportsbook is managed by Cantor, who claims it is a sportsbook and sports bar. Really, though, it's just a small-sized joint with easy access to hooch.
Number of Tables: Eight tables fill this nice, but small, room. The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino tried going with a really great poker room, but have scaled it back considerably.
Comfort of Chairs: The seats are very comfortable, high-backed suede with rollers. This setup is not only comfortable but safe as the high backs will keep you from spilling out when you go careening across the room after a huge win.
Closed Room or Open to Casino? This is an open room across from the casino floor. There is plenty of ambient noise and obnoxiously loud music to make your eardrums bleed.
Game Spreads and Limits: No limit is $1-$2 and $2-$5 are regulars, with $3-$6 and $4-$8 limit less regular. They may get a mixed game going if there is enough interest.
Beginner Games or Classes? No, but they will teach you if it is slow and you ask nicely. Also, if you have large breasts spillin gout of your shirt, you have a better chance.
How Crowded is the Room? This room does not get the action the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino had hoped. Occasionally they may get as many as five tables going, but its usually between one and four with little noise.
Comps? It's a tiered structure with the lowest limit games netting a buck an hour for you, and the fancier games getting you $1.50. They also have high hand jackpots, which is a comp of sorts, but only for good players. So, not us.
How Good Are the Players? The players are generally pretty poor. For now, a few sharks may be prowling the $2-$5 and up no limit games. But at the lower limits, you're going to find a lot of yahoos who come down from their rooms and are filling time until the nightclubs open. Late weekend nights have to be a virtual feeding frenzy.
What Else Do I Need to Know? This is a good room with plenty of space. It's nice except for the noise and the number of lookyloos. There are two deep-stack daily tournaments.