The Good: None that I could find
The Bad: Atmosphere, "Atmosphere," Boring slots, Everything!
The Basics: One of the least pleasant places on Earth I have ever spent time in, the Hard Rock Casino is somewhere I would not want to be caught dead(or alive)in.
I pride myself on the thoroughness of my reviews. As I get my credibility up in some new review categories outside the media ones, I sometimes feel the need to reiterate that I have standards that I take very seriously. As a result, I usually force myself to experience the totality of any experience in order to be able to review it fairly. So, for example, I sat through all of The Benchwarmers so you wouldn't have to (if you take my advice and avoid the film).
So when an experience is so terrible that I will not complete it - in the case of my casino reviews, that means exploring all of the peripherals as thoroughly as possible - it truly means something. I spent one hour in the Hard Rock Hotel And Casino before I was so disgusted, exhausted and dirty (yes, actually covered in . . . eww, I guess other people's sweat and airborne grease) that I had to leave. I'm lucky I made it fifty-five minutes. And the thing is, even without going to every nook and cranny in the place, I remain confident that I can review it with the fairness, objectivity and reality it deserves.
Hard Rock Hotel and Casino: came in with $5.00, left with $0.00 and the smokiest shirt I had in Las Vegas.
The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino is a giant hotel and casino located at 4455 Paradise Road in Las Vegas, Nevada. For those unfamiliar with Las Vegas, Paradise Road is a block over from The Strip. The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino is opposite my preferred Las Vegas residence, the Las Vegas Comfort Inn (reviewed here!). It is a mammoth building and at this time, there is construction going on outside that makes it look like the front might be getting a face-lift.
The casino is essentially one large, circular room with a dance floor/club in the middle surrounded by a ring of video slot machines and table games. Entering through the hotel portion, one ascends a long hallway/ramp to enter the casino (which, come to think of it, bears a pretty strong resemblance to Ops on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine). To get into the casino, one passes a few restaurants and gift shops.
The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino is a fairly large casinos in Las Vegas, though the whole purpose of it seems much more to be seen and socialize than actually gamble. The ceiling in the main casino is exceptionally high, at least two stories up. The casino is essentially organized as an outer ring, the outside walls of which are shops and hallways to other parts of the casino, with an inner ring of gaming machines, tables and pole dancers, and an inner circle, an exclusive club of young people who are packed in after being confirmed that they are single.
The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino is easily the worst place I went to gamble in Las Vegas for both literal and figurative atmosphere. First, despite the high ceilings, the Hard Rock Casino is hot and packed with smoke. I don't know how they do it, but the cigarette, cigar and "other" smoke does not dissipate or ascend. The place was, I kid not, foggy on the Saturday night I went there. In addition to the heavy scent of various forms of smoke, it is dark and loud. It is loud to the point of being unpleasant. It is loud to the point that I cannot tell you what the music that was playing was, but that it was constant, bass-driven and gave me a splitting headache within fifteen minutes of my arrival.
As for the "atmosphere," the Hard Rock Casino is certainly geared toward the younger clientele. The average consumer at the Hard Rock is a tattooed, pierced and/or unrealistically buff guy or a ridiculously drunk, anorexically thin, barely-clad young woman. My mother (over fifty) likes going to the Hard Rock Casino because she tends to get through any lines quickly (she claims) because they want to get past her so more young, good looking people can get in. I think one needs to seriously re-evaluate what is considered "good looking" when sobbing, vomiting blondes are the standard. It is worth noting that with all of the casinos I went to, the Hard Rock was the only one that appeared to have attracted that level of clientele that does not seem to know its limits when it comes to alcohol consumption. And given that I SAW five drunken, vomiting young women, one has to imagine how bad the place is. And for those who think my description of the "atmosphere" of the Hard Rock casino might be either unfair or gratuitously graphic, I think that giving the realistic evaluation is far more helpful than mollycoddling my readers. So, when I say I saw five vomiting women, I'm not talking about discrete acts discharging, I'm saying in the hallways, on the gaming floor, it is (apparently) not uncommon for the overly drunk women to turn and heave up their last few drinks.
Sadly, I suspect somewhere there is a date rapist reading those lines and is right now booking their ticket to Vegas.
Yeah, the Hard Rock is populated by White Hats and Sorority chicks and the whole place has the mentality of that sort of dumb frat-boy existence.
As for the "atmosphere" of the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, the serving women were all fit, and appealing to the young crowd. They stride around in high heels and miniskirts and . . . come to think of it, I have no remembrance of what they wore on top, but I recall seeing a lot of midriffs, so whatever it was, it was separated. The employees at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino are clearly there to be seen as well and the women work that aspect to their best advantage. The men working there slouched around in black shirts and jeans and they didn't seem to know much about where things were in the casino.
Then there were the pole dancers. Near one bank of blackjack tables was a line of three pole-dancing women. This was not a striptease type pole dance, but rather three women separately moving to the music in their own special way. As many who might have read my other reviews will note, I'm all for places that appeal to an adult audience. I have no problem with pole dancing women (the feminist in me proudly reminds the prude inside that it's their choice!) but at the Hard Rock Casino I realized that pole dancers are not my taste. Maybe it's that they were too tame (life's too short for softcore, as they say), maybe I prefer my erotica in a private setting that I'm not sharing with hundreds of people whom I would not want to shake hands with, or maybe I like the people who are dancing to look like they have something they are getting out of it or expressing by the dancing. The pole dancers at the Hard Rock Casino looked unhappy, their motions almost universally mechanized between the three of them. They reminded me of the automaton characters from Chuck E. Cheese's. So passionatelessly and miserably did they move. They were the antithesis of erotic and, in fact, after about half a minute of watching them, quickly became unpleasant to gaze upon. Miserable people should not be dancing for a living (check out my review of the Rio when I post it for a great counterpoint!).
So, as far as atmosphere goes, if you're not into the young, hip crowd or didn't like fraternities when you were in college or just don't like having to dodge vomit and stumbling partiers just to go gamble, the Hard Rock Casino might not be for you. But hey, if you like those things and want to spend an evening watching Wannabe Rocker Ken and Daterape Barbie make a fool out of themselves, this is a great site to hit!
Gaming Options/Player's Club
I'm primarily a slot machine player and I have no shame in admitting, I tend to like the ones that are more video game-like, have more girly themes and/or fun bonus rounds. At the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, I was lost in a sea - or circle - of the most boring, generic video slot machines I encountered in Las Vegas. They were largely the type of slot machines that mimic poker hands or otherwise lack creativity or anything visually interesting to draw players toward them. Note to Hard Rock Casino: Develop a Rolling Stones video slot machine; five of Mick Jagger's kidney stones could be the jackpot. Second to that would be Keith Richards cigarette butts, line five of them up for $1,000!
Because there were no music-based video slots (actually, I think I did see one of the Village People) at the Hard Rock Casino, I sat and played The Munsters for five minutes before losing the five dollars I came in with and walking around to make more observations for my review. This had the least distinctive and least interesting video slot machines of any casino I went to in Las Vegas.
For those who might be into games of chance and card games over video slot machines, there are over fifty tables with table games, including blackjack, roulette wheels, craps, and Let It in the same circle of games as the video slots.
There is a player's club at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, which is the Rockstar Club. Signing up is easy and the lines to get the card were always short. The worker at the desk was friendly enough when I signed up, though he seemed surprised that I was not psyched over the possibility of earning one hundred points to get a minor discount on a steak dinner at one of the casino's restaurants. I did not earn enough points in my limited gambling to redeem for anything.
The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino is a place to see people and be seen for the young, hip crowd. There are concerts there occasionally, yet surprisingly they were poorly advertised within the casino. Rumor is there are pools, gardens and grounds, but frankly, I got sick of the atmosphere and I just wanted out.
The primary form of entertainment within the Hard Rock does appear to be watching the (supposedly not) mechanized pole dancers or dancing and drinking in the singles section in the center of the room.
In the center of the casino is an extensive bar, but you'd have to fight through legions of sweaty (and not comfortably, discreetly sweaty, but drunk, energetic, dripping sweat sweaty) guys and women who are coated in sweat, perfume and whatever has been spilled upon them.
There is also a steakhouse and the Pink Taco restaurant in the Hard Rock Casino. There may well be more, but I fled before getting sick in addition to the headache the smoke and music brought about. I am fairly certain I passed a coffee shop on the way out. While I did enjoy eating at the Hard Rock Café in New York (reviewed here!), I did not try the Vegas one for food.
Yes, there's a gift shop and there were a few places to buy . . . something (clothes, maybe?) in the outer ring of the casino. They were brightly lit, but it's not worth using my time with regression hypnosis to recall those details. Seriously, shopping is not the main reason to go into the Hard Rock Casino and if you're thinking of going in there to shop, whatever you think you need there can probably be purchased cheaper and with less hassle on-line.
Wow, it does seem to be my day for panning things, huh? The Hard Rock Hotel And Casino, though, is an easy hit for me. This place was so bad that when I left, my bare arms were literally coated in some fluid that I could not identify and I was sure had not come from me (I seldom perspire). Fortunately, whatever that substance (I'm assuming some mix of condensed sweat, smoke, alcohol and nicotine) was, it came right off in the shower, but I really felt the need to scrub to the point of irritation.
That's how unpleasant this casino was.
For other casino reviews, please check out my takes on:
The Rio Casino
Greektown Casino, Michigan
For other travel reviews, please be sure to visit my Travel Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2012, 2008 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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