This year my summer break was a week on the Vegas Strip at Harrah’s. Usually, when I visit the Vegas Strip it’s for a meeting or checking out something specific. This Vegas vacation is especially fun because I spend the entire week (mostly) on the Vegas Strip like a tourist without a plan.
My friend has Diamond status with Caesars Rewards and was able to get complimentary rooms at Harrah’s. It made sense to stay at the home of one of the best Diamond (Laurel) Lounges in Las Vegas. This trip report won’t detail everything we did. Rather, I’ll highlight some specific experiences during the trip starting with the hotel.
Homebase: Harrah’s – Vegas Vacation
One thing I’ve noticed over the years is how well Harrah’s treats Diamond members. That’s still the case. It feels as though the higher tier customers are like a big fish in a small pond.
At Caesars Palace, Paris Las Vegas, and Planet Hollywood Diamond members are a dime a dozen and it’s noticeable at times. That’s not the case at Harrah’s and it shows from the level of VIP service. Having said that, I’m not sure I’d stay at Harrah’s unless I was with someone who’s Diamond or Seven Stars.
The recently renovated Valley Tower room at Harrah’s Las Vegas was unspectacular but nice. The bed was not the best for a Caesars property. It definitely wasn’t close to being the worst. That’s reserved for Planet Hollywood.
The one standout from the room was the powerful shower. I couldn’t get enough of it. There’s nothing like power washing a night of Vegas away.
I’m not sure if this is new but housekeeping worked in pairs. The rooms were clean in minutes. Not only were they fast but the rooms were actually clean. Harrah’s has the best housekeeping I’ve experienced at a Caesars property in years.
One night in downtown Las Vegas
There has to be one night of downtown Vegas if you’re enjoying a week on vacation here. My friends don’t listen to me often but this is one thing that they’ve taken to heart.
Our downtown Vegas vacation adventure started with a quick preview of the new sportsbook and renovated Vue Bar at The D. Most of the seats have been removed at the sports book but there are new TV’s you can stand around and watch. This is more of a place to bet than a destination to watch games.
There’s not much of a difference at Vue Bar besides new TV’s. However, the video poker games play faster than any others I’ve experienced. At least it felt that way. The speed is manic and stressful for a person that usually plays on slow or medium speed at the most.
We also enjoyed two Happy Hours at Pizza Rock. The meatballs, pizzas, and beer sandwiched a few hours of Craps and Pai Gow at Downtown Grand. Did you know that Pizza Rock sold 8,000 orders of extra ranch dressing last year? I believe they’re $0.50 each additional order. Ranch dressing is nasty but I guess people like it.
Dinner at Martorano’s inside Paris Las Vegas was good but not amazing. The meatball salad appetizer and fresh mozzarella were both excellent. The “best chicken parm in Vegas” was not the best chicken parm in Vegas. Regardless, I had a great time with great friends.
Pai Gow Poker is the best
Recently we shared a video of Bill Simmons complaining about bad gambling on the Vegas Strip. That hit me a few years ago and that’s when I started moving my bankroll to Pai Gow Poker.
I like Pai Gow Poker but I especially enjoy playing Pai Gow Poker at The Cromwell Hotel and Casino. The dealers are almost always great. Over the years I’ve found them to be some of the most fun dealers anywhere in Las Vegas. It’s almost as if they understand most players are just looking to push and drink.
Coolers may or may not be real but after this trip, I think they might be real. The newest cooler I noticed was the Pai Gow Poker cooler. This was usually a male dealer with no personality that deals super fast. He seemed to be brought in to close a table or section.
I ran into this at The Cromwell as well as Harrah’s. Maybe I just had too much vodka but I’m pretty sure these coolers wanted us dead.
Also be sure to read: The Cromwell | Some Of The Best Affordable Gambling On The Strip
New Linq is new
The Linq recently renovated the casino section near the Vegas Strip, sportsbook, and shopping promenade. Re:Match bar gets a lot of the publicity because it opens to the Vegas Strip and has Mario Kart games that look “interesting” for a Las Vegas casino.
There are also new LED light installations throughout the casino. They’re a nice visual addition for entries and passthrough areas. I wasn’t the only person stopping to take a video of the lights.
Many of the table games near Re:Match offer low $5-$10 limits during the day. The additions like hologram and virtual reality aren’t meant for me and I never saw anyone playing. I’m not sure they’ll last.
Unlike some other casinos, the stadium games were busy whenever I walked through the casino after 7 am. I didn’t notice a special DJ dropping dope beats but there was definitely energy here.
The Book (sports book) bar installed some new Interblock gaming machines that offer more than just video poker, slots and keno. They also use paper straws if that’s something that bothers you. It seems like people have feelings about straws.
Hell’s Kitchen was awesome
My first two visits to Gordon Ramsay restaurants were awful. I thought he was trying to kill me. I have no desire to return to the steakhouse or pub but I’ve enjoyed two very good meals at Hell’s Kitchen. Our dinner here was fantastic and the service was as good as any restaurant I’ve been to in Las Vegas.
My opinion of this dinner could be from the delicious pinot grigio, but I recall a fantastic night. Oh yeah, I discovered pinot grigio that night and I’ll never look back. The only downside of Hell’s Kitchen was how loud the restaurant was. The noise was tolerable for two people but a large party might have to yell at each other to be heard.
Visiting Cosmopolitan for the first time this year
It’s no secret that I absolutely love the Cosmopolitan. The Chandelier is my favorite bar on the Vegas Strip whether I’m playing video poker or just hanging out. Unfortunately, I haven’t spent any time at the Cosmopolitan in 2019 until this Vegas vacation.
We had the best time playing video poker and drinking at Chandelier Bar. The staff is great, the drinks are delicious and the drink ticketing system is fair. The bar for drink tickets has been raised since my last visit. Signature cocktails now require two tickets to be comp’d. You can’t get a discount with one ticket – we asked.
An Old Fashioned with premium bourbon is also two tickets. The price is worth it. Their house Old Fashioned is too sweet. High-end spirits like Johnny Walker Blue can be comped but you’ll need four tickets. That’s about an hour of play per drink if you’re curious.
This short visit reminded me how many great times I’ve had at The Cosmopolitan over the years. The casino will eventually be sold and I’m hoping the new owners don’t ruin my favorite place to hang out on the Vegas Strip.
More Harrah’s Notes
Here are some other thoughts and things I noticed staying at Harrah’s Las Vegas.
- Sports book – I love the sports book bar. It’s a respite from the casino which can get busy. There’s always room to play and there’s always a game on.
- Fulton Street Food Hall – I had a salad here almost every day. There was nothing special about the salad but it was a very good, large, and very filling.
- Starbucks – Every morning I had a $5 grande iced coffee and $2 banana. It was a great way to start the day even though those prices are dumb. I learned that you could buy a venti ice water for $0.81 and get free refills. That’s less than you’d tip for a tiny bottle of water in the casino. I had one of these every morning after my coffee.
- Miller High Life Deal – $2.45 for a 24 ounce Miller High Life at the gift shop. Every bro was walking through the casino with a tallboy. MGM giftshops usually have similar deals if you’re ever looking for cheap beer.
- Someone asked our Pai Gow dealer if there are there any good restaurants other than Ruth’s Chris? The table chuckled for a while on that. Regardless, this is a solid home base for the price. Dining is limited at best.
More Pics and vids
I shared all my pictures and videos from vacation on Instagram Stories as they were happening. I’m currently sharing 2 or 3 pics and vids on my regular Instagram feed if you’re interested in seeing more.
All Vegas Vacation Photo Credits ©2019 Marc Meltzer