Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Only one block from the pedestrian-only, casino-saturated heart of "Old Vegas" on Fremont Street
On Fremont Street, in Las Vegas' older downtown section, El Cortez Hotel and Casino is just east of the densely arranged, small-scale hotel-casinos. Guests are minutes by foot from the Golden Nugget, Binion's Horseshoe, and the Fremont Casino. With the exception of the Nugget, which has spent years undergoing renovations, El Cortez's neighbors generally look like the weather-beaten 20th-century relics they are. In the hotel's most immediate environs lie a nightclub, Mexican restaurant, market, and Super 8 Motel.
Known as "Glitter Gulch" or "Old Vegas" -- where the city first started to develop its hotel-casinos back in 1906 -- downtown Vegas consists of about 15 smaller-scale hotels and casinos on the westernmost four blocks (about a half-mile) of Freemont Street, an area closed to vehicular traffic and lined with mobile stands selling T-shirts, caricatures, jewelry, and other touristy gewgaws.
Though typically cheaper, the hotel-casinos here -- save the famed Golden Nugget -- are a bit less wild and exciting than the dazzling stretch of newer giants along the Strip (about two-and-a-half miles south of downtown). The area is quieter, the average visitor tends to be closer to retiree-age than clubber-age, and the main draws tend to be low-minimum tables, nickel slots, and cheap eats like Golden Gate's 99-cent shrimp cocktail.
But there is a kitschy charm to these brightly lit streets -- a slice of the Las Vegas of yesteryear. You can spot the neon cowboy, Vegas Vic, waving howdy from over a gift shop. And anyone visiting Vegas shouldn't miss downtown's nightly music, light, and video show cast over the evening skyline, the Fremont Street Experience.
With cheap rates and a quiet, one-block distance from the Freemont Street Experience, El Cortez is a great pick if you can snag one of the funky new Cabana Suites for about as much as a standard room elsewhere. But like most downtown hotels, there's no pool, and the small standard rooms are outdated and bare-bones.