Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
Arguably even more so than the Palms, Hard Rock is one of the most unapologetically hedonistic hotels in Las Vegas. It's a place where wanna-be rock stars and, well, real rock stars can come to party, gamble, and trash their hotel rooms (of course doing so will cost you, or your record company, a fortune).
The hotel's glam factor is significantly greater here than at the other Hard Rock Hotel and Casinos around the country and the hundred or so Hard Rock Cafe franchises the world over (where you can eat an overpriced burger beside one of the many B.B. King-autographed guitars). Instead, this Hard Rock comes with premier restaurants like Nobu and Ago, a chic nightclub called Vanity, nightly live music at The Joint, a famous on-site tattoo parlor, Hart Huntington, and some of the craziest pool parties in Vegas. Perhaps because of such an extenisve amenties list, the HRH also has a rather intense dedication to upkeep; while usually a good thing, guests have remarked that construction and constant changes can be distracting and bothersome.
That said, the Las Vegas Hard Rock is a fun franchise at heart, not a luxury boutique. This means you don't miss out on the iconic memorabilia like Prince's "Purple Rain" suit, Keith Richards' guitar, or an elaborate tribute to Michael Jackson at the entrance. And with fun also comes stylish, whimsical decor: Guest rooms in each of the three towers are outfitted in bold, sexy, usually monochromatic decor.
About 1.5 miles from the Strip in a less exciting area, but there's a free shuttle service during the day to check out the Strip's attractions.
The Hard Rock occupies 16.7 acres just outside the Strip on the less popular four-lane highway called Paradise Road, which is mostly filled with strip malls, fast food joints, and plenty of traffic. There are popular restaurants within a five- to 15-minute walk of the hotel, such as a P.F. Chang's and a number of steakhouses -- Del Frisco's, Ruth's Chris, Gordon Biersch, and Morton's. In addition, there's a CVS pharmacy across the street (a three-minute walk from the hotel). But if you choose to walk, know that you're probably going to be the only person on the sidewalk.
Every half hour from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m., the Hard Rock runs a free shuttle to the MGM Grand, which is on the densely packed three-and-a-half mile long stretch of hotel-casinos known as the Strip. Many visitors like to explore all the hotels and attractions along the Strip and once you're there, it's easy to find a taxi at virtually any time of day or night. A generally less expensive option for getting around the area is also the Deuce, a double-decker bus that runs up and down the strip 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and costs $3 to ride. There's also a monorail system, which stops at MGM Grand, Bally's/Paris, Flamingo/Caesars Palace, Harrah's/Imperial Palace, the Las Vegas Convention Center, the Hilton, and the Sahara. Note, however, that the monorail stations are far from one another so it can be a long walk from the station to where you actually want to go. A single-ride ticket or one day passes are available. If you're traveling along the Strip with at least one other person, a cab is often the least expensive and most convenient option.
Virtually every hotel near the Vegas Strip is a 10- to 15-minute cab ride from McCarran International Airport.
Base-level rooms are smaller than some of the other luxury hotels in Vegas, especially the bathrooms. The rooms in the Paradise Tower (opened July 2009) and HRH Tower (opened December 2009) are still gleaming.
The standard guest rooms are bright, clean, and have fitting design touches like vintage rock 'n' roll photos. The original Casino Tower rooms got an overhaul in the spring of 2010 that left them with stylish walls, carpets, and entertainment units. But it won't take long for wear and tear to start to show (chipped paint, nicked furniture), thanks to the hard-partying clientele (evidenced by the minibar, which includes a big 375-ml. bottle of Jack Daniel's, "Whose Your Daddy Sport Energy Shot," an intimacy kit, Fusion Energy 6-Hour Energy shots, and Rehab drink -- you'll need it in the morning). The look is very modern, and the electronics -- like the 42-inch Philips flat-screen TV (that gets about 30 channels) and the Bose stereo (that doesn't come with an iPod connector) -- are up to date. (In the new Paradise and HRH Towers, the features change slightly: a Sony alarm clock with iPod adapter rather than a Bose stereo and a Sony TV instead of a Philips.) Also, unlike many of the larger hotels on the Strip, the rooms in the original tower (not the Paradise and HRH Towers) come with a set of French doors that open to a protective railing (not a balcony) -- all the better to lean precariously over.
A step up from the standard rooms, the Hard Rock opened the Paradise Tower in July 2009, which has a sleek, sexy (darker) look with red, leather furnishings. Still, even these rooms don't really compare (in both features and style) to the swanky rooms in the Encore, Wynn, Venetian,Palazzo, or even the Bellagio hotels. In December 2009, however, the hotel opened the HRH Tower, where every room is a suite with a large bathroom, and the decor is more tame and traditionally luxurious than in the Casino and Paradise Towers.
The original Casino Tower base-level rooms start at 460 square feet, big for any other city in the world, but pretty typical for a standard room in Las Vegas -- comparatively, the rooms are about the same size as those at the Bellagio, but almost half the size of the base-level rooms at thePalazzo or Encore hotels. Still, the bathrooms in the Casino Tower standard rooms are, by any standard, is small -- just a cramped room with a toilet, a stainless-steel sink, and a deep tub/shower. The bathrooms in the Paradise Tower are slightly bigger, meaning that they'd be considered big for most any other hotel in the world, but small when you compare them to some of the other luxury hotels in Vegas. HRH Tower bathrooms, however, are nice enough and big enough to begin to compete with those of the Strip luxury hotels.
The platform beds here are firm, but well-padded, and comes with a heavy comforter and quality bedding. I slept fine, but the bed didn't quite stand up to the amazing beds at the Encore or Palms hotels.
One of Vegas' best pools (with its own artificial beaches), and two spas (one small and mediocre; one posh and sexy).
In April 2012, the grotto pools reopened after undergoing renovations and saw not only structural improvements, but extended partying. "Beachlife" is the HRH's formal introduction of a four day poolside party (not that this wasn't already the case anyway). Summer Camp Fridays kick things off with water balloon fights, squirt gun battles, and other fun n' games with a raucous twist.
Rehab pool parties every Sunday in one of Las Vegas' most notorious parades of tanned and toned bare skin -- it's so popular, non-hotel guests have been known to line up early in the morning and fork over some serious cash (especially the men) just to get inside. Fortunately, hotel guests get free access (via wristbands) to the party -- though this doesn't mean you won't have to wait in line. These two grotto pools has generally referred to as "the Rehab pools."
The swank Hard Rock is off the Strip, but it knows how to throw a party -- Rehab, Vegas' best pool party; go-go dancers in the casino; live music at The Joint; partying at Vanity nightclub; stylish cuisine at Nobu or Ago.