- Decor in hotel common areas is bland and/or dated
- Casino is horribly smoky (more so than most in Vegas)
- Long check-in lines
- Steep daily resort fee
An unremarkable Vegas hotel where guests are lured by cheap rates and a prime location
In our original review of Bally’s we described the hotel as the place “where casinos go to die,” and from our most recent visit, we can say that not too much has changed -- and this is even after taking the Jubilee Tower and Indigo Tower room renovations into consideration. Try as they might, these modern updates can't override the overall dumpy atmosphere created by the buildings’ dingy grey exterior, dim lobby, and busy food courts. The casino, with its low hanging ceilings and clouds of cigarette smoke, still attracts an older, slot-loving crowd, while a younger clientele with an affinity for buckets of Miller Lite and ill-fitting swimwear still gathers around the pool. The commonality that unites them? The need for a cheap place to stay on The Strip.
Smack dab in the middle of The Strip
One thing Bally’s really has going for it is its location. Smack dab in the center of The Strip, the hotel is truly in the heart of Vegas. The Bellagio and Caesars Palace are across the street, the Paris is next door, and it’s within walking distance to attractions like The High Roller and the Forum Shops. Conveniently, Bally’s also has its own monorail stop. Like almost every other hotel on the Strip, Bally’s is about a 15-minute drive from McCarran International Airport. Although the hotel offers free parking, there’s really no need to rent a car if The Strip is your final destination. The Strip is incredibly walkable and cabs and Uber are easy to come by.
Renovated rooms in two towers have very different personalities
Bally’s is composed of two towers, Jubilee and Indigo. The earplugs guests receive upon check-in are probably the best indication of what this side of the hotel has in store. Built above the casino, the Jubilee Tower is subject to nighttime disturbances. All of the rooms are spiffy and bright thanks to a 2013 renovation, but they're not so incredible that guests can overlook the noise. Jubilee rooms have an appealing-at-first-glance retro-modern look, with fun red circle-print wallpaper; dramatically high, white-upholstered headboards; and white bedding with red accents that distracts from the dreary brown carpet and chairs.
The Indigo Tower is a better option for guests who’d like to sleep during their stay. Set away from the casino, this side of the hotel tends to be quieter at night. Certain floors were completely revamped in 2014. An initial glance of an Indigo room could bring "shabby-chic" to mind, but a deeper (i.e. three-second) inspection finds them far more shabby than chic. That's not to say they're dingy, but the sand-colored walls and carpet and traditional light-wood bed frames, side tables, and entertainment systems leave a lot to be desired. Plus the other furnishings -- blue velvet seating, glass coffee tables, stacked-ball floor lamps, marble-top desks -- look mismatched and random. Bathrooms feature large walk-in showers and sparkly white solid surface counter tops. Some suites have jetted tubs and awesome views of The Strip and the Eiffel Tower at the Paris next door.
Nothing that outshines any other Vegas hotel
Like many Vegas hotels, the casino is the first amenity guests lay eyes on as they enter the hotel (or wait on a notoriously long check-in line). Yet, unlike many Vegas hotels, the casino isn’t some kind of awe-inducing space of lights and sounds. There’s nothing particularly special about Bally’s casino, and we’d bet money that it could be easily swapped for some low-caliber Atlantic City lookalike without anyone noticing. The sexy young clientele who stomp around the Wynn and the Venetian in short dresses and spiked heels don’t really make it over to Bally’s. Instead, the mid-size casino (70,000 square feet compared to the MGM Grand’s 170,000) is filled mostly with walker-clad OAPs who chain-smoke while endlessly feeding the slots. Thanks to them and the room’s low ceilings, Bally’s casino is routinely choked by clouds of cigarette smoke.
Bally’s pool is clean, and relatively large enough to allow families, couples, and beer-guzzling bachelors to carve out their own spaces. The pool overlooks the hotel’s parking garage and the occasional passing monorail, and from some vantage points, you can even see the High Roller. The pool is surrounded by loads of strappy plastic lounge chairs -- all of which appear to have seen better days. Don’t bother upgrading to a cabana, as it’s little more than a semi-private covered patio with a hanging flat-screen TV, some questionable cabinetry, and a few stained cushioned lounge chairs. The pool bar looks like a run down town pool snack bar, save for the sexy lady and Absolut Vodka wall mural.
The Bally Avenue Shoppes is an unimpressive mini-mall of 20 stores, including a We-R-Nuts and a discount shoe store. It’s just across from the food court, which features classic food court options like Nathan’s Hot Dogs, Sbarro, Subway, and a build your own frozen yogurt bar.
Access to the fitness center is included in the resort’s daily fee. It’s dated, but in fairly good condition, and features StarTrac, Precor and StairMaster cardio equipment as well as a surplus of weight-training machines. The cookie-cutter Spa by Bally could be swapped with Rio’s spa (another Harrah’s property) and you wouldn’t know the difference. While it does offer a full range of facial, massage, and beauty services, we’d say it’s worth it to cough up a few extra bucks for a treatment at the Bellagio’s more luxurious spa across the street.
One feature that has really improved since our last visit is Bally’s culinary scene. Along with its food court, handful of bars and lounges, and lobby coffee shop, Bally’s now has several exciting restaurant options, including a family-style Italian eatery, a casual Mexican taqueria, a fine dining South East Asian concept, and world renowned BLT Steak.
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