When The Hard Rock Hotel debuted is was the fresh new kid on the block with a rock and roll theme, trying to change the game in terms of audience, ambience, and attitude. It was Rage Against the Machine; Alanis Morrisette; U2; Hootie and the Blowfish? Yes, it was 1995, which in Vegas terms means that the Hard Rock is no longer the young upstart, it's the aging rocker still trying to be relevant. It's Bon Jovi. It's Kiss. It's kind of like Cher.
It's amazing what a couple hundred million dollars can do for an aging rocker's appearance. No, that's not a Cher joke.
The Hard Rock underwent a tranformation a few years back, turning a relatively small niche property into something much larger and much more mainstream. Depending on your tastes, there is both good and bad in that, but for the average Vegas visitor its mostly good.
A newer addition to the casino has hundreds of slots and dozens of table games plus a couple of bars and restaurant space. It's much more upscale in design terms than the older space, all done in dark woods and metal giving it a lustrous, luxe sheen. If I were to gamble at the Hard Rock, this is the area I would choose.
The original check in desk and Porte Corchere are still in existence but there is a second with its own parking garage, valet parking area (complete with an enclosed, climate controlled waiting area - nice touch!), and check-in for the HRH Tower Suites. Done in more of that dark wood offset by glowing, backlit marble and glass, it's decidedly more fancy than anything the older part of the hotel has to offer.
There are nightclubs, two concert venues (the big barn-like Joint and the more intimate Vinyl), shops, restaurants, and a Turkish Bath themed spa among other diversions. The latter, in an effort to perhaps prove that this is not your father's spa, features a room with stripper poles so you can "exercise" your inner thighs, I suppose. They also have a live version of the male strip show seen in the Channing Tatum "Magic Mike" movies. Check out the Related Reviews below for some of the dining and entertainment options.
The pool area has two sandy-bottomed beach areas, beach clubs, gaming, and more acres of hot, tanned, toned bodies than you may have believed could be possible.
Finally we get to the rooms. The original hotel tower is still in operation of course but now there are two newer options.
The Paradise Tower is located just off the older of the parking garages that faces Paradise Road. The rooms here are bigger and nicer than the original Casino Tower rooms and are done in varying shades of brown, black, and white, which should be cold and sterile but actually comes off warmer than it has any right to. Packed with the all of the latest amenities - cushy beds, plush furniture, built in desks, flat panel televisions, iPod docking stations, wireless Internet, and more. About the only way in which they suffer by comparision to the Casino Tower rooms is that these don't have the nice French doors and balconies. Pity.
Also worth noting is that the Paradise Tower rooms only have a shower - no tub - so if you are looking for a soak, try a different tower.
The HRH Tower perhaps. An all suite facility, the rooms come in two basic packages. King rooms are more of a studio with an entertainment center separating a sleeping and living area. Queen rooms have a formal wall with pocket doors between the two areas. Both have their pluses with the Queen rooms offering more privacy but the King rooms ultimately feel more spacious (even though they really aren't). The decor here is mostly white and black, all very sleek and modern.
Special touches in these rooms include iPod docking stations built into the walls and a touchscreen, programmable jukebox of sorts. Guests can set up their own playlists from a library of thousands of songs or they can tap into the music being played in other parts of the hotel, from the casino to restaurants to the nightclubs. Pretty cool.
Bathrooms here feature a full tub and are much more spacious than those in the Paradise or Casino towers.
Speaking of the Casino Tower, those got a 2016 makeover that put in all new furnishings, swank decor, and lots of plush amenities like 55" TVs. And don't forget about the aforementioned balconies, which are quite nice, at least in theory. Whether you will ever use yours, especially when it's a bazillion degrees outside, is probably doubtful.
The location of the property still leaves a bit to be desired - it is off 'The Strip' by about a mile, which doesn't sound like a lot unless you are planning to walk that distance in 110 degree heat. There are more options nearby these days in terms of dining and shopping so it isn't quite as isolated as it used to be but you're still going to have to cab it to get to The Strip.
Prices these days are less pricey than they used to be or at least seem like they are in comparison. Weekday rates start as low as $89 although $130-$180 is more common and weekends are usually in the $200 and up range. Don't forget that's before the $31 per night resort fee. That's expensive, to be sure, but with the expansion there is a lot more that comes with those rates.
The overall affect of the Hard Rock these days is much more grown up. True, the young party-all-the-time crowd that seems to flock to this place hasn't stopped coming but the good news for everyone else is that hotel now has a lot more to offer, which means that if you can stand to be around the party-all-the-time crowd, you have a new option for your next Vegas visit.
Aging rockers never looked so good.