We have been staying downtown 2-3 times per year over the last 6 years, and 6 years ago never thought the El Cortez would even be a consideration to stay in. It was a dump, dirty and delapidated, in a somewhat scary part of downtown, 2 blocks east of the Fremont Street Experience. The clientele seemed to fit the place perfectly. Smoke poured out the casino door when it opened (we smoke and we noticed the haze inside) and a foul odor hung in the air.
Over the years, I would drop in there for a moment just out of curiousity. I noticed that, unlike some other downtown properties which were falling into decay, the El Cortez was spiffing up.
Earlier this year, I convinced the better half to come in with me. She had vowed 6 yrs earlier never again. We ended up spending about 3 hours there, and she was shocked at the turnaround (but still skeptical).
We got an offer to stay in the new Cabana Suites and (after agreeing with her that we would go elsewhere if it wasn't decent there, as well as researching their remodel, etc. on the web and showing such to her) we booked, opting for a Tower room as the Suites are non-smoking. I'm glad we did, as the Cabana Suites are also across the street, not attached to the main building.
The changes are not superficial.
Services were excellent all around. When we booked they gave us a room number. We arrived about an hour before check-in time and the room was ready (same room number they had given us a month earlier). Not once did we see a smudge print on the elevator panel, nor anywhere in it (although it is a pet peeve of mine, that nearly every property that has a nice big furnishing in the hall when you exit the elevator has been knicked but good by the maids vacuum and isn't touched up. Same here) . The room was large, clean (no fear of being barefoot as in some other properties) and well appointed. No flat screen TV, but it was big enough. Except for the TV, it looked just like the picture on their website (believe me, many of the other properties rooms do not). Bathroom is kinda small, but that wasn't a problem. Electronic safe is in there mounted near the floor in the closet area. You won't find amenities already in place in the room, but they're available, just call down. She needed a hairdryer and they offered to bring a frig as well. Don't see that happen often. No old noisy heat/cool unit on the floor by the window here. Output and air intake are vented from the ceiling with the control on the wall near the door. And no old 'popcorn' ceiling.
Gambling was fun, great mix of new and old machines (there are still coin payouts on some, old Vegas) and the limits are low on the tables ($3 BJ with 3/2 and 25 cent roulette with $1 minimum) which is nice if you hit a cold streak. Casino was very clean at all times in the 3+ days we stayed. It was common to see not just maintenance people picking up around the place, but floor people, servers, and security as well. Machines were being wiped down and no trash and empty cups/bottles laying round them. The air was clear and no odors. Carpet and floors all clean. Fellow patrons were friendly, it has a loyal following.
We ate each day at the Cafe Cortez. Great food and a lot of it for cheap (frig came in handy for leftovers). And yes, Jackie is around, he ate at the next table Sunday morning. Didn't try The Flame or the hot dog cart, but heard they were good. If you don't want to stop gambling to eat, they have a service to deliver food to you. We forgot to try that, but saw many people using it.
There are still some characters in there, but that's typical downtown. Security is abundant, inside and out. Not once did we see any disturbance. The short walk to the Experience is plenty safe, day or night. We walked one night to Binion's to eat at the coffee shop there (sure glad we did, as unfortunately it will be gone in a couple of weeks) and had no problem at all. But the fact is, we enjoyed the El Cortez so much, that was the only time we left the property.
Bottom line, the El Cortez ranks #2 as far as downtown properties go (Golden Nugget is #1, but much more expensive). If your looking for a hip crowd and expensive duds, go to the GN. But if your like us, average working class people, the EC is the place to go.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Constructed in 1941, the El Cortez Hotel and Casino is the oldest consistently running gaming property in Las Vegas. It is located in the Fremont East Entertainment District in historic downtown Las Vegas. With 362 hotel rooms including the Cabana Suites, El Cortez features full-pay single deck 21, 10x odds on craps, state of the art roulette and over 1000 slot machines. El Cortez is proudly affiliated with Michael Gaughan's South Point Sports Book. Dining options at El Cortez include: Cafe Cortez, The Flame Steakhouse, and Subway. The property also includes a gift shop and full-service beauty and barber shop. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- El Cortez Hotel Las Vegas
- El Cortez Hotel And Casino
- El Cortez Las Vegas