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Downtown Vegas vs. Reno

Discussion in 'Downtown Hotels & Casinos' started by marksind, Nov 9, 2013.

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  1. marksind

    marksind Low-Roller

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    Just returned from a four day trip to Reno, staying downtown at the Eldorado. We did most of our gambling at the adjoining sister property, the Silver Legacy. It's our (wife's and my) third trip there in three years. We go to Vegas four or more times a year, staying exclusively downtown for the past three or so. I am curious as to the opinions of others who have recently been to both. It dawned on me this trip that I may be seeing more of Reno and less of Vegas for awhile.

    Reasons related to the properties themselves:
    - Excellent "low roller" options compared to downtown.
    - Clean, well-maintained and ventilated casinos (Silver Legacy, Eldorado and Atlantis anyway)
    - Superior drink quality, selection and service
    - Uniformly pleasant personnel
    - Very visible and active security
    - Large selection of on-site restaurants, bars, stores
    - Great room quality for the price
    - Free airport shuttles to and from

    Reasons related to the towns:
    - Reno is a large town rather than a city (personal preference, I guess)
    - Because of that, the airport is much smaller and easier to navigate.
    - Like downtown Vegas, there are a number of hotels/casinos closely clustered, but without the costume characters, buskers and beggars to wade through (more on that later).

    For those of you who have been both places that may be enough for your own comparison comments. For others, the rest of this might sound like I'm a travel agent for Reno, but I provide it only to explain.

    We play a lot of video poker, and the selection of "full pay" .25 machines of different types at the Silver Legacy (SL from now on) is outstanding. Same with Atlantis a few miles south of downtown. Eldorado's not so much. Check the listings at vpFree, which we found to be pretty accurate.
    - $5 limits at many SL table games at all times, even Friday night when things were pretty busy. The only 6/5 blackjack I saw was the single deck game. They've got more table games than I've seen at any downtown Vegas casino, including six or more Pai Gow tables, most at the $5 level.
    - While the properties are older, they are very well maintained and cleaned. Ventilation at the SL in particular is excellent, maybe because the ceilings are very high. Atlantis also is very nice. We didn't encounter any barely functional machines with sticky keys, blury screens and dirty facades like we do in downtown Vegas.
    - Excellent cocktail service and quality. It's getting hard for a low roller to get a decent drink while playing in downtown Vegas. Not so in Reno. The SL serves "top shelf" stuff to anyone playing. I was drinking Sam Adams beer when the server suggested Sierra Nevada IPA (bottled). I couldn't believe they'd offer something like that. Drank a bunch of it, as well as Maker's Mark, Grey Goose, and Fireball Whiskey. I never had to hunt for a server, tipping $1 a drink. This morning a server suggested I try their Bloody Mary. It was amazing. Spicy, large, and with a bean, two olives and a celery stick. One of the tastiest I can recall.
    - Security was very active in keeping the riff-raff out of the properties. We saw people escorted out on several occasions. To get onto the elevator to our room we had to show the guard our key, and there was a guard there at all hours.
    - Three properties adjoin to form one continuous "indoor downtown." The Eldorado, SL, and Circus Circus together offer enough selection of just about anything that one need not ever go outside. Eldorado and SL share common ownership (a California wine family), and their standards for staff, maintenance, quality and value seem to be quite high. Circus Circus is a bit more lax.
    - Our room at Eldorado for four nights, Tuesday through Friday, averaged $42 all-in ($8 per night resort fee and taxes included). That was booking through Orbitz with one of their extra savings offers. The room was a "deluxe tower room," which I'd compare most closely to the north tower rooms at Bally's in Vegas - pretty large, big bathroom vanity area outside the bathroom, love seat, and chairs. There was a 42" flat screen and coffee maker with coffee provided daily. Also an honor bar with typically overpriced stuff. No free wifi, but internet access via the TV, too awkward to use.

    Reno seems like it's behind in recovering from the recession compared to Vegas. Walking around outside during the day was like one of those movies where everyone has mysteriously disappeared. Everyone but the tweekers, bums, and miscellaneous interesting folk, that is. They aren't as numerous or or intrusive as in downtown Vegas. There aren't any costume characters, buskers, or porn slappers. The cops are very visible around town. We never felt unsafe.

    There are interesting places to walk to like the River Walk (Truckee River goes right through town, looking more like a very wide mountain stream), the Harrah's Auto Museum, the Aces triple-A ball park, the huge tournament bowling center (over 80 lanes), and the University of Nevada (only about a half mile north, right up the main street).

    You can find great food deals like Vegas used to have at places like the Cal-Neva hotel/casino. They've got a restaurant that is like a much larger version of El Cortez's coffee shop, but with a larger menu and even lower prices. Huge, good breakfasts start at less than $5. The "famous" (so they say) Nugget Cafe downtown is always open and also serves good diner food cheap. A buddy and I had their "famous" (as they claim) Awful Awful Burger at about 2 am Thursday morning. It apparently won some Food Network award. Fresh, big, and with a pound of french fries, nicely crisp and seasoned, for $7. Great drunk food.

    Vegas has some clear advantages, chiefly being variety. Many of us downtown fans still hit the strip at some point just for a change of pace. Reno can seem pretty small after a few days. Still, if the goal is a low-roller trip with great gambling, food, drink and room options in a comfortable environment, I think Reno compares very favorably to downtown Vegas. For us, living in the Seattle area, it's also a shorter plane ride. But, we've only been three times, versus I can't count how many anymore to Vegas.

    Anyone else with insight into both who cares to comment?
     
  2. 2VegasNuts

    2VegasNuts High-Roller

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    I could not have said it any better.

    Our last stay at SL was absolutely awesome. Everything you said tells it all. The biggest issue for us is small town vs LAS VEGAS. But, SL treats everyone well with great games and great drink options. I am sure we were the biggest players in the casino (not that big in Vegas terms-$100-$300 tables, $1 slots) the week we went in September and got upgraded to an awesome suite. The hosts, Marge/Lacey, even tracked us down at slot machines to give us more comps. I am currently wearing one of the Nat Nast silk shirts I got.

    Besides little town vs Big City is the distance for us. 4 hours to Vegas and 8 to Reno. We told the SL that if they would comp our airfare, we would come back....still waiting :)
     
  3. Mango68

    Mango68 Tourist

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    Thank you for that review...we are also from the "Seattle Area" and have considered Reno as an alternative to our 2 times/year downtown Vegas trips.. Mid-late 40's couple who just like to gamble, drink, visit. We recently did Laughlin as a test trip outside of Vegas and really enjoyed it with the outdoor options. Riverwalk, water taxis, etc. Much quieter vibe. I think Reno might be our next stop! Just not in the winter...as PACNW people we want warmer temps to escape to in Jan/Feb. Thanks for taking the time to compare. :thumbsup:
     
  4. tatterdema

    tatterdema VIP Whale

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    I like a lot of things about Reno, but there is also a lot I do not like. I love the weather, good pay tables, easy to get in and out of the airport. I especially love the outdoors areas for sightseeing ie Lake Tahoe and Virginia City. I have a lot of friends in Reno I visit when there. I have found most all of the hotel rooms are a bit nicer than any on Fremont St, but also a bit pricier.

    What I dont like much. None of the hotels with the exception of Peppermill and Sands have swimming pools that meet my minimum standards. I dont even ask for much, the Pool at the Plaza is one of my favorite. There is no atmosphere outside of the casinos. I personally like the costume characters on Fremont. No outdoor music, or entertainment of any kind. Not enough bars and clubs to entertain me. No shows to speak of, just occasionally on weekends. I dont care for much of the dining in Reno. Cal Neva and Peppermill coffee shops are the only casino restaurants I like very much.

    I dont expect Reno to ever bounce back. It was dead long before the recession, and still is. They made a conscious decision not to be known as a gaming town a long time ago. I used to take all my trips to Reno, but now only make it there once a year at the very most, where I go to Fremont St at least every other month. A short 2 night stay is enough of Reno, and then I get very bored. I really really miss the days of Fitzgeralds, Harolds Club, Old Reno, Flamingo, Comstock, Eddies, etc. Back then it was much more like Fremont St, with partying in the streets, shows, clubs, etc. The local bars were full back then. Not so much now.
     
  5. DrLect

    DrLect Low-Roller

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    Marksind: Please forgive my ignorance, but what are "buskers?" :ssst:
     
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  6. jfn111

    jfn111 Low-Roller

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    Street performance or busking is the practice of performing in public places, for gratuities. In many countries the rewards are generally in the form of money but other gratuities such as food, drink or gifts may be given. Street performance is practiced all over the world by men, women and children and dates back to antiquity . In English speaking countries people engaging in this practice are called street performers or buskers.
     
  7. mjames1229

    mjames1229 VIP Whale

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    I like Reno the same as downtown Vegas (both rating above my enjoyment of the Strip).

    It is true that the casinos in the Virginia St area don't offer a ton of on-site amenities, but renting a car solves that. I am not one to spend 18 hours a day in a casino, so I need the freedom of a car.

    I've found lots of decent restaurants in the city itself, from Men Wielding Fire (a barbecue restaurant near the Siena), Bertha Miranda's Mexican Restaurant, and the Sky Terrace Oyster Bar (inside the Atlantis).

    We also make Lake Tahoe a regular spot on our trips. From a scenery standpoint, there is nothing like it in Las Vegas. The drive around the lake is 72 miles, and we've done it a few times. If I get that gambling jones, we go back to the south shore and hit one of the casinos there.

    I know I am in the minority, because as the OP stated, some times even during the day Virginia Street is a ghost town. I'll be back in May to bowl the USBC Open Championships and am looking forward to it.
     
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  8. smartone

    smartone VIP Whale

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    To state, "they made a conscious decision not to be known as a gambling town a long time ago" is simply contradictory to what actually happened. While it's true Reno/Sparks/Carson City made many "conscious" efforts to broaden the economic base of northern Nevada, most attribute the proliferation of Indian gaming throughout northern California to Reno's gaming decline. This diverse economic base is actually what allowed the to north weather the recession far better than the south, though the south's numbers drive the state's numbers to be sure.

    Reno always depended heavily on buses and cars from the Bay and Sacramento valley areas and now there are many, very sophisticated gaming operations in between. I do agree with the second part of your paragraph though... downtown Reno's gaming "heyday" is behind it and it was a lot of fun 30+ years ago. Northern Nevada's natural beauty is far superior to that of Las Vegas and I sure prefer the weather up here.

    I appreciate the OP's comments, while it's not as busy up here as I'm sure the gaming establishments would like, it's far, far from dead and there's a lot more to do.
     
  9. TIMSPEED

    TIMSPEED !địt mẹ!

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    Were in Reno almost every weekend, and it beats downtown all to hell! (with better VP selection, better cocktail service, and just all around better atmosphere)
     
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  10. tatterdema

    tatterdema VIP Whale

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    What I am referring to is the zoning laws put into place making it difficult to continue gaming expansion well before the Indian gaming came into play. It was a loooong time ago, so my memory might not be completely accurate, but I think after the Silver Legacy was built, they put a moratorium on any new casinos downtown, not wanting to be a large gambling town like Las Vegas. The decline after that can be attributed to many many things, including the Indian Casinos, 911, economy downturn, airlines pulling out, etc.


    Thinking back on it, I might be remembering something about trying to turn the Peppermill/Atlantis corridor into a Las Vegas strip like area, and the zoning being put into place so that they couldn't. Yikes I am getting old.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2013
  11. Film-Noir

    Film-Noir High-Roller

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    Love Reno

    We love Reno, It has what's been missing from Las Vegas for a long time.

    Full Pay V.P., 3/2 BJ, $5 Craps, Superior Cocktail service, friendly dealers, Casino & Hotel employees.
    Also having Virginia City & Lake Tahoe an ez quick 1/4 day trip away.

    My only gripe, are most downtown Reno casinos don't have in-room safes.

    We Really enjoy the downtown Casino crawl from Eldorato - Silver Legacy - Circus Circus.
    Even the Reno Harrahs is 10x better than the L.V. Dump of the same name.

    Sum it up, Good food, better service, less crowds, better Odds, & you can feel lucky in Reno.
    Lucky is Something I haven't felt in L.V. for Years since the Idiot Corporate types,
    have taken over the strip & forgot it's about the Players :poke: Stupid!

    It's Amazing how the stock market & junk bonds, can prop up Fail Casino operators that don't have a clue at what there doing.
     
  12. NandJfrmNJ

    NandJfrmNJ High-Roller

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    Another vote for Reno. We haven't stayed downtown in Vegas and probably never will. In Reno, we mostly stay at the Peppermill (sometimes Harrah's if we're forced to) and absolutely love it. The rooms are beautiful, service is top notch and my gambling dollar goes much further. Comps are much easier to come by. We also don't gamble 10 hours a day and enjoy getting out and about. Also love the Riverwalk. We often go to a wolf preserve, hiking, biking, the Animal Ark, etc. My favorite place in the world is Tahoe-wish we could afford to live there.

    We usually divide out time b/w Reno and Tahoe and it's just the right mix for us. We enjoy the great outdoors and it doesn't get any better than Tahoe.
     
  13. Srvanwyk

    Srvanwyk Low-Roller

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    Love reno because it is never crowded and full of natural beauty as others have stated. Cant wIt to be there in april.. Like stated before wish harrahs or legacy had legitimate pools..
     
  14. marksind

    marksind Low-Roller

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    Reno vs. Downtown Vegas

    Nice to hear there are others who see the attraction! Reading everyone's comments, I have to agree about the surroundings. We prefer the setting to Vegas too. I didn't mention that since beauty is in eye of the beholder. It's more than just a desert.

    And so much within a short drive! Not that Vegas doesn't have some neat natural areas around it, but other than Red Rocks and Valley of Fire they are further away. We may have to try a winter Tahoe ski/Reno gambling visit this season. I've never skied any of the areas around Tahoe.

    Regarding hotel rooms with safes downtown, the Eldorado rooms have them (and, as seems to be typical, ours had to be reset one day). Someone told me Silver Legacy doesn't.
     
  15. keno60

    keno60 VIP Whale

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    Thanks to the op for the informative post.
     
  16. Huddler

    Huddler VIP Whale

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    I have never been to Reno/Tahoe but I have considered it many times. I get offers from casino's there that will provide me free airfare, limo, meals, etc. So, I get the impression that they really cater to gamblers. I just wonder if I will feel like I am in Tunica which is a TOTALLY different, read: worse, experience than Vegas. If I could bundle it with a couple days skiing that would work. where is the best place to ski and stay if you want to ski during the day, gamble at night?
     
  17. smartone

    smartone VIP Whale

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    Best for skiing is actually up here at Lake Tahoe... Harrah's and Harvey's are CET properties. There's also Mont Bleu (old Caesar's Tahoe) and Hyatt N. Shore.

    Reno's just a 45 minute drive and Peppermill or Atlantis are tops, but a little south of downtown. Eldorado and Silver Legacy are sister properties and joined. All provide a very Vegas like experience.

    The Grand Sierra (old MGM) by the airport is a great place as well.
     
  18. tatterdema

    tatterdema VIP Whale

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    I second Peppermill as a great casino. It is probably my favorite casino, anywhere I have ever been. Their pool is open year round, and until late at night. One night I was swimming in 18 degree weather, at 11pm. It was fantastic going from pool, to hot tub, to pool, and there were about 15 people enjoying it, having drinks, etc.

    You can get just about any kind of drink comp at the machines. I drink a large frozen drink called a horny monkey or something along those lines, that has Bailys and banana liquor in it, and its about 24 oz or more, served in a tulip glass with tons of whip cream. A drink like that in Vegas would set you back $12 or more probably.

    Pay tables on Spin Poker are the best I have seen anywhere at a nickel or penny. Live music until 2am or later many nights. Lots of little nooks and cranny's to hide out in, and about a dozen different bars, each with a different happy hour.

    Slot club is fair, with easy comp offers for little play. The coffee house has really good food, large portions, for a fair price. Steak house is very good also. Only downside is that the place is HUGE. Very easy to get lost in, and it can be a long long walk to some of the rooms from the casino. Easy parking though, and a nice little kids place with video games, etc.

    Some people hate the décor, as it is pretty over the top gaudy. I personally love the purple and neon, and the solar system carpet, although it can be a little disorienting until you get used to it.
     
  19. TIMSPEED

    TIMSPEED !địt mẹ!

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    I will agree...Peppermills Tuscany Suites are the best rooms I've ever been in.
    They also have a TON of full-pay video poker, and their pool/nightclub has tons of all-american hotties.
     
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  20. Beefcake

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    Before the economy took a dump on me I use to drive up to Reno 2-3 times a year. Stayed at the Eldorado and use to get comped at Harrah's back then.

    I like the vibe up there. It's a nice change of pace from Vegas.

    I had one of those rare can't lose days there on one trip that I'll never forget.

    I use to take a day trips to Lake Tahoe - awesome scenic place. Plus there are a couple nice gentleman's clubs in Reno I use to like to visit.

    If I ever get back up there I'll look into staying at the Peppermill. Gambled there a few times, but always stayed downtown.
     
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