Unless you're passing through on your way to Lake Tahoe – it's a convenient stopover to break-up a trip, especially from the East Coast – there are not a lot of reasons to stay at Harrah's Reno except if you have some sort of special interest. From April to July there is national bowling tournament; in August it's Hot August nights, with thousands of classic cars from 1970 and earlier descending on Reno from all over the
western United States. Many people reserve rooms a year in advance for that event. In September there are balloon races, followed by the air races, and Street Vibrations (thousands of motorcycles from all over country for one of the largest rallies in the country) the last weekend in September.
As with many of the Caesars properties, Reno's is perfectly respectable. The rooms are "so so" – many in need of some updating or refurbishing, e.g., wallpaper peeling, furniture needs some serious touch-ups, etc. The problem is downtown Reno. There's just not a lot to do unless you want to spend all your time gambling, drinking and eating – which would make Harrah's very, very, very happy, or visit one of the other nearby casinos within walking distance (Eldorado, Silver Legacy, Circus Circus), which probably wouldn't make Harrah's very happy. To be honest, though, these other casinos are much more interesting, add lots of restaurant choices, and have many more newer slot machines.
Valet and self-parking are complimentary. If you self-park, look for the specially designated and reserved Diamond spaces on the third level. Generally, though, they are full.
An outdoor pool is open seasonally.
Standard guest rooms are a little on the small side, so try to get upgraded. Wireless high-speed Internet access is dependable, but can be a little slow. All rooms have coffee-makers, but only standard rooms on floors 16 and higher have refrigerators. All suites have refrigerators. Decor is pleasant, but needs some work (see above).
There are acually two casinos connected by a walkway, but neither is particularly distinctive. Between the two, they feature all the usual slots and table games, but neighboring casinos – the Silver Legacy, Circus Circus and El Dorado – are larger and have more of the newer games.
Complimentary drink service in the casino is relatively frequent; and dealers, slot attendants and servers all are extremely friendly and helpful. Sammy's Showroom hosts revues and specialty acts such as impressionists and comedians. For nightlife, try the Sapphire Lounge. Dinner choices include Harrah's Steak House where tuxedoed waitstaff prepare tableside stand-bys such as Caesar salad, Steak Diane and Cherries Jubilee. Japanese cuisine (including the entertaining antics of the Teppanyaki chefs, if you enjoy that sort of thing) is featured at Ichiban. More casual and less expensive options include the Hash House a Go Go, Carvings Buffet (one of the nicer and most extensive casinos buffets I've experienced) and the Joy Luck Noodle Bar. There is also a Starbucks and a Quiznos on premises, but Quiznos does not accept Reward Credits or comp slips, and at Starbucks it's 2:1.
Special Seven Stars Benefits*
In addition to the special Seven Stars entrance for the buffet, there is a special seating area with cloth napkins, complimentary wine/champagne, hot towels and after-dinner chocolates (see above).
Seven Stars and Diamond cardholders receive a 10 percent discount at the Steak House.
Seven Stars and Diamond cardholders receive a $2 discount at the buffet.
You don't have to pay for daily newspapers in the gift shop – even out-of-town papers like the New York Times. Simply show your Seven Stars card.
Seven Stars members and a guest receive complimentary entrance to the Health Club on the fifth floor of the West Tower.
Seven Stars Lounge
There is no Seven Stars Lounge, but the small Diamond Lounge offers priority entrance to Seven Stars members, and allows up to three additional guests (two more than Diamond members). For the size of the lounge, there is a relatively large bar, as well as several small tables for parties of two and four. Food service consists mainly of chips and salsa, and crudités and dips. Drinks may be taken out of the lounge into the casino.
Should You Choose This For Your Annual Retreat?
Reno is probably not going to be the final destination for your Seven Stars retreat unless you already live on the West Coast and want to limit your travel time. There is golf and sightseeing if you have a car, but not much to do within walking distance of the hotel, unless you are an automobile aficionado. The National Automobile Museum (the Harrah Collection) is located in downtown Reno, but is not officially affiliated with Harrah's casino or hotel. Parking is free, but admission ranges from $4 to $10 (free ages 5 and younger). The museum is open every day but Thanksgiving and Christmas.
When you check-in, be sure to verify that your $500 comp account has been set-up. Alcohol charged to the room counts toward your $500 in expenses, but not gratuities. Any taxes on food, liquor and spa services are waived, and are not counted toward your $500 in allowable expenses. Best advice is to keep all your receipts until you settle your final bill.
*subject to change, revision or cancellation