Harrah's Joliet Hotel and Casino
"Located along the Des Plaines River in picturesque downtown Joliet, Harrah's Joliet offers the most exciting and finest hotel and casino in all of Chicagoland," according to its Web site
. While it's very pleasant, I wouldn't go quite that far. "Boring and downtrodden" is how one person describes it, but that 's a little strong. "Not a vacation destination," says another. That's one I would agree with. An overnight is about all I could stand. However, I did not encounter one employee who was anything but cordial and professional.
The 200 rooms are nothing special. All rooms have complimentary Wi-Fi, and small flat-screen TVs. The rooms also have ice-makers and coffee-makers, but there is coffee service in the lobby from 6 to 11 every morning.
The 11th floor is designated as a "VIP Floor" and requires a room key to access.
All rooms on this level have high ceilings, complimentary soft drinks and bottled water in the refrigerator, and terry robes. (At left is a view of the river from one of the rooms on the 11th floor.)
There are four suites, but they are difficult to reserve. The suites have jacuzzis and large walk-in showers with two separate toilet areas. There is a sitting/socializing room separate from the sleeping area with a large TV and entertainment system, wet bar and ice maker. In addition, there usually are bottled water, soda and candies, coffee and terry robes. The water is softened, so a little soap goes a long way.
While they last, complimentary newspapers are available in the lobby, and there is a complimentary "business center" off the lobby offering two computers and a printer.
All hotel guests, including Platinum, Diamond and Seven Stars cardholders, as well as those with validated tickets from the restaurants, have access to complimentary valet parking.
The casino opens daily at 8 a.m. and closes at 6 the next morning, so there is a two-hour gap for play each day.
The totally non-smoking casino has evolved from a riverboat to a floating barge with more than 1,300 slots and table games.
Table games are located in the center of the room surrounded by slots. Video poker machines are located in and around the large casino bar, as well in a rear corner video poker room.
Beverage servers make the rounds at the table games, but at the machines it's best to use the "Press 3" option or visit one of three self-service soft drink and coffee dispensers.
Dining and Entertainment
The only restaurant within the casino is Ace's Diner. The menu relies mostly on burgers and sandwiches. It's inexpensive, but decent food that's available long after the other restaurants have closed. Breakfast is served from 8 to 11 a.m.
Meanwhile, at The Reserve, I had one of the best meals ever in a casino's fine dining restaurant. The menu has since changed and items I had are no longer offered, but I continue to hear good things about this restaurant. Total Rewards cardholders get 10 percent off all menu items, except alcohol. You can pay with Reward Credits, cash or credit card. Wednesdays are "Wine Wednesdays" where all bottles of wine – except Champagne – are 50 percent off.
In addition, there is Flavors the Buffet and a Starbucks.
On Friday and Saturdays Stage 151 has a DJ from 6 to 9 p.m., then local bands take the stage until 1 a.m. when the DJ returns for another hour. Another bar option is Sheer.
Special Seven Stars Benefits*
Seven Stars cardholders staying in the hotel get a coupon good for two buffets or a $25 credit at Ace's Diner. You get one coupon for each night of your stay.
Other than a separate cage window off the high limits area, additional benefits are limited to priority seating at the restaurants, a special Seven Stars menu at the Diamond Lounge, and bottled water if you valet.
Seven Stars Lounge
There is a separate Seven Stars Lounge within the Diamond Lounge, along with a special Seven Stars menu. The buffet is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., but the bar remains open until 10 p.m. (11 on Friday and Saturday). Alcohol is not complimentary and you cannot bring your alcoholic beverages to/from the lounges/restaurants to the casino.
Should You Choose This For Your Annual Retreat?
This is not the place to go for an extended trip. Other than the casino, there is the Rialto Theater a few blocks away, as well as the Joliet Jackhammers baseball team. Unless you are going to the theater or a game, according to those who have been to Joliet, use caution and don't wander around town in the evening. However, during the day, those familiar with the area say it's OK to journey out in a four-block radius which includes a couple of churches, a convenience store, a diner, the library and several banks. Bottom line, you need a car if you want to do anything, though there is a train station nearby if you want to travel into – or from – Chicago.
Where Harrah's Joliet Is Located
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