Updated: 10/9/14
Harrah's Joliet Hotel and Casino
Hotel Overview
"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.
 

Hotel Guestrooms

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.
 
 
Casino Overview
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.
 
The only restaurant within the casino is Aces 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.  Meanwhile, at The Reserve, I had one of the best meals ever in a casino steakhouse.  The trio of crusted 4 oz. beef filets was superb, and my guest had the 12 oz. sirloin which was perfrectly cooked, juicy and delicious.  Compared to Las Vegas and Atlantic City prices, thie place is a bargain.  (A huge side of al dente asparagus was $5, and big enough to share -- and then some; the Boursin whipped potatoes were a disappointment -- not much Boursin taste to them.)  Plus, on the Thursday night I was there, using your Reward Credits gave you a 25 percent discount.
 
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.

 

Special Seven Stars Benefits

Other than a separate cage window off the high limits area, 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 Trip?

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.