Harrah's Joliet Hotel and Casino
Harrah’s is now open 24 hours a day at 50 percent capacity. Beverage service is available except at table games. Last call at 3 a.m.
Harrah's Joliet Hotel and Casino
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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.
"Located along the Des Plaines River in picturesque downtown Joliet, Harrah's Joliet Hotel and Casino offers the most exciting and finest hotel and casino in all of Chicagoland," according to its website. 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.
■ If you opt out of housekeeping services during your stay, Harrah’s will credit your account with 500 Reward Credits each day. You still can request additional towels or other amenities, but your bathroom will not be cleaned, bed made, etc. Just let the front desk know when you check in.
■ The direct number to Harrah's is 815-774-2624. If you call the toll-free number on the website, you'll just get one of those Caesars call centers.
■ The ATM fee at Harrah's Joliet is $5.99 per transaction.
The 9th, 10th and 11th floors are designated as "VIP Floors" and require 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 eight 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.
ParkingAll 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, located at the casino entrance.
The casino is open 24 hours a day.
■ Harrah's has expanded the selection in its Hotel Sundries Shop, next to the front desk.
■ Flavors The Buffet has 2-for-1 deals on Mondays and Thursdays (holidays excluded) . Lunch, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., is $20 and dinner, from 4 to 8 p.m., is $25. Cash or credit card only. On Saturdays get dinner for two with a bottle of wine for $60.
The totally non-smoking casino has evolved from a riverboat to a floating barge with more than 1,300 slots and table games.
The penny slots area was recently renovated and is open for business.
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.
There is a World Series of Poker Room where Harrah's spreads live Texas Hold ’em and Omaha games. The casino currently runs a variety of games and limits. The Poker Room is from 8 a.m. to 5 a.m. daily and you may call 815-740-7480 up to one hour ahead to be put on the waiting list and 72 hours ahead for the casino's PLO interest list.
There is no beverage service at table games, but at the machines it's best to use the "Press 3" option. Last call is at 3 a.m. Alternatively, visit one of three self-service soft drink and coffee dispensers.
The Caesars Rewards Center is open Sunday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to midnight, and Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Dining and entertainment The only restaurant within the casino is Cross Street Grill. Cross Street Grill’s menu includes everything from burgers and sandwiches to tacos and entrées. Open daily for breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night snacks, the layout allows you to place your orders from both on and off the casino floor.
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. Caesars 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.
For cocktails, try Sheer.
Special Seven Stars benefits*
Harrah’s gives Seven Stars cardholders staying in the hotel a daily $25 folio credit. Previously each day of their stay they received a voucher good for the breakfast buffet or a $25 food credit at Cross Street Grill. Now you just charge it to your room and it’s comped at check-out. One added benefit is that any food outlet will accept the $25 credit – even Starbucks (but not on purchases of prepackaged items, just handcrafted drinks and prepared food like pastries). However, unlike a typical folio credit, you must use the entire $25 at one time. Because it’s no longer a voucher comp, taxes don’t come off, so the benefit is devalued by eight percent.
Seven Stars cardholders get a complimentary dessert at The Reserve.
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 Laurel Lounge, and bottled water if you valet.
Seven Stars Lounge
There is a separate Seven Stars Lounge within the Laurel Lounge (formerly 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. For more information and to view the current month's menu, click here and scroll down to Diamond Lounge.
Should you choose this for your Annual Retreat?
Flavors The Buffet gives a 10 percent discount to police officers, firefighters, EMTs and their parties. Proper ID is required.
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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