I'm in Reno for a few days, and, well, it's not Vegas.
My first real experience with a casino town was going to Comdex in Vegas in 1998. I've been to Vegas more than 20 times, mostly on business. And Vegas has ruined me for other casino towns like Reno.
I'm staying at the Grand Sierra Resort (formerly the Reno Hilton) and the remodeled rooms are fantastic. The desk have a huge surface, there are leather chairs, modern lighting, and a large LCD TV on the wall. The bathroom has beautiful and stylish fixtures. The bath towels are as tall as me and they're even soft.
Sure, the pillows are terrible. And reception on the TV is pretty poor. The sink splashes, and the power connection for the desk is on the floor. But I can't complain too much.
Afterall, I'm only paying about $40/night.
That's right. This room is dirt cheap, but is nicer than rooms I've had in other cities that cost 4 times as much.
But the hotel itself (despite the ongoing remodel) is old. It near the airport and isolated from the hip, young casinos like the Peppermill and the Atlantis. You can see them in the distance, but they're not really walkable. So you either rent a car, take a cab, or drive your own car to escape the Grand Sierra.
Then again, the rooms are $40/night.
The casino downstairs isn't particularly compelling. They have all the standard games, but they have a lot of empty space. They just don't have enough tables and machines to fill the floor. The crowds are also pretty thin. There is very little action going on the casino.
It actually kind of sad. There's now vibe coming from the floor. It's just blah. Of course that's much better than that heaping pile of depressing that is the Tropicana in Vegas, but it sad nonetheless. And unlike the Vegas strip, you can't just walk to another place.
Did I mention that the rooms are dirt cheap?
I did play some in the casino. I dropped $100 on Black Jack in about a half hour, and anther $20 on the slot machines in the 25 minutes. It's what I budgeted when I knew I was coming here, so it's not a big deal.
The past few years, it seems the only place I can win at the tables in the MGM Grand in Vegas. It must be good luck for me. I get clobbered whenever I play somewhere else.
So while my hotel in Reno isn't particularly exciting, if I ever want to go somewhere and just lock my self in a hotel room for a week, Reno will be at the top of my destination list.