While discrepancies between what experts say and what the general public actually thinks is not uncommon, the El Cortez really personifies this. It is rated only a 2 Star Hotel by most who rate hotels yet is consistently ranked very high by guests and has been rated the best hotel and casino Downtown several times according to visitor polling. It’s rated the best place for both Blackjack and Keno, which is an accomplishment for any Downtown casino. Located on Fremont Street, just outside of the Fremont Street Experience canopy, it is a smaller hotel casino at only 45,000 square feet, and is best known for friendly service and excellent gambling.
It is one of the oldest hotels in Las Vegas, opened in 1941, but in recent years has seen over 25 million dollars in renovations. It should be noted that common complaints still persist about basic accommodation like plumbing and problems with the elevators, but these complaints have not been universal judging by overall reviews.
The El Cortez is one of the busier Downtown casinos, but usually does have rooms available. Booking ahead is always recommended in Vegas regardless where you are staying, and this hotel may be full during special events like New Years.
As mentioned, El Cortez is well-known for its gambling. Dealers are friendly and slots are reportedly “loose” (note that this is a claim that all casinos make and win/lose percents are generally set by the house and the house always wins more often than it loses). It features all of the common casino games and has lower limits than Strip casinos but is comparable to Downtown Casinos. They have a poker room and a small Race and Sports Book.
It is one of the smallest Hotel Casinos in Vegas with only 363 rooms. Rooms are comfortable, medium sized, and have seen recent renovations. It is as mentioned a very old hotel by Vegas standards and this may be apparent by the rooms despite recent upgrades. Even with the excitement of the Downtown area, reportedly the rooms are very quiet in most instances, this according to guest comments.
The El Cortez has excellent pricing from the room accommodations to the associated fees, to gambling limits, eating, and shopping. This is an excellent choice for anyone looking for the excitement of the Downtown area who does not want to spend a lot of money. Room rates vary by season and any special events, but the El Cortez offers rates often even lower than other hotels Downtown, and a fraction of the price of the Strip. Meals are very inexpensive and certain hours may see specials at specific restaurants. It has some of the lowest limits anywhere in Las Vegas.
The most notable restaurant is The Flame Steakhouse which offers an excellent menu at a very fair price. Other options include the Café Cortez, Dryers Ice Cream, and Subway. El Cortez is mainly known for gambling and a good time and for fine dining one may want to seek another hotel in the Downtown area.
El Cortez has three casino bars (which is two more than most Downtown casinos) which offer outstanding drink deals, especially compared to the Strip. The Downtown area often offers $1 drink specials for well drinks and margaritas, and this is not specific to a hotel but usually applies to the entire Downtown area. There is no specific bar outside of the casino bars, and cocktails are served to gamblers for free naturally, tipping is customary.
The El Cortez has only one gift shop and one convenience store. Prices are excellent but they are targeted toward shoppers looking for essentials or small souvenirs and not those shopping as a pastime.
There is no nightlife, however El Cortez is generally quite lively at all hours and an excellent “hang out” for a younger crowd looking for friendly and attentive service. It is also very close to the Fremont Experience which usually has entertainment at all hours including free live concerts and Viva Vegas after nightfall.
Services are limited to Hotel Guests and include all regular amenities of a hotel, maid service, limited room service, etc, but no extra services outside of the scope of most hotels. There is no shuttle service offered.
Some convention space is available in limited numbers. Ask the front desk for details.
El Cortez does not have a pool.
The Celebrity Lounge. Ask for details and times.
No spa but they do have a full hair salon on the second floor.