Catie Di Stefano’s Trip Review – Hard Rock Hotel & Casino AC
Hi there! Are you curious about how a casino resort experience would look in Atlantic City in 2022? In this trip review, I will bring you with me to Atlantic City to explore together!
If you missed part 1 of my trip review, read it here: Getting from New York to Atlantic City.
My name is Catie Di Stefano, and I am the Director of Community Marketing at OnlineGamblers.com. I usually prefer playing online casinos, but in July 2022, I decided to check out different land-based casino resorts in the Garden State to understand the various comps offered by the properties.
I have a vendor license by DGE to operate in New Jersey as a Marketing Consultant, thanks to earlier partnering with Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City. During 2018-2022, I helped Hard Rock migrate its gambling operations from offline to online, where my experience in the European online gambling market came in handy.
Before Hard Rock, I have 11 years of experience working with major brands like Betsson and GiG across several jurisdictions. I also co-founded Weberfy.se, which specializes in helping the iGaming and Cannabis industry with VIP management, CRM, and Marketing.
In my current role with Online Gamblers, I educate on healthy gambling habits and regulations in the US.
Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City
The first thing on my agenda was visiting Hard Rock in Atlantic City. I chose to get off the bus at Resorts World because it was located next to Hard Rock.
I hadn’t anticipated that the Hard Rock entrance was on the other side of the building. Also, I thought that Resorts AC and Resorts World are under the same brand. They are not though – Resorts World is owned by Mohegan Sun which is a different brand.
With Hard Rock being such a large property, it took me 15 minutes to walk from Resorts to Hard Rock. It was 85 degrees heat with 65 pounds of luggage (two weeks’ worth of traveling!). I recommend traveling much lighter to Atlantic City than I did, but hey, that’s how a girl travels.
As it turns out, there is a skyway connecting Resorts to HardRock so check your options to get around quicker beforehand.
I arrived shortly after 4 pm when check-in for the day opened, and it was a long queue. It was at the beginning of July, and many guests like me arrived in AC for a long weekend. The hotel rooms were fully booked at Hard Rock throughout the weekend, but I managed to get one night’s stay.
Oceans Hotel was fully booked for weeks. It is the newest casino in Atlantic City and is next door to Hard Rock AC. Everyone I spoke to said that Ocean was the only casino and hotel that compares to the standard of Hard Rock, so I’m disappointed that I didn’t experience Oceans resort in AC.
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South Tower Bay King at Hard Rock Atlantic City
I had asked my previous colleagues at Hard Rock which rooms were the best. They recommended picking a room in the South Tower. In total, I paid $339 for one night through Booking.com in a Bay King room with a bay view, and I was not disappointed. The deposit was $100 for one night and was returned to my bank account within hours of check-out.
The room door had a sticker on it to confirm that all items in the room had been sanitized, and I had to break the seal to enter my room. Everything in the room was new and modern, the shower was in complete marble, and the view included a little angle of the AC Ferris wheel.
If you want to see the room in VR 360-view, check out the video below and don’t forget to increase the video quality to 4K. It’s also possible to pause the video to check out the details of the room.
Council Oak Restaurant at Hard Rock Casino
My ex-colleague took me to Council Oak Steaks & Seafood, one of Hard Rock’s best fine dining restaurants in Atlantic City. The restaurant is located inside the Hard Rock property, and we were lucky enough to get a table next to the window with a Boardwalk-view. We began by sharing cross-cut shortribs and fried seafood for appetizers. Then for main, I went for the filet mignon and au gratin potatoes. All the food tasted incredible, and I would recommend Council Oaks for business meetings, dates or relaxed group dinners as the atmosphere is very upscale.
Hard Rock AC Landbased Casino
After our dinner at Council Oaks, I was taken on a tour around the Hard Rock property. The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City (formerly Trump Taj Mahal) is a casino and hotel on the Boardwalk, owned by Hard Rock International, in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The casino, originally known as the Trump Taj Mahal, was owned by Donald Trump in 1990, and was built at a total cost of nearly US$1 billion. The Taj Mahal came to the brink of closure in 2014 as its parent company went through bankruptcy. Taj Mahal admitted to having violated anti-money-laundering regulations for years and was fined $10 million. It was closed on October 10, 2016.
On March 1, 2017, the Seminole Tribe of Florida through its Hard Rock International brand, and the Morris and Jingoli families announced its purchase of the facility and conversion to the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino brand. It reopened on June 27, 2018. Everything inside the Atlantic City hotel was brand new and modern. Tons of celebrity memorabilia were available throughout the hotel. And a live band was, of course, playing in The Lobby Bar, but was surprised me the most was the number of restaurants and shops available inside the casino.
From the nation-known Sugar Factory to Alexia’s Pastisseria, the Atlantic City-famous shop “White House Subs – Home of Submarines,” any type of food I could desire was available at the Hard Rock Casino. There were shops with clothes, art, and jewelry in addition to the Hard Rock Merchandise shop.
Hard Rock Loyalty Wild Card Program
Before hitting the casino floor, I visited the Wild Card Centre to register for a wild card. A wild card is a loyalty card, which is essential to always get before playing at any casino in Atlantic City. Why is it important, you might ask?
When inserting the card before play, the casino can track how much you play, what you play, and how often. This card also allows them to credit you comp dollars, comp nights at the hotel, free play, free drinks, and gifts in the shops.
To register for a casino’s loyalty card, you only need a valid government ID. I used my Swedish passport to register at Hard Rock’s Wild Card Centre. I entered a pin/password for my card, and it just took a few minutes before I received my rock card printed with my name. Wild Card Services at Hard Rock AC is located on the second floor, opposite Sugar Factory.
Playing Casino at Hard Rock AC
As a welcome gift from Hard Rock, I received $20 Free Play that I could use for the slots. To activate the welcome gift, I needed to enter the wild card through their wild card machines located outside the Wild Card Centre. Through this machine, I can see my data on how much I have spent and when. I can also claim any campaigns in the machine, like this $20 free play welcome bonus in the loyalty machine. Once I have claimed the welcome bonus, the money is added to my loyalty card and I can hit the slots.
The slots in Atlantic City only accept cash, so you must withdraw cash from one of the ATMs. Hard Rock had one of the lowest charges for withdrawals at around $5.99 to make a withdrawal, while Bally’s, Borgata, Tropicana had ATMs that charged $6.99 for a single withdrawal. Caesars and Harrah’s charged $7.99 for a withdrawal inside their casino.
I don’t recommend to make withdrawals on the Atlantic City boardwalk from the shops ATM’s. My card was compromised when I visited AC in 2013, and this was still happening on the boardwalk in 2022. Other casino players advised me to withdraw from a bank teller for the lowest fee or a gas station. Another option is to deposit to the Hard Rock online account from your mobile. Hard Rock and some other casinos have their player accounts connected to both offline and online.
The casino ATMs had stickers warning about responsible gambling and not playing over budget, but that was the only responsible gaming measure I noticed. I had set myself a limit of $600 to spend in the casino during the weekend, but I only withdrew $200 once per property. Later I went to Borgata and Bally’s – which just cost me more money spent on withdrawal fees. I recommend making as few withdrawals as possible to avoid the fee and maintain your budget. Keep yourself safe from thieves and robbers by hiding your cash at all times!
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When playing at the casino, it’s crucial to insert your wild card into the slot before depositing your money. If you are playing table games, hand your card to the dealer, and he will register your seat and play. Once you’ve spent over $10, you are eligible for free drinks by flagging down one of the drinks hosts.
Certain areas of the casino allow smoking cigarettes and vapes if you smoke. You can find the smoking area by checking the signs above the slots that say “Cigarettes Allowed” or “No Smoking.” I didn’t see anyone smoke cannabis in the casinos, but many people were consuming medicine outside on the boardwalk.
I began by playing roulette at Hard Rock. Evolution, one of the world’s biggest game providers for online live casinos, has its own roulette table It is located at the Hard Rock Atlantic City property. The table is full of cameras pointing at the roulette table, but no cameras turn to people around the table. So when I played on the Evolution Roulette table, players online could only see my hands in the camera as I placed bets or claimed my win. Players online could also bet on the same spin as me, so the Evolution roulette table was available to bet offline and online. Super cool!
Personally, I loved playing casino in the Lobby Bar. Hard Rock hosts live bands in the Lobby Bar and there is a limited amount of games in the bar. Check out the video below for more of my visit to Hard Rock AC.
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Burger and Hops at Hard Rock Atlantic City
Employees at Hard Rock recommended that I try Burger and Hops for breakfast, so the following morning, I decided to try the restaurant.
At around 8:30 am, I arrived, and the whole hotel was still empty as most people were still sleeping. Burger and Hops don’t have many tables. Still, the restaurant has a prime location next to the big escalators with surrounding art screens. It is entertaining to look at while also people watching everyone going up and down the escalators.
I went for the big breakfast at Burger & Hops, which included eggs, bacon, toast, potatoes, and toast plus coffee. Check out the video below!
@onlinegamblers.com Burger & Hops Breakfast Atlantic City #hardrock #casino #gambling ♬ original sound – onlinegamblers.com
White House Sub at Hard Rock
An icon in Atlantic City is the family-owned “White House Sub,”. A shop that has been in the city since 1946, and is also available inside the Hard Rock Atlantic City. White House Sub was also previously in the casino when it was Trump’s Taj Mahal, but the shop stayed in the building when the property converted into Hard Rock.
Similar to their shop that has been standing since 1946, there isn’t too much seating at the Hard Rock property either. The shop and subs are for the on-the-go. AC locals recommended trying the famous white house special, with lots of cold cuts and salad in a sub. The prices are very reasonable as you get a giant sub.
Hard Rock Beach Club
Before leaving Hard Rock, I decided to try their beach bar. It’s opposite the Hard Rock entrance, close to the Steer Pier. Because of the beach bar’s proximity to the amusement park, the place has a gorgeous backdrop and many sunbeds available to enjoy the ocean view. The bar has reasonable prices and a wide selection of drinks.
Check out the video below for my visit to Hard Rocks Beach Bar!
@onlinegamblers.com #igaming #casino #gambling #sports #atlanticcity #newjersey #hardrockhotel #hardrockcasino #hardrockac #fyp #foryoupage ♬ BIZCOCHITO – ROSALÍA
Atlantic City Boardwalk and Steel Pier
I also went outside to explore the boardwalk, but not much had changed since my visit in 2013. Atlantic City is a beautiful American summer city with many tourist attractions along the boardwalk. The most eye-catching icon is the Steel Pier, an amusement park built over the water and connected to the boardwalk.
The Steel Pier was built in 1898 and still stands steady over the beach after more than 120 years in use. The Steel Pier was recognized as one of the most popular American tourist attractions in the early 1900s. And the amusement park is billed as the national showplace of the Nation. Today, Hard Rock Hotel and Casino is built on the other side of the boardwalk opposite the amusement park. When I visited it in 2013 – it was still Trump’s Taj Mahal.
During my visit in 2022, I noticed that the Ferris wheel at Steel Pier seemed brighter than when I visited in 2013. Apparently, the Ferris wheel in Atlantic City was replaced by a bigger Ferris wheel in 2017. And now shines brighter along the coast than ever before! The new Ferris wheel looks gorgeous with lots of sparkly colors, and I especially recommend visiting during the night.
The Steel Pier is free to enter, but there are attractions, snacks, and experiences available for a fee for adults and kids.
If you want to see the boardwalk and steel pier in VR 360 Video, check it out below.
Most casinos are located on the boardwalk in Atlantic City. The exceptions are Borgata Casino, The Waterpolo Club, Harrah’s Casino, and Golden Nugget. If you have the ocean to your back on the boardwalk, you will find, from left to right; Tropicana Casino, Wild Wild West Casino, Caesars Casino, Bally’s Casino, Resorts AC, Hard Rock Casino, and the newest addition, Ocean’s Casino.
Beyond Van Gogh Atlantic City at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino
Atlantic City is always buzzing with new events, and Hard Rock was no exception. When I visited the property in July 2022, Kevin Hart did his new show at the Casino. Unfortunately, the event was sold out all weekend so I didn’t get the chance to enjoy it.
However, I got tickets to the interactive museum “Beyond Van Gogh” premiere at Hard Rock, which was popular and located in one of the Seminole Conference rooms.
The Van Gogh exhibition was split into four different rooms. Still, it was possible to stay how long you wanted in each room, including different interactive exhibitions showing Van Gogh’s work and history. The Van Gogh exhibition was available at Hard Rock from July 8 until August 28, 2022. Check out the videos below to see my experience!
@onlinegamblers.com Beyond Van Gogh Atlantic City #hardrockhotel #atlanticcity #newjersey #artinstallation #casino #slots ♬ original sound – onlinegamblers.com @onlinegamblers.com Beyond Cang Gogh Interractive Museeum at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City 🎰 #gambling #casino #gamblingindustry #atlanticcity #ac #newjersey #sportsbetting #artmusseum ♬ original sound – onlinegamblers.com
Stay tuned for part 3 of my trip at Borgata Hotel & Casino.