The Cromwell opened last month, the latest incarnation of what was for many years the Barbary Coast, then Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall & Saloon, then, ever-so-briefly in our imaginations, the Gansevoort. The property is a bona fide high-ender now, rocking a $185 million remake that features the restaurant Giada and Drai’s nightclub. Drai’s is reportedly such a hit that what was supposed to be a self-parking garage may be used exclusively for valet to accommodate the weekend throngs. The irony is that one of the best attributes of the Barbary and Bill’s was the primo parking in that garage. Now you have to park next door at the Flamingo.
From the deal-hunter’s perspective, a lot of good things from Barbary and Bill’s are gone, and they don’t figure to show up again at the Cromwell. No more prime rib or breakfast specials in the coffee shop. No more (free) Big Elvis. No more hot dog and beer in the sportsbook. Heck, no more sportsbook!
Don’t expect to find a food deal here—there’s only one restaurant, the high-end Giada. No buffet. No snack bar. The center bar, Interlude, is a beaut, but beers are $6-$8. There’s also nothing special in the casino for the deal-seeker, as most blackjack games pay 6-5 on naturals, and video poker schedules are comparable to what you’ll find in the tightest non-casino bars.
So, if high-end isn’t your flavor, is there a move? Yes. The move is to move.
Exit the door on Flamingo, turn left and walk one block to the Stage Door. If you don’t know the Stage Door by name, you should recognize it as a place you’ve driven by a hundred times. There’s a distinct change in atmosphere from the Cromwell, but you can get a hot dog and a Michelob or a Bud for $3. That’s two beers and two hot dogs for the price of a draft at the Cromwell. Michelob without the dog is just $1. A shot of “cheaps” and a PBR is $2. A shot of Jäger is $2, a shot of Crown is $3 and a shot of Patrón is $4. The Stage Door is kind of a drinking place.
The gambling is good, too, at least from 1 to 9 a.m. daily, when royal flushes pay double. Stage Door has the same bad schedules as the Cromwell, so the double-pay isn’t enough to get you over the negative-expectation hump. But playing the best game (6/5 Bonus Poker), the return is 99.15 percent, which is better than anything you’ll find up the street.
The age of the high-end casino has its own charms, but sometimes you have to be a little more creative to find a bargain.
Anthony Curtis is the publisher of the Las Vegas Advisor and LasVegasAdvisor.com, a newsletter and website dedicated to finding the best deals in town.