We have wanted to stay at the Hard Rock but due to the usual high prices and lack of flight packages from Florida, we have not been able to do so until this year. My husband & I take a trip each summer to Biloxi (this is the 6th trip over 7 years.....skipping the year following Katrina). This was our best trip! We decided to drive this year and it was actually a lot better than flying. We drove from Orlando-area to Mobile, AL, on a Saturday so we would arrive early morning on Sunday in Biloxi, getting the most out of "Day 1" of our stay!
We were in Gatlinburg in the Hard Rock Cafe in mid-July. We purchased an "All Access" pass which offers many discounts (cost is $25 but we were given a $20 credit on the card, and emailed a $5 coupon in addition to receiving a free bag and collectible pin). I called to inquire about the hotel discounts and we were given a 20% discount on the rooms for the following week!! We cancelled our reservations at the IP b/c the Hard Rock beat the price by about $7 (not a big deal) BUT we had wanted to stay at the Hard Rock and now we could afford it!!
The Hard Rock is wonderful because.........
>>The way the casino is designed & how the ventilation system is, there is little smoke smell in the casino. We didn't get hit with a curtain of smoke when we entered the casino. Unless we were sitting next to a smoker, our eyes and lungs were not affected by others smoking.
>>The pool area had three hot tubs (one could hold a few dozen people) and a large pool area with swimup bar. There was one deeper area, but most of the pool depth was family friendly with a beach-like access as well as many stair entries. The clientel of the pool was mostly families. When we stayed at the IP, the pool seemed to be very full of unattended children who seemed to be family members of employees. Pool hours are 8am to 10pm, with music playing (you can hear it in your room on that side of the building) from mid-day until 10pm or a bit later. If you have kids or grownups that nap, be sure to ask for a room on the OTHER side of the building (the even number rooms). The front desk will say pool is from 10-10 but it was open at 8. Thick Hard-Rock-Purple towels are available down at the pool.
>>The rooms are fabulous! We had room 903. Perfect view of the pool, Gulf, Beau, and city. Bathrobe in the room. Safe. Wet Bar (did not use). Large flat-screen tv. Floor to ceiling window. Closet with doors. Large shower. Drawer liner in the drawers. Bathroom drawer. Two sinks. Three shower heads in shower. Front desk uses guests' names when answering the phone. The bed is wonderful!!!! Levels of bedding: great mattress, THICK down comforter, mattress pad cover, fitted sheet, flat sheet, thin quality blanket, another flat sheet, thinner down comforter.
>>Great service! I called for extra towels at 11pm and within three minutes I was presented with a stack of various towels. The Bell Hop almost beat us to the room with our luggage! Our car was ready for us each time within three or four minutes of us calling or scanning for our car. Our room was made up promptly and correctly each day, with the maid asking us (in passing in the hall) if we needed anything else. We asked about a frig for juice and water---a complimentary frig was brought up within five minutes.
>>Coke establishment in the 24/7 Grill, Pool Bar, and Buffet. Also self-service Coke machines in casino. However, Pepsi products were sold/offered at the Hard Rock Cafe and Hard Rock store. Juice/Milk is for sale at the Starbuck's in lobby.
Be sure to try out the bathrooms at the back of the casino!!
In addition to the Hard Rock Cafe (which offers smoking areas), you can eat at the 24/7 Grill or buffet (both all non-smoking). The entries at the 24/7 Grill are large enough to share and very reasonably priced. The buffet is pretty nice and includes many items.
Here's some info on other casinos in the area:
Island View Casino (Gulfport). Pre-Katrina was The Grand. The Island View now has a hotel and casino but no pool, and certainly not the marvelous lazy river The Grand used to have. The dessert area of this buffet was the best of any of the other casinos we visited in Biloxi this time. We had received some special new club card member offers, which gave us each $50 in free gaming, a free hat, and a BOGOF buffet coupon. Coke establishment.
The IP (Biloxi). Previously was The Imperial Palace. We stayed there in 2008 and 2007. The rooms are three star (in my opinion) despite the hotel being a four star. It is pretty smoky in the casino, even in the morning when we went there July 2009, as well as the previous two years when we stayed there. They have a very small, but unmarked, non-smoking slot area. Their buffets are the most expensive. Pepsi establishment. Extremely small game room for teens.
The Boomtown (Biloxi). No hotel. This Wild West themed casino is very nice inside. It looks small when you walk in but you originally will just see one area. The buffet area was Wild West town themed---very cute! They have hand-dipped per-request Blue Bunny ice cream (sundaes, shakes, cones, etc) and wonderful steaks on the reasonably priced buffet. Coke establishment (with self-serve soft drink machine located only inside front door.)
The Palace (Biloxi). Hotel but NO gift shop or place to buy "necessities." They offer $10 to be put on your player's card if you buy lunch ($10.99) or dinner. We did that three days. They have a very small buffet in a bland environment, but it is a good deal. They offer $3 table games during the week in the day time.. The smoke smell is not too bad at the Palace. Coke establishment. We gambled there a few hours each day of our five day stay. They do have a walk up counter to buy premade sandwiches and salads.
The Grand (Biloxi). We did not go there this year. Post-Katrina, their gaming area was small and cramped feeling when we tried it in 2008.
The Isle (Biloxi). Previously The Isle of Capri. We did go there once. The gaming areas are spread out so it would be possible to find an area that is not too smoky. Their buffet is the least expensive of any in Biloxi, but also it is terribly small (you can view it from the hallway). Coke establishment with self-serve machines throughout casino.
The Beau Rivage (Biloxi). Beautiful hotel. Many small shops in the promenade area. Very smoky inside. Their casino feels very small and tight. Even the short time we were in the casino this year, we felt very smoked out. Modest size game room for children.
We thought the Hard Rock was the best hotel of The Grand (now the Island View), The Beau Rivage, and the IP.