Rockhouse Now A 5 Star Dive Bar

I was invited to the grand opening of Rockhouse at The Venetian and since I visit The Venetian and The Palazzo pretty often I figured I’d check it out. Between the two casinos I like the sportsbooks, dining selections, coffee options, craps at The Palazzo and wifi accessibility at The Venetian (The Palazzo stopped free wifi last year).

Rockhouse Sign

 

Rockhouse is litterally located in between both The Venetian and The Palazzo in the Grand Canal Shoppes. Across the hall was First Food and Bar which was considered to be a part of The Palazzo. More than anything I was curious how the idea of a dive bar could possibly be a reality at a luxury hotel.

Rockhouse used to be located at Imperial Palace but it closed last year when renovations began turning IP into The Quad. Rockhouse isn’t a dive bar any longer…it’s an “Ultra-Dive Bar“.

WTF IS AN ULTRA DIVE BAR?!

The marketing was such a turn off that before I went to the opening of Rockhouse I was skeptical that there was any way this place could be cool. I was right and I was wrong. Rockhouse is not a dive bar. It’s located in a luxury resort and sells drinks that are competitive for the Vegas strip – not a dive bar. However…

Marketing aside Rockhouse is pretty cool!

Rockhouse Bar

Rockhouse is a bar. No more, no less. This awesome Grey Goose and soda was poured by a bartender that had must have had lead in her wrists (STRONG DRINK). I rarely feel the effects from one drink but this one hit me pretty nicely. In fact, this was the only drink I had at a totally open bar. Thanks Rockhouse, this was perfect. I hope that you can replicate this drink when I visit again.

The decor and name Rockhouse lead me to believe that I would be hearing some awesome rock jams. Unfortunately I heard no rock. The party played the most obnoxious mainstream pop music. I heard Pitbull three times in 20 minutes and I wanted to hurl. I like Pitbull but this was a bit much. The decor makes me think that there will be rock music for me when I return to Rockhouse in the future. Check out this sweet pool table.

Rockhouse Pool Table

The bartenders were I met were all nice and all good looking. There was only a short wait for drinks at a packed open bar. That’s impressive for just 3 bartenders. The back room of the bar has a few tables with views of the strip, mechanical bull, VIP area and a DJ booth. Not quite dive bar-ish. The front room where the pool table above is located has beer pong tables a nice selection of beer on tap and plenty of big TV’s.

Rockhouse has a $50 all you can drink all day deal which isn’t as bad as it sounds. The deal lasts from open to close and if you’re a boozer you and have more than 6 drinks or so this is probably a value. With all of the new TV’s and it being a new bar this might actually be a good deal to watch March Madness. Unfortunately your $50 won’t get you a sweet guitar full o booze.

UPDATE: The day before March Madness Rockhouse raised their all you can drink prices to $125.

Rockhouse Guitar Drink

$35 seems like a lot for a super sugary drink. If I’m getting a souvenir drink I prefer a 22 ounce skull of beer for $10. I walked into Rockhouse with a chip on my shoulder because of the marketing and expected to hate Rockhouse but I enjoyed it. Rockhouse isn’t a dive bar but it is a pretty cool bar away from the family chaos at The Venetian.

Now that First Food and Bar is closed I think Rockhouse will fill the void of a good out of the way place to have a meeting at The Venetian.

Navigating G2E

This is my third time at the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) and I always forget some basics about the conference so I figured I might as well prepare for next year and let other people know some smart tips ongetting to G2E at The Venetian and navigating once you’re there.

  • Arrive Early – G2E is the most busy convention of the year at Venetian since many people in the casino and gaming business are from Las Vegas. This makes parking a premium at The Venetian.
  • Use Valet at The Venetian – If you’re going to park at The Venetian use the valet located in the parking garage. This will save time looking for a spot. It will also save you time looking for a space and when you leave. It took me about 20 minutes to navigate out of the parking lot yesterday.
  • Park at The Palazzo – If you’re hell bent on not using the valet then park at The Palazzo. The walk from the garage to the Sands Expo Center is maybe two minutes longer, but there’s much less traffic.
  • Enter and Exit From The Rear – The main entrance is a cluster after 9am. The entrance from Koval has less traffic coming in and less chaotic leaving.
  • Wear Comfortable Shoes – The expo floor is huge and you’ll walk a lot. I saw at least three women walking barefoot and carrying their heels by 1pm. Don’t be that girl.
  • Beware Contradictory Policies – Even if you’re considered press it doesn’t mean you have typical press access. Security is instructed not to allow pictures or video. That’s controlled by the employees of the companies. Make a friend and they’ll let you take pictures. It’s annoying and counterintuitive, but that’s the deal.
  • Blend In – You can take pictures with your phone if you seem like you belong there. Again, counterintuitive but that’s the deal.
  • Don’t Be Scrrrrd – Like every conference some panels are better then others. If you’re not into it then just walk out.
  • First Food & Bar – This is a great restaurant and it’s kind of hidden in the Grand Canal Shops. Not a lot of people are aware of it since it’s not easily seen. Good food and great meeting spot.

This is a really well run conference, but the amount of people can seem overwhelming. A little preparation saves time and lessens frustration. Hopefully I’ll remember all of this next year.

**Update: arrive before noon for valet, both The Venetian & The Palazzo are only allowing hotels guests in the afternoon.

Thoughts On The Venetian

This was my first time staying at the Venetian and I still like it as a casino, but probably not as a place I’d like to stay.

The vibe in the casino is nice and relaxed but fun and the crowd is in the middle of the age types – somewhere between younger people and older people.

One of my favorite places in the casino was the sportsbook.  It’s pretty big and since it wasn’t NFL season it felt like a respite from the rest of the casino.

One great thing is that the Venetian sportsbook still gives out drink tickets with bets.  I received a few with my losing bet, but at least I was able to cash them in for a few awesome glasses of Blue Moon.

While I was at the sportsbook bar I cashed on 4 aces in Double Double Bonus Poker!  I was only playing $1 since I threw it in waiting for my beer.  Too bad.

I found the Venetian pretty crowded all day and night as there were a lot of tourists and families with children.  I’m a single dude and screaming kids are not what I want in Vegas.

The Grand Canal Shops were crowded with browsers, shoppers, eaters and drinkers.  I tried to avoid the shops during operating hours because of all of the people, but was happy to sneak in to grab some coffee at Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf.  Also, during regular hours the shops also had this CREEPY live statue.

The Venetian has done a great job branding themselves as a semi upper class family hotel without being stuffy.  It’s taken years to get that kind of equity.

On the other hand the Palazzo, which is relatively new, has not yet reached a similar critical mass.  The Shoppes were dead like they were on my other two visits.  However, for the first time in three visits the casino floor was PACKED on a weeknight.  Maybe there is a turnaround slowly happening at the Palazzo.

Food options are another thing I liked at the Venetian.  There is both quantity and quality.

The food court by the casino is easy to get to and has a nice variety of food as well as free wifi.  The full service restaurants are good as well and Delmonico is one of my favorite steakhouses in Las Vegas.

I tried First Food and Bar, which is hidden between the two hotels, and it was excellent.  It wasn’t too crowded and had interesting food such as cheese steak dumplings and ahi tuna nachos.

One negative for me as a solo traveler this trip was that there was no iphone reception inside of the Venetian Grand Lux Cafe.  I hate eating alone and keeping my head buried in my phone is usually a good trick to pass the time.  Unfortunately I couldn’t do that while eating lunch inside the restaurant.  So I scarfed down this BBQ pork sandwich and headed out ASAP.

On a better note, I was able to sit “outside” the following morning and grab some steak and eggs.  My favorite hangover remedy.

Overall, I enjoyed the Venetian and will likely continue to make it a place to visit when I’m in Vegas, but I don’t see myself staying there again. There are a lot of positives about the casino, but the wear on the rooms and the hordes of families and tourists give me reason to go elsewhere.

However, the Palazzo is both empty enough for me most of the day, but crowded enough at night in the casino to feel alive.  If given the chance to return, I would highly consider the Palazzo.