Our Uber driver had the address in her system. Still, I warned her that our destination, the Jockey Club, might be a little tricky to find.
This was the universal caveat that stood out among all the reviews I read after I had snapped up one of the final rooms available at this old school Las Vegas "resort" for the Sweet Sixteen NCAA tourney weekend getaway at the end of March.
We had landed at the airport and 20 minutes later, the GPS directions had us circling around the fountains at Bellagio and past the valet/drop-off area at one of the standout casino resorts on The Strip.
I leaned over and said to Colleen: "Kind of wish we had booked a room here, huh?"
I recalled that billboard taunt that teases commuters: "If You Lived Here, You'd Be Home Now."
And yet, we drove slowly past, craning our necks trying to see where the heck the Jockey Club was hiding itself. We had to be close, and we didn't want to risk another time circling around on Las Vegas Boulevard and spending another 20 minutes in our driver's car.
"Let us out here; we'll walk," I said.
Colleen and I wandered up a driveway adjacent to the Bellagio, and we finally spotted the fairly non-descript low-rise building tucked in the shadows behind the shiny new Cosmopolitan resort that now owned the Las Vegas Boulevard frontage.
We doubled back and finally made our way down a narrow alley/access road and into the hotel that would be our home for the next three nights.
Jockey Club has been a Las Vegas staple for decades. For the frugal traveler (like myself), you can't beat the location and the price of this resort that was Sin City's first timeshare. It's obviously a bit tricky, at first, to find this out-of-place piece of Old Vegas nostalgia (Jockey Club opened in 1974). The city is constantly changing its landscape, so the fact that Jockey Club is still fairly thriving is a victory for underdogs everywhere. The hotel is perhaps a rough gem among all the newer gleaming jewels on The Strip. But once you get there, you will find a nearly equal number of things to like and hate about staying at the Jockey Club in Las Vegas.
Location -- The hotel is located at 3700 Las Vegas Boulevard South, right in the heart of the action on the Las Vegas Strip. Neighboring attractions like the Cosmopolitan, City Center, Bellagio, Planet Hollywood Casino and Miracle Miles shops are just steps away. If you stay in this part of The Strip, you can easily wander to all of the top casinos, to see shows, enjoy shopping and eat at a variety of restaurants.
Price -- We snagged a deal on Booking.com for $200 a night for three people. Our large suite had a living room, kitchen, two bathrooms and can sleep six people. This makes Jockey Club an extremely affordable option on one of the busiest weekends of the year during the NCAA Basketball tourney's penultimate weekend.
Service -- As soon as we arrived, we understood why the hotel earns positive reviews online. Jockey Club knows what it is, and its staffers realize that they must go the extra mile to keep people coming back. From the check-in desk to the bellman Steve who took care of our bags (we arrived early, went to lunch and stowed them as our room was being prepared) and promptly delivered them up to our room to the daily housekeeping service, everyone we came into contact with was genuinely helpful and friendly.
Space -- The living space and bedroom was massive, with tons of closet and drawer space. This made it a great place for three people to spread out and enjoy the accommodations.
The hotel also offers free overnight rentals of DVDs from its library of more than 1,000 titles. Plus, complimentary bags of fresh popcorn are available throughout the day. A small market offers all kinds of essentials and convenience items, including groceries and souvenirs.
Guests at Jockey Club also have direct connection to the Cosmopolitan, where you can get to the casino and eateries there in just minutes. You reach the neighboring sprawling Cosmopolitan through an elevator bank that's located at the back of a bleak covered parking structure. You go into one side of the elevator, rise about a half a floor level, then pop out into a wonderland of dinging slot machines, shimmering lights and tables game complete with clinking chip stacks. It feels like you passed through the wardrobe and emerged in Narnia. It's altogether another world. You also have privileges at the Cosmopolitan rooftop Bamboo Pool, which is a serious upgrade from the Jockey Club pool. Free parking is available for hotel guests.
Decor -- Straight talk here. It's drab. Antiquated. Uninspired. In fact, the rooms reminded me of the retirement community that I never want to be shipped off to in my old age. The property clearly is shooting for function over form, which is especially peculiar when your address is in the heart of the Las Vegas glitz and glam.
Noise -- Maybe it was the proximity of our room to the elevator, but you can hear a lot of noise from the hallway, elevators and construction activity outside. Colleen dealt with it by stuffing in her earplugs and playing a white noise app on her smartphone. I got my rest by blissfully conking out after walking double-digit miles and downing double-digit beer each day. (Just kidding. Mostly. Or am I?)
Pool -- The moderately sized heated pool is located on a rooftop area accessible on the second floor. The pool deck is fully engulfed in shade for all hours of the day since Cosmopolitan went up in 2010. An ugly netting has been erected above the deck to protect from falling or tossed items from the balconies of the neighboring high-rise. So, lack of shade, no bar service and no hot tubs are the big negatives about this outdoor amenity. People come to Vegas to enjoy their pool time, and this place won't work for most sun lovers.
Inconveniences -- The rooms need serious updating. Most time share-type properties offer laundry services in the room, as they are designed for people who will be staying for a week at a time. No USB outlets are available, either.
All in all, the Jockey Club was exactly what we expected and works perfectly for people looking to hit Vegas without taking a big hit to the bank account. The resort is a great home base for a frugal traveler who doesn't crave luxury.
I had mentioned the location as a plus. Jockey Club is just three miles from Las Vegas' McCarran International Airport, which means that it's walkable. Yeah, that's right, I said walkable. After we checked out on our last morning, Colleen and I had a nice stroll to the airport (I've done this before) in perfect sunny conditions. She made me handle our small bit of luggage along the way, though.
Thanks for reading!