Step back in time at El Cortez in downtown, where you can experience the history of old Vegas -- along with a bustling casino floor, the elegant Parlour Bar & Lounge and some affordable eats.
Old school but cool, no-fuss budget accommodations, oozing history
Take a guess at what the longest continuously operating hotel and casino in Las Vegas is. Go ahead. (Hint: Its name is written above.) El Cortez was built in 1941. Next year will mark its 75th year in business.
At one time El Cortez was owned by organized crime figures Bugsy Siegel, Meyer Lansky, Moe Sedway and Gus Greenbaum…and, well, there's just something cool about places with mob mystique.
El Cortez has undergone several renovations, but still rocks the same facade it had in 1952, keeping the spirit of classic Vegas alive. On February 22, 2013, the structure was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Be sure to snap a selfie with it in the background during your visit.
El Cortez is located one block from Fremont Street Experience and surrounded by an ever-growing list of hip bars, restaurants and shops in the Fremont East Entertainment District. Seriously, there are so many cool places to hang out in the immediate vicinity, we can't begin to name them.
The rates here are incredibly low. You can often book the original "vintage" rooms for less than $20 a night. Now these rooms that date back to the '40s are small, come with one queen bed and have only stairwell access, but the old school experience makes up for this.
If you're interested in more contemporary digs, go for the still affordable South Beach-themed El Cortez Cabana Suites across the street. Or for a truly unique stay, you can choose one of 10 themed Designer Suites that resulted from the hotel's Design-A-Suite Downtown contest in 2011. Our fave is the Rec Room.
For several decades El Cortez was owned by gaming visionary Jackie Gaughan. He lived at the resort until passing away at the age of 93 in 2013. A mobile exhibit honoring him can be found in Club Cortez. Provided by the Museum of Gaming History, it's called "Jackie Gaughan's Downtown as Seen Through Gaming Memorabilia" and includes a 30-minute video montage.
Got yourself a hot slot? Feeling lucky in the poker room? If you're hungry but don't want to interrupt your streak, the Gambling Gourmet, a game-side dining service, is at your beck and call for a bite anytime you desire.
You can play roulette at El Cortez without having a high-stakes budget. Some of the tables permit $1 minimum bets and have 25-cent chips. Although it'll you take a long time to build up a major windfall, it'll also take you a long time to lose your money.
With its classic design -- smoky mirrors, rich red drapes, leather chairs and a baby grand piano -- The Parlour Bar & Lounge is the perfect place to grab an age-old drink. The menu features cocktails from centuries past like the Mint Julep, Stone Sour and Old Fashioned.