Hard Rock Atlantic City Review for 2024

Matt Bridger

Updated by Matt Bridger

Writer

Michael Graham

Fact Checked by Michael Graham

Content Editor

Last Updated 31st May 2024, 12:02 PM

Rising from the ashes of the Trump Taj Mahal, Hard Rock Atlantic City is a vibrant, modern casino resort that has considerably upped the game in terms of Vegas style headliner entertainment in New Jersey.

Located on the famous Atlantic City Boardwalk, a couple of minutes from the Steel Pier with its Ferris wheel and other attractions, Hard Rock is sure to appeal to both gamblers and music fans alike.

In this review, we will explore everything you need to know about staying at Hard Rock Atlantic City, from the gaming to the rooms and the restaurants to the entertainment schedule. 

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♦️ Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Overview

Resorts International, owners of the neighbouring Resorts Casino, started construction on what was originally known as Taj Mahal in 1983.

However, following the death of Resorts CEO James Crosby in 1986, along with construction problems, Resorts became a takeover target and Donald Trump took a controlling stake in the company for $79million in July 1987. 

Construction continued, but the total budget for Taj Mahal increased to an eye watering $930million and Resorts came close to bankruptcy. Trump and television producer Merv Griffin then went head-to-head in a takeover battle to buy the entire company, and in November 1988 the two reached a settlement whereby Griffin would purchase the company and Trump would purchase Taj Mahal from Resorts for $273million.

Trump Taj Mahal finally opened on 2nd April 1990, billing itself as the “eighth wonder of the world”, with a lavish opening ceremony which had Michael Jackson as Trump’s special guest.

However, Trump had opened Taj Mahal with a large amount of debt and it struggled financially, which resulted in a prepackaged bankruptcy process in 1991 where he gave up 50% of his ownership in return for lower interest rates and a longer payoff schedule.

Trump Taj Mahal was the highest grossing casino in Atlantic City until Borgata opened in 2003 and various enhancements were made, including the addition of The Chairman Tower in 2008 which increased the hotel offering to 2,000 rooms.  

The growth of casino gaming in the Northeast of the US affected business in Atlantic City and Trump Entertainment Resorts eventually filed for bankruptcy in September 2014. In February 2016 the company became a subsidiary of Icahn Enterprises, but Trump Taj Mahal eventually closed for good on 10th October 2016.    

On 1 March 2017, Hard Rock International announced the purchase and renovation of the property at a total cost of $300million, and it reopened as Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City on 27 June 2018.

Quick Info

🪪 Membership required:❌  No, but encouraged 
👔 Dress code:❌  No
🏧 ATMs:✔️ Yes, but with fees
🚘 Parking:✔️ Yes
♿ Wheelchair accessible:✔️ Yes
🛏️ On-site accommodation:✔️ Yes
🍴 On-site restaurant:✔️ Yes, multiple
🍹 Free drinks and snacks:

✔️ Yes

🚬 Smoking:✔️ Yes, but only in certain areas

Location

Hard Rock is located at the north end of the Boardwalk, nestled in between Ocean and Resorts Casinos and opposite the Steel Pier, so is in a perfect spot to explore the Boardwalk area with ease.

Personally, I would always opt for a casino resort on the Boardwalk itself, during the summer months for obvious reasons, but also as it gives you a far wider choice of properties to explore and gamble in. There are three other resorts further inland in the Marina District, namely Borgata, Golden Nugget and Harrah’s, but they are a taxi ride away and walking between them is far from straight forward.

Prior to my stay I had been warned about some negative aspects of Atlantic City, namely that it is run down, unsafe, and not worth my time. Suffice to say that I totally disagreed with these opinions by the end of my trip. 

I found the Boardwalk to be clean, well patrolled by security staff, and a hive of activity. Granted, there were some shuttered buildings and old boarded up casinos but that did not spoil my enjoyment of the city in any way.  

My stay in Atlantic City was during early summer and I thoroughly enjoyed taking advantage of the Boardwalk Tram Service as my preferred method of travel. This hop on/hop off service runs the length of the Boardwalk from Ocean Casino at the north end to Tropicana at the south and can be hailed down directly outside Hard Rock. Tickets are $4 for a single fare ($2 for children under 12), $10 for an all-day pass and operating hours vary by season.

🎰 Hard Rock Casino Review

Hard Rock Atlantic City boasts 160,000 square feet of casino space, with 2,300 slot machines, 130 gaming tables, and a Hard Rock Sportsbook. It is one of the smartest casinos in Atlantic City and has one of the largest music memorabilia collections in the US, including Elvis Presley’s 1963 Rolls Royce Phantom V. It also features a signature giant guitar which is 60 foot long, suspended from the ceiling and has illuminated strings.  

Table Games Selection

There are around 130 table games at Hard Rock Atlantic City, with Roulette, Blackjack and Craps easily found on the main casino floor. In addition, there is an Asian lounge area housing a selection of games such as Pai Gow, Pai Gow Tiles, and Baccarat.

Whilst Hard Rock does not offer a dedicated poker room, a number of carnival poker games are also available:

  • High Card Flush
  • Ultimate Texas Hold’em
  • Three Card Poker
  • Four Card Poker
  • Face Up Pai Gow Poker
  • Criss Cross Poker
  • Mississippi Stud Poker

A Progressive Poker Jackpot is offered on Four Card Poker, Mississippi Stud and Ultimate Texas Hold’em and can be won by placing a $5 wager in a designated spot on the table prior to each round of play.    

As a rough guide though, here is what you can expect at Resorts in terms of table minimums.

Game

Minimum Bet

Single Zero Roulette

$100

Double Zero Roulette

$15

Blackjack

$15

Craps

$15

Pai Gow

$25

Pai Gow Tiles

$25

Baccarat

$15

High Card Flush

$10

Ultimate Texas Hold’em

$10

Three Card Poker

$10

Four Card Poker

$10

Face Up Pai Gow Poker

$25

Criss Cross Poker

$10

Mississippi Stud

$10

 

Slots

The slot selection at Hard Rock is as good as any in Atlantic City with over 2,300 machines to choose from, and the casino floor is full of all the latest games:

  • Huff N’ Even More Puff
  • Dragon Link
  • Lock It Link
  • Frankenstein
  • Little Shop of Horrors
  • Dragons Gold 
  • Quick Hits

I did go looking for some old school three-reel games, and whilst there were a few dotted around, they are not as plentiful as the newer variations.

From the moment I came down the escalators, with the huge, illuminated guitar above me, and saw all the slots coming into view I was impressed. The music was superb, with a great rock band playing in the Lobby Bar, and I sat at a few machines on the outer edge of the casino so I could enjoy the music as I was playing. Atmosphere is something even the best online casinos can't provide, and Hard Rock do atmopshere better than most.

Overall, I was really impressed with the casino space in general and thoroughly enjoyed playing slots in the upbeat party vibe of the place. Sadly, I didn’t end up a winner but I thoroughly enjoyed myself and will definitely be back.  

Waitress Service

Now all us gamblers know that one of the main benefits of playing in person rather than at the best online casinos is the offer of free drinks while doing so. Even after a losing session the blow can be softened somewhat in the knowledge that you were at least looked after in that regard. However, the reality in many casinos, particularly the larger ones, is that waitress service can be hit and miss at best. 

Thankfully you have nothing to worry about at Hard Rock as, like Caesars, they offer a comped drinks system directly at the slot machine you are playing.

All you have to do is insert your Unity players card so it can track your play. Once you have qualified for a free drink (which seemed to require approximately $10 in play) the system will allow you to select from a number of categories: Beer/Wine, Cocktails, Non-Alcoholic, Bourbon, Cognac/Brandy, Gin, Liqueurs/Cordials, Rum, Tequila, Vodka and Whiskey/Scotch.

Simply select your drink and it will be delivered directly to you. Your favourite drinks are also stored on the system for easy selection next time.

When I used the system during my visit everything ran very smoothly and the drink arrived within a few minutes.

In my opinion this system is the best way to manage the whole comped drinks process in casinos as it benefits all parties. The casino is comfortable in the knowledge that they are only rewarding genuine gamblers, the gamblers are happy as they are offered a regular service, and hopefully the waitresses receive higher tips as a result. 

Ultimately it seems to be a win win all round. In fact, going into a casino with regular waitress service felt like a backward step after experiencing this.

Bar-Top Gaming

As with all casinos in Atlantic City, bar-top gaming is offered at Hard Rock, and the best place to head for this is the Hard Rock Cafe Center Bar.      

Bar-top games are limited to Video Poker, Blackjack, and a few of the more traditional slot games, but this can be an attractive proposition as you are close to bar staff for complimentary drinks. You also feel part of the whole bar vibe which can be a sociable experience should you fancy a chat while you play. 

Hard Rock Atlantic City Sportsbook

The 3,500 square foot Hard Rock Sportsbook opened in 2019, and whilst it’s not the biggest in Atlantic City, it is still more than sufficient for your sporting needs. There are 46 TV monitors with seating for 50 in padded chairs with tables. There is also a sportsbook bar with bar-top gaming at the base of the main video wall which makes those seats the best view in the house. 

Sadly, the bar does not offer complimentary drinks to those with an active sports bet, but there is nothing to stop you wagering a small sum at a slot machine just outside the sportsbook to get your free drink, then taking it back inside to enjoy whilst watching the action.

Hours of operation are Monday to Sunday from noon until 10pm.

High Limit Gaming at Hard Rock Atlantic City

The High Limit slots area in Hard Rock was revamped in November 2023 and now offers 250 machines in denominations up to $500. This makes it the largest high limit area in Atlantic City.

Featured games include: Buffalo Link, Dancing Drums, Dollar Storm, Double Top Dollar, Dragon Link, Lightning Link, Lock It Link Diamonds, Prosperity Link, Ultimate Fire Link and Wheel of Fortune Big Money.

Denominations start at 10c, so you don’t necessarily need to be a high roller to play. Bet sizes on the 10c denomination can be as low as $5 a spin and progressive jackpots on high limit Link games are higher than those found on the main casino floor. It is therefore possible to win a high limit progressive at the minimum $5 bet.  

There are also two dedicated lounges for Unity Card holders who have achieved Icon or X status:

  • The Icon VIP Lounge is open Monday – Thursday from 3pm until 8pm, Friday 3pm until 9pm, Saturday 9am until 10pm and Sunday 9am until 8pm and is open to Icon and X cardholders. 
  • The Plum Lounge is exclusive for X cardholders only and is open Friday from 4pm until midnight, Saturday 9am until midnight and Sunday 9am until 5pm.   
160K Sq. Ft Venue
130+ Live Tables
2 Entertainment Spaces
2.3K Slot Machines
24/7 Always Open

Cash and Payment Options

Unless you have a pre-arranged credit facility, when it comes to gambling at Hard Rock you will need cash. Whilst this form of payment seems to be going out of fashion pretty much everywhere it is still very popular, perhaps with the exception of some brand new casinos, within the gambling industry! What does mean, though, if you get your winnings quicker than at even the fast payout online casinos.

It is therefore important for you to bring enough cash to gamble at the level you are planning to, plus a little extra for emergencies.

ATM facilities are offered throughout the property, although they do attract a fee. Amounts above your daily ATM limit are available via the Cashier Cage, but fees for large cash withdrawals can exceed $100 in some cases.  

Payment at the various bars, shops and restaurants in Hard Rock can also be made by debit or credit card as well as room charge, which you authorise at check in. 

💰 Hard Rock Casino Bonuses and Promotions

Hard Rock has its own rewards programme called Unity, and whilst it is the only resort in Atlantic City to use this programme, you can enjoy membership perks at over 200 participating locations around the world, including Hard Rock hotels, cafes, casinos and Rock Shops.

As with all rewards programmes, I would recommend signing up to Unity, particularly if you enjoy the Hard Rock brand. As always, benefits are dependent on your tier status and the higher the tier, the better the benefits:  

  • Star (0 – 3,000 Unity Points) - Earn Free Play based on play
  • Legend (4,000 – 14,999 Unity Points) - Invitations to exclusive events/Free parking
  • Icon (15,000+ Unity Points) - Priority lines/No Resort Fees/Free valet parking 
  • X (Invite Only) - Personalised Host service/$500 credit at the spa and Hard Rock retail/Complimentary limo to/from Atlantic City airport 

Should you join the Hard Rock Unity?

For many years I made the mistake of not joining the various reward programmes on offer as I told myself I ‘casino hopped’ too much to make it worth my while. What a fool I was!

It is worth noting that Hard Rock Atlantic City offer a Unity Tier Match whereby they will match your tier status at a competitor and immediately upgrade you to the equivalent tier with Unity.

During my visit I simply showed my Caesars Rewards Diamond Elite card at the Unity Players Club desk and they upgraded me to Unity Icon status. Straight away this qualified me for benefits, including $50 in freeplay.

The Unity Tier Match is open to holders of the following players cards: 

  • MGM Rewards (Pearl status and above) 
  • Ocean (Preferred status and above)
  • Caesars Rewards (Platinum status and above)
  • Golden Nugget (Premier status and above)
  • Bally’s (Star status and above)
  • Resorts (Epic status and above)
  • Parx (Premium status and above)
  • Wind Creek (Escape status and above)
  • Rivers (Platinum status and above)

The lowest status listed here will match you to Legend at Unity and anything above will match you to Icon.

Ultimately my advice would be to join every rewards programme you can, use your card at every opportunity, avoid chasing tier status (unless you can tier match), and just see what offers come your way. 

Following my visit to Hard Rock I have received a number of offers, but all of them have been limited to Hard Rock Atlantic City only. It therefore appears that whilst you are able to use membership perks at other Hard Rock casinos, offers based on play are restricted to the property you gambled in only. 

🛏️ Hard Rock Hotel and Resort

Hard Rock Atlantic City Rooms

Hard Rock Atlantic City has two hotel towers with a total of 2,032 rooms. 

The North Tower, formerly the Chairman Tower when the property was Taj Mahal, is situated furthest from the casino floor but has the best ocean views, particularly on the higher floors. In general, the rooms are slightly smaller than those in the South but are more modern and enjoy a larger bathroom, with separate toilet for added privacy.

The South Tower rooms are larger although slightly older than those in the North, and the tower is closer to both the casino floor and indoor pool. The bathrooms are smaller and there is no separate toilet.

Suites are available in both towers, including the Roxy Suite in the South Tower at 1,400 square feet with master bedroom and separate living area.  

Ultimately, your room choice at Hard Rock depends on what you are looking for, although I would say there are no bad choices. If you have mobility issues then definitely choose a room in the South Tower, but if a modern room with a great ocean view and floor to ceiling windows is your jam I’d opt for an Ocean room in the North Tower. 

Hard Rock Atlantic City Pool

Hard Rock Atlantic City has a small indoor swimming pool which can be accessed on the fourth floor of the South Tower. The hours of operation are 10am to 6pm every day.

It is difficult to recommend this pool as it is one of the smallest in Atlantic City. It is also very popular with kids and has no adult only time, so is best avoided unless you are travelling as a family. 

cc-icon-tips

Choose your Tower wisely

If you are a guest with mobility options, the South Tower will probably be your best bet. It's closer to everything meaning a lot less walking.

Bars

The bar scene at Hard Rock is one of my favourite aspects of the property, and the best bar for me hands down is the Lobby Bar. This bar features excellent live music, with a different live band performing each evening and is really what gives the Hard Rock its name. Syles range from soul to rock and everything in between, and it is the perfect spot to kick back from the gambling and just enjoy the music while sipping on your favourite drink.

Hours of operation are Monday to Thursday from noon until midnight, Friday and Saturday from noon until 2am and Sunday 11am until midnight. Happy Hour at the Lobby Bar is 4pm to 6pm daily with $5 draft and domestic beer, $7 import beer and $10 well cocktails.

The Center Bar at the Hard Rock Café is also a nice spot and features bar-top gaming as well as some signature Hard Rock memorabilia pieces. This bar is open 24/7 and runs a Happy Hour between 6pm – 8pm with the drink discounts the same as those offered at the Lobby Bar. There is also a popular Dueling Pianos show which plays on Friday and Saturday nights.    

New for 2024 is The Balcony at Hard Rock which is an intimate lounge bar/nightclub which serves cocktails and spirits and features DJs and a dance floor. Hours are Friday and Saturday from 10pm to 3am.  

Restaurants

I think it’s fair to say that Hard Rock does not have the widest selection of eateries, although there is enough to satisfy you for a weekend stay.

Fine Dining options include:

  • Council Oak Steaks & Seafood: Classic American steakhouse
  • Kuro: Japanese cuisine
  • Il Mulino New York: Old world Italian food

Casual Dining options include:

  • Fresh Harvest Buffet: Including a seafood buffet every Thursday and a steak buffet every Sunday
  • Hard Rock Café: Well it wouldn’t be a Hard Rock without one!
  • Sugar Factory: American brasserie
  • YOUYU Noodle Bar: Asian street food     

Shows and Entertainment

As you would expect, Hard Rock boasts one of the best live music venues in Atlantic City in the form of the Hard Rock Live at Etess Arena. This venue opened in April 1990 as part of Taj Mahal, seats 5,000 fans, and hosts major music and sporting events.

At the time of writing headliners due to visit the arena include Heart, Snoop Dog, Patti Labelle, Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, and Donny Osmond. This really is Las Vegas-esque entertainment on the East Coast!

The Sound Waves Theater is a slightly more intimate venue with a capacity of 1,368 and features comedy acts as well as various residencies. These include the Chippendales, Michael (Jackson) Lives Forever, and the Ultimate Elvis Experience.

💭 My Hard Rock Verdict

I was surprised at just how much I enjoyed Hard Rock Atlantic City. From the moment I clapped eyes on the 60-foot illuminated guitar in the ceiling, and glided down the escalators to be greeted by over 2,000 slot machines, a hopping Lobby Bar featuring superb live music, and an efficient automated drinks service, I was all in. 

Add to that the great rooms in both towers, many with ocean views, and a perfect Boardwalk location, and it’s a hit in my book.

The Unity tier match offer is also excellent as you can be awarded benefits and freeplay straight away should you hold the required status at a rival property.  

On the downside, the swimming pool is lacklustre and too family friendly for my taste, and the dining choices are not the widest in town. But I enjoy a visit to the Hard Rock Cafe anyway so it wasn’t too much of a hardship.

Overall, Hard Rock comes thoroughly recommended and I look forward to a return visit during my next Atlantic City adventure.

What I Liked and Didn't Like

Liked
A very smart casino with ‘wow factor’
One of the best slots selections in town
A great tier match offer at the Unity rewards programme
Superb live bands each evening at the Lobby Bar
Both hotel towers offer well maintained room choices
The automated drinks service on the slot machines
Didn't like
A drab indoor swimming pool with no adult only time
The selection of restaurants is somewhat limited

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Meet The Author

26 Years
Experience
Matt Bridger
Matt Bridger
Writer Writer

Matt Bridger has been a regular visitor to Las Vegas since 1998 and has enjoyed over 50 trips to Sin City since then. He is an experienced slot player in both the UK & US, and recently completed a three-week gambling road trip frequenting casinos across America from the east to west coast. Matt also has a successful YouTube channel and has been vlogging his gambling trips in Las Vegas since 2014.

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