The review below was done in 2010 of the former Imperial Palace. Since then, there was a major remodeling and the name was changed to the Quad. Please excuse the outdated review below until a new one can be written.
Many internet rumors, and advice from friends, told me to stay elsewhere. Ignoring that, I stayed at the Imperial Palace from 9/19/10 to 9/25/10.
For what it's worth, I was visiting Las Vegas alone. When traveling alone, I don't mind questionable conditions, as long as it's not a Roach Motel. I'm happy to report that the IP is several steps up from a Roach Motel, but that's not saying much. Many people have described it as a dump. I prefer to describe it as dumpy. Granted, there's not much difference, but...
If my wife came to Las Vegas with me, we would have stayed elsewhere — but that's primarily because she qualifies for free rooms at more desireable places than I do.
The Imperial Palace tends to seem confusing, and it's easy to get lost. The saddest part about this is that the problem can be easily fixed with some better maps, better signs, and a more logical tower naming system. But you can't beat Imperial Palace's cheap room rates, and center Strip location. When considering staying at IP, just remember this phrase: You get what you pay for. The IP, even with its very desirable location, is remarkably cheap — but for a reason.
Arrival / Check In
My first problem was getting to the front door. A friend who lives in Vegas picked me up at the airport and drove me to the IP, avoiding The Strip. Doing this proved to be a challenge to get to the front door which, we correctly assumed, would put me near the front desk.
We ended up going to the back and using the self-park garage, then walking thru the hotel and casino towards the front desk, luggage in tow. We almost had to ask how to get there. Once we got to the front desk, there were about 8 people ahead on line with 7 clerks. They use a Wendy's style line, which moves relatively quickly.
Tip: If you don't want to drag your luggage from the garage to the front desk, bite the bullet and drive on The Strip. Then fight a few taxis as you use The Strip entrance. Of course, it might be easier to park, leaving your luggage in your car, until you check in and figure out how to find your room.
My next problem was the room key. Here's the room key and my Total Rewards card.
I'm paranoid about having my key in my wallet before I leave the room. By using the Total Reward cards for room keys meant I had to really make sure I had them both. I asked and they said they cannot make the key work for both purposes.
On paper, the IP has six "towers", plus a seventh building, the Capri building.
Five towers are numbered, although the number has nothing to do with the guest room number, and everything to do with the elevator bank the front desk will tell you to use. (The sixth tower is the Pagoda Tower, and only has the restaurants and meeting halls. No guest rooms.)
All guest room towers connect thru a long winding hallway, so, except for Capri, and a handful of rooms on the first floor - below the casino! - you can use almost any elevator bank to get to your room. There is one elevator bank in the restaurant area that skips floors 2 thru 5. Separate elevators take you to the restaurants and meeting rooms on floors 2 thru 5. Each guest room elevator bank is designated for a specific tower, although, like I said, it doesn't matter. One bank is positioned, literally, behind the elevator shaft of an elevator bank that is designated for a different tower. The reality is, both elevator banks service the same rooms. But if your room is one in the tower designated for the hidden elevator, the front desk will tell you to look for that elevator bank, but will fail to tell you that it's hidden, or that you can use a different elevator bank!
There are specific elevators in certain elevator banks that will service the penthouse level. I can only hope that a high roller that gets a penthouse suite also gets better instructions on how to get to his room.
Tower 4 is built above the Capri building. If you get a room in the Capri building, you need to go to Tower 4, which itself is a challenge, go up one level, walk to another elevator, then down one or two levels to your floor to find your room. You'll get lost the first few times to look for your room, and curse the room every time after that.
Tip: The Classic rooms are only a couple bucks more than Capri. Get the upgrade.
The IP has a property map PDF on its website. Not only is the map jammed with all kinds of stuff, and is out-dated, there are parts of FOUR levels included in this level 1 map!
There are numerous problems with this map. Most importantly, it is not drawn to scale, the plans for the first and second floor jam info about other floors in them, the plans for floors three thru six are rotated 180 degrees.
A small version of the first two floors is printed on the inside of the room key / paperwork package the front desk provides. The front desk does not show this to you (I discovered it on my third day). Nor does the front desk use it even if you are in one of the impossible to find Capri rooms. This was confirmed when, on my fifth day, I bumped into a couple with luggage who were obviously lost. I looked at their paperwork and walked them to their room. I didn't go inside, so I don't know if the Capri room itself is better or worse than the Classic room I had.
Note what appears to be a desk labeled Hotel Check-In right in the middle. That would be very convenient if you used the self-park, and the check-in actually existed. The reality is, coming from the parking garage, you find your way towards the point that the 'Hotel Access' is pointing to, where you see this:
The following sign appears above the walkway in the middle of the middle photo:
The sign leads you to believe that to get to the check-in, you should proceed straight and make a right, the same path used to get to the pool and Capri building. The reality is, you should make an immediate right, going down the escalators, to get to the hotel. And to get from here to Capri, you actually make a left!
On my last day, I ran into a security guard. I was about to remark in passing, "After 6 days, I'm finally starting to figure this place out." But he beat me to the punch: "Don't ask me. I've been here 6 years and I still get lost!"
Is it any wonder people complain that Imperial Palace is impossible to navigate?
While wandering around, lost, I would sometimes wish that GoogleMaps would do interiors.
Upon entering my room, there was a lingering smell like a smoker used the room before me. It was a non-smoking room.
Basic room. Nothing fancy at all. One King sized bed. Two nightstands, one small table and a small wall unit. It looks like it can hold a 36" TV. In it was a 19". No big deal. I'm not here to watch TV. No better or worse than a typical hotel room. A little bigger than a typical motel room.
There's no fridge, coffee maker or safe. I wasn't expecting a fridge or coffee maker, but I thought I saw online that every room has a safe. (I later looked and couldn't find it.) I guess I have to hope that the maid doesn't rummage thru my stuff to find my laptop, or my cash while I'm at the pool. The room DID have an iron and board – a nice touch if you need it. It also had TWO luggage stands. The only thing I hated was the type of hangers. I understand people steal stuff, but there are hangers that can be removed and still discourage theft. Using a hanger that doesn't come off the rod is a pain.
The iron is not attached to the wall, but they use the least user-friendly theft-proof hangers. Go figure. The ironing board isn't attached either, but try to slip it into your luggage...
I'm on the sixth floor. It seems like all the rooms have a balcony. If I went out and jumped, I'd fall about three inches to the roof of the meeting rooms section of the casino. Here's the view, as well as a nice little gift left by the prior guest. Maybe this is why there was a cigarette smell to the room!
I used the shower at a variety of hours. The pressure is never great, but the hot water always came up immediately.
The ice machine is very close to my room, except it doesn't work. Swell. There's an emergency exit nearby, so I got up one flight to get ice. The machine there is fine.
Internet is expensive. Here were the prices when I tried to get online.
Basic Wireless Service
3 days: $29.97
Premium Wireless Service
3 days: $32.97
Tip: If you only need the internet briefly, there's a McDonald's with FREE wi-fi next to Harrah's which is right next door.
Finding the pool requires an IQ test. I change and go to the casino lobby level and start looking. I see one sign, but it is not followed by another sign, so I lose the trail. I notice a large display map and head towards it. It turns out this map is next to the elevator for the Hash House A Go-Go. I find the pool on the map, but it takes me forever to figure out where it is in relation to where I am. The pool is on the second floor, and there weren't enough common points to to suggest how to get there from where I was on the first floor. I eventually figure it out and head to the elevator I think I should take, but there's no sign, so I'm unsure and ask a guard. He directs me to a little door nearby on the wall opposite the elevator I thought to take. The door has "Pool" on it, and I can't believe I didn't see it sooner. He says to go in, up one flight, then turn left. It's actually a carpeted fire exit, but this turns out to be correct, since that takes us in front of the elevator bank I was just at, except one flight higher. Why not just suggest the elevator? Sure, it's faster just to run up one flight. But isn't this supposed to be a hospitality business? If he said to take the elevator or stairs up one flight, that would have been different.
Now I start looking for the pool and end up asking someone. Three days later I discover that there are signs on the wall. But the sign is right above a fluorescent fixture, making it impossible to see. In the first photo below I had the flash on. The second I didn't. Notice the difference? How about that sign down the hall? Of course, if I simply looked at my feet it would have been simple. Then again, how many people expect to find foot prints to be used as directions?
The pool is OK. Clean, but nothing special. They have about 6 cabanas available, and about 200 lounge chairs. It's not too difficult to find an available chair. I got there at 4:00 and it's mostly in the shade, but it's a hot day, so it was actually nice. The water has a funny taste. There's a bar in one corner getting little action.
The pool is named the "Shangri-La Pool". The only thing that makes it 'Shangri-La' is the small fake rock formation with a waterfall, and the few trees. The water, in mid-September, was a comfortable temperature, but wasn't heated. There was also an adjacent Jacuzzi that was plenty hot.
Here is a picture of the pool from the IP website. You'll note in the photo that there are rafts available. I didn't see any rafts during my visit.
It is NOT a 'party pool' like those seen on some of the Las Vegas themed TV shows. Just a place to lounge and swim. That's what I expected. I met a guy who was in Vegas for the first time, and thought this casino was the greatest. I mentioned that other casinos have party pools and even topless pools. It kinda ruined his vacation.
I used the pool a second day until a cigarette butt floated by. That convinced that there are better things to do in Vegas than swim, and hadn't used the pool for the rest of the trip.
The Imperial Palace advertises "Dealertainers". These dealers work a special pit with one 12-position Rapid Roulette game, and about 8 other tables, mostly BlackJack, arranged with a small stage in the middle. Although I didn't play at those tables, I saw that the BJ was $15, 6-5, hit on soft 17. The closest BJ table away from this pit was maybe 20 feet away, $10, 3-2, stand on all 17.
I guess every half hour or so, one of the dealers would take the stage, and sing to a non-vocal track. I caught part of two performer's acts. One was Liza, and did a great job — and the table action came to a halt during her performance. Another was Christina Agulera. There was little loss in table action during her show. Elvis stopped the foot traffic, but the table action remained almost the same.
When they are dealing, instead of nametags, there is a small sign on the table showing their name, as well as the name of the person they are portraying. Oddly, Christina Agulera and Ric Ocasek were the only ones specified by full name — even though full names are used on the website. Nowhere did it specify exactly who Ric is (He's the lead singer of The Cars). The guy I saw portraying Ric was Ellwood on a different day. Elvis, Ellwood and Jake were popular. I saw at least two different guys portraying each.
Additional dealertainers that I saw deal but not perform were Cher, Charo, Beyonce, Madonna. I don't know why I didn't get more pictures of them.
As expected, the product looks better in the advertising photo. This is from the IP website.
The website indicates that the dealertainers deal starting at 11am. I looked on several days in the afternoon and they weren't dealing. The earliest I saw them was about 7pm.
Next to the dealertainer pit is a regular pit with a variety of games with better rules and lower minimums. Apparently, there's no such thing as a free lunch, or free entertainment.
I played some craps. $5 minimum. Field pays double for both 2 and 12. The junk in the middle all pays "FOR" I.E. The hardways pay 10 for 1 and 8 for 1. No big deal. I'm used to seeing 9 to 1 and 7 to 1. That's mathematically the same. But the other stuff pays 15 for 1 or 30 for 1 for things I'm recall seeing elsewhere as 30 to 1 and 15 to 1. During my week in town, I discover that all craps tables use the "for" terminology, but pay 31 for 1 and 16 for 1 at most non-Harrah's company casinos. Ditto for the field bet. Harrah's pays double for 12. Most other places pay triple.
The poker room has six tables. It never had more than three tables running. Usually it was just two: $2/$4 limit and $1/$2 no limit. More than once I passed by to see only $2/$4 limit. A small bonus for poker players: They have freshly made have cookies available. Damn tasty too!
I'm not a sports bettor, but the sports book looked nice. A good number of seats near the betting windows, with additional seating arranged stadium style. The only bad thing is that it is near the karaoke bar.
There are several restaurants, although I only tried two of them on my visit. Except for a coffee house type place in the retail area of the first floor, all are upstairs, meaning they are a challenge to find.
Everyone I knew who has ever stayed at IP told me to avoid the buffet. But curiosity is killing me, so I go anyway at 8:15pm on my fourth day. The price is $18.99. More than I want to spend to satisfy curiosity. But I ask to go in and check it out. There are several choices that, based on name only, I would probably like, and a few that I wouldn't. Plus a carving station, and the obligatory salad bar and desert spread. But that's all. It's the smallest buffet I have ever seen.
So I'm not going ot pay for this. Maybe a different day for the $12.99 brunch. But before I leave, I ask a couple in their 20's that had just stepped up to the desert table what they think. I ask, "I didn't pay yet. I'm just checking it out. Should I go elsewhere?" The gal says "Uuhhhmmmm..... Yyyyeeeeaaaaahhhhhhh........"
On a different day, I did go for the brunch. It's got eggs and other breakfast foods and some lunch items. How bad can it be?
I get there at 1:45 and am told it closes at 2:00. I knew that, but asked what that means. I can stay until 2:30, but they start breaking down the buffet at 2:15. No problem. When alone, I normally eat quickly and run. Of course, it makes me wonder why it takes until 4:00 to set up and open for dinner.
The hot food sections were set in a basic steam table, two sides with about 8 items each. One side had scrambled eggs, sausage links, limp bacon, undercooked corned beef hash, limp breakfast potatoes, waffles, french toast and fried chicken. The other side had fried shrimp, butter noodles, stroganoff, roasted chicken, fish, sauteed vegetables, and I think one or two other items.
In between was a carving station with ham and turkey and a chef making omelettes.
Because of my younger days as a restaurant employee, I know how hard it is to keep dry foods such as waffles and french toast hot and fresh. So I didn't bother with them. But limp bacon? Undercooked corned beef hash?
There was also a salad section which included sushi. I like sushi, but decided to pass on raw fish at this place. It looked average.
The dessert station had a variety of items. I took chocolate cake, chocolate ice cream, and a cookie. The cake was great, but the ice cream tasted funny. How do you screw up soft-serve ice cream? It comes in a gallon sized milk carton, that you pour it into the machine. How hard is that?
I also had fresh brewed iced tea, which also tasted funny. It took me forever to figure out why. It was Chinese tea. I'm not used to having Chinese tea iced.
What does it say about a restaurant, when the one photo they show, doesn't even show any food?
Bottom line: As I put on the comment card, the fresh made omelette was excellent but did not make up for the other food, which was far below average.
This can be compared to a snack bar you might find at a bowling alley. You order at the counter like fast food. The one time I was there was at 8:30pm. Just a couple other patrons were there. They have about 40 booths with chairs that turn but don't move, positioned way too close to the table. There were just a couple tables with real chairs. All the patrons were at those tables. Apparently, I wasn't the only one who thought the booths were tight. Fortunately, there was one available. I thought I ordered my burger medium, but it came out well done. It was good anyway. And it came with unsalted fries which were good.
Hash House A Go-Go
This is located on the second floor. If you're looking at the property map PDF, it's shown on the first floor, labeled "Tea House." Apparently, the PDF hasn't been changed in years.
I did not eat there, or even go in. However, I DID eat at their sister location about 4 miles west of The Strip. There the food and service were excellent. Assuming the location in the IP is run and overseen by the restaurant's own management and not the IP management, then I'd recommend it.
There are several bars in the casino area, and another which is only accessible from the Strip. Inside the Strip bar is an escalator going up to the third floor, and none coming down. It lets you off near the sports book and Karaoke Bar.
I'm not a drinker, so I never patronized the bars. However, I did sit and watch several singers at the karaoke bar. There was a Two Drink Minimum sign on the table, but in the 1/2 hour I sat there, no waitress came by. I assume I have to go to the bar for a drink, and, unless it's busy or I want to sing, that they wouldn't care about the minimum.
Since I am a DJ with bar / night club experience, I can't help but to analyze what this DJ is doing. The are about 30 people in the audience. Most are in their 40s and 50s, some are Asian. The singers are generally singing classic rock, oldies and country. Most of them are doing a good job singing. In between singers, while introducing the next singer, the DJ is playing newer high-energy dance and trance type music. It's totally wrong for the crowd. After about 7 fairly good singers and one crappy DJ, I call it a night.
With the name of Imperial Palace, as well as Asian sounding names of some of the restaurants, you'd expect more Asian influences in the internal decor. The most overwhelming thing about the decor was its apparent need to be cleaned, or painted, or in some other manner, updated.
Like I said, you can't beat its cheap room rates, and center Strip location.
The initial thought that jumps into your head when you think of a Las Vegas Casino / Hotel would be that of a luxury resort - and be far more expensive than IP's rates. Just remember: There's a reason it's so cheap.
Bottom line: If you go with low expectations, you won't be disappointed, and might even be pleasantly surprised.
The Wizard would like to give a big thanks to Dave M. for the review and to Karina for modeling in some of the pictures.
Address: 3535 Las Vegas Boulevard, Las Vegas, NV 89109
Web site: imperialpalace.com