Our Recommended Hotels in Atlantic City
It's easier to choose a hotel in Atlantic City than it is in Las Vegas for one big reason:
You just don't have as many options.
There are 31 hotels on the Las Vegas Strip alone, but there are also dozens of other hotels in other parts of the city. The closest thing to The Strip that Atlantic City has is the Boardwalk, which only has 6 casino hotels. The other 3 casinos in the city are in the Marina district.
Atlantic City does offer other hotels and lodging arrangements in a wide variety of price ranges and with a large range of amenities. But unlike Las Vegas, the casinos and hotels in Atlantic City aren't really the star of the show. They're big, impressive, and important, but there just aren't as many of them—and they aren't as big, impressive, or as important as their counterparts in Sin City.
Gambling is big business in A.C., though. Even though revenues are down about 15% year over year, the city has done over $2.6 billion in gaming revenue over the last year. The bulk of that revenue ($1.8 billion) comes from slot machine players. Table games only generated $710 million.
Below we offer some tips about how to choose a hotel based on your particular needs as a traveler. We have also recommended a number of hotels in each of the following categories. You can jump straight to those recommendations if you want, by just clicking the relevant button.
Choosing a Hotel in Atlantic City
When you're planning a hotel stay anywhere—not just in Atlantic City—you should answer two big questions first:
- What’s your budget?
- What locations do you want to be near?
The first question is related to your finances, but it also varies according to your expectations and habits. Some people prefer luxury hotels. Others, even people who can afford better accommodations, enjoy saving money by staying at a more budget friendly property. Either way, knowing your preferences in that respect before making any reservations can help make your decision a lot easier.
If you're a budget traveler pinching your pennies, then Atlantic City is a great destination. We've seen prices as low as $17 or $22 per night at the lowest rate properties in the area.
On the other hand, if you're into luxury lodging, Atlantic City also has you covered. Expect to pay between $130 and $240 per night for a top notch property.
Mid-range properties vary in price from $74 up to $120 or more.
Keep in mind that all of these price ranges are surprisingly fluid, too. I've seen luxury hotels in Atlantic City offer rates of less than $100 many times, and I've also seen economy properties raise their rates to over $100 during peak season.
What's the difference in these categories?
Economy properties are aimed at customers who are just looking for a place to stay. They usually lack most amenities besides the basics, i.e. a bed, a television, a phone, and a bathroom. These aren't necessarily bad properties. They're often clean and comfortable.
Mid-range or first class properties provide more amenities in exchange for a higher price. Such hotels might have a fitness center or an affordable restaurant on site. They might or might not offer room service. You'll find some hotels in this price range that are far better than others.
Luxury hotels provide finer amenities. Room service and good restaurants are required for a hotel to be considered a luxury property. Valet parking and a concierge service are also appropriate. You can also expect the décor to be of a higher quality than you'd find in the other two categories.
If you're going to A.C. for a specific event, it might be a good idea to book a room near that event. Conventions are often held at specific hotels, but they can also be held in the convention center. Since most events at a convention behoove you to show up at a certain time, staying nearby can really help out a lot.
Of course, another approach that works well for the recreational traveler is choosing a hotel and then researching the sights and activities nearby. That's the opposite of what most travelers do, but it's a valid approach to planning your trip. If you find a property that isn't near anything interesting to do, only stay there if you're on a budget and the property is the only place where your dollar can go furthest.
Many of the best properties in Atlantic City are located on the Boardwalk, which offers visitors plenty to see and do—both gambling-related and not. Others are located in the Marina area. You'll also find a wide range of other properties in out-of-the-way places. Some of these are timeshares; others are super-budget properties.
You'll find an incredible variety of activities to choose from on the Boardwalk. 2/3 of the casinos are located here, as well as shopping centers, gourmet restaurants, and theaters. Outdoorsy types can get quick access to beach activities, too, like surfing and fishing.
Also, if you notice that the addresses of some of these hotels sound familiar, it's because the board game Monopoly took the names of its properties from actual streets in Atlantic City.
There's two more questions you should answer before choosing where to stay in AC.
- Am I planning to gamble?
- What games do I play?
If you like to gamble, your choices become even easier. Do a little looking into what games are available at the casino hotels where you're planning to play. There's no point in staying at a property with no baccarat tables if that's your favorite game.
Another thing gamblers should keep in mind is the stakes available. If you're a low roller, you'll want to find a property with low minimum bets. Not all casinos offer penny slots and $5 per hand blackjack.
If you're a high roller and plan to put a lot of money into action, you should several properties to let them know you're planning a trip. Since they offer perks to high rollers, like free travel, room and board, meals, event tickets, and the like, you want to get the best deal in exchange for your action. Be prepared to discuss with them how much you plan to gamble.
In the case of real high rollers, you should keep in mind that some casinos might turn away your action depending on how their results have been for the last quarter. Someone betting $10,000 per hand at blackjack can get on a winning streak that can wipe out a casino's profits for the month. Many properties will also give you a flat rebate percentage on your losses, too. But they'll make you sign a contract guaranteeing them a certain amount of action over your visit.
Best Luxury Hotels
Harrah's is easily the most affordable luxury hotel in town. You can find rooms there as low as $64 per night during certain dates. That makes it at least half the price of some of the other four star properties in town. The hotel might be a little older than some of the other luxury lodging available in A.C., but at this price, it's far and away the best value for your travel dollar.
Harrah's is located in the Marina area, not on the Boardwalk—if you want to stay at a luxury property on the Boardwalk, move on to the other listings in this section. The décor is contemporary, and the property has a full casino with over 3800 slot machines and video poker games.
The Pool After Dark is one of the coolest nightclubs in the city. The showroom also books a great variety of talent. Coming up in the next month or so, Engelbert Humperdink, Jason Alexander, and Pat Benatar are performing there.
If you're looking for an upscale dining experience on site, you can find it at Martorano's. Run by Steve Martorano, this is one restaurant everyone should experience at least once. The property also offers a buffet as well as a casual Mexican restaurant, Dos Caminos.
Golden Nugget Atlantic City is known for its suites and spa packages, among other amenities. They do have a large and busy casino, with frequent slot machine tournaments and a high limit slot room for the high rollers. In fact, the readers of Strictly Slots magazine voted Golden Nugget the best nickel slots in Atlantic City. The poker room on site offers guaranteed prize pool tournaments every night, too.
The restaurant selection is excellent. It includes Chart House, Vic & Anthony's, Grotto, Michael Patrick's Brasserie, The Buffet, The Deck Bayfront Bar & Restaurant, the H20 Pool + Bar Grill, Lillie's, Bean & Bread, Chocolate Box, and Starbucks. Chart Front is one of the big stars of the dining scene there. The fresh fish specials are excellent, as is the prime rib, but the terrific food is accompanied by breathtaking views of the Marina.
Golden Nugget also features several bars and nightclubs, including Haven Nightclub, Live Bar, Rush Lounge, Wine & Wifi, and Bar 46. The H20 Pool + Bar Grill and The Deck also serve drinks. The Deck is one of our favorites; we like the Old Bay Crab Dip and the outdoor casual atmosphere.
Golden Nugget is also a shoppers' paradise. You can shop at the following stores: Style & Trend, Nineteen Fort-Six, Tint, Cool Jeans, d'Oro, The Signature Shoppe, Essentials, Docksider, and The Pool Boy. At these establishments you can buy stylish clothes for both men and women, as well as brand name sunglasses, blue jeans, and fine jewelry. Some of the stores on the list are also gift and souvenir shops. They have items for sale that fit everyone's budget, so you can be a hero to your family members when you bring them back souvenirs from your trip.
You'll also find entertainment from around the world in their two showrooms, The Grand and The Showroom. Upcoming events at the time of this writing include Andrew Dice Clay, Last Comic Standing, Herman's Hermits, and Michael Bolton.
The Golden Nugget is far pricier than its competitor, Harrah's, but it's money well spent—especially if you love shopping, spa treatments, and shows.
We know we said that a luxury hotel in Atlantic City costs at least $130 per night, but there are exceptions to every rule. Caesars has special rates on low occupancy nights right now as low as $74.
Caesars offers a casino aimed at least as much at the table games player as the slots player. Table games available at Caesars include blackjack, 21 + 3 Xtreme, Texas hold'em, craps, sic bo, Spanish 21, Fortune Pai Gow, Caribbean Stud, Pai Gow Tiles, Easy Pai Gow, mini baccarat, EZ baccarat, big six, Let It Ride, three card and four card poker, and Ultimate Texas Hold'em.
That is not to say that slot machine or video poker players have to do without. Caesars has over 2000 slot machines ranging in denomination from a penny per spin to $1000 per spin. On their official website, you can download a list of the slot machine and video poker games available. It's a PDF file with 26 pages. Each page lists at least 25 or 30 games, so there are lots of different games to choose from—probably at least 600.
Caesars has its own theater with a wide range of big name acts. Some of the upcoming shows at the time this was written included ZZ Top, Martin Lawrence, Elf the Musical, and the Brian Setzer Orchestra.
Fans of Hell's Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares will love Caesars. One of the more famous restaurants there is the Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill, which features many of the same dishes as Ramsay's Vegas restaurant of the same name. The Pub also features a big variety of alcoholic beverages and expert bartenders.
That's not the only restaurant on site, either. The Palace Court Buffet features stone fired pizza, sushi, ice cream, and plenty of meats sliced to order. You can also dine at Nero's Italian Steakhouse, Kwi Noodle House, Café Roma, Tazza, Morton's the Steakhouse, Phillips Seafood Restaurant at the Pier, Piazza di Giorgio Café at the Pie, Souzai Sushi & Sake at the Pier, Buddakan at the Pier, Auntie Anne's, and Cinnabon at the Pier. As you can see, the dining choices run the gamut from affordable and quick to upscale and leisurely.
The property also features a spa and several nightclubs, including Dusk Nightclub and The Backyard Bar.
The Borgata is a luxury resort style hotel with plenty of dining options and shows. It's also a good spot for nightlife, shopping, and spa amenities. The décor is splendid, with rich colors and a warm ambience. The rooms feature lush bedding, and they also have suites available.
You can book a variety of packages at the Borgata. These include their "Savor the Weekend" package, which their website describes as "a food-cation for two during Savor Borgata Weekend". This package includes a $100 dining credit and 2 tickets to Bobby Flay's Culinary Demonstration in the Music Box. It also includes tickets to the Street Eats: Save the World Event. Celebrity chefs present at the event include Wolfgang Puck and Geoffrey Zakarian.
Available packages change according to what's going on in the city, but you should visit their website to see the full range of possibilities. The Burlesque Show package looked like a fun one for $179 per night." If you like wine, they also offer a "Winecation Package".
The Borgata offers both fine dining and casual restaurants. The fine dining options include Bobby Flay Steak, Fornelletto, Izakaya, Old Homestead Steakhouse, and Wolfgang Puck American Grille. Casual dining options include the Borgata Buffet, the Metropolitan, the Borgata Baking Company, Bread + Butter, Now, 28 West, Sunroom, and the Cafeteria. You'll find enough dining options here to keep you well-fed for even a week-long vacation, and you never have to leave your hotel.
The Borgata has multiple spas for multiple needs. The Salon is a full-service styling destination. You can get your hair styled, learn how to apply makeup, get a wax, a manicure, and/or a pedicure. Spa Toccare is one of the largest spas in the world, with over 54,000 square feet of services, including a barbershop, a swimming pool, and gardens. When you're getting ready to make reservations, ask about their spa packages.
They also offer a full casino and shows, including comedy and live music. You could take a week-long vacation at the Borgata, never leave the hotel, and have more fun than you thought possible. It's that great a place.
Best Mid-Range Hotels
The Claridge is only listed among the first class hotels because of its affordable price tag. That, and it's really a little bit older than some of the newer super-luxury resort properties. In fact, The Claridge Hotel would easily be considered a top-tier hotel in almost any other destination. It's just that in Atlantic City, the competition is tough.
The Claridge used to be called the "Skyscraper by the Sea". It's been in business since 1929. It's located right in the center of the Boardwalk, and it stands out from the other buildings there because of its Manhattanish design. It's known for having a long history of hosting famous (and infamous) celebrities like Frank Sinatra, John F. Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, Al Capone, Nucky Johnson, and Princess Grace.
The property has only 500 rooms, making it smaller and more elegant than many of its nearby competitors. The amenities here are classy and old-school. They offer many amenities which are unavailable at their competitors—these include private limos, shopping packages, golf packages, and personal concierge services.
The third oldest restaurant in Atlantic City, The Twenties Restaurant, still has the original speakeasy bar it had in the 1920s. That's history, there. You can choose from steaks and chops or Italian dishes there. Breakfast and lunch are also available.
Besides The Twenties Restaurant, you can also eat and drink at a couple of other spots there. One is the Beer and Wine Garden, which serves from 6pm to 10pm. The Club 11 Nightclub is also cool. The Celebrity Lounge and Malcolm's Lounge are also worth visiting for a drink.
The Resorts Casino is owned by Mohegan Sun. It's a fine property at which to stay, especially if you're a gambler. It's not the same kind of older luxury property that the Claridge is—just the opposite in fact. It's newer and focused more on gambling than their other amenities. For a mid-range customer looking to get in some gaming excitement, it's a good value.
For a mid-range property, Resorts has an excellent selection of fine dining restaurants. Choose from Eat Wid, Cielo Wine Bar, Capriccio, or Gallagher's Steak House if you're looking for some fancy dining or drinks. Their casual dining selection is impressive, too. Jimmy Buffett fans will, of course, want to visit Margaritaville and Margaritaville Coffee. There's also a food court (Quick Bites), the Burger Bar, the Landshark Bar and Grill, Breadsticks, and East Wind Express.
Like many other hotels and casinos in Atlantic City, the Tropicana Casino & Resort is big, glitzy, and flashy. In most towns, this type of property wouldn't be considered mid-range at all, but gambling destinations have different standards.
Tropicana offers as many fine dining restaurants as some of the more upscale and pricey hotels in the city. These include Fin, a fine seafood restaurant, Il Verdi, which serves upscale Italian fare, Golden Dynasty, which has an Asian theme, Carmine's, another Italian restaurant, Cuba Libre, which offers Cuban food, The Palm, a steakhouse, and PF Chang's, which stretches the definition of fine dining a little bit.
Casual diners have plenty of options to choose from at the Tropicana, too. The focus of these restaurants is on fun. You can choose from A Dam Good Sports Bar (no, that's not a misspelling), Broadway Burger, Casa Taco & Tequila Bar, Chickie's and Pete's Crab House and Sports Bar, Fiesta Buffet, Hooters, Marketplace Express, Perry's Pizza, Ri Ra Irish Pub, Seaside Café, the Bar at Fin, and Tony Luke's at Atlantic City.
Tropicana isn't all about food and gambling, though. It's also about entertainment. They have a daily show, Tropicana's Multimedia Light & Sound Show, which can be seen every half hour from 8:30pm to 11:00pm. The iMax theater on the property is constantly showing movies. You can also see MMA bouts at the Tropicana, and they have live music—the Guess Who, Meat Loaf, and Brian Wilson are just three of the concerts coming up at Tropicana.
If you like nightclubs, there's plenty to experience here, too. Boogie Nights, with its 70s and 80s dance groove, might be the coolest.
And of course, the casino offers the traditional selection of slot machines and table games. They also have a specific section (Jade Palace) devoted to Asian gambling games. If Pai Gow Poker and Pai Gow Tiles are your cup of tea, head their first.
If you're going to Atlantic City on business or for a convention, the Sheraton might just be the alternative to the noise and shock of the casino hotels that you're looking for. It's a nice hotel with great rooms and furniture, but it's more sedate and traditional.
Among the amenities there is the Sheraton Club. It's a lounge featuring complimentary breakfast, evening hors d'oeuvres, snacks any time of the day, and beverages. When you're not hanging out in there, noshing on the free food, you can relax at the indoor pool and the outdoor whirlpool. The fitness center is state of the art, and the business center is too.
You'll have three restaurants to choose from in Atlantic City: Boulevards Café, Tun Tavern Restaurant & Brewery, and Shoe Bar. None of these are as fancy as some of the restaurants in the more leisure-oriented casino hotels, but they'll provide the business traveler with hearty meals at good prices.
They also offer weddings, but we're of the opinion that the Claridge is a better choice in Atlantic City for hosting a wedding. But if you're a business traveler looking for somewhere to stay that's not a casino, the Sheraton is a great choice.
The Wyndham Skyline Tower has similarities to the Sheraton in terms of its target market, but it's located closer to the Boardwalk. One of the cool features of the Wyndham is the suite availability. People who are traveling with families will enjoy the one bedroom suites available. They range in size from 736 to 882 square feet. They also offer 2 bedroom deluxe condos which go up to 1257 square feet. These feature a master bedroom with a king or a queen, a 2nd bedroom, which usually has 2 double beds, and a queen sized sofa sleeper.
The prices are good and the location is excellent.
Best Budget Hotels
One of the best ways to save money on lodging is to stay a little further away from the center of the activity and drive to the sights. Country Hearth Inn is a good example of this. The rooms are nice, and you even get some free premium channels to watch on the 32 inch TVs.
They also offer a free continental breakfast. You know you're dealing with a budget property, though, when their website lists having a 24 hour desk clerk as one of their featured amenities.
Sometimes we wonder who comes up with the names of hotels. Naming a property "Superlodge" just seems like an exercise in letting customers know that the location is cheap. Maybe that's the goal. But we try to find hotels that have cheap prices without looking or sounding cheap.
That being said, if you're looking for a rock bottom price and don't mind bland contemporary style décor and a lack of amenities, the Superlodge is a fine accommodation.
The Empire Inn & Suites is located in the business district in Absecon, which is a short drive to Atlantic City. Many travelers aren't interested in staying on the outskirts, but if budget's an issue, it can be worth it to bunk here and drive to the Boardwalk and the other sites during the day.
It's a clean, comfortable, contemporary style property without a lot of atmosphere. But you can't beat the price.
Discount properties don't usually get much more affordable than the Econo Lodge. This one features rooms with in-room refrigerators, microwaves, and coffeemakers, but not all of their rooms are so equipped. Be sure to ask for a room with these perks when you make your reservation. But ask again at check-in. Room assignments aren't made until you check in.
Best Non-Gaming Hotels
You don't think of luxury when you hear the words "Days Inn", but the A.C. Days Inn has some surprising amenities you might not expect from an economy hotel. It's located directly on the Boardwalk, for one thing. And even though it's an older hotel, it has clean, comfortable, safe rooms—many of which offer a view of the ocean.
Unlike most economy properties, the Days Inn does have a restaurant, but gourmet dining it is not. The on-site restaurant is called The Country Kitchen. It serves traditional American cuisine during breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
You won't find a lot of fancy amenities like spa treatments and shows here. But if you're there to see the sites, and you want to keep your budget for lodging low, the Days Inn is one of the best values in the city. It's also walking distance from almost anything and everything you'd want to do while visiting.
If you enjoy boutique hotels with a lot of style and sophistication, The Chelsea is an excellent choice in Atlantic City. It holds the distinction of being the first non-casino hotel on the boardwalk in 50 years. It's a rare luxury property in a casino destination with no gambling offered.
But The Chelsea has plenty to offer. They have a "Rise, Shine and Relax" package that includes your stay and breakfast at the property's award-winning Teplitzky's, which is considered Atlantic City's best breakfast restaurant. They also offer a package called "Sea Spa Baccarat", which includes a $100 credit toward the on-site spa amenities.
Teplitzky's isn't the only restaurant on site, either. Dining on the Fifth is a neat little casual restaurant and lounge. It's listed on Zagat's "10 Hottest Restaurants on the Jersey Shore".
The Courtyard by Marriott is a reasonably upscale property located about a block from the Boardwalk. They don't offer gambling on site, but it's a short walk from the casinos. The property offers free high speed Internet, a fitness center, and meeting event space.
The biggest selling point for The Courtyard by Marriott is the reasonable price and the great location. It isn't quite a luxury hotel, but it's better than first class.
One Final Point
Tourism in Atlantic City is down, which means you can find great prices on hotels of all categories—including economy, mid-range, and luxury hotels. Many of these hotels offer some of the best casino gambling in the world, but that's not the only perk to visiting Atlantic City. You can also find non-gambling hotels with access to shopping and spa treatments. There are also plenty of hotels offering great restaurants and live entertainment.
When and if the city's tourism becomes revitalized, you can expect hotel rates to go back up. Our suggestion is to check out Atlantic City while it's still so affordable.
Author: Brad Johnson
Updated: October 2015
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