Atlantic City's Resorts Casino Hotel: A Historic And Inviting Boardwalk Gem

Even upon first glance, viewing it as you approach from the Atlantic City Boardwalk, it's obvious that Resorts Casino Hotel is not like the other ones on the strip. Not only is it the only hotel on the boardwalk that has a restaurant on the other side of the famed walkway (right on the beach), it's also older and more glamorous-looking than its massive and imposing 1980s-era brethren. This grand old hotel doesn't just have a very noteworthy history — it's also a fun place to spend a long weekend, as we recently had the opportunity to do, with plenty to eat, drink, and do.

The building that makes up the core of Resorts was constructed back in the 1920s, and was originally called Haddon Hall. It was a glamorous destination, and was connected to another, smaller hotel (since demolished) across the street called the Chalfonte; the resulting complex was the city's largest hotel by capacity at the time. The building was acquired by Resorts International in 1976, and converted into a casino-hotel just in time for the legalization of gambling in the city; in fact, it was the very first legal casino in the U.S. outside of Nevada, and during its first weeks in business, gamblers sometimes waited hours for an opportunity to roll the dice (The very first legal slot machine in Atlantic City's history is on display just off the casino floor). The 399-room Rendezvous Tower was built onto the back of the structure in 2004, the entire property was renovated to incorporate a Roaring '20s theme in 2010, and it was taken over by its current owner, the Mohegan Sun Tribal Gaming Authority (the same owners as Connecticut's Mohegan Sun), in 2012.

So what would a visit today offer? Plenty. With the closure of neighboring casinos Taj Mahal and Showboat, there aren't currently any other large casino-hotels of this stripe on this end of the boardwalk, and Resorts is taking advantage of the relative isolation. We stayed in the Rendezvous Tower for a couple nights, and it offers large, quiet rooms with comfortable beds and large marble bathrooms (as well as a surprisingly large in-room dining menu), with easy access to the 100,000-square-foot casino floor. On one end of the casino there's a comfortable food court with outposts of Dunkin' Donuts, Famiglia Pizza, Häagen-Dazs, Ruby's Dinette, and Soup Man; and up towards the front, right in the middle of the casino floor, there's a nice circular bar called 5 O'Clock Somewhere, specializing in fun cocktails. Located away from the casino floor, you'll also find Bar One just off the lobby, East Wind Chinese restaurant just inside the boardwalk exit, Landshark Bar & Grill across the boardwalk on the beach, the casual Breadsticks on the second floor, and these other restaurants we had the opportunity to check out:

Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville

Opened in 2013, the Atlantic City location of Margaritaville includes a restaurant, coffee shop, gift shop, a bar called 5 O'Clock Somewhere on the casino floor, and even a small casino (all of course named after the legendary Jimmy Buffett Song) all featured prominently right inside the main boardwalk entrance. The restaurant is located right off the boardwalk, and the menu is quite expansive and approachable, sticking to a Key West-inspired theme. It's a good lunch option, and becomes a party at night.


The ground floor of the resort doesn't retain much of its original interior architecture, but if you head up to the second floor's restaurant level, plenty of historical touches are still there, including some rather ornate woodwork. For history buffs like myself, these Boardwalk Empire-era architectural details were certainly a find, but the pièce de résistance is the hotel's ornate grand ballroom, which today has been reborn as Capriccio, an Italian restaurant. We weren't die-hard fans of the restaurant's dinner (although service was excellent), but the Sunday brunch buffet was nothing short of spectacular.

Gallagher's Steakhouse

Also tucked away on the hotel's second floor is an outpost of New York's legendary Gallagher's Steakhouse. Our meal there was simply flawless — the New York strip was dry-aged in house and grilled over hickory charcoal like at the original, and was spectacular; and the prime rib was one of the best we've had. Service was friendly and knowledgeable, the dining room was classy and nicely appointed, and the overall vibe was one of luxury and class. It's the hotel's (and one of the city's) culinary gems. The more casual Gallagher's Burger Bar, which is located directly across the hall, offers a wide variety of burgers and sandwiches as well as a great happy hour.

Big Atlantic City properties like Caesars and the Borgata may get more attention, but Resorts definitely shouldn't be ignored.