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Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas will party to the end. Here’s a look back at 25 years

Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas
The huge neon guitar once stood atop the Hard Rock Hotel and Casiono in Las Vegas. The hotel is closing, and the sign is now at the Neon Museum.
(Darrin Bush / Las Vegas News Bureau)

Las Vegas’ Hard Rock Hotel & Casino will close its doors Feb. 3, capping 25 years of rockin’ memories and making way for the newest Virgin Hotel. Of course, it won’t end without a party.

The Last Great Party from Jan. 30 through Feb. 2 will celebrate the hotel’s final chapter in Vegas. Each afternoon, live music will start at 4 p.m. at the Center Bar, Fu Asian Kitchen and Peacock Lounge. The Growlers will be the last artists to perform in the Vinyl showroom, Jan. 30 through Feb. 1. Tickets start at $45; doors open at 8 p.m.

Guests who want to stay to the bitter end can party until 3 a.m. Feb. 3.

After that, the doors will be locked until the rebranded property reopens in late fall.

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So what happened in those two and a half decades? The brand’s love of Las Vegas started before the hotel opened.

Opening of Hard Rock Hotel Las Vegas in 1995
Display cases with rock star costumes inside the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino on opening day in 1995.
(Las Vegas News Bureau)

  • Sept. 7, 1990: Aerosmith launched the opening of the city’s first Hard Rock Cafe, a stand-alone building at the corner of Harmon Avenue and Paradise Road. The cafe opened Sept. 7, and the concert was held the next day inside a big tent at the site.
  • June 5, 1991: Plans to build a resort are announced.
  • March 10, 1995: The resort debuts as the first Hard Rock branded hotel in the U.S. Hollywood stars at the opening include Pamela Anderson, Jim Belushi, Halle Berry, Nicolas Cage, Kelsey Grammer, Tommy Lee and James Woods. Two of the resorts original restaurants, Mr. Lucky’s and Pink Taco, remain.
  • Aug. 19, 1997: Richard Branson expresses interest in building a hotel in Las Vegas following the grand opening of a Virgin record store (long since closed) at the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace. Branson visited a potential site, but nothing came of it.
Rehab Beach Club in Las Vegas
Crowds party to the music on Memorial Day, 2016, at Rehab Beach Club in Las Vegas.
(Hard Rock Hotel & Casino)

  • 2004: Rehab Beach Club opens, pioneering the idea of a daytime club and forever changing the city’s party scene.
  • Dec. 28. 2009: The all-suite HRH Tower welcomes its first guests with luxury accommodations including seven penthouses, eight spa villas and 359 suites.
  • Sept. 19, 2010: Singer-songwriter Bruno Mars is arrested on suspicion of cocaine posssession. Mars’ criminal record was later expunged following a plea deal that resulted in a year’s probation and 200 hours of community service.
  • 2011: The resort gets its star turn when MTV’s reality show “The Real World” is set inside a 5,000-square-foot, three-bedroom penthouse at the resort. The suite would later be renamed the Penthouse Real World Suite.
Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
The stand-alone Hard Rock Cafe was demolished as part of the transformation to a Virgin Hotel.
(Mark Damon / Las Vegas News Bureau)

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  • August-September 2017: Over two weeks, the iconic over-sized guitar that towered above the cafe is removed. The piece, inspired by Pete Townshend’s No. 9 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe, featured strings made of neon. It is now displayed at the city’s Neon Museum.
  • March 30, 2018: Branson announces he has bought the resort and will rebrand it as part of Virgin Hotels.
  • Oct. 14, 2018: The Rehab day club holds its final bash and splash.
Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
The signature electric guitar neon sign at the corner of Paradise Road and Harmon Avenue was dismantled in 2017.
(Mark Damon / Las Vegas News Bureau)

  • Nov. 18, 2019: Demolition of the stand-alone Hard Rock Cafe gets underway.

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