Comparing Casinos: Harrah’s Cherokee and Cherokee Valley River

I spent the weekend at Harrah’s Cherokee and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River. Harrah’s Cherokee is in Cherokee, NC. It is near the southern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River is just east of Murphy, NC.

The casinos are about one hour apart by car. This is through the scenic Nantahala National Forest. While the two casinos are sister properties, there are numerous differences between them.

Harrah's Cherokee Casino Bridge

Hotel

One clear difference between Harrah’s Cherokee and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River is the hotel. Harrah’s Cherokee offers three hotel towers. All are taller and larger than the single seven-story hotel building at Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River. The rooms at Cherokee Valley River are all newer. However, the Creek tower at the original Cherokee property is still modern compared to the Soco and Mountain towers.

Harrah's Cherokee Hotel River View

The scenery viewable from the hotel towers is also much different between the two properties. The Cherokee resort has development around it. Most rooms do not have picturesque views. However, the two pedestrian bridges cross a beautiful mountain creek. With that said, the scenery around Harrah’s Cherokee is still better than most casinos offer. Some premium rooms have spectacular views.

Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River has no development of any kind within view except for parking lots associated with the hotel and casino. The scenery around Murphy, NC doesn’t compete with Cherokee. However, the view from the hotel is better from most rooms.

Dining

Harrah’s Cherokee easily wins the dining category. Guests will find Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, Brio, two cafes and a food court that consists of Johnny Rockets, Dunkin Donuts, Earl of Sandwich and pizza by the slice.

The only dining at Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River is in a small food court. This offers Nathan’s Famous, Arthur Treacher’s Fish and Chips, Papa John’s Pizza, Panda Express and Earl of Sandwich. There are no restaurants at Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River that offer sit-down service. I recommend eating at Rib Country a few miles west of the casino in Murphy.

My wife and I dined at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and Brio. Ruth’s Chris comped one of our steaks because it was of extremely low quality. It was so tough it couldn’t be cut with a steak knife. The steak they didn’t take off the check was only marginally better. Brio also didn’t compare to ones in other locations.

Amenities

Harrah’s Cherokee wins the amenities comparison. It isn’t even close. Cherokee has a poker room on its second floor. It has a spa and convention center. There’s also a bowling alley and concert venue at Harrah’s Cherokee.

The Harrah’s Cherokee Valley property offers no amenities. The only thing to do there is gamble, unless you consider a fast food court to be an amenity.

Diamond Lounge

Both properties offer a Diamond Lounge. The rules at each are identical. They are open from 3pm to 10pm on weeknights and until midnight on weekends. A small buffet is offered at both that includes a salad bar, deserts and one hot dish.

Diamond customers may only eat one time per night. The casinos keep track of this by issuing dining tickets.

Seven Stars players have a private seating area and entrance at Harrah’s Cherokee. Neither has dedicated bathrooms, though each have one right outside the entrance.

Gambling

The most obvious difference between the two casinos is the size. Harrah’s Cherokee is substantially larger. It includes more table games than its sister property in Murphy. This does not mean just the number of available tables. Harrah’s Cherokee offers Ultimate Texas Hold’em, Pai Gow Poker, Big Wheel and double deck blackjack that is not available at Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River.

The high limit blackjack rules are better in Murphy. Players will find $50 shoe games in Murphy that stand on all 17s. This game requires $100 at Cherokee.

Should You Pick Harrah’s Cherokee or Cherokee Valley River?

There are reasons to visit both properties. If your only goal is to gamble, Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River will achieve that. There are enough machines to find action and during the week it is often quite dead. Even the most popular machines should be available.

If your goal is to have a resort experience, Harrah’s Cherokee is the only option. This is especially true if you have children along for the trip. There is nothing for non-gamblers to do at Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River.

Cherokee Valley River Casino

Cherokee Valley River Hotel Bedroom
Cherokee Valley River Hotel Room Amnities
Cherokee Valley River Hotel Room Bathroom

Harrah’s Cherokee Casino

Harrah's Cherokee Bathtub
Harrah's Cherokee Hotel Amenities
Harrah's Cherokee Hotel Room

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