new kid on the block
Circa is the latest hotel to open on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas. It opened about 2 years ago to a lot of fanfare. It’s no secret that Fremont street is a bit rough round the edges and though there is still a lot of divided opinions on the canopy which envelopes the ’Fremont Street Experience’, you can’t argue that it’s brought a unique charm and vibe that is very different from the strip. I have been coming to Las Vegas for a number of years and my partner has been coming here since the 1990s. What we both love about vegas is that you can get anything you want out of it. You can party 24/7, relax, gamble, eat some of the best food or take an excursion to some of the most spectacular natural wonders in the world. The trick is to pick the right hotel for the vibe you’re looking for. As part of our adventures we are in Las Vegas for 8 nights, and spent the first two at Circa.
We stayed in a corner studio on the 20th floor with a stadium view. The room itself was huge and sported a huge bed, plenty of charging points (both USB-A and USB-C). The room had a safe large enough for my 14” MacBook Pro and I’m pretty sure a 16” would fit nicely too. I was impressed with the styling of the room with navy blue being prominent with gold accents. There was a desk to work, not that you’ll get much done, but it faces out to a stunning view of the mountains with visible snow lined peaks.
The TV is a respectable 55” and has all the major TV channels and in-house interactivity, such as checking your account. I really like the way that Circa embraces technology. For example, you wont find a phone in the room, but they have a tablet that allows you to make requests from guest services or call the hotel operator. And you will need it because, housekeeping does not come as standard. You need to call down to request to have your room serviced. This was a complete shock to me when I heard this, but when I think about it - many people in Vegas are up all night and they sleep all day, well some people. So I guess on some level that makes perfect sense. For my partner and me, we like a freshly made bed, so before we went out we called, as instructed, to have our room serviced. We were told it would be done by 12pm. We got back at 4pm and the room had not been serviced. We spoke to one of the cleaners on the floor who said that ‘we were not on the list’. We then called the front desk who assured us the room will be cleaned within the hour. So we went to the Casino and lost some money playing video poker. When we got back to the room, the bare minimum had been done. For me, this was a huge miss on Circa’s part. But perhaps we aren’t the audience that Circa is looking for? Perhaps the people who this hotel is catering for simply aren’t fussed about fresh towels and linen?
The best thing about the room, however, is the bathroom. It is amazing. It’s huge, the decor is spectacular with Vegas Vicky wallpaper, fantastic well lit mirrors, where you can adjust the lighting levels. Also, a shower that 2 people can easily fit into with really good pressure. The only downside is the cheap shower gel, shampoo and conditioner. You’ll find a hair dryer, but not iron. They do have a steamer though, which I’m sure will be more than suitable for many.
Be aware though that because of the music from Stadium Swim that this room (2001) overlooks, you will hear the bass, and it will be prominent until they shut off the music off around 11pm.
The USP of Circa is the sports book. It’s the largest one in the world with a screen so big it goes up 2 floors with high ceilings. It’s breathtaking.
If you’re a sports fan, then you are doing yourself a great disservice if you visit Vegas and don’t get to the sports book at circa. They even have their own sports TV channel which is broadcast from a studio that overlooks the impressive space. The casino itself is fine. I’m not massively enthused by the casino for a few reasons, I never won.. ever. I’d put $20 into a slot machine and I wouldn’t win a single spin. Then another machine. Nothing. When I was at the machine I never was approached by a waitress and asked if I wanted a drink - which is standard Vegas service, (or should be). The slot machines are predominantly video machines, as apposed to ‘real reels’. This is a trend that’s not exclusive to Circa and I hate it. I love real reels, and for me, a video slot machine is no different from sitting at home and gambling on your iPad. When I go into a new casino, I’m always eyeing up where the slot machines are. The real ones that is!
You will also find the usual tables, craps and roulette that you’d expect. The Casino has high ceilings and is incredibly clean and well kept. I was up early (thank you jet lag) and saw loads of cleaners in the early hours.
I was really impressed with stadium swim. My partner who is 54, for reference, was not. I liked the music and the vibe. It wasn’t as heavy as a full on day club, but nonetheless I quite enjoyed laying in the sun and watching baseball on the largest outdoor screen imaginable. But my partner simply could not relax and really didn’t like it. If you want a place where you can chill with a book, then this really isn’t the place to do that. Also, because stadium swim is designed in such a way that the focus is the huge screen, similar to that of the sports book, you will also find that there is zero shade, unless you pay for a cabana, which can set up back several thousand dollars. My advice is to make sure you liberally apply sunscreen and don’t miss an area on your forehead, like I did so you have what looks like a birthmark for several days. One thing also to note is that if there is a breeze, it can create a wind tunnel across stadium swim which can be quite chilly.
food and drink
We didn’t eat at Circa, however I wanted to mention that drinks at Circa are not cheap, you’re looking at $15 of a JD and Coke and about $10 for a beer. I know that drinks in Las Vegas are not cheap at the best of times (on the strip). One of the perks of being downtown at Fremont is that the drinks are cheaper. Or they were last time I was there.
Circa is catering for a party crowd. The hotel and casino is 21+ and because of this you need to have official ID on you proving your age at all times. Even if you’re staying at the hotel, your room key is not enough. On one occasion I forgot my passport and went out to dinner at Oscars in the Plaza hotel across the Road. A manager had to question me before he would allow me on the premises. The state of Nevada also has legalised the recreational use of cannabis - something I don’t have an issue with. However, the odour of weed is prominent. It’s everywhere, and you can’t get away from it. Though Circa as a hotel and Casino has banned the use inside, the second you step outside onto Fremont you’re going to just have to deal with it. People aren’t just out for a good time, they’re absolutely trashed. I like a drink and I like a party, but even after quite a few whiskeys I still felt like the sober guy turning up to a party a few hours late.
Circa is a hotel that wants to be on the strip. It’s priced for the strip and has a high end feel to it. But the fact remains it’s not a strip hotel, it’s a Fremont hotel and the crowd are people who stay here simply want to party and party hard - having the time of their lives. This isn’t a bad thing at all; as I said at the beginning of this review, Las Vegas can and will offer you anything you want. But for someone who is over 40, even if you like to party, like I do, there is the chance that you may feel like you don’t quite belong. The hotel room is stunning and has a lot going for it, but basics such as housekeeping are a real problem when you’re spending a lot of money to stay in an area of Las Vegas known for value. Coupled with the prominent odour of weed and the noise I can’t recommend this hotel for anyone who is not the target audience.
This is a written version of a review that I have filmed for our YouTube channel - you can subscribe now to see the full and final review when it is published. Please subscribe to our YouTube Channel here
Thanks again for reading. You can also read more of my writing on all sorts of topics, of which you will find some somewhat interesting and others not entirely boring at www.notentirelyboring.com and a weekly newsletter is released every Sunday.