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Circus Circus Hotel Las Vegas Critique

Circus Circus is a dump. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy my four-time-a-year visits to Las Vegas, and my standards for food and accommodations are not quite as high as those of the British royal family. However, that clown of a hotel is sub-standard in just about everything a hotel should be about. How do I hate it? Let me count the ways.

We were invited to a wedding there last year, and the bride’s family put aside a block of basic rooms for visiting kin. We usually stay further up the Strip (Las Vegas Boulevard) at Harrah’s or the Flamingo, but since all events over three days and nights would be taking place at CC, we agreed to stay there.

We had heard rumors that the hotel, now 50 years old, is not as luxurious as it was during its former glory days, but we weren’t prepared for how much its glory had faded. After a cab ride from the airport, we wheeled our carry-on bags through the lobby to the front desk. The first thing to hit us was the smell. It is best described as a men’s locker room after five hours of heavy football practice by a hundred overweight, flatulent athletes in the middle of August, with all the doors and windows closed.

To make the check-in process more unpleasant, we had to wait in line for nearly an hour before one of the clerks was free to sign us in. The delay gave us a chance to look around. All the employees seemed to be walking around, as if underwater, slow and aimless as a school of fish. The casino was not busy, especially the big buck craps and blackjack tables. We could see by the gaudy paint and plaster colors that the hotel had once been as bright as a new circus wagon, but the poor lighting and worn-out condition of the walls and carpets gave everything a spooky, crumbling and unwelcome atmosphere.

When we got to our room, we were in for some more disappointment. Although there were carts in the hallway indicating the cleaning crew was working nearby after preparing our room, our bathroom looked like it hadn’t been touched. The tile floor was slimy, and there were traces of cosmetics and shaving cream on the sink. We called the maid in, and fortunately, my spouse speaks excellent Spanish, so the maid happily agreed to do a better clean-up immediately. The five-dollar tip didn’t hurt.

When we returned a couple of hours later, she had done a really good job, and because our special group price of $37 a night plus tax was a bargain, and not worth making more of a fuss about it. Anyhow, in an inflated economy, an even dumpier room in New York, London or Paris would have cost ten times that much.

Incidentally, about the maid not understanding English, we found throughout the hotel that most … nearly all … the service employees were Mexican who seemed to have arrived in the U.S. recently. They were the most pleasant in the hotel, but I suspect if I had walked through wearing an Immigration and Naturalization badge, the place would have echoed with the sound of running feet bound for the exits, and eventually, the border.

We attended several receptions, the wedding ceremony and dinner in private dining rooms. The rooms were not quite as threadbare as the rest of the hotel, and food and service were good. The 25 kids in our group were thrilled with the entertainment by clowns, jugglers, an animal trainer and a couple unhappy-looking elderly tigers.

About kids, because it was the weekend, we were disturbed by the number of ain’t-I-tough gang teens who hung around the lobby, shops and game room midway area. At night, we could hear them running around the sleeping room hallways. We didn’t see anything more than menacing looks, but some others in our wedding party say they had witnessed several fights the night before. They said it got so bad that the kids couldn’t be controlled by hotel security, and the Vegas cops were called in.

The food in the hotel’s buffet, where we ate several breakfasts and lunches, was about on a par with what the Germans served prisoners in their concentration camps. Well, not quite that bad, but it was unceremoniously blobbed in trays, some of it unrecognizable, and looked as if it had barely survived from the day before. The best we could say was it was just as unattractive as stuff we used to sneer at in the school cafeteria. All it needed was serving ladies in hair nets.

We will never voluntarily stay at Circus Circus again, and unless hotel management drastically cleans up its act, we certainly could not recommend it to anyone else. While the price may be a bargain, it is well worth paying ten or twenty additional bucks to stay a one of the more upscale hotels in the newer part of the Strip.