Las Vegas 2024 – Travel Review

Las Vegas Travel Review

By Richard Jones, July 2024

The pools at Stadium Swim were steadily filling up with sports fans, all trying to claim a place in the cooling water in front of the ginormous 40-foot-tall screen.

It had only just turned 9am in Las Vegas, and Joe, Jonathan and I were already onto our second bucket of ice-cold beers and waters. Every now and then, the three of us would raise a can or just direct a nod at each other, acknowledging that there can’t be many better places on Earth to watch an England football match.

More than any other place I’ve visited, Las Vegas has a habit of delivering these and other ‘wow’ moments, and although this wasn’t our first rodeo in Las Vegas, the so-called bucket-list experiences over the week would last long in the memory.

For people living in the north of England and Scotland, the Entertainment Capital of the World is now easier to reach than ever, as Virgin Atlantic has recommenced its direct route from Manchester.

Las Vegas Travel Review

“A spectacular renaissance”

We boarded one of their flights on a Wednesday morning and touched down at Harry Reid International Airport just after lunchtime. For our latest Vegas vacation, we had decided to split the week in two – spending the first few days around Circa Resort & Casino in the Downtown area before moving onto the glitzy Strip.

Long known for its historic charm and old-style casinos, the Fremont Street area has been undergoing a spectacular renaissance of late, and when Circa opened in late 2020 it brought a slice of luxury to Downtown.

I checked into one of its comfortable Standard King rooms with views of the aforementioned Stadium Swim towards the Stratosphere.

There are several nods to the past at Circa, most notably at Vegas Vickie’s, the property’s lobby cocktail lounge next to the iconic neon sign of the celebrated kicking cowgirl, just across from the huge three-storey Sportsbook on the casino floor.

Food-wise, you won’t go hungry at Circa. During our stay, we munched on massive breakfast sandwiches at Saginaw’s Delicatessen, shared Pan-Asian dishes including sizzling dan dan Noodles, dumplings and bao buns at chef Dan Coughlin’s 8 East, and took seats for entrees of Colorado lamb chops and wet aged bone-in filet mignon at Barry’s Downtown Prime, the property’s high-end eatery.

Las Vegas Travel Review

“Looking up in awe”

Downtown is more laid-back and affordable than Las Vegas Boulevard and, as it’s closed to vehicle traffic, Fremont Street is much more walkable than the Strip, even in the 40-degree heat.

A good place to kick a night off is next to the fairground horses at the Carousel Bar outside the Plaza Hotel & Casino, where we sipped of Caffeine Drips and Soggy and Sandys cocktails.

We then took a seat next to Rex Bernales’ Project BBQ food truck at Circa, tucking into a Garbage Bowl – a mix of brisket, pulled pork and chicken, topped with BBQ, beer and cheese sauce and truck slaw. From there, we spent our evenings walking up and down Fremont Street, stopping by dive bars, live music stages, casinos, and the Cat’s Meow karaoke venue, while looking up in awe at the spectacular light shows.

During the daytime, for those who want to try something different, Area 51 is just a short Uber ride along the I-15. The three of us wandered around its huge immersive warehouse, trying out an F1 racing simulator, VR and old-style video games, and viewing the incredible art installations, including Wink’s World.

Las Vegas Travel Review

“Breathtaking views”

Our last night at Circa was the summer solstice and its amazing rooftop bar was hosting the Legacy en Blanc Rooftop Party. We threw on our white shirts and headed up to level 60 for an open bar of cocktails, canapés, live music and no end of Insta-worthy shots of Sin City and the rest of Nevada.

The next morning, we were up early to kickstart the second half of our epic Vegas trip at our favourite hotel resort on the Strip, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.

I checked into one of its 3000-plus rooms, a plush Fountain View Suite on the 60th floor. As well as a living area and deep bath tub, the room had a large balcony from which I woke up to breathtaking views of the iconic Bellagio fountains and the surrounding area.

After a hearty lunch of fruit, smoked salmon, eggs and pastries at The Cosmopolitan’s Wicked Spoon buffet, we made a beeline for the city’s hottest pool party at Marquee Dayclub.

The beers and daiquiris were soon flowing after we took a seat on one of the daybeds to be entertained by DJ Pauly D from MTV’s Jersey Shore.

Las Vegas Travel Review

“A new man”

In the evening, there are no end of eateries to try at The Cosmopolitan.

Among the best is the Mediterranean-inspired LPM Restaurant & Bar, where we shared a laugh and a joke with our jovial waiter Anthony who served us French Riviera-inspired dishes including homemade pappardelle pasta, marinated lamb cutlets and slow cooked duck.

After a busy few days subjecting myself to far too much sun and alcohol, a men’s facial treatment at The Cosmopolitan’s Sahra Spa was much-needed. The therapist Elizabeth did a deep cleanse of my pores and misted calming serum onto my skin using pure oxygen, and I emerged feeling revitalised and, dare I say it, a new man.

There is also a lot going on at MGM Resorts’ neighbouring hotels.

Following an omelette and peach Bellini at the Bellagio’s new COMO Poolside Cafe, we took cooled down with a few cocktails by the hotel’s newly renovated Cypress Pool.

The Pinky Ring by Bruno Mars, also at the Bellagio, is among Vegas’s most exciting nightlife destinations, and we danced away with the live band long into the early hours. You could say it was 24K Magic.

Las Vegas Travel Review

“Our favourite meal of the week”

Slightly more understated, but no less alluring, is The Vault, the Bellagio’s speakeasy bar, hidden away behind a nondescript bronze doorway, behind which renowned mixologists serve up handcrafted cocktails like Rosé Romance and Doves & Devils Margarita and tempting canapés.

Further up the Strip at Luxor is Play Playground, dubbed Las Vegas’ ‘most playful bar’. There are no VR or arcade games there, but we found the large-scale physical and memory challenges to be great fun.

On the adjacent south side of The Cosmopolitan is another one of our favourite haunts, Aria Resort & Casino. And the brunch at James Beard award-winning chef Michael Mina’s Bardot Brasserie there turned out to be our favourite meal of the week.

Assistant GM Aaron and his staff couldn’t do enough for us, making sure our glasses were always full of mimosas, and arriving with a stream of modern French-inspired food, including baked camembert and Paris mushroom, goat cheese quiche and French toast.

Executive Chef Jason Hall’s Cathédrale Las Vegas is also at Aria and we sat down for a dinner of Hamachi Crudo, NY strip and Faroe Island salmon, with a side order of baked zucchini and tomato.

Las Vegas Travel Review

“Yet another ‘wow’ moment”

During the weekend, we also enjoyed crab dip and a hearty seafood stew on our return to the wonderful NoMad Library in NoMad Las Vegas/Park MGM, and had a pre-show meal, consisting of a kebab platter and meze at Mina’s new Eastern Mediterranean restaurant Orla at Mandalay Bay.

The show in question was Mad Apple, Cirque du Soleil’s zesty cocktail of high-flying acrobatics, music, dance and comedy at New York-New York.

Having been lucky enough to see one of the final rehearsals a couple of years ago, it was great to see the finished article and see how the Montreal-based troupe’s polished show has evolved into one of the most popular on the Strip.

As we watched the gymnasts and aerialists throwing themselves through the air, all within a few feet of our seats, Joe, Jonathan and I shared more knowing looks and nods.

The Entertainment Capital of the World had served up yet another ‘wow’ moment.

Seven nights in Las Vegas from £2062 per person with Virgin Atlantic Holidays, including scheduled Virgin Atlantic Economy flights direct from Manchester and room-only accommodation at the five-star The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. Price is based on two adults sharing a City Room and departing on September 22, 2024. To book go to or call 0344 557 3859. For direct Virgin Atlantic flights from Manchester or London Heathrow to Las Vegas see
For more information on The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, see
And on Circa Resort & Casino, see
Manchester Airport offers car parking options to suit every budget. Its premium 1903 Lounge has fantastic views of the airfield, and a team of chefs providing freshly cooked food and premium drinks. Fast Track tickets allow passengers to pass the border through a dedicated lane. To book, go to


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