Earlier this month, I stayed at the Radisson Blu Aqua in Chicago. I actually had 2 stays on the same weekend, with a Friday night stay via a free night certificate I earned last year to be used at any Club Carlson property in North America, as well as a Sunday/Monday night stay using 50,000 Club Carlson points for 1 night and the “last night free” bonus for holding a Club Carlson credit card.
The hotel is located on Columbus Ave. and Lake Street, just a block away from Millennium Park. While the building is an 80-story skyscraper, the hotel only uses the first 18 floors; higher floors are reserved for condos.
In my haste, I forgot to take photos of the entryway and check-in desks, although there’s nothing special about them. I really enjoyed the lobby seating area, as well as the small gallery in the back. While the bar area of Filini (the hotel restaurant) looks modern, I wasn’t a big fan of their bar stools. The four I sat in all sloped downward and weren’t that comfortable. I didn’t try the restaurant since there are so many great Chicago eateries nearby!
When I checked in, my Club Carlson Gold status was acknowledged and I was offered a corner room (not really an upgrade, but it was a preferred room with wraparound balcony). I was asked if I wanted a “Naturally Cool” room with lighter tone wood accents and hardwood floors, or a “Mansion House” room with darker wood and teal carpets. I’m a Naturally Cool guy, so obviously I went with the former! 😀
I was given room 1604, which faces both south (toward Millennium Park) and west (toward the Fairmont). While Lake Michigan is toward the east, you won’t see much of it as other buildings are in the way. It was still a fantastic view!
The bathroom was nicely furnished, with both a bathtub and separate shower. The door separating the bathroom from the room is a sliding door that didn’t have a lock (at least, didn’t have a lock I could find). There’s a small frosted glass window in the door, but it’s translucent enough to be a decent barrier (I know I’m not the only one annoyed of other hotels that can’t seem to separate the room from the bathroom!).
I wandered around the hotel grounds as well. The Radisson Blu shares the fitness center, indoor pool/jacuzzi, outdoor pool, and outdoor garden with the building’s condominium residents, so the facilities generally have people using them. Because of this, I wasn’t exactly comfortable taking photos of the fitness center (which had a lot of people whenever I visited it). That said, the gym had a diverse array of well-maintained equipment.
The Sky Garden outside is a great place to spend some time when the weather is nice. There are plenty of lounging areas with comfortable seats and even barbecue grills, as well as a running track surrounding the gardens.
During my second stay, I was given room 1507, a non-corner room that had a better layout, although no balcony. Instead of having the television on the desk, it was wall-mounted. Everything else was pretty much the same, although I did get a “welcome back gift” for being a return guest (I was gone for 1 whole day!).
All in all, I enjoyed the Radisson Blu and think it’s great for a 2-night stay using points. If you have a Club Carlson Visa Card, you get the last night on a multi-night stay for free, so 2 nights cost the same as 1 night — only 50,000 points. The card has an 85,000-point signup bonus after spending $2,500 in 3 months and comes with Club Carlson Gold status. Since the card earns 5x points on general purchases, a two night stay takes only $10,000 of spending.