Hotel Review: Radisson Blu Aqua Chicago

Oct 24, 2013

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I have stayed at a number of Radisson Blu hotels over the past year including recently the Radisson Blu Prado in Madrid, and while I was in town for the Chicago Seminars earlier this month, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to check out the towering Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel Chicago that opened in November 2011 since a lot of readers list it as their favorite Club Carlson property.

This was originally meant to be a two-night stay, costing $267 for Friday night and $329 for Saturday (it was a busy weekend as the Chicago Marathon was on). I liked it so much, however, and I had to stick around for my Fox television interview on the Monday that I opted to stay for a third night at the same rate. As it is a Club Carlson property, I was able to earn 30 Gold points per dollar spent on my stay for being a Gold Club Carlson member (thanks to my Club Carlson Visa which gives me automatic gold status), plus 10 points per dollar for paying with that same credit card. plus a 2,000 point bonus for booking online.

The 18 floors of the Blue Aqua Chicago.
The 18 floors of the Blu Aqua Chicago.

One of the newest of the Radisson Blu properties, the sparkling silver hotel is located on the first 18 floors of the 81-story Aqua tower, this hotel has 334 luxury guestrooms with flatscreen TV’s and balconies. They also offer business-class rooms with access to the Business Class lounge on the 17th floor offering complimentary breakfast and an evening reception (unfortunately I did not get upgraded to one of these rooms since club lounge access is not a benefit of Gold Status).

The hotel is an architectural landmark in and of itself. Located within walking distance of Millennium Park, North Michigan Avenue and the Chicago lakefront, it has a really distinctive exterior with wavy lines.

The lobby of the Blue Aqua also glitters with gold.
The lobby of the Blu Aqua also glitters with gold.

The modern exterior is reflected inside as well, with sparkling tiles on the lobby walls that reflect the light from the modern fixtures hanging from the ceiling.

Here’s a video walk-through of my room:

I got a City View Balcony room with a King bed, that overlooked the Chicago skyline – which is always one of my favorite city views. My room was a corner room and had its own balcony, so I could get some fresh air while admiring the panorama, though due to the extreme wind there is no furniture on the balcony, which limits its usefulness.

When entering, there was a small office area with a desk, lamp and telephone and then a short hallway to the bed and bath.

I got a Business Class room.
I got a City View Balcony room.

Decorated in a sleek, contemporary design with hardwood features and deep blue furnishings to match the brand’s name, the room included complimentary WiFi, a flatscreen TV, Anne Semonin bath products, and a coffee and tea maker. The black and white bedding was nice, clean touch, as were the hardwood floors, and I liked how many lamps and little other decor touches there were including colorful throw pillows and vases.

Blu Bathroom
The clean lines of the white marble bathroom.

The bathroom was all marble and had a single sink and separate WC and shower stalls that clossed off from one another with rolling frosted glass doors.

A big perk of the hotel is free high-speed WiFi- no code needed, just simply enter your room number.

As I got a corner balcony room, there was a side office which offered plenty of space to work using the complimentary WiFi.
As I got a corner balcony room, there was a side office which offered plenty of space to work using the complimentary WiFi.

Unlike the Radisson Blu Copenhagen, which was a little cramped when I stayed there last August, the room was large and there was plenty of space for me and Team TPG to work on preparation for my presentation.

Aqua Pool
The running track and rooftop pool at the Aqua is renown.

Sadly I didn’t have time to work out when I was there, but the hotel is an exercise-lover’s dream thanks to a landscaped 80,000-square-foot outdoor garden, which features a 1/5-mile running track, sundeck, fire pits, cabanas, dedicated yoga space, 25-yard lap pool, wading pool and hot tub. Inside, there is an 8,000-square-foot fitness center for cardio or weight training, and basketball court, spinning facility and indoor swimming pool. Luckily my balcony overlooked the pool and track, so I got to see other people exercise at least!

While I didn’t use it on this booking, the Aqua is a great location to take advantage of the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa’s bonus award nights benefit, which means that when Gold Points are redeemed for two or more consecutive award nights, the last night is free. Room rates in October at the height of convention season are $281 or 50,000, but with the two-night discount you get a point value 1.12 cents per point.

For more information on the Radisson Blu Aqua and other hotels in Chicago, read this previous post: Destination Of The Week: Chicago

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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