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Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel Chicago: Dazzling, Affordable Luxury Hotel


Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel Chicago: Dazzling, Affordable Luxury Hotel

Kind of Blu: the striking sapphire entrance of Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel Chicago.

© Radisson Blu Hotels.
Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel Chicago: Dazzling, Affordable Luxury Hotel

Filini restaurant and bar at Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel Chicago.

© Radisson Blu Hotels.
Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel Chicago: Dazzling, Affordable Luxury Hotel

Suite living room at Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel Chicago.

© Radisson Blu Hotels.

What to Expect at Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel Chicago

Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel Chicago, opened in fall 2011, is an ultra-modern Chicago luxury hotel. It is centrally located right on the Loop, in the new Lakeshore East district overlooking Millennium Park.

Take a photo tour of Radisson Blu Aqua Chicago >>

The hotel has become a go-to choice for Chicago visitors who like cutting-edge design hotels. Radisson Blu Aqua is proving to be a favorite hotel of trendy, under-35 Chicago visitors. (It served as headquarters for the 2012 Hotel Thrillist weekend for young media and marketing pros.)

Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel Chicago occupies the first 18 floors of the architecturally striking, 87-story Aqua Tower. Other floors house condos and rental dwellings. Hotel guests share common spaces such as outdoor decks with the building' residents, giving Radisson Blu Aqua a very local, non-touristy feeling.

Dazzling Design of Radisson Blu Aqua Chicago

The hotel's award-winning skyscraper is a new Chicago landmark. The building is unique, with a wavy exterior that recalls the whitecaps on nearby Lake Michigan. This undulating tower is the world's tallest tower designed by a woman, Chicago architect Jeanne Gang.

This Chicago hotel is the first Radisson Blu in North America. Dramatic sapphire neon radiating from its lobby drives home the Blu name. Blu is the luxury label of the global Radisson hotel brand. Its parent, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, is based in Minneapolis and Copenhagen (home of the world's first "starchitect" hotel, Radisson Blu Royal Copenhagen).

Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel Chicago's high-design theme is echoed in its interior, which fuses modern style with historical details. Design highlights include:

  • A space with oversized paintings and a viewing bench, appropriately called "The Gallery"
  • Windy City design references: carpets incorporating abstract aerial views; niches made of reclaimed Chicago bricks that mimic the skyline; floor mosaics patterned like vintage Chicago tree grates
  • The lobby's glistening brass curtain, hand-made in the tradition of Chicago's Jeweler's row
  • A spectacular, 50-foot-long glass fireplace, serving as the lobby centerpiece

Guest Rooms at Radisson Blu Aqua Chicago

Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel rooms continue the hotel's design theme: they honor Chicago's past while looking to its future.

Rooms' style is modern and streamlined, with a Mod-meets-Art-Deco sensibility. The palette combines cool metal and glass with warm splashes: light wood floors, marine blue rugs, rich azure curtains. Overall, it's a "Blu" feeling.

Chicago touches abound. Room numbers are displayed on old printing-press blocks, while shiny round metal vases recall the city's famed Cloud Gate, nicknamed "the Bean."

Of the hotel's 334 rooms, over half have balconies. Standard rooms have queen beds and large shower stalls. Higher-category rooms feature king beds and a soaking tub as well as a shower.

All Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel guests can count on:

  • Flat-panel LCD TVs
  • Complimentary newspaper
  • Free wifi
  • Laptop-sized safe
  • Pod-style coffeemakers (with coffee and tea pods)
  • Ample closet and drawer space
  • Fine bed linens
  • Anne Semonin bath amenities from France
  • A guaranteed captivating view (city, park or Lake Michigan)

Standard rooms lack iPod docks or jacks, and bottled water carries a charge.

Business Class rooms and Park Suites feature upgrades like an espresso machine and mineral water on the house. Their guests enjoy access to the Business Lounge, a club floor lounge providing complimentary breakfast, evening reception, magazines, newspapers, and a spacious balcony.

Radisson Blu Aqua's peak accommodations are its Lake Shore Suites and Millennium Suites (1300 square feet) and the one-off Aqua Suite, over 1700 square feet.

Service at Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel Chicago

Service at Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel Chicago is friendly and well-informed. Concierges really know the town.

Carlson Rezidor Hotels' "Yes I Can!" service initiative encourages staff to satisfy guests' needs. These hotels honor a longstanding 100% satisfaction policy. They will also refund the difference between its website room rate and another published rate. The company's rewards-and-upgrade program, Club Carlson, is free to join.

Pets are permitted on certain floors of Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel Chicago. This is an ambivalent pet-friendly policy; owners must pay a $100 fee plus a $150 deposit.

On-property parking, both self-park and valet, is available for a typically stiff big-city fee.

Dining at Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel Chicago

Filini, the hotel's sole in-house eatery, is popular with Blu guests and Lakeshore East locals alike. It serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and 24-hour room service.

Filini's bi-level space is dramatic and airy, with an open kitchen and an al fresco patio for dining with a Chicago backdrop. The main dining room is sleek, with geometric white edging. Crooked alabaster ceiling tiles contribute a quirky touch.

Filini diners eat Italian, and eat well. The restaurant features the authentic Lombard cuisine of chef Christian Fantoni, a native of Bergamo near Milan.

Like Filini's décor, Chef Fantoni's menu features traditional fare, stylishly presented. He makes his own pasta in-house, such as an unusual lemon pepper fettuccini topped wth minted lamb ragu. Heartier dishes showcase the chef's talent for mingling fresh and rustic flavors, like bacon-wrapped veal loin in Bergese cream sauce.

Lounging & Entertainment at Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel Chicago

The primary benefit of a hotel that shares its tower with local residents is friendly common spaces, most notably an 80,000-square-foot outdoor deck. This sprawling, lively deck offers numerous attractions and opportunities for lounging and meeting:

  • 25-meter (82-foot) lap pool
  • Children's pool
  • Cabanas
  • Barbecue grills
  • Stylish firepit
  • A serene "lifestyle garden"
  • And then…those Chicago views

Inside Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel Chicago are even more diversions and chances to mingle:

  • Game room with pool table and card table
  • Gym including another, 82-foot pool
  • Jacuzzi
  • Event and meeting spaces

Fitness Extravaganza at Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel Chicago

Radisson Blu Aqua has impressive, complimentary gym facilities that are rarely found all in one hotel. Fitness-minded guests will be very happy here. The hotel's gym boasts:

  • The latest cardio machines
  • Nautilus weight-training equipment
  • Pilates apparatus
  • Yoga room
  • Outdoor running track a fifth of a mile long
  • Basketball half-court
  • Sauna and steam room
  • Indoor, heated lap pool, a full 25 meters (82 feet)
  • Outdoor, heated lap pool, also 25 meters

Is Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel Chicago Your Best Chicago Hotel Choice?

Take the quiz to know if your reaction to Radisson Blu Aqua will be "aah" or "eh."

Your feeling will probably be "aah" if:

  • You like modern architecture and fine design
  • You want to feel like a Chicagoan and not like a tourist
  • You want to be a short walk from the Windy City's main attractions
  • You'd love a buzzy, sociable hotel with a young vibe and lounge areas
  • You'll appreciate having an L station steps from your hotel
  • You like the idea of a good Italian restaurant and stylish bar in-house
  • You hope for a great view from your Chicago hotel room
  • You'll make use of varied fitness options
  • You're a lap swimmer

Your reaction will probably be closer to "eh" if:

  • You'd rather be on (not just near) Chicago's hotel strip
  • You prefer traditional décor to trendy design
  • You seek a white-glove, pure luxury hotel
  • You require a spa in your hotel

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