Hotel review: Radisson Blu Aqua Chicago

I just spent a long weekend in Chicago with my friend Ginger. It was my first visit to Chicago, and the city was so fun that I’m not sure how we could have had anything BUT a fantastic time. For the first two nights, we were at the Radisson Blu Chicago.

I’ve been looking forward to staying at this hotel for months!

Why I wanted to stay here

The Blu brand is Club Carlson’s luxury experience, and this was the first Radisson Blu built in the United States. Designed by architect Jeanne Gang, the building is 81 stories tall, and it’s very unique; its curving balconies give it the appearance of rippling in the wind.

The hotel is in a great location. It’s a short walk from the Magnificent Mile, Millennium Park, and lots of other fun spots.

How much did it cost?

Rooms at this property normally start at $200-$300 per night, so I decided to use Club Carlson gold points instead of cash. I have a stash of points saved up from all of the Club Carlson promos last year, plus I got 85,000 points as a sign-up bonus from the Club Carlson Visa, and I just won 10,000 points from their recent Twitter party…I love Club Carlson.

An award night at this property costs 50,000 gold points. However, as a Club Carlson Visa cardmember, I can book award stays of two nights or more and get one free night. In other words, I booked a two-night award stay for half the points.

What was it like?

The hotel is fairly new – it opened in November of 2011 – so it is very clean and modern.

The lobby is beautiful and features several gathering spots, including a 40 foot-long fireplace.


The layout was confusing and we got turned around a lot. There are a lot of twists and turns on each hallway so it’s easy to get lost. At least the hallways were interesting!

hallway radisson blu


What was the room like?

Because I’ve got Gold Status (one of the benefits of the Club Carlson Visa), we were upgraded to a Park View balcony room.


The room itself featured lots of blue hues.


The bathroom was interesting, because the sliding door could “close” either the shower or the WC – but not both at the same time.


The room had a flat-screen TV…


A work station..


And a small seating area.IMG_2212

While the room wasn’t huge, it was absolutely fine for two people. The balcony made it seem very spacious, plus it was filled with light from the floor-to-ceiling windows.


As a gold member, I got a welcome amenity of bottled water and nuts.

There is a coffeemaker in the room, along with coffee, tea, and complimentary bottles of water, which are refreshed daily.

The hotel has a large outdoor deck with a pool and jacuzzi, gardens, fire pit, and a 1/5 mile running track. Inside, there is an 8,000-square-foot fitness center which includes a basketball court, a sauna and steam room, and an indoor lap pool. We used the jacuzzi and the steam room on our first night, and we were the only ones there. It was very relaxing (so relaxing, in fact, that I didn’t get any photos!).

Insider Tips

There is a CVS on the bottom floor of the hotel in case you need anything (drinks, snacks, sunscreen…)

The hotel is near a CTA train station and it’s easy to take a train to/from the airport. The Chicago Architectural Foundation River Cruise is a short walk away. This is a “must-do!”

Intelligensia Coffee is also very close by.


I would recommend this hotel, especially if you are using Club Carlson gold points to stay here. It’s interesting, convenient, and comfortable, plus it has great views.

Have you stayed at this Radisson before? What did you think? If you haven’t stayed here yet, is it on your list?


  1. Points Pixie says

    Adding comment-ability!