With design savvy inside as well as out, this gem from a predominant hotel brand in Europe, and within an 82-story skyscraper designed by architect Jeanne Gang, has generously sized rooms and so many amenities and outdoor space that it feels like an upscale resort in the heart of downtown. Indoor and outdoor pools, a game room, a movie-screening room, a well-equipped fitness center, fab Italian eatery, and lush landscaping on outdoor terraces are all part of the deal. The location is a winner, too, as it's close to Millennium Park and Michigan Avenue. The lobby-level bar is bright and welcoming--and another example of great design.
YOU SHOULD KNOW In 2017 the hotel introduced a $25 nightly "urban fee," which is like a resort fee and includes health-club access, free local and long-distance calls, WiFi and 10% discount on dining.
Featuring aqua and cherry-red accents, each of the 334 rooms are bright and airy, those pops of color paired with crisp white bed linens and black pillows and a blanket. Traveling on business or just want more perks? Book a Business Class room which gets you complimentary access to the business lounge (serving daily breakfast and evening reception) plus an in-room espresso machine.
Clean lines are in the bath, from the designer square sink to the glass-walled spacious shower. Those lucky enough to have a tub will find it's fit for soaking (read: very deep).
Each morning, from 5 a.m. to 6 a.m., complimentary coffee service is in the lobby. Off to one side of the gleaming-white check-in desks is a brick-walled open space with a see-through fireplace spanning nearly an entire wall, and several wingback chairs surrounding cocktail tables. Hung on the walls are framed black-and-white photos of Chicago streets.
The rooftop pool is one of this hotel's top amenities, particularly because the view from this Streeterville location is less obstructed than what you'll find at a downtown or Loop hotel that's shouldered by skyscrapers. This hotel has an indoor and outdoor pool, perfect for Chicago's four-season climate. The indoor one features two lanes reserved for lap swims.
Want more of an adult swimming-pool experience? You just might get that at this hotel, thanks to a kids outdoor splash pool (during the summer months only).
An 80,000-square-foot rooftop garden just off the 8,000-square-foot gym (with state-of-the-art machines and equipment) is a nice means to add al-fresco stretches and strolls to your workout. There is also a 1/5-mile jogging track.
Afternoon tea with fancy bites is served from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. A 24-hour reservation is required. Don't dismiss Filini as a mere "hotel restaurant." The Italian-Mediterranean menu is an authentic bite of that region and the food outstanding. Decor isn't too shabby either in this mezzanine-level restaurant, with creamy-white high-backed booths and exposed-brick walls. Floor-to-ceiling windows frame a nice view of the downtown-Chicago skyline. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served in this space.
In a hurry and not enough time to eat breakfast? The hotel's "Grab & Run" breakfast features to-go tea and coffee, plus energy bars and fruit.
Streeterville is a "newer" Chicago neighborhood, immediately east of the Loop and hugging the Lake Michigan shoreline. Buses are a shorter walk from here than an L station. To travel north of south along Michigan Avenue, simply hop on the 6 bus from Columbus and Randolph. Uber and Lyft drivers are always in the area. A car is not necessary when staying at this property.
Just like its name implies, Tavern at the Park (6-minute walk) overlooks Millennium Park and serves gastropub fare to easily please differing palates if you're traveling in a group. Downtown Chicago's got no shortage of steakhouses. For a great steak in a classy environment, look to the nearby Stetsons Modern Steak + Sushi (3-minute walk), inside the Hyatt Regency Chicago.
At Chicago Athletic Association, another hotel with a unique design concept, Cindy's (11-minute walk) is the rooftop bar boasting amazing views of Millennium Park from its Michigan Avenue perch. Drinks and cocktails are very inventive, folding in elixirs, botanicals and more. For a drink paired with a Chicago River view from the riverwalk, head to O'Brien's Riverwalk Cafe (open until 9 p.m. weekdays and 10 p.m. weekends), which is a 10-minute walk: look for the lime-green umbrellas when in season.
WHY WE LIKE IT
One of the first Radisson Blu properties in the U.S., following dozens in Europe and even more around the world, Radisson Blu Aqua feels nothing like a chain thanks to the stunning design. With perks like a rooftop pool, really awesome restaurant and communal space in the lobby that feels inviting while also cozy, this hotel has a lot to offer. Also, the location is nice because it's closer to the lakefront and grassy space while still being a few blocks' walk from the Loop and its museums and attractions.