A stay at the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel in Chicago's River East neighborhood, the brand’s first U.S. location, feels more like living the high life than overnighting in a downtown hotel. Guests enter via a swank living room-like lounge decked out with plush couches, a mirrored wall and 50-foot long fireplaces.
Radisson Blu Aqua occupies the first 18 floors of the 81-floor Aqua condominium building, a sleek silver LEED-certified skyscraper designed by Chicago architect Jeanne Gang. Inside and out, decor and color schemes call to mind the steely blue and gray waves of nearby Lake Michigan. The 334 custom guest rooms (doubles start at $149) include Internet access and feature rain showers; flat-screen TVs; and views of Millennium Park, the Chicago River and the lakefront. Other enviable amenities are an 80,000-square-foot outdoor pool terrace and running track and access an extensive health club. The bilevel Filini restaurant is a destination in its own right, with stark white environs, rustic Italian cuisine (entrees average $18 to $26), and an impressive wine list of Italian varietals served by the glass, bottle and half-bottle.
The hotel opened in November 2011 and was still working through a few service-related hiccups when we stayed, but these minor detractions should resolve as the crew hits its stride.