The Radisson Blu experience starts as soon as you arrive—the exterior and lobby are awash in a blue glow. Professional staffers call you "Ms" and "Mr." and completely embody a your-wish-is-our-command approach to conversation that makes you feel downright regal, especially if you just sat in Twin Cities' traffic or crawled through a snowstorm to get there. A long gas fireplace in the first-floor lobby encourages lounging in wide chairs that look like hollowed-out Hershey's Kisses and hang suspended from the ceiling, and an escalator to the second floor leads to a long wooden communal table flanked by more than a dozen artsy chairs, each its own whimsical style.
Guests use their key cards to whisk them up the 13 stories to their rooms; the $137 million property has 500 rooms and suites decked with bold blue, slate and black hues and contemporary furnishings. Soft mattresses encourage a restful night's sleep. The baths include a glass-walled shower, a soaking tub and generous-size sink without a ton of counter space around it. A big fitness room and decent-size swimming pool offer ways to burn calories beyond walking the nation's biggest shopping mall.
We stayed on opening weekend and expected a few glitches, and we did encounter some. We left to go shopping when the mall opened (loving that we didn't need to troll for parking or bring coats!) and headed back to our room at 2 p.m. to drop off bags and relax—only to find it hadn't been cleaned yet. And the on-site restaurant, Fire Lake, needs some help with execution. Its long menu is stunning, an homage to Minnesota flavors and producers. But despite being well-staffed, service was slow and a bit confused, both at breakfast and dinner. (One highlight—when we asked for grapefruit with breakfast, the server wanted to know if we wanted it whole, cut in half, or just half of one. Ultimately, it came delivered beautifully plated with the sections in a ring.)
Anyone looking to spend a weekend at the mall will love the rooms, service and convenience; we'll revisit Fire Lake and see if they've worked out their opening-weekend kinks. Rooms from $169.