It just opened in November 2011, but the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel in Chicago’s River East neighborhood already has fueled buzz.
A striking, rippled exterior gives the 81-story skyscraper the look of a tall, narrow waterfall. Inside, chic styling and amenities make a stay feel more like high-rise condo life. The 334 guest rooms have rain showers, flat-screens and window walls framing views of Millennium Park, the Chicago River and Lake Michigan. Blu started out as Radisson’s luxe European chain, and this is the first to open stateside. An amazing 50-foot-long fireplace bathes the lobby’s plush couches in a warm amber glow. Guests stay in the building’s first 18 floors, sharing the health club (spin studio, pool and basketball court) and huge outdoor pool terrace with condo residents living in the ecofriendly building. The hotel’s neighborhood-feeling Filini bar and restaurant dishes Italian fare, including a dreamy mushroom risotto. From $175. (312) 565-5258; radissonblu.com/aquahotel-chicago