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Travel: Radisson Blu Chicago Reviewed

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Radisson Blu has decided to make its debut in North America and has chosen Chicago as its first location, and we get to go along for the ride.

With a GM that goes above and beyond the call of duty, the Radisson Blu is definitely at the top of my list of hotels on my next visit to Chicago. Pierre-Louis Giacotto couldn't do enough to ensure our first visit to this recently opened boutique hotel was perfect. The Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, Chicago marks the North American debut of the Radisson Blu brand.

The hotel itself is perfectly located centrally in the Millennium Park area, close to Michigan Avenue and the Magnificent Mile, where you can shop till you drop. The Chicago River is a short walk away approx five minutes and has great running trails. The views are stunning, well worth a visit.

Despite minor teething problems such as the shower, and the internet connection, which will easily be resolved over time, the attention from the staff and the comfort of this hotel make it a must stay hotel.

It is architecturally quite stunning, and the interior belies the exterior beauty. The public areas of the hotel have to be seen to be believed, especially the stunning lobby seating area, designed by Jim Hamilton of Scottish firm Graven Images, it is quite spectacular. It has an intricate brass wall (fixtures from Egypt), and a 40-foot long fireplace, which is definitely necessary thanks to the chilly Chicago weather. The stunning lobby brick wall from the fireplace includes glass blocks that are back lit - symbolic of the Chicago city lights witnessed from a distance.

The exterior is an architectural marvel, designed by the acclaimed Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang Architects. The Aqua Tower is the tallest building in the world to have been designed by a woman. It soars high above Chicago's picturesque lakeshore with breathtaking views across the city, park and historic Lake Michigan. The wave design is quite unique and is outstanding. The theme is continued throughout the interior of the hotel as well.

The guest room interiors are designed by Swedish hospitality designer Christian Lundwall. His Swedish influence is very much evident in the room designs. The rooms are spacious¸clean and comfortable with great views. I had a corner room which had a balcony and stunning views of the lake and Navy Pier. The beds are comfortable and the best thing about this room was that it had an alarm clock. This is something that should be consistent in hotel rooms throughout the world. It's something small and simple, but it really does make a difference. It also had a docking station for iPod, which was very convenient.

The restaurant in the hotel is Fillini and is an Italian restaurant. It doesn't serve the usual chain style hotel breakfast buffet instead everything is ordered off the menu and cooked in front of you in the open kitchen using the finest fresh ingredients and flavours. The American-Italian breakfast we were served was both delicious and filling. Make sure you ask for Michael, he gives great service. With full knowledge of the menu, he took great care ensuring we had a great start to our day. Unpretentious and stylish, the mood of the restaurant is friendly and subtle with memorable Mediterranean overtones.

The hotel is conveniently located less than sixteen miles away from O'Hare International Airport and is a five minute cab ride away from Chicago's Union Station.

Chicago is a superb town, one I am really looking forward to visiting again. I would recommend the Radisson Blu whole-heartedly. The staff are truly outstanding.

GM - Pierre-Louis Giacotto
Concierge - Rueben
Restaurant staff - Michael
Look out these three members of staff for a truly memorable stay in a fab hotel.
Save yourself getting lost in the streets and check out the running track in the hotel's exterior.
Sink into the luxurious leather chairs in the hotel's movie screening room; it's difficult to get out of them once you've sunk into them.

Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel Chicago, 221 North Columbus Drive, Chicago, IL 60601
http://www.radissonblu.com/aquahotel-chicago

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