Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, Chicago , Illinois $$$$
Concierge.com's insider take:
Sitting on the first 18 floors of the 82-story Aqua Tower—a striking high-rise with undulating concrete floor slabs that resemble a ruffled flamenco dress—Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel opened at the end of 2011. Blu is well placed in the city, within easy striking distance of both Millennium Park and North Michigan Avenue. But there is plenty to keep you entertained on-site: a massive 8,000-square-foot fitness center that includes an indoor basketball court; a sweeping lobby anchored by an epic fireplace; a movie theater; and a six-acre park embracing an Olympic-size pool, hot tub, gazebo, and fire pit. All these big stats are yours for a fairly low tab, though choose your accommodations carefully. The 334 rooms are divided equally between the clean Nordic-on-the-cheap Naturally Cool rooms, which seem determined to bring back blond wood and plenty of it, and the Mansion House rooms, distinguished by darker timber finishes and a Blu-patented accent color of eye-popping blue. The best bets, if you opt to eat at the surprisingly pricey in-house Filini restaurant, are one of the standard-issue antipasti or the beef carpaccio.—Raphael Kadushin
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