Radisson opened their first Blu property in the United States this fall. It is in my new favorite building in Chicago – Aqua. I absolutely love this building. I won’t get into all the details as to why it is amazing here — just do some research on your own and then you tell me why you love it.
I have heard so many great things about the Blu product I was excited to try it out in my home town. I searched, found and booked a really inexpensive room with check-in on December 26th. I opted to stay for one night. I took the bus down there and walked over from Michigan Ave — a great view as I approached the building (sorry, didn’t take a picture of it). I checked in around 20h00 – the check-in process was quick and relatively efficient. The front desk associate noted my rewards number was already associated with my reservation. They didn’t tell me really anything about the hotel, the amenities or ask if I needed a map or any information about the area. I assume they skipped this because my Chicago address on my reservation.
I was assigned room 1123, which the front desk associate told me was a beautiful corner room with a balcony — a nice touch. Granted, it is December in Chicago, but I did spend a bit of time on the balcony, as the weather is really great so far this winter (knock on wood).
I make my way to the room — finding the room without issue (I must admit, the past couple of hotels I’ve stayed at have had a unique numbering system with limited signs). Once I open the door I’m greeted by hardwood floors and a long hallway. I was almost immediately hit by the smell of “new” space. It had a mild chemical smell to it — which I’m sure would be gone in a few months.
At the end of the hall you hang a right and see another shorter hallway leading past the bathroom to the main bedroom area. The floors were laminate and had a bit of a funky zebra striping — which I really dig. It gave the space a more modern feel. I am not sure I like the idea of solid surface floors in a hotel room though. Carpeting in hotel rooms is always filthy, but even with the filthy it provides a bit of warmth that is comforting. If you are going to have a hard surfaced floor in the room, I believe the hotel should provide slippers (even cheap ones) for added comfort.
The room had two walls of windows with an absolutely amazing City view. A real winner for guests — both locals and non-locals alike. The sleek modern room design was a nice switch for the classically styled Marriotts I usually visit. The design was a bit cold though.
The balcony had no balcony furniture — which makes sense in winter. I don’t know if furniture is available upon request during the warmer months. I trust furniture would be available — otherwise, why both with a balcony? I could easily see myself sitting out on this balcony during the summer, enjoying the view with a cocktail or a nosh.
I drop my bag in the closet and start to take pictures. What is the first thing I notice near the desk — a trash can full of trash. That’s not right. I immediately check the other trash cans. The one in the bathroom has used tissues. Double gross. I go to the bed and call housekeeping. I didn’t want them to clean my room, I just wanted to inform them that my room hadn’t been properly serviced. I waited on hold for about 30 seconds for someone to answer the phone.
While I was waiting for housekeeping to pick up, I was noticing the art above the bed. It reminded me of a bunch of post-it notes on a board, covered in art glass. The texture of the post-it notes were pretty cool. I think I might try to steal that idea for a project in my own home. The glass looked thicker on one side and and smaller on the side on which I was standing. being inquisitive, I touched the seemingly smaller side of the glass. Ouch. It wasn’t actually narrower – it was just broken. I cut my finger.
Guest services finally answered the phone. They were extremely apologetic and asked multiple times if I wanted my room serviced. I declined multiple times. The trash didn’t stink and I wasn’t going to worry about it.
After the photos were done, I headed down to the bar (a review will be coming later) for a drink and a little snack. I returned to the room around 21h45 and settled into watch some TV and just relax – the whole purpose of the stay. I then sit at the desk to see how it would feel to work at the space. The Ethernet cable included was pretty short and the plug was behind the TV — you had to set up shop with your face less than a foot away from the TV. Not ideal. I opened the drawer in the desk to see what was inside — I was quite shocked to find what I thought was a drawer wasn’t. I just pulled the face of the cabinet off.
I then head to the washroom to get ready for bed – and I realize the toilet had been used after the maid had serviced my room. I won’t get into details, but the toilet was definitely used after it had been cleaned…and only one of the rolls of toilet paper had been “folded”, which confirms someone used it. Not nice. If I had known the bathroom needed work, I would have asked for service.
Around 22h30, I hear a subtle noise – I thought it was someone down the hall knocking on a door. After about 3 minutes, I realized it could be someone knocking on my door. It was. The maid was there to service my room. Ugh. I asked her to go away, she was nice about it, but good god, I asked several times for the issues in the room to be left alone – I can deal with it. The worst part was, I was nearly asleep when the maid visited.
The bed was acceptably comfortable. The alarm clock had a very bright face, which I couldn’t figure out how to turn it down, so I covered it with a towel. I woke up around 07h00 and was pretty well rested. I got ready for work and head down to the front desk around 08h00. I don’t usually check out of a hotel, I just walk out.
Since this is a brand new hotel, I wanted to let the front desk folks know my concerns – especially since I intended on writing a review here and on TripAdvisor. I explained my concerns to the young woman working at reception. She pulled up my record and apologized. She turned to her manager (I believe), whose name was Jessica and asked me to explain my concerns again. I did. Both listened quite intently and were quite disappointed my experience wasn’t exceptional.
Jessica offered to credit back my entire room charge, which was an outrageous offer. I obviously turned her down. She pushed and I continued to decline the offer. Honestly, I didn’t want to get a credit back because 1) I used the room and don’t want them to lose money on my stay 2) Radisson was offering a 50,000 point bonus for stays in December. I wanted these points to use in Europe later one.
I was then offered breakfast at the hotel, which I turned down as well. I reminded them I didn’t want anything, I just wanted them to know my thoughts. They thanked me profusely and wished me a lovely day.
I tweeted my comments and received a prompt reply (don’t you hate when a hotel has a social media presence but isn’t active??) — I then explained what happened and the hotel manager sent me an email sending his apologies. He then offered me an upgrade on a future stay. I thanked him again and said it wasn’t necessary.
It did seem like most people I spoke with were interested in making this hotel the best it can be. Would I stay here again? Since this place is in Chicago, where I live, probably not. If Radisson offers the same bonus point deal and Blu offered a good price – like they did for this stay, I probably would return. I will not call and ask for an upgrade though. It is a very generous offer, but not at all necessary.
I like the design, but I’m concerned that a a bright white room will show the dirt very quickly — you could start to see some of the issues already. Some of the service was top notch, while other aspects were sub par.
Have you stayed at the Radisson Blu – Chicago? What did you think of it? Where did you stay in order to get your 50,000 Radisson points? Did you head off to a local hotel for a quiet night away during the holidays? Have you recently found a big pile of trash in your recently cleaned hotel room?
** UPDATE ** I’ve been thinking about my review. Perhaps I was a bit harsh. I was walking into the Radisson Blu Chicago thinking it was a 5 Star Property. It isn’t — and it isn’t billed as a 5 Star Property either. Other than the bartender (more on that later), the maid who woke me up at 22h30 and the person who used my room after it was previously serviced – the people I dealt with provided great service. I paid a paltry $140 (including taxes and fees) for this room. Hell, we spent more money on the Holiday Inn Express in Urbana, IL — and that experience was so much worse. If the room had been fully cleaned, I would have given this hotel a much higher rating.
This update was brought on just by my further thoughts about this stay and review. I have had no further contact with the hotel — so don’t feel that they in any way have influenced this review or this update whatsoever.