Checking In: Radisson Blu Ups the Cool Factor in Minneapolis

by  Kristine Hansen | Jun 18, 2015
Radisson Blu
Radisson Blu

With just under half a million residents, Minneapolis is a rare example of an urban landscape that straddles city and country -- chock-full of art museums, bar-lined streets, lakes, and bicycle paths. And bumping up against all of the fun is the nearly year-old, 17-story Radisson Blu Minneapolis Downtown. Still one of only a few Radisson Blu properties stateside (besides Philadelphia, Chicago, and Mall of America in nearby Bloomington, Minnesota), the others are in far-flung cities like Sydney, Australia; and countries that include Egypt and Belgium. We checked in for the scoop on the hip downtown property.

What’s Hot: Sporting a Euro-vibe, the hotel is a departure from downtown’s cookie-cutter hotels. We especially love the cherry red midcentury-style chairs and checkered tile flooring in the lobby

Best Feature: Even locals are clamoring for a seat at the hotel’s sole eatery, FireLake Grill House & Cocktail Bar -- whether for a round of cocktails with friends to kick off a weekend or a comfort-foods-driven weeknight dinner. A runner-up perk is the hotel’s underground parking garage, with self-parking rates of only $19 Sunday through Thursday, with in-and-out privileges, and just $6 on the weekends.

The Rooms: WiFi is free in each of the 360 sunny and spacious rooms, and you’ll enjoy Lavazza coffee and Rishi tea, a flatscreen television, plush robes, and a small refrigerator. The décor sticks to neutral white hues with pops of color, like apple-green pillows on an all-white bed, or an armchair in the same shade. A work desk is in each room, too.

The Food: Farm-to-fork fare drives the menu at FireLake, where executive chef Jim Kyndberg and his staff work in an open-concept kitchen. The dining room -- open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch -- boasts more midcentury-inspired light fixtures, booths and chairs, plus salvaged-wood interior walls. The menu features dishes with local flair, like bison Bourguignon and heirloom corn-crusted walleye. (Locavore trivia: The walleye is sourced from Red Lake Indian Reservation in northwestern Minnesota.) Many of the craft cocktails feature local spirits, too.

Who Will Love It: Art lovers will enjoy the hotel’s new Inspired at Blu artist-in-residence partnership with the University of Minnesota’s College of Design, which puts the students’ works on display, ranging from apparel to furniture to visual art.

Who Might Not: Fans of a country-style, cozy aesthetic might not appreciate the sleek lines and minimalist hues.

Deals and Special Offers: Summer rates start at only $98.90 -- the nightly cost of a Fourth of July weekend stay. June is expensive, climbing up to around $400, but you'll be able to find select nights starting from $259 after July 8. But to stay under $200, August is your best bet. We found rates of $153 on August 1; $149 on August 7; $179 on August 15; $159 on August 28; and $169 on August 29.

Nearby: Vibrant downtown Minneapolis is home to First Avenue and the 7th St Entry, a live music venue where hometown boy Prince filmed “Purple Rain.” In the area, there are also many performing arts theaters and two major sporting centers: Target Film, home to the Minnesota Twins; and Target Center, where the Minnesota Timberwolves play home games. The 11-block-long pedestrian Nicollet Mall hooks up with a light rail line (the only such setup in the Upper Midwest).

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