by Lisa Meyers McClintick
When families seek a homey place to stay that’s as close to the Mall of America as possible, many opt for Country Inn and Suites.
It sits across Killebrew Drive from the Mall of America’s south entrance and less than a block by foot (or stroller) to reach its sprawling kingdom of more than 500 stores, plus restaurants and attractions that include Nickelodeon Universe (North America’s largest indoor amusement park), FlyOver America and the Crayola Experience.
Country Inn and Suites by Carlson, which has the same owners as the showier Radisson Blu across the street and attached to Mall of America, has been a consistently popular choice since it opened within five years of the mall opening its doors in 1992.
With 250 rooms, this is the largest hotel within the Country Inn and Suites brand, which is known for welcoming guests with cookies and coffee or tea at check-in and a Be Our Guest hot breakfast buffet in the morning. This location has other perks, as well, including discounted tickets to several attractions, including Nickelodeon Universe, and unexpected treats such as plates with ingredients for S’mores at the front desk in the evening throughout the summer and during school holidays.
The hotel stays up to date with major renovations over the years, including a $9-million remodel that refreshed guestroom dÃƒ©cor and redesigned the lobby in 2015. It also built an outdoor seating area with a cozy gas fireplace not far from the first-floor pool area. While it can’t be used for roasting marshmallows (S’mores have to be made using in-room microwaves), it’s a welcome dose of fresh air and gentle breezes after a day spent indoors at the mall.
Don’t be surprised to hear a few other languages, such as Chinese, Icelandic and Norwegian, among the guests given the mall’s international popularity and the hotel’s location minutes from the St. Paul-Minneapolis International Airport. This can infuse the hotel’s homey atmosphere with a dash of global culture that parents can appreciate. Your kids, though, might stick to stories of the pool, cookies, morning waffles, and the Mall of America fun they had.
For more information, visit Country Inn & Suites.
Our Editor Loves
- Convenient location for Mall of America
- Hot morning breakfast including waffles
- Swimming pool
- Theme Park
- Water Parks
- Connecting Rooms
- Family Room 5+
- Free Breakfast
- Free Wi-Fi
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
The recent remodel included fresh design for the Country Inn and Suites rooms, which have a sleeker, more modern look with down pillows, duvets, white linens and pillow-top mattresses, 42-inch flat-screen TVs, high-speed wireless Internet, work desks, coffeemakers, hairdryers, refrigerators, microwaves, and irons and ironing boards.
Bathrooms include a combination shower and tub and feature Beekman 1802 sulfate-free shampoo and toiletries. Guests can request a handicapped-accessible room or a short stature accessibility kit for rooms.
Larger families can request adjoining rooms, but they are limited and may book quickly. The hotel usually recommends the double queen suite (two beds and a sleeper sofa) or a double queen room with a rollaway.
Guests can request cribs or a rollaway for no extra charge.
Two-Queen Rooms and Suites
These double-queen rooms sleep four and include all the basic amenities, plus a design with gray and neutral tones offset with a red lounge chair for a pop of color.
Double Queen Suites
The double Queen Suites sleep five to six guests with a separate bedroom that has two queen beds, plus a living room with a full-size memory foam sofa sleeper.
Like queen suites, the king bed is in its own room, and there are TVs in both the bedroom and living room area with a full-size sleeper sofa.
King Executive Suites
Considered part of their business-class suites, these units have a separate bedroom for a king bed, a table for four that's handy for in-room dining or small meetings, and additional perks including a Keurig coffee machine, exercise bands, DVD player, bathrobes and an iPod docking station.
We visited for a long weekend to cross Mall of America off of our bucket list and to get a head start on some Christmas shopping. We were fortunate enough to catch the shuttle from the airport just as he was bringing a couple of pilots in. The ride to the hotel was quick and the driver was friendly. The desk staff were also nice giving us an option of room floor to choose from and complimentary water. The convenience of the two chain restcame in handy during our visit with IHOP being open 24 hours.
By far, their free breakfast buffed one of the best I've ever experienced. The food and seating were plentiful and the main meats/egg dishes were different each morning.
It was a short walk from the hotel to the mall and most of the walk is covered (we had both a little rain and snow during our visit).
I would definitely recommend!
Pop bottle shoved under the TV stand in the living area and dog food bits found under the dresser in the bedroom upon check in left by previous occupant. Needed a second cleaning, which was not performed despite alerting front desk.
The hotel offers two 17-foot by 27-foot swimming pools on the first floor for guests. Each ranges from 3 feet to 5 feet deep. While neither is designated for families or adults only, they tend to naturally split up that way with children and younger families drawn to each other. Pools, plus the whirlpool spas, open at 6 a.m. and stay open to families until 11 p.m. (or midnight for adults only). Children under 14 must have a parent or adult supervising them.
For families planning to head to the Mall of America, the hotel offers discounted tickets to attractions inside, including Nickelodeon Universe, mini-golf and the Ghostly Gangplank Adventure Park. Lodging deals, such as the American Dream Package, also include tickets to Nickelodeon Universe.
Like other Country Inn and Suites', guests can line up for the complimentary Be Our Guest breakfast buffet in the morning. It includes signature waffles and hot entrees such as omelets, breakfast burritos, biscuits and gravy, fruit and yogurt, oatmeal and cereal and fresh fruit and juices. The options vary day to day.
There are fewer make-it-yourself or made-to-order options at this location due to the high volume and the need to feed close to 1,000 guests, but guests rate the breakfast served with real plates and silverware as their favorite amenity. Breakfast runs 6 to 9:30 a.m. weekdays and 6:30 to 10:30 a.m. weekends.
Kids who crave breakfast all day -- especially syrupy pancakes and specials such as banana, peanut butter and chocolate French toast -- can indulge themselves at the IHOP attached to the hotel or order room service from the restaurant. IHOP also serves soups and sandwiches, offers a burger bar, and serves diner-like entrees such as roasted turkey dinner and fried chicken.
It's open 24 hours a day, which is handy for families with teens who want to maximize their Mall of America play time or shopping and eat after the mall closes. It's also good for families with kids who get overwhelmed by the mall's dining choices or want somewhere a little quieter during peak shopping days.
TGIF (Thank God It's Friday), known for its drinks, appetizers and American fare, also is attached to the hotel for a convenient lunch or dinner. It's also open until 2 a.m., which is convenient for conquering late-night munchies with extensive appetizers such as potstickers, flatbreads, crispy green beans and wings. Other choices include salads with pomegranate or avocado vinaigrette, grilled shrimp, ribs and bourbon-barrel chicken.
Kids' meals include the usual suspects -- chicken fingers, sliders, mac and cheese -- with the added allure of fruity slush drinks and desserts such as a cup of dirt--chocolate pudding, cookie crumbles and gummy worms.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Wi-Fi is complimentary to all guests.
If you've arrived after a long flight or drive, the perk of fresh chocolate chip cookies, coffee, tea and cocoa waiting in the lobby can be a welcome touch.
The hotel fitness center includes elliptical trainers, treadmills, bikes and strength-training equipment. Guests may be able to request a yoga mat or stretching band for in-room workouts, as well. Guests also can find outdoor walking and running routes ranging from 4 to 11 miles and including some trails at the nearby Minnesota River Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Another option: Mall of America opens at 6 a.m. for fitness walkers who can choose 1-mile, 5K and 10K routes.
Guests who join the Club Carlson Hotel Rewards Program can earn points and upgrades through stays at more than a 1,000 hotels under the Country Inn & Suites, Radisson Blu, Park Plaza and Park Inn by Radisson) brands.
Guests can check in at 3 p.m.; check-out is at noon.
The Art of Smart Timing
If you're on a tight budget and have a flexible travel schedule, Sunday nights often have lowest prices, as well as weekdays from Labor Day through March 1. Spring-break travelers usually keep the hotel busy March 1 through April 15. Summer and school holidays are the busiest times.
If flying, the closest airport is Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport.
Winter visits can be tricky if storm systems blow in or rain turns icy, but you can keep on top of driving conditions with the MN511 website or mobile app. It tracks accidents, closed roads and winter driving conditions. In general, it's best to avoid leaving and getting stuck in rush hour that runs from 7 to 9 a.m. weekdays and 4 to 6 p.m. weeknights.
Anyone driving from western states or Canada could also get stuck in Minnesota's "cabin traffic," the mass flow of vehicles that head north from the Twin Cities on Fridays and return again Sunday afternoon and evening.
The hotel offers an on-demand complimentary shuttle to the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport, which is less than 5 miles away. A number of taxi services serve the hotel, and you can use the Light Rail Transit commuter train, which takes about 15 minutes to reach the airport terminal before continuing to downtown Minneapolis or connecting to the Green Line that runs to St. Paul. Fares range from 75 cents for children up to $2.25 for adults (metrotransit.org).
The hotel also has a shuttle that takes guests to the Mall of America and picks them up once an hour from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.. It's just as easy, though, to get there on your own if it's not raining or freezing cold out. From the hotel lobby, it's less than a block by foot (or stroller) to reach a skyway bridge that crosses Killebrew Drive to the mall.. The bridge heads into the Radisson Blu parking ramp, and guests have two options: one quick street crossing to enter the Mall of America's first floor at the south entrance or head into the Radisson Blu, take the escalator or elevator up and enter the mall via the second-floor Radisson Blu skyway.
If you have your own car, parking is complimentary in an uncovered lot.
For Mom and Dad
Anyone craving the pampering of spa services can choose massage treatments and hair, nail and skincare services from the Solimar Spa and Salon across the street at the Radisson Blu hotel or head into the hotel's FireLake Grill House or find other dinner-date destinations at the mall.