by Lisa Meyers McClintick
For any glitz-loving tween, teen or adult, the Radisson Blu Mall of America lobby inspires a flurry of selfies with its glamorous and colorfully lit design. Giant woven fig-shaped swings and a cozy fireplace tempt guests to grab a book and cocoon into these edgy nests for the afternoon.
Guests ride up an escalator past dramatically lit angled white walls meant to mimic the tissue wrapping in shopping bags, but also looking a lot like artsy glacial blue icebergs that seem fitting in the famously cold state of Minnesota.
The second floor connects to the hotel’s greatest asset: a skyway that made it the first hotel attached to the Minnesota’s No. 1 attraction: Mall of America, or MOA as it’s often called.
This 13-story $137-million Radisson Blu — the second in the United States — opened in 2013 with 500 guestrooms that tower above the south side of MOA. They feature the vision of designer Jim Hamilton, who also designed the first American Radisson Blu in Chicago.
While the hotel has a hipster feel, it keeps the vibe welcoming and family friendly with kids’ meals in its FireLake Grill House and Cocktail Bar and a few scavenger hunt activities just for kids. Best of all, it takes just a few minutes to walk to Nickelodeon Universe (the country’s largest indoor theme park), SEA Life Aquarium, the soon-to-open Crayola Experience and FlyOver America ride, along with more than 525 stores. No jackets, no parking, no hassles. Just stroll from the hotel into MOA.
The hotel’s also near the Light Rail Transit system that takes visitors to historic Fort Snelling, Target Field for Twins baseball, and other downtown St. Paul and Minneapolis attractions.
Radisson Blu’s particularly popular for Black Friday when guests — some in comfy slippers — get a head start on the most legendary shopping day of the year.
Overall, this Radisson Blu brings together the sophistication of a downtown hotel to the festive, fun vibe of Mall of America, Minnesota’s top attraction. If you can’t stay the night, at least swing by to admire its art and design or — even better — savor a seasonal, locally sourced meal at its Firelake Grill House.
Our Editor Loves
- Vibrant, artsy decor
- Skyway connection to Mall of America
- Great dining
- Children Programs
- Connecting Rooms
- Free Wi-Fi
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
Of the 500 rooms at this site, 181 offer king beds, 290 are double queens and 29 are suites. All come with a wireless high-speed Internet, flat-panel TVs that are at least 40 inches, mini-refrigerator, single-serve coffee or tea machines, laptop-sized safes, and an iron and ironing board/
Rooms also include bathrobes, This Works bath amenities with the scent of rosemary and mandarin orange, hair dryer, generous counter space in the bathroom, rainfall showers and generously sized soaking tubs.
Southside rooms face the Minnesota River Valley, while northern rooms look across the mall toward the Minneapolis skyline.
Cribs are available at no extra charge.
With bright reds and white walls, these rooms come with either two queens or one king bed, and are the most affordable rooms.
Guests who upgrade to business class can choose Mansion House or Naturally Cool rooms and access the business class hospitality lounge with complimentary breakfast (with some hot items), plus evening beverages and appetizers.
Mansion House Rooms
These "clubby" rooms blend bright blue textiles, dark woods accents and granite-like floors and accents that sparkle.
Naturally Cool Rooms
These modern rooms combine wood flooring and metal accents with neutral colors.
These 450-square-foot rooms include a living room area with pullout sofa bed that's full size. There also are larger executive bedroom suites (660 square feet) and Carlson Suites, but all max out at sleeping four guests. Tip: If you have more than two children, the hotel suggests reserving a Junior Suite with a king bed and an adjoining guestroom with two queen beds.
The hotel has 13 ADA rooms, most of which connect to other rooms for additional space.
Rooms were clean, quiet and spacious. We were staying at the hotel for a conference and the staff was excellent and accommodating. It was nice to have a hotel that has curtains that block out all light for those that like to sleep in.
I will stay again later this fall. There was a delay in getting into our room, but they were supportive in our being tired and having to wait. The room was superior in quality and the restaurant was good.
Blu Kids Club
Families can get Blu Passports with destinations around the hotel and in the Mall of America when they check in. Kids who find at least four places can earn prizes such as a Marty the Moose plush animal, a Hard Rock CafÃ© Roxtarsâ„¢ plush or two $10 gift cards that can be used at SkyDeck Sports Grille and Lanes. Activities are tailored for each age group: 3 to 5, 6 to 9 and 10 to 12.
The hotel's 40-foot by 19-foot pool uses a saline system so it's non-chlorinated. It's close to 3 feet deep on the shallow end and is kept at 85 degrees. There is no hot tub, so families might want to pack robes or cover-ups if they want to warm up after swimming. The pool opens to families from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. There are extended adults-only hours from 5 to 7 a.m. and from 10 to 11 p.m.
In addition to the more typical shopping, spa or dining packages, the hotel has several that cater to families. They include an American Girl package with a doll-sized travel bed to keep and access to an American Girl library, Play and Stay packages with tickets to various attractions within the mall, and a Marty the Moose package with two Nickelodeon Universe wristbands for all-day rides or four SEA Life Aquarium passes, a SkyDeck game card and a kids' tent to use in the hotel room and then take home.
While kids will definitely want time to climb into the nest-like swings in the lobby, the second-floor public space outside FireLake Grill House also is popular for hanging out and visiting with friends or family. Kids like the whimsical, artsy and varied chairs that surround a large carpeted area. There's also a spacious table with more funky chairs for families who want to do artwork, play a game or spread out with a laptop.
FireLake Grill House and Cocktail Bar
This restaurant that's away from the hub of MOA restaurants strikes a nice balance with its fresh, modern dÃ©cor -- picture fun circular chairs and lighting -- and the homey feel of repurposed barnwood accents and hardwood flooring. Its menu, too, finds that middle ground by featuring comfort food and familiar Minnesota cuisine, but elevates it a few notches, adding tasty, unexpected twists.
If you have kids who like to eat locally grown food, you can tell them the honey comes from the hotel's rooftop and is a key ingredient in the honey duet dessert, a gluten-free honey crÃ¨me caramel, honey cashew tart and lace tuile.
Breakfasts may include brick-oven apple pannekoeken, hash with walleye or corned buffalo, Minnesota wild rice pancakes with chokecherry syrup and Bananas Foster stuffed French toast, while brunch items range from whole hog omelets and prime rib Benedict to barbecue lamb ribs and ricotta beignets.
Lunch includes shaved pork or prime rib served in popovers and a chicken salad wrapped in brick-oven lefsa, apple pecan smoked pork chop with lingonberry compote (a potato-based Norwegian version of a tortilla) and Minnesota walleye. Dinners can include bacon-wrapped buffalo ribeye, rotisserie duck, duck pappardelle, rock shrimp and heirloom polenta
Moms and dads craving a drink can choose from craft beers and wines to crafted cocktails such as Calhoun loon (local vodka, ginger liqueur, pink grapefruit juice and honey syrup or the funky Blucubed with a round blue ice cube, blueberry vodka and juice, Kinky blue and blueberries.
Kids can choose from breakfast standards (such as pancakes, apple oatmeal or eggs and sausage) or opt from the regular children's menu with burger sliders and puzzle tots, a cup of soup and grilled cheese, cheese pizza, turkey pot pie, roast chicken drumsticks and mashed potatoes or a strawberry chicken salad with almonds, apples and raspberry honey dressing.
While waiting for food, kids have crayons and coloring activities on their menus or play with oversized LEGOs or a Blu teddy bear.
The restaurant opens at 6:30 am daily for breakfast and switches to lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday. There's a Sunday brunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dinner is served daily from 5 to 10 p.m. with the cocktail bar staying open until midnight Sunday through Thursday, and 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Wi-Fi is free throughout the hotel.
Lifetime Fitness equipment for guests includes free weights, rowing and elliptical machines. The hotel also offers maps of walking and running routes from the hotel, which is near the Minnesota River Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Routes range from four to 11 miles. MOA also includes one-mile, 5K and 10K routes with doors open to exercisers at 6 am.
The Art of Smart Timing
With weatherproof attractions, a nearby airport, and the mix of families on weekends and business travelers during the week, the Radisson Blu stays busy. However, if you do have flexible travel days, the best deals are usually on Thursday and Sunday nights. You can also score deals in the weeks preceding holidays, such as the week before Memorial Day and July 4, Monday through Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and the last two weeks of December.
The Mall of America is the calmest on weekdays during the school year, roughly Labor Day through Memorial Day.
Visitors who are fearless about crowds and seeking a head start on legendary Black Friday shopping will find the Radisson Blu to be a festive, strategically located spot to launch the holiday shopping season. A bonus? Hotel staff will collect your bags as you shop (a service that extends year-round).
The hotel offers a complimentary shuttle to the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport, which is less than 5 miles away, between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. A number of taxi services serve the hotel and airport during other hours or you can use the Light Rail Transit commuter train, which takes about 15 minutes to reach the terminal. Fares range from 75 cents for children up to $2.25 for adults (metrotransit.org).
Anyone driving to the mall can keep on top of road conditions with the MN511 website or mobile app. It tracks accidents, closed roads and -- most importantly -- 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.
There is parking in a covered ramp next to the hotel. It's usually complimentary for guests who self-park or $22/night for valet parking.
For Mom and Dad
Solimar Spa & Salon
Anyone craving the pampering of spa services can choose massage treatments and hair, nail and skincare services from the onsite Solimar Spa and Salon. It's a good pairing with MOA shopping for anyone seeking a makeover or needing to soak sore feet after too many miles in the mall. The spa is open seven days a week and includes services such as a Vichy shower, hydrotherapy tub with light therapy, a double massage treatment room, body wraps, mud treatment, microdermabrasion, full hair salon and cushy pedicure room (952-851-4003, solimarspa.com).