Radisson Blu tagged posts

Copenhagen Part 1: The Hotels-  Radisson Blu Royal and Best Western Hotel Hebron Reviews

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One reason why I stayed in Copenhagen only two nights was the expense of the city. Food and beverage is pretty pricey, but hotels were also astronomical. Indeed, many hotels were sold out 6 months in advance.  I decided I’d use my free night certificate from the devaluation of the Club Carlson credit card for one night at the Radisson Blu Royal.  It wasn’t available for points for my second night (and would have been 70,000 points anyway or over $300), so I figured I’d stay somewhere else.  I’d looked at various boutique-y properties in the $200 range, but an intriguing possibility emerged in April with the US Travel Association’s annual Daily Getaways promotion.  Through that promotion, USTA often sells points bundles for various hotel providers at discounted rates.  One of the days was a sale for Best Western rewards points at a rate of $55 per 10,000 points, up to 5 packages per person.  I don’t know if I’d ever stayed at a Best Western before, and if I did, it was as a child.  It’s not a chain associated with high-end or even business properties, but as it happens, there are two locations in the heart of Copenhagen.  Both were decently reviewed, and one of them, the Hotel Hebron, had room availability for 28,000 points.  So a $165 purchase would get me the room with 2,000 points left over; not cheap, but a good option for Copenhagen that week.  And it was about a 5-minute walk from the Radisson, close to the train station. (I walked nearly everywhere my entire time in the City, except for one bus one way on my sightseeing day.)

It’s very easy to get from Copenhagen’s Kastrup Airport to downtown, by either train or metro, depending on where you’re going in the city.  When I had lived there, the Metro had just opened and was very short.  The expansion is notable, but it’s expanding even more – unfortunate if you’re visiting now because many of Copenhagen’s loveliest squares are all torn up for construction of stations.   It’s an interesting move, because the trains are pretty convenient, and most Danes bike everywhere, so I’m not sure there was a massive need.  (I lived about 45 minutes outside of the city by S-train, which was my one regret, as it limited my exploration of the city- particularly at night.)  On this trip, I took the train for the 20 minute ride to Central Station, which is about a block from the Radisson Blu Scandinavia, the more centrally located of the two Radisson Blus in Copenhagen.

Radisson Blu Royal

Radisson Blu Royal Copenhagen

Radisson Blu Royal Copenhagen

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Hotel Review: Radisson Blu Le Dokhan’s Trocadero, Paris

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We had a total of five nights in Paris. We could have done an Airbnb or apartment rental, but instead we split the stay into two different hotels – mindful of my boyfriend’s no-fun rule that he will not change hotels if it means less than two nights at a given property.

Paris is a pricey hotel city, so it’s a great place to make use of points and what not. But for the most part, you have to keep everything in perspective, as even some of the fanciest, most expensive hotels lack the amenities you’d see in comparable properties in New York, Tokyo, London, or even a place like Warsaw.

For our five nights, we ended up splitting the stay into 3 and 2. I have had a certificate from Club Carlson for almost a year and a half, good for one night at any property. I almost used it a few times, but always found great other deals, so this ended up being the time to use it.  We figured we’d use that for one night at one of the three Radissons in town, and then do two more nights using Club Carlson points- noting that, as a Club Carlson Visa cardholder, I would only be charged points for one of those nights. For the last two nights, I had convinced my credit-wary boyfriend to get the Hyatt Visa, with its generous bonus of two free nights at any property with a $1,000 spend, which we used at the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendome.

Picking a Radisson wasn’t so easy. The best Radisson in Paris, the Radisson Blu Ambassador, left the chain last year, and became a Marriott. That left three properties in the center city, and one, the Radisson Blu Boulogne, on the outer fringe. Of the three in the city, we quickly eliminated the Radisson Blu Champs Elysees, as my boyfriend said it wasn’t a particularly nice or convenient neighborhood, and the folks on Flyertalk seemed to agree it wasn’t a particularly special hotel. That left the Radisson Blu le Dokhan’s Trocadero, and the Radisson Blu le Metropolitan, which are owned and managed by the same company, and are about two blocks away from each other in the 16th arrondissement, which I have come to refer to as the Upper East Side of Paris. The reviews said there wasn’t much difference between the hotels in terms of room size or amenities, though le Metropolitan has a small indoor pool. Le Metropolitan has a more modern design, and le Dokhan’s has a more classic French theme. My boyfriend prefers the classic French, so we went with that. Of note, as of May 1, all three of these properties jumped up to a new top tier redemption rate of 70,000 Club Carlson points – up from 50,000 when we booked and stayed. It’s also been speculated that these properties will become part of Club Carlson’s new luxury “Quorvus Collection” brand, but so far, they have not been part of the initial three properties announced.

Radisson Blu le Dokhan's Trocadero

Radisson Blu le Dokhan’s Trocadero

Le Dokhan’s was very easy to get to by public transport, even with luggage, and is a few blocks from the Boissiere metro, and a short walk to the Trocadero metro. Approaching from the outside, the hotel really looks lovely – well maintained, landscaped, and lit, on the corner of two smaller streets. On the inside, the lobby area is charming as well, though not really conducive to seating, and really just feels like a small Parisian hotel. One reason I had given into the older-style Le Dokhan’s was that Flyertalkers had reported that Club Carlson Gold Elite members frequently were upgraded to “Business Class” rooms, or were given complimentary breakfast. Consistent with my experiences with Radissons in Europe, alas, neither were offered, and I even asked about breakfast.

Le Dokhan's Lobby

Le Dokhan’s Lobby

Everyone talks about the elevator at this hotel, as the walls are an old Louis Vuitton trunk cu...

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Trip Report: Tallinn! The Ferry from Helsinki, the Radisson Blu Tallinn, and Exploring the City

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When my boyfriend suggested we go to Finland, I knew I also wanted to squeeze in a stop in Estonia as well, as I had heard great things.  My boyfriend hadn’t heard these things, so thought it was just weird.   But there were better flight connections using Skymiles out of Tallinn than Helsinki, so we compromised on spending one night in Tallinn on the way home.  Of course, as we got closer to the trip and people started telling my boyfriend how awesome Estonia was, he got a bit more excited.  It was definitely one of my favorite cities of the trip, though we only scratched the surface.  But what we saw was beautiful, and a lot cheaper than Finland, and an easy (and fun) ferry ride from Helsinki.

We hailed a taxi to the West Harbor, for a quick 14 Euro taxi ride. A number of different boat companies operate on the Helsinki-Tallinn route, on a variety of different kinds of boats.  The high-speed catamaran we wanted had sold out when I went to book it about three weeks ahead.  So instead we had a huge cruise ship-style ferry boat that took a little longer, about 2.5 hours, and left in the early morning.

Check-in for the ferry

Check-in for the ferry

Helsinki to Tallinn Ferry

Helsinki to Tallinn Ferry

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Hotel Review: The Radisson Blu Plaza Helsinki

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For our three nights in Helsinki, we stayed at the Radisson Blu Plaza Helsinki, a property I highly recommend.  Originally, I considered splitting our stay between the Radisson and the fancy-shmancy Hotel Kamp, a Starwood property, but I’m glad I didn’t.

Radisson Blu Plaza Helsinki

Radisson Blu Plaza Helsinki

The hotel is a grand older building connected to a newer glass building.  The location was perfect, about a block away from the central railroad station, with a large park outside the back door.  We ended up not needing to take transportation at all in our three days in town except for the ferry to Suomenlinna and our feet.  Granted, we didn’t hit some of the sights farther afield, but had we wanted to, we could have easily gotten anywhere in Helsinki via tram, bus, or subway.

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Trip Report: Turku, Finland, and the Radisson Blu Marina Palace Review

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Given the amount of time we had in Finland, we decided we wanted to spend some time in the country outside of Helsinki.  I generally enjoy exploring small to medium-sized cities, so narrowed it down to two options – Tampere and Turku.  Tampere is a little larger, and is a more industrial city, whereas Turku is the old capital, more historic, and on the water.  We went with Turku, a city of 180,000 people (with a metro area of 300,000) about 100 miles west of Helsinki, and I am super glad I did.

Turku

Turku

I had researched the options for getting to Turku from the Helsinki airport, and there were basically two: “Expressbus” from the Airport, with a change of buses at an Ikea in Espoo for 30 euros, at 2 hours and 40 mins, or a bus to a train into the city, changing to another train to Turku,...

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Three Vienna Hotels: Radisson Blu Style, Hilton Vienna, and Courtyard Vienna Messe Reviews

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I’ve decided to break up my Vienna post into two – one reviewing the three hotels we stayed at, and one describing the sights and sounds of Vienna.  I’ll review the hotels here.

Radisson Blu Style Hotel Vienna

For our first two nights, we stayed at the Radisson Blu Style, which definitely had the best location of the three properties we stayed at in Vienna, but was also one of the strangest hotels I’ve ever stayed in.

Radisson Blu Style Vienna

Radisson Blu Style Vienna

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YWW Does East Asia: Trip Report Part 7: Phuket and the Radisson Blu Plaza Resort Phuket Review

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IMG_0343Phuket is much larger than many people think, and is actually an entire island in Southern Thailand, with several different towns on it.  The largest is Phuket Town, in the center/east of the island.  Most of the bigger resorts are on the west side of the island, which has nicer beaches, but is also more crowded- particularly in the area known around Patong, which is essentially the Waikiki/Cancun of Phuket.  Since we were spending most of our trip in cities we decided we were fine with a quieter locale for our brief stay on the island, and settled on the Radisson Blu Plaza Resort Phuket, located in Cape Panwa, on the far southeast corner of the island.  As a result, we weren’t super close to much, which was fine for two days, and we ended up not leaving the hotel much, but if I were there longer I’d want to be on the west side of the island, and experienced some more beaches and nightlife.

The airport is in the far northwest of the island, so the taxi from the airport was about an hour, and we were battling traffic through Phuket Town on the way.  Between the Bangkok Airways delay and the traffic, we didn’t get to the hotel til dusk, but hoped to have a nice relaxing evening anyway.   The lobby of the hotel is a large, open-air space with a big bar in the middle, overlooking the main pool area and bay.   When we went to check in, we were told to take a seat in a seating area of the lobby, and someone would be with us.  What followed was a rather inefficient check-in, and I repeat my plea to hotels-  just let us check in quickly at the front desk and be done with this.  Someone came over and gave us tasty welcome drinks that we think were some sort of hibiscus tea, then the check-in agent came over to us and proceeded to walk back and forth as she took our passports, then my credit card, etc.  Finally, we were checked in and ready to be escorted to our room.

Lobby

Lobby

Initi...

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Trip Report: Madrid, Part III, The Radisson Blu Madrid Prado Review

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The Radisson Blu Madrid Prado

The Radisson Blu Madrid Prado

When I booked this trip, I discovered that Madrid isn’t a great hotel city.  The few major chain properties, like the Westin Palace, are very expensive, as were the hotels available through Amex FHR and Visa Signature Hotels.  Since my flight out of Madrid was at 6am on Monday morning, I thought about getting a hotel like the Westin for Saturday night, and either staying out all night before heading to the airport, or getting a cheaper room by the airport for the second night.  On a Sunday night, I didn’t know how feasible the first option would be, and I thought it would be good to have a room for the entire day Sunday.  None of the airport hotels were that impressive.  I ended up getting a good price for the Radisson Blu Madrid Prado through its Best Rate Guarantee, though, for both nights, and figured I’d stick with that.  The reviews weren’t amazing, but for under 100 euro a night it would do.

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Trip Report: Two Days in Dublin and the Radisson Blu Dublin Review

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The Radisson Blu Royal Dublin

I’ve been a Club Carlson Gold member for most of this year.  Overall, I’ve found Club Carlson elite treatment completely inconsistent – particularly in terms of upgrades.

The most valuable perk, though, has been “Weekend Extender” rates offered to gold elites.  At locations in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, elites can stay two nights for the price of one for stays starting on Thursdays or Fridays, or four the price of two for stays starting on Wednesdays or Thursdays.   And unlike other 2-for-1 rates, the Weekend Extender rate does earn points, and is not a prepaid rate.

So when I was heading to Dublin for two nights starting on a Friday, it was a great opportunity to get two nights at a nice hotel for a great rate, especially as Dublin hot...

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Trip Report: Philly- Radisson Warwick and Residence Inn Center City Philadelphia Review

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Our trip to Philadelphia started late Friday evening.  The 10pm Amtrak was half the price of trains earlier in the evening, so we grabbed dinner in Manhattan after work, and then headed to Penn Station.  The train was pretty empty, although I had the misfortune of having a passenger in front of me who must have smoked an entire pack of cigarettes while the train was stopped in New York, and felt the need to repeatedly recline his seat all the way back, and then jerk it up, every 20 minutes on our 1.5 hour ride.  As usual, Amtrak’s wifi was horrible, but free.  It was a short trip, and then a short taxi ride to the Radisson Plaza – Warwick Hotel.

The Warwick is a large, older hotel, near Rittenhouse Square and close to many other hotels.  The location is great, a few blocks from great shopping and eating, and we ended up not using any transportation other than our feet our whole time.  It was nearly midnight by the time we checked in, so I didn’t get to explore the hotel that much, but it was overall fine bordering on nice, and a great value.  (My apologies for the pictures; my camera failed and I was left to my Ipod camera).

Radisson Plaza – Hotel Warwick

As a Club Carlson Gold member, we were upgraded to a room on the “Plaza Club” floor, which included lounge access.  The lounge had very limited hours though – happy hour in the early evening, which we missed, and breakfast.

Overa...

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