10 Club Carlson properties I’d redeem points at…

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A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the Club Carlson Visa Card and all of its benefits. While I certainly wouldn’t want to rack up a huge number of Club Carlson points without a short term use for them given the mileage transfer devaluation they made last week without any advance notice, the fact remains that the hotel redemption options are outrageously lucrative, especially in conjunction with the card. Actually, that’s a reason I wouldn’t want to stockpile points — the program is too good to be true at the moment.

The major reason I haven’t really gotten too involved in the Club Carlson program isn’t because I didn’t see the value in their points, but rather I wasn’t convinced there were any properties I’d actually want to redeem at. I’m all for aspirational redemptions, and I kind of assumed that Club Carlson didn’t have any especially cool properties.

But the more research I’ve done, the more I’ve found that’s not the case — not only do they have properties in places where other chains don’t have properties, but they have some legitimately nice properties as well.

With that in mind I figured I’d compile a list of 10 Club Carlson properties I’d redeem points at. These aren’t necessarily the properties where you’re getting the best redemptions on a cent per point basis, but rather the properties that interest me most, either due to where they are, the qualify of the property, or in most cases both.

Keep in mind that if you have the Club Carlson co-branded credit card the second night of any award redemption is free, so if you’re staying for two nights you’d only be redeeming half as many points. Club Carlson’s top properties are 50,000 points per night, so you’d be paying 25,000 points per night using the co-branded credit card.

Here are my top 10 Club Carlson properties I’d like to stay at, in no particular order:

1. Radisson Blu Longyearbyen

Cost per night in points: 50,000

Why I’d redeem points here: This is the northernmost hotel in the world, over 1,500 miles north of Copenhagen. I actually saw a documentary about Longyearbyen on my flight over to Asia, and I’m more determined to go than ever before. In summer it’s light 24 hours a day, while in winter it’s dark 24 hours a day. To be honest I’d like to visit during both seasons for different reasons. Longyearbyen being fairly accessible on miles thanks to SAS’ service there makes it even more tempting.

Radisson Blu Longyearbyen

2. Radisson Blu Tromso

Cost per night in points: 44,000

Why I’d redeem points here: Many SAS flights to Longyearbyen route through Tromso, and the more I’ve looked into the city, the more I want to visit. Here’s a Great Circle Mapper of Oslo to Tromso to Longyearbyen:


Radisson Blu Tromso

3. Radisson Blu 1919 Hotel, Reykjavik

Cost per night in points: 38,000

Why I’d redeem points here: Iceland is at the very top of my list of places to visit, and I’m still hoping to make it there this year. It’s a really tough city in terms of chain hotels, as the only other major chain hotel is the Hilton. Hotel rates in Iceland are through the roof over the summer, so having another property at which points can be redeemed is awesome. This one also looks a bit more “local” than the Hilton.

Radisson Blu Reykjavik

4. The May Fair, London

Cost per night in points: 50,000

Why I’d redeem points here: London is a notoriously expensive market for hotels, both when paying cash and redeeming points. The May Fair regularly has rates of over £250 per night in peak season, so being able to redeem 50,000 points for two nights there is beyond a steal.

The May Fair London

5. Radisson Royal Hotel, Moscow

Cost per night in points: 50,000

Why I’d redeem points here: Moscow is another extremely expensive hotel city, and rates at this hotel are often over $400USD per night.

Radisson Royal Hotel Moscow

6. Radisson Blu Resort Marina & Spa, St. Martin

Cost per night in points: 50,000

Why I’d redeem points here: As an aviation geek I’ve wanted to visit St. Martin for a long time now in order to plane spot on Maho Beach. However, chain hotels on the island are limited and in the high season hotel rates are expensive, so the Radisson Blu is a great option for redeeming points. While it’s on the opposite side of the island as Maho Beach, it seems well worth it for a day trip.

Radisson Blu St. Martin

7. Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront, Cape Town

Cost per night in points: 50,000

Why I’d redeem points here: It has been about 15 years since I’ve visited Cape Town (my gosh, I’m getting old), though I recall loving it. I’d really like to return and options on points are limited, so the Radisson Blu looks like a  good option, and an especially great value during their high season.

Radisson Blu Cape Town

8. Radisson Blu Le Metropolitan Hotel, Paris Eiffel

Cost per night in points: 50,000

Why I’d redeem points here: Okay, if I were in Paris I’d try to redeem points at the Park Hyatt, plain and simple. It’s about as aspirational as hotel redemptions get. However, there’s not always availability, like last week when I was hoping to stay there on a whim. And while the Park Hyatt is an awesome redemption, at 25,000 points per night (over a two night stay) it’s impossible to beat the Radisson Blue Paris Eiffel, which also gets excellent reviews.

Radisson Blu Paris

9. Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel Chicago

Cost per night in points: 50,000

Why I’d redeem points here: This is the first Radisson Blu property in North America and opened just last year. The hotel’s exterior design is borderline awesome/creepy.

Radisson Blu Chicago

10, Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney

Cost per night in points: 50,000

Why I’d redeem points here: Sydney is another market that’s outrageously expensive during peak season. For example, over the new year there’s award availability, and revenue rates are $600AUD per night.

Radisson Blu Sydney

Anyway, this is by no means intended to be a comprehensive list of the top value Club Carlson properties at which to redeem points, but just ones that caught my eye.

Anyone have any other Club Carlson properties they love?

(In the interest of full disclosure, I earn a referral bonus for anyone approved through the above links for the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature® Card, while I don’t earn a referral bonus for anyone approved for the Club Carlson Business Rewards Visa Card)

Filed Under: Advice, Club Carlson
  1. I stayed at the Radisson Royal Hotel Moscow in 2006 back when it was called the Ukraina — then, it was an absolutely incredible relic. I’d be fascinated to see what it’s become now.

  2. I have stayed twice at Radisson Blu Berlin. The hotel is spectacular with aquarium in the atrium and the location is perfect. Looked out my window to the cathedral. Walking distance to many museums and so much more.

  3. Radisson Blu Effel sucks! Don’t waste your points. The rooms are tiny, bathrooms is tiny, and they have a separate closet-size room for the toilet, on the other side of the room from the shower.
    Champs-Elysees is 100x better.

  4. They have good options in Split and Dubrovnik, Croatia. The Dubrovnik location is a bit far out of town but the properties look nice.

  5. Just stayed over July 4th using the free night that husband and I each earned earned from last year’s promo. Hotel is fabulous and in a good location for tourists. Also, I just used the points I earned from the other promo last year at the New Orleans Country Inn & Suites. Another great redemption. Now if I could just get US Bank to give me a credit card…

  6. I am heading to Cape Town this weekend and would love to hear any insight you have on where to do and what to make sure I dont miss. Been working in Joburg and getting away for the weekend…

  7. You know there are two Radisson credit cards. Sure one doesn’t offer as big of a bonus but it has a smaller annual fee and a lower minimum spend. If you were as interested in your readers as you are in your referral bonuses you might want to point out other options.

  8. I believe the Radisson Blu Longyearbyen is specifically excluded from the 2-for-1 award nights credit card deal.

  9. Radisson Blu Royal Hotel Copenhagen (50,000 points) is a nice property and very centrally located (at the Northwest corner of Tivoli Gardens). There are no other big chain hotels in Copenhagen city center besides the Marriott. Stayed here during the Eurovision song contest weekend in May this year when regular room rates were over $400 USD per night.

  10. The Radisson Blu 1919 in Reykjavik is an absolute dump. Not even worth 10,000 points. Radisson should be ashamed. The only hotel worth staying at in Reykjavik is the 101 Hotel and its fairly cheap @ $300.

  11. I’ve stayed couple of nights at Radisson Blu Longyearbyen. The location is awesome, really out of this world. As for the hotel…don’t expect much. 🙂

    Few photos from my trip, but not from the hotel though: http://ovp.fi/svalbard2012.html

    One thing to note. The hotel has also the most northern bar in the world. 😉 Not cheapest place though… 😀


  12. @KevininRI – I’ve been to Copenhagen a couple of years ago and I remember there was a Best Western there, though that’s not where I stayed.

    @lucky and Nick – the Radisson Blu in Dubrovnik looks awesome from the outside, even if it isn’t really close to downtown. A couple of friends of mine stayed there and really enjoyed. I would love to read a trip report about it!

  13. The Plaza on the River Club and Residence in London on the Thames was fantastic! When I stayed there for a night last year in May, even my lowly silver Club Carlson status got us an upgrade to huge room with a full kitchen and living room. I’ve never seen so many amenities in hotel bathroom; I think there were a dozen different items.

  14. What if I already have a visa signature card (chase pref)? Would it be more economical for me to sign up for the business rewards card rather than the premier rewards visa signature card given the difference in the annual fee? I think the only difference between the two cards is the visa signature add on.

  15. Thanks for the post…nice to not read another Park Hyatt Vendome Paris review or trip report to Hawaii.

  16. Radisson Royal in Copenhagen, Denmark
    Radission Blu in Gothenburg, Sweden
    Radisson Blu in Gdansk, Poland
    Radisson Blu in Wroclaw, Poland

  17. I agree with The Points Guy top 10 list more… so far. Excited to see which blogger posts their next top 10 club carlson list.

  18. Radisson Sydney… I won’t stay there…. Sydney is expensive during the new year and it’s a given – even holiday inn charges $800 per night… The rates are around $180 otherwise.
    Radisson doesn’t have the view of Sydney Harbour – unless you want to look at an office building that provides insurance cover for Australian Amex….
    IC, PH, Westin or Sheraton, even the four points are a better choice than the radisson…. I should post some pictures of how the radisson really looks like…

  19. Stayed at the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel Copenhagen in April and agree with @KevininRI Wish I had applied for the Club Carlson card before that stay! It was a terrific location and I enjoyed my stay there. I flew in from Eindhoven, took a train from the airport to the city center and then took the short walk to the hotel. In terms of Reykjavik, I can say that the Hilton there is lovely. It is out of town but an easy walk in, and a nice one at that. The Hilton has a great restaurant and a really superb club lounge with a great view, good food and free flowing wine and beer. Highly recommended!

  20. hi lucky,
    i’m going to book the longyearbyen for next summer. can you (or anyone reading this who has been there) tell me how many days we’ll need there. 3? more?

    thanks for the info. place sounds incredible!

  21. Radisson Blu Zurich Airport was a great redemption- very contemporary, clean and spacious rooms – the wine bar aerialist/acrobat located in the glass column in the lobby is something to see!

  22. Yet again the US gets ludicrously generous credit card deals that the rest if the world is excluded from. No 241 points redemptions for us, even though most if their properties are outside the US! Jealous? Moi? 😉 Next there’ll be a devaluation that’ll make things worse just to offset all these extra points swilling around…

  23. Also, if you have a reason to visit Western France, the sixth largest city, Nantes, has a pretty impressive Radisson Blu. After a multi-million dollar renovation, they transformed an 1850 Palace of Justice into this: http://www.radissonblu.com/hotel-nantes
    Price is 44,000 points a night. According to the web site, the Basic Room is just as spacious as the 66,000 Business Room, as each are 25 meters in size.

  24. @ Sam — No, of course not, much like Paris I’d rather stay at the Park Hyatt. But over the New Year the Park Hyatt is already sold out on points, so it’s certainly not a *bad* alternative.

  25. @ Seth — I’m curious, would you recommend the standard card over the premier card to *anyone*? The annual fee for the premier card is $25 higher for a personal card and $10 higher for a business card. For that you get an extra 25,000 point sign-up bonus, an extra 2x points per dollar, Gold status (which gets you free internet), and an additional 15,000 points upon account anniversary.

    It’s an absolute no brainer, and if anyone disagrees I’d love to hear it!

  26. @ Manny — Sure, you could sign up for the business card instead of the personal card, or if you’d like you could sign up for both. They have virtually the same benefits.

  27. @ jer — Well I’ve never been, though when I do decide to go I’m planning on 2-3 days there.

  28. I stayed at the Westin in Aruba in early Dec. of 2012 – – a dump, but there was a Radisson next door, and I got a tour of that hotel – – pretty nice, beach front, nice looking pools, the entire property looked up-to-date and modern, I wouldn’t hesitate to stay there.

  29. @Ben- Tell us, do you get a different referral fee for pushing the card with the higher annual fee? I am not saying you had to push the lower annual fee card. I just think a good blogger would have mentioned it at the very least.

    I come to blogs to get unbiased information. Part of being a good blogger is putting information out there and letting your readers make a choice. It might be a nobrainer to you, but everyone has different situations. Ignoring a credit card product because you think it is not a good choice is, in my opinion, not the best way to blog. If you ignored the other product because it doesn’t pay you as much, well then you i think you need to reevaluate your ethics and your readers need to reevaluate whether this blog is worth their time.

  30. @ Seth — The other card isn’t part of my affiliate network. And actually neither is the business card link above, but I still presented it because it’s my goal to provide the best information.

    I’ll say it again — it’s an absolute no brainer to get the “premier” card and not the standard card, and I assume you agree with me based on the fact that you dodged my question.

    Similarly, when I write about Citi AAdvantage credit cards, I don’t mention the “Gold” credit cards. Why? Because they’re not worth mentioning, given how much better the “Platinum” cards are.

    My goal is to present the best information, and not the most information. If you can honestly tell me there’s *anyone* in the world you’d recommend the “standard” and not “premier” card to then I’d love to hear it!

  31. @Victor- I’ll ignore the sarcasm in your post and simply reply to the facts.

    I am not saying Lucky only promotes cards that make him money. Clearly he posted the business card that does not make him money and he did post about the Southwest cards a while back before they were in the affiliate network. My issue is the fact that there is a card out there that is still valuable to some (and which when viewed alone not that bad of a deal) which was ignored mainly because it doesn’t earn lucky money. If the card was offered through the affiliate network I assure you it would have gotten a mention on this blog.

    It is this behavior that upsets me because this blog purports to be an resource to those interested in the points and miles game. Although not explicitly stated, this blog (and many others) hold themselves out to be the writing of an expert in this field who wants to share his knowlege. Unfortunately, with the proliferation of credit card offers and the affiliate links the content of blogs have become compromise to the point where posts are simply written to shunt readers over to affiliate links to earn the bloggers money.

    Now Lucky is not as blatant about this as some certain bowtie wearing individual is, and that is the reason I continue to read this blog (and the reason I have stopped reading the aforementioned other blog). I guess I am just lamenting at the fact that this blog is not nearly as interesting or useful as it used to be.

    I anticipate your response to this posting will be something along the lines of “well if you don’t like it, shut up and stop reading.” To that I reply that I am sure Lucky appreciates feedback from his readers. My previous postings may have been a but harsh, but I do think that something needs to be done here. Either the commercial aspect of this blog needs to be made more clear so new readers are not mislead. Or Lucky should try to better balance out the postings which are of a commercial nature with more informative and thoughtful postings. Like I said before this blog is not nearly as shameless as others, but I am getting the impression that it is sliding in that direction.

  32. I stayed in Longyearbyen a couple of weeks back for the midnight sun. The hotel is fairly meh when compared to redeeming 50k at other properties, but the location is absolutely amazing. We’re already planning to go back in the winter.

    A couple of points worth bearing in mind:
    Using the Gold Elite 2 for 1 or 4 for 2 rates makes the hotel affordable (or at least realistic).
    Rates in winter are very reasonable, and with the 241 deals it is a bargain.
    Rooms booked on points are not eligible for any points for additional spend – I found out the hard way after $900 of room charges.
    SAS domestic flights are only 6k with Eurobonus, and LYR counts as a domestic.

  33. I really don’t mind the affiliate links, biased posts, and sponsored trips…this blog is a service and the documented opinions of a single traveler. I think I would only be truly annoyed if he started to cut down on the trip reports…like <10 images per flight.

    Sure, the content has changed with time, but it had to…as there are numerous other blogs and a finite amount of news to share. Why would he write about other cards that he doesn't recommend?

    I'm happy Ben's able to still do this, instead of getting a real job…I don't think Gary's had an interesting post in weeks.

    Financial sponsorship is a reality, I don't get annoyed at tv commercials, or obvious product placement…that's what keeps the lights on.

  34. @Seth – Your assumption of my response and your preemption of it is misguided. I wouldn’t tell someone to stop doing something because obviously they’re here for a reason. Like you I enjoy Lucky’s blog because it offers accurate, interesting, and useful information on our hobby/game/etc. without being link laden for credit card signups like many others. I do want to be clear on a previous point though. Just because there is another credit card out there that MAY have use to SOME portion of his readership, does not mean that it needs to be posted about and explained. I would imagine, that for 99% of our companions in this game know that Visa Signature is a top end of a family of cards, and that there is almost always a lower value/requirement version available. The other 1% likely wouldn’t start with the Club Carlson anyway because there are better cards for first timers and beginners to acquire. Thus it is not necessary to describe what it is or what it does because we’re fully capable of going to US Bank’s website on our own to find it. You don’t go to a Ferrari dealership to buy a brand new Kia.

  35. When I look at both card landing pages, they both have 85,000 after the min. spend. 2nd night free. 40,000 anniversary anniversary bonus.

    Other than the different annual fee, what its the difference?

  36. Does anyone know if the cardholder has to have the points to use the free night benefit? Can someone with the points use someone else’s card?

  37. I just searched your blog for “Radisson Blu Aqua” as I will be staying there in November. Do you have any experiences with it, apart from it being on your “to-do-list” as far as point redemptions go? I’m not sure what to expect as a Club Carlson Concierge member. (Club Carlson must be one of the more frustrating elite programs, where recognition varies greatly from hotel to hotel.)

  38. I stayed at the Radisson Blu Cape Town for FREE using my Club Carlson points.
    outstanding hotel and perfect location. Right on the beach and everything is right there. highly recommend.

  39. Hi Lucky! I just spent two nights at the Radisson Blu Polar Hotel Longyearbyen with my mom, and I just wanted to say that they have recently renovated the entire hotel. Recently, meaning all rooms were completed by December 2015. It used to be quite dated, but now it’s actually quite nice. Paid 2000 NOK per night (roughly 230 USD) which included breakfast. By no means is it a luxury property, but just the thought of taking a warm shower at 78 degrees north was actually quite mindblowing 😉

    Every thing in Longyearbyen is tax free and there is no VAT either. Meaning that the beer is quite cheap 🙂 (Cheaper than milk, actually haha)

    I would love to return at some point. February is a good month to see the Northern lights (though we didnt, unfortunately due to overcast) and I was told April is the best month to visit. There will still be snow on the ground so you can go on a guided snowmobile trip to the Pyramid or Barentsburg, and the midnight sun will give you 24 hours of daylight.

  40. The Radisson Blue in Bucharest is amazing. You should check it out!
    I have Gold status and while I paid for a standard room I was lucky to get upgraded to an apartment, larger and more luxurious than the mini suite I was expecting to be upgraded to. Very specious comparable in quality to other luxury hotels, Park Hyatt quality…And the Romanian currency is so devaluated that it’s not worthy to use points. It’s so cheap! The service was incredible. Everything extra we asked for was delivered to us within a few minutes. Romanian people are extremely friendly. Overall it was the best Radisson Blue I ever stayed in. Pleasantly surprised.

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