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What:Virgin Hotels Chicago opened its doors on Jan. 15, marking the first-ever property for the new Virgin Hotels brand.
Why It Matters:Virgin Hotels and the inaugural Chicago property intend to preserve the same level of novelty and personality that typically distinguishes the Virgin Group hospitality brands. So far, so good: The 1920s Old Dearborn Bank Building has been rehabilitated to house the 250-room Virgin Hotels Chicago, and many of its historic features have been restored as well (an oak cigar bar now functions as the hotel’s front desk, for example). Other unique details include sliding room dividers with coy peepholes and the app “Lucy,” which allows guests to control the thermostat, order room service and even access a chat board for tips from other guests — without ever uttering a single word.
Fast Facts:- Virgin Hotels Chicago offers 250 guestrooms, including 40 one-bedroom suites and two penthouse suites. Pet-friendly rooms are available.
- Rooms with a king-size bed or two full-size beds are what the property calls “Chambers,” with a design that combines a hallway, a closet and a bathroom into one “Dressing Room” area while a sliding privacy door separates the “Sleeping Lounge.” “Grand Chamber Suites” contain a living room, a personal dining area, a Smeg mini-refrigerator and more.
- High-speed Wi-Fi access (with unlimited bandwidth) is free. There are no additional fees for early check-in, late check-out, room service delivery, business center transactions or day-of cancellation.
- The two-story Commons Club at Virgin Hotels is an on-site bar/lounge/restaurant for hotel guests and locals to commune over food and drinks. Its menu includes items such as cider mussels, lobster flatbread and pig sticks with root beer glaze. There is also a nightly Social Hour with free cocktails for hotel guests from 6 to 7 p.m.
- Additional dining options include Miss Ricky’s, a modern American diner experience with comfort food (opening in March); a rooftop bar and lounge that will serve Asian tapas (opening in spring); and Two Zero Three, a Euro-style coffee and wine bar (opening in February).
- Virgin Hotels plans to open a second property in Nashville come summer of 2016, and a third property in New York in fall of 2017. Two additional locations will be announced by the end of 2016.
What They Are Saying:“It’s been a long held dream to start beautiful, comfortable, fun hotels for guests and give them what they want and need while being gentle on their wallets,” said Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group. “I’m tremendously proud of the brilliant Virgin Hotels team, and I look forward to hosting our fans and spending more time in Chicago.”
“Chicago is an exhilarating and historic city, and a place we’re happy to call home for the first-ever Virgin Hotel,” said Raul Leal, CEO of Virgin Hotels. “It’s an exciting time for our team as we get to unveil our new approach to room design, service, and entertainment within the hotel industry. We hope our fans recognize the subtle yet authentic Chicago touches throughout the hotel, and come to think of us as their place away from home whether they’re traveling or a local.”