McLean Robbins is a Washington, D.C.-based luxury lifestyle writer specializing…
Richard Branson’s first hotel has opened its doors in Chicago with the launch of the Virgin Hotels brand.
While the hotel isn’t luxe in price point, it’s certainly expected to be a popular destination with deep pocketed and budget-conscious travelers alike, promising, “beautiful, comfortable, fun hotels for guests and give them what they want and need while being gentle on their wallets,” said Richard Branson, Virgin Group Founder.
It’s hard to complain about that! The hotel brand offers free Wi-Fi (at unlimited bandwidth) and has eliminated early check-in fees, late check-out fees, room service delivery charges, business centre transactions, and other services that have caused frustration for travelers.
The brand’s Chicago flagship is in the heart of the Loop district in the historic Old Dearborn Bank Building, a 26-story Art Deco structure. Expect 250 guest rooms, including 40 suites and two penthouses. The brand retained many of the building’s original features, including, a beautiful 1920s oak Cigar Bar that serves as the hotel’s front desk, ornate brass elevator doors, and the original mail slot and chute serving all floors.
Just want to pop by for a drink? Visit The Commons Club, the hotel’s bar, restaurant and networking space, which also feature a nightly social hour. The two-story space it occupies was the original bank floor. Be sure to take a minute to look up — it features a beautiful coffered plaster ceiling.
The Commons Club menu looks amazing — think Stuffed Potato Tots to a Cauliflower Caesar to Cider Mussels to a Lobster Flatbread, and large plates like Fatty Noodles, a delectable combination of lobster, udon noodles, Sriracha, furi spice and rapini or the Eye of the Ribeye, Chef Gresh’s one-of-a-kind black truffle tattoo technique adorned on a Ribeye served with bone marrow mac n cheese.
The hotel will have four additional dining options, including Miss Ricky’s, a 23-hour, All-American diner and a rooftop bar and lounge, all opening between February and April of this year.
The guestrooms themselves are divided into two spaces by sliding doors, complete with a peephole. The dressing room includes a full vanity, make-up desk and mirror, an extra-large shower with a bench, and his and hers closets. Slide open the privacy door and guests will enter the lounge with a red SMEG mini-fridge, LG Smart TV, custom designed table that swivels and a Poltrona Frau task chair. Because we know Virgin doesn’t do anything less than high tech, expect ample outlets in the bedside tables as well.
Virgin Hotels has also taken working from bed to another level — they’ve designed their own patent pending, ergonomically designed bed!
What’s next? Virgin Hotels has plans to open a second location in Nashville in the summer of 2016 and a third property in New York City in the fall of 2017. The team will announce two additional locations by the end of 2016, as well, with the brand hoping to have 20 locations by 2025.
Can’t wait to visit!