A Virgin Comes to Chicago

The last time we were in Chicago, the venerable Dearborn Bank Building on the corner of Wabash Avenue and Lake Street was getting a little work done. You know, a nip here, a tuck there, a little new makeup inside and out. Turns out, that make up was the lovely shade of red preferred by our favorite billionaire travel mogul, Sir Richard Branson. What was once one of only two Rapp & Rapp designed office buildings (and still a designated Chicago Landmark) is now the Virgin Hotels Chicago, and we can’t wait to visit!

Map of Downtown Chicago showing location of Virgin Hotels Chicago

Located smack dab in the middle of The Loop – and right next to the ‘L’ – Virgin’s flagship property is in the heart of Chicago, and convenient to just about everything. Famed Michigan Avenue, the Chicago River, and Millennium Park are all just about a block away in different directions. The financial district, Lake Shore Drive, the Navy Pier, and the Magnificent Mile are just a bit further. Equally important (to us, at least), Giordano’s is about a five minute walk away so we can satisfy our craving for tasty Chicago pizza!

The 26 story Art Deco building erected in 1928 has been converted into Chi-town’s newest four-star hotel with 250 guestrooms, 40 one-bedroom suites and two penthouse suites. As in any hotel worth its real estate, meeting spaces, restaurants and lounges abound, including The Rooftop Bar and Two Zero Three, a coffee bar by day, wine bar when the sun goes down. There’s a rooftop gym with Technogym cardio machines, and The Spa “wellness lounge” is set to open in Spring 2015. Because travel is a social sport, there is a nightly, hosted social hour in the Commons Club, where you can grab a drink and a bite, and make new friends.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at JFK

Super-swanky Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at JFK. (Photo: Slade Architecture)

Unfortunately, we’ve not been allowed inside nor given sneak peeks at the interiors. However, Sir Richard has said Virgin Hotels will be “the hippest, most comfortable new hotel in any city,” and we believe him! Just take a look at the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouses, which are the hippest, most comfortable airport lounges in any city. (See USA Today’s tour of the posh Virgin Clubhouse at Heathrow Airport.)

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Being English has benefits.

You know how old English-y manors had chambers? As in, “I shall retire to my chambers.” You can do just that at Virgin Hotels because your room is more like your chambers. Traveling with someone who just loves their blowdryer while you’re trying to sleep in? They can blast away in the dressing room while you snooze away in the sleeping lounge, with a door between you. As any couple who’s traveled together will tell you, that’s a recipe for marital bliss. And for the ladies, or anyone who needs a little more vanity space, your chambers have a makeup table. Yay for chambers!

The bed is another innovation we think will become a favorite among travelers. Thanks to custom headboards and a special footboard, the patent-pending bed becomes a lounge space where you can read, work, watch the tele, or maybe even get some shut-eye.

Photo of Sir Richard Branson giving Thumbs Up!

Sir Richard Branson describes his new Virgin Hotels Chicago, which reflects Virgin’s signature style.

Being Modern has benefits, too.

And we’re not talking “modern” as a style. Just about every travel survey of favorite amenities includes free Wi-Fi at or near the top of the list. Virgin heard this loud and clear, and so there’s free Wi-Fi. But being modern is about more than just staying connected. You have to stay powered up, too, so there are many outlets in actual useful, thoughtful places. Even better, a mobile app will let you order room service or make dinner reservations, have the valet bring your car around, and do other snobby sounding things. Like play with the climate controls, and stream media from your device to the in-room television. That’s what we call modern.

Plus benefits for Man’s Best Friend…and Frequent Fliers.

Much like Virgin Airlines, the hotels are pet friendly too, complete with doggy beds and treats. Members of Virgin America’s Elevate program will get some treats as well, from Elevate points for every stay (double points from January 15 through March 31) to complimentary breakfast for Elevate Gold members.

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Virgin Hotels launched in 2010 and now has an active pipeline of hotels in the works, with Chicago being the first to open. In 2016, Virgin Hotels is set to debut in the NoMad neighborhood of New York, and at One Music Row in Nashville’s entertainment center. Other upcoming locations include London, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, and Washington, DC.

Okay, so now you can’t wait to go, too, right? The Virgin Hotels Chicago opens January 15, 2015. You can make reservations now at virginhotels.com. You’re welcome, and we’ll see you there.

Before and after look at the facade of Virgin Hotels Chicago.

Learn more about Lucy, the digital ‘personal assistant’ (aka: the mobile app) at Virgin Hotels, from Travel Pulse.

Do you have a favorite Chicago hotel? Will you be checking in and checking out the new Virgin Hotels Chicago? Let us know with a comment, and if you enjoyed this post please share it with someone(s)! Thanks!

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