Housed in the Old Dearborn Bank building, just steps from the Magnificent Mile, the vibe throughout the 250-room hotel is undeniably swanky. Modern furniture and hints of the brand’s signature red and white mesh with original details from the historic building.
Upon entering, guests are greeted by an old cigar bar, updated with touch screens that serve as a self check-in station (there’s also always a real-life human on hand to check you in if you’d prefer). Restored elevators, a grand marble staircase, and original ornate ceilings also add to the vintage appeal.
But beyond architectural details, the hotel is decidedly modern, catering to tech-savvy travellers. Guests can customize their experience using the hotel’s new app, Lucy. From their phones, guests can check-in, order room service, control the TV, and even change the temperature of the room. The app also links to Virgin’s preference program, The Know, which can do everything from customize the number of pillows on the bed, to alert staff about food allergies.
Customization continues into the rooms, or “chambers” as the Virgin Hotel calls them, which can be divided into two distinct sections via a sliding door. With the door closed, guests can section off the space into a dressing room outfitted with a vanity closet and makeup mirror, and a separate bedroom, where you’ll find Virgin’s patented lounge bed and mini Smeg refrigerator.
The Virgin Hotel in Chicago also sets itself apart from the competition with its fees. The hotel offers free WiFi (a rarity among American luxury hotels), no additional charges for room service delivery, a hosted happy hour for guests, and a mini bar stocked with drinks and snacks at prices comparable to the drugstore down the street (meaning a $2 candy bar really costs $2, not $7).
The hotel is still revving up its dining options, of which there will be four (in addition to room service). The dining option currently open is The Commons Club, which serves as the heart of the hotel. Here, a sleek oval-shaped bar takes centre stage, with lounge areas and restaurant seating surrounding it. Despite its name, the space is open to everyone (even if you’re not planning to spend the night) and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The other dining options will roll out over the next few months. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Two Zero Three will be a coffee bar by day, with Bow Truss Coffee and assorted pastries, and a wine bar by night. Miss Ricky’s, a 23-hour American-style diner set to open mid-March, will serve upscale comfort food. A yet-unnamed rooftop restaurant is slated for an April opening, and will focus on izakaya (Japanese small plates).
It’s easy to book your flight to Chicago with Virgin Atlantic’s seasonal direct service. Book your flight now and check out the new Virgin Hotel for yourself.
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Written by Liz Behler