The World’s First Virgin Hotel Opens in Chicago

By: Liz Behler

February 2, 2015

After much anticipation, the world’s first Virgin Hotel opened earlier this month in Chicago. And in true Richard Branson-style, the hotel is living up to the brand’s reputation for innovation.

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.


Virgin Hotel Opens in Chicago | Chamber
The Virgin Hotel “Chambers” feature sliding doors © Virgin Hotels Chicago


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.


Virgin Hotel Opens in Chicago
The Virgin Hotel bathrooms follow the signature red and white theme © Virgin Hotels Chicago


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).


Virgin Hotel Opens in Chicago
Smeg mini bars stock high street snacks © Virgin Hotels Chicago


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.


Virgin Hotel Opens in Chicago
Stay connected with free WiFi throughout the hotel © Virgin Hotels Chicago


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).


Virgin Hotel Opens in Chicago | Vanity Closet
Vanity closets and a makeup mirror can be found on the other side of your sliding door © Virgin Hotels Chicago


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.


Planning a trip to the Virgin Hotel in Chicago? Tell us about it in the comments below.


Written by Liz Behler


Liz Behler

Liz Behler is a Chicago-based writer and editor who covers food, drink and travel. Her work has been published by a number of outlets, including Fodor’s, Wine Enthusiast and National Geographic. She previously worked as Features Editor for AOL Travel before leaving her post to travel non-stop for a year. Follow her @LizBehler

Categories: Our Places