Virgin Hotel, Chicago
THE HOTEL: The very first Virgin Hotel opened earlier this year in Chicago’s historic Old Dearborn Bank Building. Its location in the city’s Loop district will appeal to business travellers in particular. It has 210 guestrooms, 38 suites and two penthouse suites.
THE CHECK-IN: I was travelling in a large group but we were all checked in soon enough by several iPadtoting staff in a lobby that features a sweeping staircase adorned, of course, with bright red carpet.
THE ROOM: My chamber, as the hotel likes to call its guestrooms, could be divided in two by sliding doors, with the bedroom area on one side and a dressing area and separate toilet and large walk-in shower in the other. Décor combined hardwood floors with white and grey walls – one of which had a felt covering – and flashes of red. There were numerous lighting options, a large graphic rug of the London Bridge station roundel, his and hers wardrobes, dressing table and large, well-lit vanity mirror, plus swivelling desk and chair with a multimedia charger/speaker. Room amenities included an iron, large safe, yoga mat, sensibly priced minibar and wall-mounted TV. Ear plugs are placed on pillows, just in case guests don’t get “one ‘L’ of a sleep”, in reference to the Elevated railway that rattles by outside the hotel.
THE FACILITIES: The Commons Club, with its double-height ceiling, is the hotel’s central hub and will be a fixture at further Virgin Hotels. Its various spaces included an open kitchen, table seating, lounge area, a long oval bar and the cosy ‘Shag Room’. On the ground floor are Miss Ricky's, a classic American diner, and Two Zero Three, a café and wine bar. There’s a function room for events and gigs, and a spectacular rooftop terrace and spa were due to officially open shortly after my stay. High-speed wifi access is free throughout the hotel.
THE VERDICT: The hotel makes a refreshing change from many of its rivals, with smart design, quirky features, plenty of witty touches and a dash of Virgin glamour. The service was impressive too, while 'high street' minibar prices were a genuine novelty
THE DETAILS: Virgin Hotels Chicago, 203 N. Wabash, Chicago, Illinois 60601, USA. Rooms start from £129 per night. Tel 00 1 855 946 6600; see www.virginhotels.com
Reviewed by Andy Hoskins (2015)