Last month, the very first Virgin Hotel opened in Chicago. And, in true Virgin style, everything about its cheeky design is intended to delight and inspire, from the building itself (a restored 1920s Art Deco landmark) to unexpected in-room perks, like specially made beds you can comfortably work from and bright red mini SMEG fridges, stocked with affordably priced goodies (or not, if you'd rather avoid the temptation). Wi-Fi and bottled water are both free, and there are no early-check-in or late-checkout fees. There's also a nightly "social" hour with complimentary booze.
In other words, Virgin Hotels is hoping to stand out in an already crowded market by keeping the millennial traveler in mind. So, why did they decide to launch in the Windy City?
"To be honest, the building in Chicago, the Old Dearborn Bank, was the deciding factor," CEO Raul Leal tells us. "Several other major U.S. cities — New York, Miami, L.A., San Francisco, Boston — were all in the running. But, the property had this prominent stance near the river, and was ideally situated between tourist areas like Michigan Avenue and the business district in The Loop. After almost a century since it was built, the original features were still intact, and we knew with a proper restoration process, we could blend the neo-classicism architecture with modern touches and wow the world with the first Virgin Hotels."
While restoring the historic landmark to its original glory was a priority (be sure to check out the coffered plaster ceilings in The Commons Club), when it came to the guest rooms, Leal and his team's approach was totally modern and forward-thinking. Ahead, he takes us on a guided tour of the space — and reveals some clever tips and tricks you're going to want to steal for your own home!