In 2015, the world's first Virgin Hotel--in the brand's signature red-and-white colors--debuted, offering loads of techie amenities, including a custom app called \"Lucy\". Rooms (called \"chambers\" here) have a dressing area and a sleeping space separated by a sliding door. The spa is splendid and the in-house noshing and imbibing (a cocktail bar, diner and burlesque show) on-trend. Achieving LEED Gold Certification speaks to the property's eco-friendly mindset.
YOU SHOULD KNOW While the hotel does not advertise itself as adults-only, target clientele are definitely adults. Families with young children might feel out of place as crying, screaming or running could get the evil eye from fellow guests.
The spacious "chambers" are divided into two rooms via a sliding door, perfect for two people traveling together. A ceramic white dog outside of each room reminds that these are pet-friendly digs. Crisp white linens don custom-designed beds while little luxuries like a sliding shoe rack and makeup vanity feel like home.
Don't be shy about opening the room's cute red Smeg mini fridge--mini-bar prices are what you'd pay at a convenience store down the street.
Striking in design, the walk-in shower features white subway tiles with red tiles here and there, plus a rainforest shower head. Baths are stocked with Red Flower toiletries in a custom scent imagined by Branson himself.
Reminiscent of a '70s rec room, the second-floor Commons Club serves as an extension of the street-level check-in desk and features the Shag Room with a sectional sofa and the Library Room, stocked with eclectic furnishings and hardback books.
Not a fan of stuffy tea parties? Check out the Upside Tea Part on Saturdays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
To the right of the check-in desk is this sunken-level spa, with salon services and massages, plus a hammam.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Looking for a full-on pampering session and day at the spa? This one offers limited services and you'd be better off at another downtown hotel.
Perched on the hotel's rooftop level, on the 25th floor, the gym's treadmills and other machines are available to guests 24 hours a day.
Miss Ricky's is a nod to Chicago's nostalgic dining scene with comfort-food breakfast and lunch dishes served all day long, like chicken and waffles. Shareable plates are the bulk of the dinner menu at Commons Club, with top-notch items such as Wagyu beef and quail.
Looking for just coffee and pastries to jumpstart your day? Connected to the hotel is Two Zero Three coffee shop, transforming into a wine-and-cheese spot at night.
Proof this is a hotel for imbibers: there are three places to get a drink under one roof. Quirky-named innovative cocktails are at Commons Club Drinks and a nice selection of wines by the glass, cocktails and craft beer are at Upstairs (live entertainment venue featuring DJs and burlesque shows) and Cerise (rooftop bar open during the summer only).
Hosted happy hour at Commons Club from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. means all drinks are on the house--but get there right at 6 or be prepared to elbow your way through.
Don't bother renting a car because the hotel's chauffeured Tesla program drops you off anywhere within a few miles. Most attractions are within a walk or Uber ride of less than 15 minutes. The CTA's #146, #147 and #151 bus lines travel up and down Michigan Avenue, three blocks from the hotel, and 'L' elevated-rail line have stops near the hotel.
Eataly Chicago's (10-minute walk) Italian-foods hall and collection of restaurants are ideal for a quick bite, just brace yourself for weekend crowds and fuel up with espresso at the Lavazza bar first to get your bearings. For charcuterie, cheese, burgers and fun cocktails, head to the wildly popular Purple Pig (9-minute walk). Celebrity restaurateurs Bill and Giuliana Rancic, both television personalities, team up at RPM Italian (10-minute walk) for a dinner you won't forget.
Pair your beer with jambalaya and roots rock at House of Blues Chicago (6-minute walk) because, remember, this is the city seeped in blues history. Locals love Tiki drinks at Three Dots and a Dash (12-minute walk), perfect for a rainy or blustery day for a tropical-cation.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Edgy, artsy and fun, Virgin Hotels Chicago is just what you'd expect from a guy who has launched a record-store chain, airline and is now taking people to the moon. From the minute you walk in, the vibe is playful, including the staff's colorful eyeglass frames and pop-culture knowledge, but also features modern amenities you'd expect in a luxury hotel property like drinking and dining options, a spa and gym. Snug in the heart of the Loop, its location just off Wacker Drive puts you within a short Uber ride to River North's hottest clubs, restaurants and bars while also being a quick walk to museums and cultural attractions.