Built inside the Old Dearborn Bank Building, a 26-story Art Deco landmark, the Virgin Hotel will offer 250 rooms kitted out with stylish, modern amenities including overhead showers, smart TVs and miniature SMEG refrigerators, yet maintain original aesthetic features of the building such as ornate brass elevator doors, mail chutes and a 1920s oak Cigar Bar that functions as the hotel’s front desk.
While Virgin's travel group has operated a handful of exclusive, uber-luxury retreats around the world since the 1980s--including a private island, a Swiss chalet, and a Kenyan camping site that begins at $640 per night -- the Windy City property marks the first accommodations for the brand that arrive with an affordable room rate.
"We welcome all customers who are looking for a hotel that has a distinct identity and isn’t concerned with nickel and diming them," Raul Leal, CEO Virgin Hotels, told ABC News.
"We believe that certain hotel amenities and offerings, such as Wi-Fi, should be a right, and our hotel is aiming to eliminate those customer pain points," he continued. "Other fees, we’ve removed are early check-in/late check-out fees and we’ve made our minibar pricing at street level. Those who have come to love and respect our level of service on Virgin Air will enjoy the hotel. We’re looking for entrepreneurs, travelers, and more."
Money saved on small-print fees and minibar snacks can be put to use instead at one of the four dining locations available throughout the hotel.
The Commons Club, a drinking and dining lounge meant to evoke a private club, offers a range of culinary delights from stuffed potato tots to black truffle Ribeye with bone marrow mac 'n' cheese. Other outposts, such as a rooftop bar, coffee shop and traditional American diner, will roll out in the coming months.
And if you need to spruce up after a visit to the in-house gym or spa, Virgin Hotel rooms are designed to convert to each traveler's discreet needs.
"The guest rooms, we call them chambers, are divided into two spaces – the dressing room and the lounge -- with sliding doors, complete with a peephole, to sound proof the room while creating privacy and security," said Leal. "However, we have to say, we designed the dressing rooms with women in mind. The dressing room is complete with full vanity, make-up desk and mirror, an extra-large shower with bench, and his and hers closets for easy unpacking."
But while these distinctive design touches will be present in all future Virgin Hotels, Leal noted that each property will also include references to the city in which it stands, like an in-room cuppa from Chicago-based Bowtruss Coffee.
"It’s been a long held dream to start beautiful, comfortable, fun hotels for guests and give them what they want and need while being gentle on their wallets,” said Richard Branson, Virgin Group Founder, in a release. “I’m tremendously proud of the brilliant Virgin Hotels team, and I look forward to hosting our fans and spending more time in Chicago."