You arrive late one night at your friend Sir Richard Branson’s house, er…the Virgin Hotel. A greeter, dressed in a long coat of Virgin’s signature red, welcomes you. Perhaps Sir Richard himself is walking up the grand red staircase in his socks, as he’s been known to do. And why not? You’re both equally happy to be here. We Chicagoans can be proud that Sir Richard’s very first foray into the hotelier game is in our Windy City.
The brand-new, elegantly modern high-rise is in the heart of the Loop downtown. It’s a refurbishment of the historic 1926 Old Dearborn Bank Building, and the brass elevators and tiered ceilings still grace the thoroughly updated entrance.
You enter your room – oh, wait, we mean your chamberare – where the stately white leather beds and minimalist Scandinavian design are as upscale as they are comfy. Use the speedy free WiFi to work, surf, or watch a movie. And try this for customer service: Like Fig Newtons after work? Want to try Champagne gummy bears? Let ’em know before you arrive, and your favorites will be waiting for you in the mini-bar. Need to change your chamber’s temperature or order another pillow? Turn on your smartphone and open the hotel’s bespoke guest services app, Lucy, and click away.
When you feel like getting out to socialize, mosey on down to the second floor restaurant and bar, The Commons Club. Kick off your shoes (are you seeing a theme here?) in the Common Club’s Lounge: the Shag Room, the hippest ’70s carpeted living room in all of Chicago. If you’ve arrived on a Friday or Saturday night, maybe a low-key DJ or a hoppin’ band has set up. But no matter the day, the beautiful people of Chicago are milling about, talking startups and photo shoots, mergers and novels.
When your iPhone is running low, plug into one of the dozens of outlets the Virgin Hotel has thoughtfully scattered about the common areas. While you’re waiting for it to charge, order a cocktail. If you’re looking at the drink called “broad shoulders” on the menu, you might wonder whether the drink’s name is a nod to your old friend Rich. But when you take a slip of the classy combo of vermouth, truffle oil, and leather-infused (!) bourbon, there’s not a doubt in your mind.