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End Quote / Hotel WiFi / Virgin Hotels / Hotel Amenities / Chicago Hotels / Doug Carillo / → All Tags
While wining and dining the Virgin was great, as was experimenting with new
positions chambers, there was something that Doug Carillo, vice president of sales and marketing for Virgin Hotels, told us that has really stuck with us this past week. And that's Virgin Hotels commitment to free WiFi.
For us, it’s always been that we feel WiFi is a right, and we need it to live. If we don’t have it and its not working fast enough, then we are failing the guests.
Wow. It's only taken more than a decade but someone finally understands this.
Indeed, getting on the WiFi network at Virgin--whether a hotel guest or a visitor elsewhere on property--is effortless. Just find the Virgin Hotels network and hop on. It's that easy.
Because WiFi networks can be expensive to build and maintain, or rather, because hotels often use this as their excuse for charging for WiFi, we asked Carillo if maybe Virgin was bumping up the room rate to make up for the cost of offering unlimited free bandwidth to guests and pretty much anyone just passing through. Nope. Here's what he said:
The view from the Park Hyatt Chicago. Brrr.
Chiberia has already raised its icy head in Chicago with wind chills in the negative double digits and tourists running for cover. But there’s no need to suffer the elements this winter in Chicago--simply find a luxe hotel in downtown to hunker down. With these full-service posh options, you won’t have to venture out, nor will you want to.
The James: Drag yourself downstairs, away from the modern, comfy room to experience dry-aged steaks at David Burke’s Primehouse, which also serves breakfast and lunch. Feeling reclusive? David Burkes can be delivered right to your door via room service. One item not to miss: the bacon stick with black pepper and maple syrup. And if you wake up at 3 a.m. craving more bacon? No problem, room service operates around the clock. The Asha Spa offers a menu of treatments specifically for men so they can pretty themselves up before reentering society. Get a nightcap at the JIMMY bar or check out the happy hour special from 6 pm to 8 pm Wednesday through Friday with $6 wines by the glass and $5 appetizers from David Burke’s.
In a foodie city such as Chicago, it's great news when a hotel takes their food and beverage offering serious. That's why we're pretty excited to catch a flavor of (wayyyyy) South of the border at the new Loews Chicago once they open in March.
Previously unreleased, the hotel has picked hometown chef, Jose Garces, to tempt the taste-buds of guests and locals as he chars up some of his Argentinian faves in the themed restaurant. Featured as a central focus for the eatery is the parrilla, or grill, Rural Society's menu will explore cooking more than steak on an open flame creating an authentic and refreshed experience using quebracho, an Argentine hardwood to cook the meats.
We stepped out on the Virgin Chicago during our stay last weekend with a visit to the other new British import in town, Soho House Chicago in the West Loop nabe. But it was only for dinner and drinks. We didn't stay the night. Promise.
Having drooled over the pictures of Pizza East at The Shoreditch House in London (also a Soho House property), we were eager to get a piece of the wood-oven pizza pie stateside at Pizza East Chicago. But as it turns out, despite the restaurant name and despite its location in a city known for its deep dish, we actually preferred Pizza East's two starters to the main margherita pie ($16.)
Virgin Hotels / New Hotels / Hotel Openings / Chicago Hotels / Sir Richard Branson / Hotel News / → All Tags
Over the weekend, we did IT. We finally slept with Virgin Hotels. It was not what we expected, since we didn't know what to expect, thanks to Virgin Hotels keeping their hotel product under wraps (lots of NDAs were signed, apparently), but despite entering uncharted territory, we can't wait to do it again.
So that your first time won't be a rocky time, here's our guide of what to expect when sleeping with a Virgin...Hotel.
(Not in the mood to read? Just look at the photos, you pervert you.)
APPROACHING THE VIRGIN: The Virgin Hotels Chicago is located at 203 N. Wabash, right on the corner of Wabash and Lake. Just up the block is the Hotel Monaco and two blocks past that is the Chicago Riverwalk (and one block past that are the Trump and Langham Hotels.) Getting to the hotel from the airport is incredibly easy. Just take the Blue Line on the CTA from O'Hare and you'll be dropped off at Clark/Lake, which is about three blocks from the hotel. We walked the walk while dragging a suitcase and it was totally fine. Luckily, the weather was "warm", around 30 degrees. When it's negative 30 degrees, you may just want to Uber from the CTA stop.
ADMIRING THE VIRGIN: As we got closer to the hotel, our heart skipped a beat when the bright red neon VIRGIN HOTELS sign came into view. Although Miss Ricky's All-American Diner and Two Zero Three coffee shop, the restaurants that bookend the entrance, are not opened yet, the well-lit property gave off a bustling vibe. We hardly noticed the historic architecture of the building, that is, until we stepped inside where amongst all the modern socializing spaces, it was clear this place had a long history before. (Look up at the ceiling and you'll see the original and ornate ceiling tiles, uncovered by Virgin.)
SAYING HELLO: The first person you will see before stepping inside the Virgin is a doorman, who will welcome you inside. Once you get inside, though, you will see an Ambassador, a lovely lady dressed in a bright red Virgin-colored, floor-length coat with a black faux fur hat. She will show you to either the red-carpeted stairwell, leading up to the second floor social spot, The Commons Club, or towards the check-in desk. She will also show you where your four-legged friend can wait--in a mod Union Jack pet pod at the bottom of the stairs--while you check-in.)
Virgin Hotels / Hotel Openings / Sir Richard Branson / Hotel News / New Hotels / Chicago Hotels / New Hotel Smell / → All Tags
That's right. Tonight we are going all the way with the Virgin Hotel Chicago and you're going to watch!
Here's a look inside a deluxe king room at the hotel. It is very true to the press photo that was released earlier today, although we have found a few unexpected surprises--like a cherry red SMEG mini-fridge which serves as the minibar, the Red Flower toiletries in the bath, the rug which pays homage to London, and the proprietary bed, which reminds a bit of Upper Class on Virgin Atlantic. Yes, this means we will probably go to sleep thinking about Sir Richard Branson. Which is really just like any other night. #amirite?
Now, we're about to head downstairs to the The Commons Club to observe the social scene and have a bite to eat. If we're not too
drunk full, we'll have more photos of the public spaces to show you later tonight. Otherwise, we'll have a grand tour for you tomorrow on Monday. And we'll let you know how this little Virgin performed. Wink, wink.
At long frickin' last, opening day for the first-ever Virgin Hotel Chicago is here...and this is what a guest rooms looks like, as shown in a press photo. Our initial reaction, OMG. OMG. OMG.
Raul Leal, CEO of Virgin Hotels told us nearly a year ago that Virgin Hotels would be catering to women, saying that Virgin would be especially in tune with women business travelers (also Virgin gave their mobile app a girl's name) but still, we had no idea how feminine this room would be.
Look at that soft grey vanity and matching chair! Look at those bubbled table legs! Hello lighted mirror! And look at the carpet! Check out the pink dress in the closet! Notice that stylish petite desk to work on!
Clearly, we have a lot to say here but we're reserving our thoughts until we actually step inside the Virgin later today. While the rooms and the Commons Club lobby lounge are open, a few of the other spaces including the restaurants are not quite ready. Still, we'll do our best to scope them all out. We promise to leave no Virgin unclothed, er, unturned.
Stay tuned on HotelChatter.com for more pics and observations. If you aren't already following us on social media, find us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (the latter is where we will be posting most of our snapshots during our stay.)
But who cares what we think? TELL US YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE ROOM IN COMMENTS BELOW
[Photo: Virgin Hotels]
Virgin Hotels / Hotel Openings / Hotel News / Mobile Apps / Lucy / Chicago Hotels / Mobile Check-In / → All Tags
We're just days, really hours at this point, away from the grand opening of the long, long, long-awaited Virgin Hotel Chicago on Thursday, and while we are legit freaking out about seeing the inside of a Virgin guest room, Virgin has given us something to play with in the meantime--their new mobile app, called Lucy, available in the iTunes Store and on Google Play.
Lucy is not just a booking app or a hotel directory. The app also lets you check-in with your mobile phone, order room service; control the thermostat (given that it's winter in Chicago, turn that sucker up); order movies OnDemand; log into your account for The Know, Virgin Hotels' loyalty program; and even make some virtual friends in the guests-only chat forum.
Clearly, Lucy is meant to be wined and dined in the comfort of your Virgin Hotel room so us flipping through the app at our desk is not helpful but we will be meeting this lovely lady later this week. Stay tuned!
Virgin Chicago appears to be sold-out for opening weekend but next weekend rates are $207 a night.
It's that time of year again: the 2014 HotelChatter Awards! Today and tomorrow, we'll be showcasing the best (and worst) of hotels over the past year. But we couldn't do it without you! Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, or shoot us an email. And the Award goes to...
The Virgin Hotel Chicago page was our most trafficked page of the year. This is crazy interesting because the Virgin Chicago hasn't even opened yet. But that just goes to show how much Virgin Hotels have been hyping their brand.
When the year started, we were no closer to learning more about Virgin Chicago, other than it would have 250 amount of rooms and a rooftop scene. In February, the hotel was planned to open in September. Um, nope.
Throughout the year, we did learn small tidbits, like the announcements of a general manager and the chef and his F&B concepts. We also got Raul Leal, CEO of Virgin Hotels, to tell us 6 things we didn't know yet about Virgin Hotels.
This was nice but without a rendering or a room shot, we couldn't get excited. Even when the hotel was making up rumors about itself over the summer, we were still very nonplussed.
Virgin Hotels / Hotel News / Loyalty Program News / Chicago Hotels / Hotel Openings / Virgin America / Hotel Loyalty Programs / → All Tags
As the opening day gets closer and closer for the very first Virgin Hotel, the brand's loyalty program is also getting closer to coming out.
We reported two months ago that a Virgin Hotels loyalty program would be "integrated into the airlines' current loyalty programs." Today, we know exactly how that will work.
Sneak Peek / Loews Hotels / Chicago Hotels / Hotel News / Hotel Construction / Hotel Openings / → All Tags
With the dust still fresh in the air and the raucous sounds of construction all around, Chicago's Streeterville neighborhood has been pinned by the folks over at Loews Hotels for their latest property to open early next year.
Donning a hard-hat and safety glasses, we scored an exclusive sneak peak inside the for a first-hand look at the Loews Chicago Hotel.
Just east of the shopper's paradise that is Michigan Avenue and sporting views of Lake Michigan, this new build hotel in downtown is also just a five-minute walk to Navy Pier, making it a central spot to stay in Chicago. The hotel is actually comprised of two towers, one housing 400 Loews hotels rooms and the other Loews luxury condominiums. These are completely separate from the hotel with different entrances and amenities.
But we're here to talk about the hotel side. And away we go!
Sneak Peek / Chicago Hotels / Freehand Hotels / Freehand Hostels / Hotel Openings / Hotel Hype / → All Tags
The Virgin Chicago won't be the new, hip hotel in Chicago for very long after it opens in January. A little over a year ago, we were stoked to find out that a second outpost of the Freehand Hotel/Hostel concept would be opening in Chicago's trendy River North neighborhood. Today, we've got a sneak peek at the rooms inside the Freehand Chicago as well as a functioning website.
The Freehand Chicago will open in the old Tokyo Hotel at 19 East Ohio Street. Once NY-based Roman & Williams Buildings & Interiors finish up transforming the building, which was originally built in 1927, the hostel will have 250 beds split between private rooms and shared rooms. Above is what the private rooms will look like, below is what a shared room will look like.