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Last week, something happened in Chicago that made us crave diner food and now we can share how our appetite was whet the moment we stepped foot into Virgin Hotel's newest food outpost, Miss Ricky's. In true Virgin fashion the diner menu has been re-invented consisting of old stand-bys, with a cheeky twist and clever take on Branson's name.
When we originally stayed, the all-day dining restaurant off the lobby was still shrouded with paper as the menu and space was being finalized, but last Thursday, the diner welcomed it's first guests, tempting them with giant burgers, Reuben sandwiches and milkshakes.
With a menu that goes well beyond the normal flat grill of a truck-stop, the restaurant claims to be "a modern American diner for early morning noshes, late night bites and everything in between", and with hours starting at 6am to well after midnight on the weekends, you won't be disappointed.
Oh, a full cocktail menu will probably help with that too.
Back in August, the yet-to-open Virgin Hotels began encouraging people to spread rumors about the hotel on social media. The person who had the best #VirginRumor would then win a two-night stay at the hotel during the opening party (which was held last weekend) along with airfare and transportation.
What we didn't know then was that Sir Richard Branson would actually act out one of the rumors for Lauren, the grand winner--tucking her and her fiancee in and reading them a bedtime story (Where The Wild Things are, one of the winner's and ours favorites.)
You can actually watch Branson reading part of the book here:
This is surreal. Perhaps Virgin should just make future recordings of Branson reading bedtime stories and make them available on the app or through the TV so that every guest can have this experience.
Next up for The Virgin Chicago is the opening of the Two Zero Three on February 14 (we hear some special V-day festivities are planned) as well as Miss Ricky's All-American Diner on March 2. Don't forget, Virgin plans to kick off Chicago's rooftop season in April with not one, but two rooftop spaces. And that's not a rumor.
READ ALL ABOUT SLEEPING WITH A VIRGIN (SANS BRANSON BEDTIME STORY) HERE!
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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.)
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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.
It's really happening! Gone is the wraparound red construction board at Chicago's eagerly anticipated hotel and in its place, a real live Virgin. Er, marquee.
That's right. Signage just went up at the Virgin Hotel Chicago and it is looking good. Of course, the entrance is predictably Virgin with its red sign lettering and the Virgin logo on the plaque next to the door, but still looking good. We're also chuckling at the cheeky window signage which says, "Is the plural of cheese, cheese or cheeses? Either way I could use a glass of wine." So could we. And some cheeses while we're at it.
Additionally, signage went up for Miss Ricky's All American Diner at the hotel, and a special VIP with some giant red lips stopped by to admire it. Lovely. And slightly scary.
Rates for the hotel, which opens on January 15 start at $219 a night for a Chamber King room.
Congrats to Virgin. Now just make sure the T, E, and L are always lit up. Otherwise, you'll have a real oxymoron on your hands there.
[Photo: Virgin Hotel]
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Earlier tonight, Virgin Hotels, at long last, unveiled their new website with actual information, not just rumors, about their hotels. Even better, reservations are now open for the Virgin Chicago starting on January 15. Rates for a “Chamber King” start at $209 a night.
We're still undressing the Virgin Hotels site but here are the pertinent details. Before we go any further, we strongly suggest you watch the video above to get a clear sense of what the hotel has to offer and how they plan on doing it.
Virgin Hotels have put an end to the rumors they willingly helped others spread about themselves, but there's still a while to go before the hotel actually opens to the public. Yet if you continue to be good little boys and girls, you should be able to sleep with a Virgin by Christmas.
The unofficial opening date for the Virgin Hotel Chicago is now December. And boy, do we hope Santa Branson and his elves can pull this off. Work is still obviously underway at the hotel and we've yet to see an actual website for the property. But they do have a general manager and a chef on board.
So we hope the rest is just a matter of making lists, checking them twice, finding out what's naughty and nice, and then, finally, crossing them off.
[Photo: Virgin Hotels/Facebook]
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At long last, Virgin Hotels are getting ready to strip down for guests.
Since 2011, we've been
not so patiently awaiting the opening of the Virgin Hotel Chicago, which will be the first hotel for the brand. Making the wait more frustrating, aside from the repeated opening delays, is that we're still rather in the dark about what the Virgin Hotel concept is about.
We did learn 6 important things about the Virgin brand this past spring and about their 6 F&B concepts in Chicago, but largely, we've just been speculating as to what will be inside the Virgin Hotel. In true tease fashion, Virgin wants us to keep guessing.
Today, Sir Richard Branson himself is spreading rumors about the Virgin Hotel and wants you to spread some of your own too.
The Branson-sanctioned rumor-mongering is all part of a gimmick to drum up attention for the Virgin Chicago property as well as give fans an opportunity to win a two-night stay at the hotel. Here's how it works:
Branson has shared some Virgin rumors here in this video including one that says he personally tucks in every guest at night and that the hairdryers have a "beard setting."
You can submit your own Virgin rumors over the next five weeks by tweeting here on the Virgin Hotels website. Be sure to hashtag this entry with #virginrumors. Whoever submits the best rumor will be win the two night stay at Virgin Hotels, plus airfare and transport to the hotel's opening party. A rep for Virgin also cryptically said the "rumors will play out on the streets of Chicago this week" so we'll be sure to report on that as we see them.
Alas, there's no hint as to when the actual hotel opening will be but if the contest is running for five weeks, then we know the hotel won't be open before then. Ooo, did we just come up with our own entry for #virginrumors? Indeed we have.
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While we're still high from the news of a new Virgin Hotel coming to Nashville (even though there have been some "launch" issues), Virgin's luxury retreat brand, Virgin Limited Edition, is preparing to open its 8th property this August. That's right, this August. Mont Rochelle Hotel and Mountain Vineyards, located about an hour's drive from Cape Town, will be the second South African destination (the other one being Ulusaba Private Gaming Retreat) of Sir Richard Branson's exclusive luxury collection.
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You can probably thank Taylor Swift for the latest announcement from Virgin Hotels. The burgeoning hotel brand has just revealed they will open a new hotel in Nashville in 2016 in a pretty prime location--One Music Row.
Virgin Hotels Nashville will have 240 guest rooms, multiple "concept" suites, along with food and beverage outlets and perhaps most necessary of all, a cutting edge recording studio.
“Based on its nonstop cultural and live events, food and beverage scene, and its ability to inspire both talented artists and TV viewers, Nashville’s time is now – and we’d like to be part of that excitement,” said Sir Richard Branson. “Virgin Hotels will be our first venture in Nashville, and we’ll look at other opportunities for our US and international customers to enjoy the southern hospitality that Nashville is known for.”
Meanwhile, Virgin Hotels Chicago is apparently just "months away from opening" according to Raul Leal, CEO of Virgin Hotels. After that, Virgin has its eyes set on NYC, Boston, Dallas, LA, Miami, San Fran, DC and London.
We don't think we need to say it again but it bears repeating, "Hurry up because we can't hardly wait."
[Photo: Nashville CVB]
Last week, we nearly lost our minds when we heard of a new underwater hotel that was hoping to open in Australia. Aside from our general dislike of underwater hotels (do we really need them?), we had major issues with this hotel looking to set up shop, literally, at the Great Barrier Reef. NO.
Fortunately, like all other underwater hotels we've heard about in our decade here at HotelChatter, this hotel will probably never see the light of day, or the darkness of the ocean floor. But now today, we've got to put up with yet another stupid hotel idea. And the only thing we hate more than underwater hotels are Space Hotels.
“If we can get enough people wanting to fly [to space] we can start building Virgin hotels in space, we can start doing trips to Mars, we can colonise Mars, we can start pulling asteroids back to Earth to see what minerals they have got in them."
Oh brother. We like how Branson dreams big, like intergalactic big but c'mon. Please open Virgin Hotels here on earth first and then we can start talking about your space hotels and colonizing other planets.