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The ladies of Virgin Chicago. The garb for Dallas will definitely be
shorter and skimpier different.
The fourth property for Virgin Hotels has just been announced and well, grab your cowboy boots and your cowboy hats, because Virgin is heading for Dallas. (But the other D--Detroit--is still a possibility.)
Set to open in 2018 in the Dallas Design District, the hotel will have over 200 guest rooms, er, "chambers", a spa, pool and several places to eat and drink, including The Commons Club, the all-day, everyday lounge first launched at the Virgin Chicago.
Other Virgin amenities will also be found in Dallas including free and blazing fast WiFi, no cancellation fees as long as you call before midnight, early check-in or late check-out without penalty, and mini bar items at street prices. Guests can also socialize during the hotel's Social Hour when complimentary drinks are served, top shelf included.
[Photo: Virgin Hotels]
When Richard Branson was asked at the launch of Virgin Atlantic’s direct service from Heathrow to Detroit whether he had any plans for a Virgin Hotel in Motor City, we assumed he was just being polite.
“I’d love it if we could find the right site for a Virgin Hotel,” he said at the press conference. “We’ll talk,” said Wayne County Exec Warren Evans. “I’ve got an existing jail site that could work.”
Everyone chuckled, and assumed that was that.
But now it seems we may have been making one assumption too many, because in an interview with D Business, Branson expanded on his idea.
Virgin Hotel Chicago is the hotel that keeps on, er, hotel-ing. Not long after opening its rooftop extravaganza and its spunky diner concept, the Virgin has now unveiled its five-treatment room spa, simply called The Spa at Virgin Hotels. (We think Spa Virgin would have worked just as well. #thatjustus.)
Geared towards "business travelers and busy locals", the spa treatments are completely customizable from the amount of time of the treatment (30, 45 or 60 minutes) to the primary focus (anti-aging, sore legs, manscaping, etc.)
The menu features both massages and body treatments as well as facials, nail services and waxing (the latter two are called "Nailed" and "Stripped", FTW.) The Spa also features a unisex hamman for which day passes to this can be purchased for $15.
With Red Flower's Palo Santo toiletries in the guest rooms, it's no surprise that there are Red Flower products and specialty scents are used in the massages, body treatments, nail services and some facials. Massages start at $55 and go up to $120. Meanwhile, EmerginC (not to be confused with the powdered vitamins you add to water) and their scientific organic products are used in most of the facials including the 60-minute Peel and Glow ($120) and the 30-minute Be Glowing mini-facial ($55.)
Chicago's rooftop bar season is right around the corner, so we're extremely excited to add a new destination on our list of late night libations multiple stories above the hustle and bustle of the streets.
As promised, The Virgin Hotel has opened the Windy City's newest destination for bird's eye drinks and nibbles with Cerise.
Remember a few weeks ago when we got a little inside scoop on the rooftop menu? Well, with two very different bars serving up summer sips with Far East flavors, the ride to the 26th floor of this vintage building will be well worth the wait. An equally Asian-inspired lite bites menu features anything from oysters and spring rolls to two different types of dumplings. (Trust us, do NOT pass on the dumplings)
A few weeks ago we stopped by Virgin Chicago to sample some food in their all-day dining outlet, Miss Ricky's and ended upstairs at the Commons Club to partake in an adult libation from the cheeky bar menu.
After bellying up to the bar, we had chance to bend the ear of the head bartender, Jon Harris about what the drinks we were sipping and his thoughts on the industry.
This Chicago native has spent some time mixing cocktails from DC to London and back to the Windy City. Shaking some of the hottest drinks in DC's first cocktail bar, The Gibson, Jon eventually landed the job at the Virgin and started putting together the back bar well before the hotel swung it's doors open to guests.
Keep reading for our Q&A with Jon Harris
Now that the Virgin Hotel Chicago has unveiled Miss Ricky's Diner and it's Two Zero Three coffee shop and wine bar, there are only a few more things left to take off--the hotel's killer rooftop spaces and the downstairs spa. Both of these should be unveiled next month at the Virgin's official grand opening party on April 16.
We were able to peek at the rooftop spaces during our first time with a Virgin in January and they will seriously impress you with their cool yet fun decor and their incredible city views. Remember, one of the rooftop spaces will be incredibly exclusive so fingers crossed your on the list.
As for the spa, it promises to be a "wellness lounge designed with beauty, comfort and mingling in mind."
While the rooftops and the spa will be unveiled on opening night, we hear they won't officially open to the public until the week after. Room rates for that next weekend, April 24-26, start at $249 a night for a chamber king before taxes. If you're a AAA member, rates start at just $224 a night. Whoopee!
[Photo: Virgin Hotels/Facebook
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.
It's been over a month since we slept with the Virgin Chicago and a few things have already changed since we did it.
Opening next week is Miss Ricky's All American Diner a 23-hour spot serving "new classics" such as a Great Lakes Reuben, The Biggie Grilled Cheese, Short Rib Pie and decadent donuts and dessert. You can see Virgin CEO Raul Leal's recent tweet for confirmation of such decadence:
Dessert items in Ms. Ricky's at Virgin Hotel Chicago. pic.twitter.com/wvTHm6ViBg— Raul Leal (@VirginHotelier) February 25, 2015
The hotel has also rolled out a partnership with Tesla Motors, giving all Virgin guests the option to be ferried around town in a Model S P85D. It's color? Bright red of course. #howVirginsdoit
Now, these things are all fun to talk about, but it's time to see what real guests are saying about the hotel. And for that, we head to TripAdvisor. Even though everyone knows to take TripAdvisor with a grain of salt (seriously awful reviews can never be trusted, neither can the gushing ones) it's still a place all guests go to when thinking about booking a hotel.
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!
Construction on the 240-room hotel is supposed to happen this spring and when it's all finished, the property will boast not just a super futuristic look from Atlanta-based BLUR Workshop, (as opposed to the historic bank building look in Chicago) but also a rooftop pool, restaurants, shops, 15 for-sale penthouse residences and, wait for it...a recording studio.
That was to be expected given that the Virgin company started out as a record shop, and this hotel is opening at the start of Music Row. But still, kind of awesome.
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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:
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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.)