Virgin Hotels Chicago

203 N Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60601, USA

Virgin opened its first U.S. hotel in a 26-story, 1920s art deco tower. Originally a Chicago bank, the building’s high-ceilinged, second-floor hall has been transformed into the Commons Club, a socializing spot divided into a lounge, dining room, and oval-shaped zinc bar with red leather seating and power outlets for tech-addicted travelers. Apartment-like rooms are smartly divided by sliding doors into two sections: a sleeping lounge, and a large dressing and bath area. The Virgin brand’s red-and-white logo is referenced in retro-looking red Smeg mini-fridges stocked with treats at street prices and eye-catching seats made from repurposed red Vespas. With in-house concerts, live DJs, and other performances at the rooftop Cerise lounge, the hotel entrance is sometimes clogged with clublike lines of locals, with security checks that delay guests trying to return to their digs. The live-like-a-local esprit extends to machines for brewing artisanal Chicago Bow Truss brand coffee in your room and, especially, to the hotel’s online itineraries curated by local artists, food and fashion bloggers, and digital entrepreneurs whose tips transport visitors outside the usual tourist bubble. Lifestyle amenities also include yoga mats in the rooms and a free app for using your smartphone to control lights and communicate with the courteous, helpful staff.

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Upside Down Tea

Something magical happens on weekend afternoons in The Commons Club, located on the second floor of the hotel...a tea service. This isn’t the stuffy tea and crumpets of yore, however, but a delightfully hip take. Enjoy boozy teapots (my favorite includes Ketel One Vodka infused with oyster shells, tropical juices, coconut syrup, and green tea) which you top off in your tea cup with Moët Champagne. Purchase by the teapot, or for the more adventurous such as myself, you can choose a bottomless teapot by the hour. If that wasn’t enough, then comes the delectable tower of finger sandwiches and sweets, all too delicious and changes weekly.

Virgin Hotels Chicago: For Female Road Warriors

A next-gen brand for business travelers, Virgin Hotels Chicago pays special attention to women road warriors. Wi-Fi is fast and free, rooms have savvy closets, there are weekly TED-like talks, and the Funny Library is stocked by Second City improv stars.

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