Virgin Hotel Chicago sets cool, contemporary standard

Richard Branson has left his unique touch on this Chicago hotel.

From air travel to phone service, brand Branson has always meant doing things based on contemporary user need and desire, rather than tradition. And the Virgin Group's first foray into hotels, Virgin Hotels Chicago, is no different. "Our guests won't pay for Wi-Fi. There won't be hidden charges, and you won't get charged $10 for a chocolate bar you know you can buy at a store for $2," Virgin Group founder Richard Branson told The New York Times. "And you'll get great service."

One punter review on TripAdvisor concurred on the "great service front" and they loved this indubitably Branson touch: "… 6-7pm was a social hour for guests. Meaning free drinks – not just beer and wine – whatever you want. Considering I was drinking $20/glass Champagne, that was a pretty nice bonus."

The hotel is in the heart of Chicago's Loop district, in a historic 26-storey art deco building (and close to a noisy train line – the one big complaint from that TripAdvisor reviewer). 

Rates for the 250 guest rooms start at US$209. Cheapish, but when you consider there are no early check-in, late check-out or room service delivery fees, it looks even better.

The best bit? According to Branson, it's the unique ergonomic bed. "You'll be able to sit in bed and work, watch TV, relax. It is going to be a playpen and a traditional bed. We're calling it the Lounge Bed."

Plans to open a second hotel in Nashville in 2016 and a third property in New York in 2017 are afoot, with 20 earmarked by 2025.

– with Kylie McLaughlin