Virgin Hotels first hotel opening in Chicago’s

Virgin Hotels opened its first property Thursday in the heart of the Loop, a culmination of a long-running renovation of a Chicago landmark.

virgin-hotel-chicago-room-reporter-5The 26-story Virgin Hotels Chicago consists of 250 guests rooms, starting at $209 a night, including 40 single-room suites and two penthouse suites. Virgin Hotels CEO Raul Leal said he expected between 50 to 60 patrons the first night.

Located at 203 N. Wabash Ave., the hotel occupies what was the Old Dearborn Bank Building.

Setting the tableRichard Branson promises guests at his very first Virgin Hotel that they won’t have to pay any hidden fees.

virgin-hotel-chicago-room-reporter-2Wi-Fi at unlimited bandwidth is free. There are no early check-in or late checkout fees, room service delivery charges or business center transaction costs. Bottled water is free.

virgin-hotel-chicago-room-reporter-6Minibar items are less expensive than at other hotels. A bag of M&Ms, a Snickers bar and a Coca-Cola are $1 each.

Chad Martel« We did something really special for the first guest, » Leal said. « We had the entire team waiting in the lobby for them when they checked in, and we gave them, for the rest of their life, a place to stay on Jan. 15. »

virgin-hotel-chicago-room-reporter-commons-loungeThe hotel’s centerpiece is its second-floor Commons Club, open to guests and the public, marked by a contemporary-style bar, a full kitchen, a stylized library with curated books and local memorabilia and a lounge area.

The boutique inn has retained several of the building’s original features, including a 1920s oak cigar bar, ornate brass elevator doors in the lobby and an elaborate tiled ceiling that was hidden when the Virgin Group bought it.

Rooms are called chambers. Standard chambers are divided into two spaces with a sliding door in between. When you walk into a room, you enter a dressing room with a vanity, makeup desk and mirror, a large shower with a bench and his and her closets with no

« We wanted to take the elements that Virgin makes fun, a little modern and contemporary, and blend it into something into some of the other features: the historic ceiling and lobby, » Leal said.

« We thought it was something different, because everyone expected something modern, but this is our surprise. »

virgin-hotel-chicago-room-reporter-4Everyone’s welcome at the Commons social club, where you can get out of Chicago’s stormy rough-and-tumble and get a touch of Virgin warmth. Enjoy an early hour farm-fresh breakfast, a Social Hour cocktail hosted nightly for guests, or an after-hours meal and glass of wine.

Two Zero Three

Share pastries, toasts and philosophy in our fast-paced “see and be seen” newsstand inspired coffee bar. At night, the bar transitions into a wine social serving a light menu of cheeses and chartcuterie.