Travel: Richard Branson opens first Virgin hotel

Richard Branson outside the Virgin hotel, Chicago
Richard Branson outside the Virgin hotel, Chicago

Billionaire businessman Sir Richard Branson officially opens the doors of his first Virgin hotel in Chicago’s Loop district

Hotel rooms that boast free Wi-Fi, water and yoga mats; minibars stocked with shop-priced items and bathrooms with just the right lighting for putting on make-up are a few of the amenities being promised by Sir Richard Branson as he throws open the doors of his first Virgin hotel.

The billionaire businessman danced through the streets of Chicago as he officially opened the first of what he hopes will be a long list of similar establishments around the world.

The 250-room property is in a 26-storey art deco building in the city’s Loop district, and retains original features such as an oak cigar bar, brass elevator doors and the original mail slot and chute serving all floors. There’s also a choice of five dining options, including a rooftop bar and 23-hour American diner.

The entrepreneur said he was inspired by his airline when he looked at the hotel industry and what he could add to it.

“Thirty years ago people asked what we could bring to the airline business that didn’t already exist and we created Virgin Atlantic.

‘‘We want to do exactly the same with hotels. We have a lot of people who fly on Virgin who would like the seamless experience when they arrive in Chicago, New York or San Francisco. They want a place where they can have fun and where all the little details have been sorted out, where they are comfortable and cosy and can have an enjoyable experience.”

Branson said it was his extensive travelling with his wife Joan that made him aware of all the areas hotels could be improved upon.

:: Rooms from £129 room only. (Free breakfast if booked through Virgin Holidays.) Visit virginhotels.com