At Virgin Hotels, we know travel is all about discovery, so we’ve scoured some of our favorite cities to seek out up-and-coming neighborhoods, brand new restaurants, old classics and other undiscovered and underappreciated spots. Read on for our quick rundown on some of our favorite off-the-beaten path gems.
Asrai Garden in Wicker Park
The Spot: Part apothecary, part flower shop Asrai Garden is a magical place to stumble into in search of one-of-a-kind finds for the home and body. Think, handmade pottery, luxurious bath oils and artisan jewelry.
The Hood: A hip residential enclave northwest of downtown Chicago, Wicker Park is home to a thriving nightlife and music club scene, as well as hip fashion boutiques, cafes and specialty grocery stores all set amongst gorgeous historic architecture.
17-minute drive from Virgin Hotels Chicago
42 Murals in Deep Ellum
The Spot: The 42 Murals project showcases local, national and international artists throughout the historic Deep Ellum district for the perfect walking tour of this bustling neighborhood. You’ll spot works depicting sports legends, animals, portraiture and geometric forms in bold colors in a wide array of styles.
The Hood: Deep Ellum is one of Dallas’ lively arts and entertainment districts, home to contemporary art galleries, cocktail bars, Tex-Mex restaurants and longtime concert venues showcasing indie and blues artists. It’s the perfect place to get a taste of the city’s creative community.
12-minute drive from Virgin Hotels Dallas
The Station Inn in The Gulch
The Spot: Nashville’s Music City nickname is well-earned. When you’ve hit all the honkey tonks on Broadway, head down to The Gulch for some of the best live bluegrass in town at The Station Inn, which has been around since the 1970s. The humble listening room plays host to emerging and established singer-songwriters where you’re sure to discover a talent you’ve never heard before.
The Hood: The Gulch has developed into a chic residential neighborhood with fashionable boutiques and trendy restaurants, in addition to the Frist Art Museum. Just south of the main tourist drag, it’s a great place to get a sense for how Nashville locals live.
14-minute walk from the future Virgin Hotels Nashville, opening in 2020.
Shaya in the Garden District
The Spot: While you may have come to New Orleans for the creole and the Sazeracs, take a detour for the bright flavors and airy dining room of the James Beard Award-winning Israeli restaurant Shaya. Here, you’ll find pillowy soft pita and the creamiest hummus alongside creative dishes that blend the flavors of North Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Turkey and Greece with a one-of-a-kind Southern flare.
The Hood: Leafy oak-shaded streets and stately antebellum mansions sets New Orlean’s Garden District apart from raucous Bourbon Street in the French Quarter. Here, you’ll find the gentility of the South along Magazine Street at old-fashioned boutiques and tailor shops, as well as at award-winning restaurants.
14-minute drive from the future Virgin Hotels New Orleans, opening in 2021.
The Spot: With Edinburgh’s summertime Fringe Festival going strong for decades, it’s no wonder the city is a hotspot for cutting edge, experimental theater. Start your experience at Traverse Theatre, home to the works of exciting new playwrights for an engrossing theater-going experience.
The Hood: Set in the heart of Edinburgh, you’ll find the Edinburgh Castle, the Museum on the Mound and the Scottish National Gallery all set on a lovely park. It’s is the perfect area to start your discovery of the Scottish capital.
12-minute walk from the future Virgin Hotels Edinburgh, opening in 2021.
The Spot: Brooklyn’s cult favorite barbecue joint just landed in Miami, bringing its authentic pit-smoked meats and classic sides with it. Hometown BBQ’s Miami outpost also nods to South American barbecue traditions by incorporating dishes cooked over a live fire.
The Hood: Situated just west of Wynwood, gritty and industrial Allapattah is poised to become one of Miami’s next hip neighborhoods. Early pioneers of the Wynwood Arts District are opening up new bars, restaurants, record shops and hair salons here. It’s also the future home of the Rubell Family Collection Contemporary Arts Foundation.
20-minute drive from the future Virgin Hotels Miami, opening in 2023.
Writer: Shayne Benowitz