The First Night

Our team
Screw It, Let's Do It!
Virgin Hotels Profile Image
By Virgin Hotels

Five years ago, we opened our doors. And it’s been one wild ride ever since. In the five years Virgin Hotel Chicago has been a Virgin, we’ve been named one of Travel + Leisure’s Top 10 Hotels in Chicago and been given a Reader’s Choice Award from Condé Nast Traveler. We’ve disrupted the norm and held fast to our mission to make love and steal hearts. And, yes, we’ve partied. We’ve hosted dozens of Upside Down Tea Parties, had hundreds of DJs light up the rooftop and popped thousands of champagne bottles.


But one of the most exciting things we’ve done was welcome our first guests, one of which was Christopher Bice from San Francisco. He remembers the hotel’s big opening night down to every last detail and tells us all about it.


On first sight…

“I was lucky enough to have a retail flagship store just around the corner at State and Randolph and remember walking by the property one day while it was still under construction. The moment I saw the Virgin name, I was absolutely ecstatic! I had always looked up to Richard Branson and his entrepreneurial spirit my entire life! I used to love shopping at the Virgin Megastores growing up as I could always get my rare Kylie Minogue maxi-singles on this side of the pond. I also loved flying Virgin America (even getting upgraded to that cushy white leather seat in first class on my first flight). Plus, the opening marketing team did an amazing job letting Chicago know what was coming soon and how Virgin Hotels was going to disrupt the hospitality industry.”


Hitting that “Book Now” button…

“As opening day approached, I thought to myself, “When do you ever get to stay the first night in a brand-new hotel AND a brand-new hotel chain?” I imagined myself as Rose from the Titanic movie, telling the story down the road (just like I am doing now), ”…I can still smell the fresh paint. The china had never been used. The sheets had never been slept in.” Plus, I secretly hoped Richard Branson might just show up so I could at least attempt to grab a selfie!”


Lobby vibes…

“Entering the lobby made me feel as though I was immediately transported to another time and place with a vibe that was entirely different from everyday life in Chicago. This place was different. It was elegant and chic, all while being cool and casual at the same time. With a luxurious red carpet draped on the stairway, you know that you are being treated like royalty. On top of that, they even had a dog bed ready to treat any four-legged guests to the same white-glove experience. As soon as I stepped into the space, I felt like I found a home that was like no other.”


That first night’s sleep…

“To say I slept like a baby would be an understatement. After a memorable dining experience in the hotel, along with amazing cocktails in The Commons Club, I was able to relax in a room that allowed me to control all the necessities of comfort from my iPhone. No need to stumble around in the dark searching for a thermostat only to find that you have two settings: on or off. Virgin Hotel doesn’t provide a bed for you to sleep in. They provide a cloud to whisk you away to the best night’s sleep you can get while traveling. I just might have to talk them into letting me take one of those bad boys off their hands to keep in my own chamber back home (and, yes, it’s a ‘chamber’ now).”


That guestroom, though…

“The fine details of the room show that Virgin has given thought to every aspect of the guest experience. Being greeted by Snoozy in the shower always brings a smile to my face. Using the Red Flower Palo Santo scented bath products makes me feel like I’m living the rockstar lifestyle. Not to be outdone, the in-room refrigerator is even top-notch quality. I mean, where else can you expect a signature red Smeg fridge with astronaut ice cream. (P.S. I secretly long to have one of these bad boys around my house someday also!)”


Being #1…

“It’s one of my favorite memories! Each stay at Virgin feels just as good as the first day. In a way, I feel as if I have a special place in the Virgin family. Though some of the faces have changed over time, the staff at Virgin Hotel have been such gracious and accommodating hosts time after time. When I come back to stay at the hotel, I feel like I’m returning home each and every time.”


The big 5…

“I can’t believe how much she’s grown in five years! I’ve truly experienced so many amazing events at the Chicago property, and now that we live in the San Francisco area, we have been able to visit that property in its opening week and stay several times. I’ve held work meetings, numerous dinners, birthday parties, and so many get-togethers at the Upside Down Tea Party in Chicago. We even saw Michael Che of SNL Weekend Update do a great comedic set. We are looking forward to visiting Dallas, Nashville and Las Vegas this year, as well as a few staycations at our new hometown property here in SF. Oh, and although not the same, we are booked on Virgin Cruises Inaugural Cruise on April 1 on the Scarlet Lady. So, fingers crossed, I hope I’ll at least be hanging with Branson at some point to finally get that selfie!”


More Screw It, Let's Do It!
Screw It, Let's Do It!

How “Yes, And”—the First Rule of Improv—Keeps Life Interesting

How “Yes, And”—the First Rule of Improv—Keeps Life Interesting    “If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity, but…

Read More
Screw It, Let's Do It!

Summer At Cerise Rooftop We’re Hiring

Got cabin fever? Us too. Thankfully, it’s (almost) time for sunglasses, sparkling rose and warm weather as the…

Read More
Screw It, Let's Do It!

We’re Heading to Edinburgh

Slated to open in 2020 Three years ago, in the middle of a harsh winter, Virgin Hotels Chicago…

Read More