Guests checking in to the Virgin Hotels New Orleans will find residential-style rooms with partition doors, vanity stations, SMEG minibars and beds that ‘do tricks’. Jenny Southan reports
Virgin Hotels, the lifestyle hotel brand by Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson, opened the Virgin Hotels New Orleans on August 18, 2021, in the city’s Warehouse District. As you’d hope from this innovative company, the hotel works hard to do things better – and with a sense of humour.
Designed by New Orleans design firm Logan Killen Interiors, Virgin Hotels says that local art, historical detailing and Art Deco-inspired elements woven throughout “evoke a sense of old-world meets modern luxury”.
Ranging from 27 sqm to 102 sqm the hotel has 238 Chambers, Grand Chamber Suites, a Penthouse Suite, and Richard’s Penthouse Flat – an apartment with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking downtown New Orleans. All rooms feature Virgin Hotels’ signature layout with two distinct spaces. Designed to make the best use of space and promote privacy for guests, each “Chamber” is separated by a pair of panelled doors, a nod to the French doors commonly seen in New Orleans interiors and offering a more “residential” look and feel. On one side is the Dressing Room, which includes a full vanity, makeup desk with a well-lit mirror, plus an extra-large shower with a bench and Red Flower toiletries, and a closet for two.On the other side is the Lounge, which features Virgin Hotels’ patented ergonomically designed “lounge bed”, which features a padded headboard and chair back built on to one corner for people to sit against with a book or laptop. Dog beds are also provided.
There is also a red SMEG mini-fridge stocked with “street-priced” food and drink (suggesting there is no mark-up), an HD TV, yoga mat and “café worktable” with a rattan base and tempered glass, which is placed in front of a built-in window (or facing a banquette between two twin beds, as below). (Globetrender approves of this – so often hotels place workdesks by the wall.)Rooms also have plenty of sockets for charging smartphones and laptops, as well as custom lighting on sensors that automatically illuminates the space when guests move. Mobile app LUCY can also be used to control the lighting, thermostats, TVs and order room service. Wifi is free – regardless of bandwidth
How much does a stay cost? The cheapest rate including taxes in September 2021 was US$217 a night. Dining and partying also plays a big part in the Virgin Hotels New Orleans experience. On the 13th-floor is the Dreamboat cocktail bar.
There is also the Pool Club – a rooftop pool, restaurant and bar; and ground-floor Commons Club, the brand’s flagship restaurant, bar and lounge. Virgin Hotels describes this as the “social epicenter” of the property, designed to feel like a “members-only social club but open to all”.
The Commons Club consists of three areas: the Bar, the Kitchen (featuring an indoor porch for dining) and the Shag Room (an “intimate private space with a playful vibe suitable for small groups”).The restaurant serves contemporary Southern cuisine with Mediterranean influences. There will also be live music, game day programming and themed brunches.
Meanwhile, the Funny Library Coffee Shop is a communal workspace with an “assortment of games and whimsical and funny books curated from local book shops”. Coffee served is by La Colombe. The hotel also has a light and airy 24-hour gym on the third floor.Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, says: “Each of our hotels embrace the local flavor of the cities they are in, and Virgin Hotels New Orleans is certainly a fun one.
“The city’s welcoming spirit, exciting entertainment, and incredible culinary scene are all things we are excited to bring to life through our hotel. We look forward to becoming a gathering place for the entire community and a destination for both locals and visitors alike.”James Bermingham, chief executive officer of Virgin Hotels, says: “This beautiful, new hotel will offer the distinctive ‘Virgin’ experience travellers know and love, from our inviting Chambers to our dynamic food and beverage offerings.
“But we also have a real made-in-New Orleans ethos at play here, from the art and design throughout the hotel to the personalized experience we provide our guests through The Know loyalty program and our LUCY mobile app. Virgin Hotels New Orleans will surely offer a window into a city waiting to be explored.”
Guests can sign up for the brand-wide guest preferences and loyalty program The Know to unlock a personalised stay, exclusive use of the LUCY app, member rate discounts, room upgrades, unique dining and event experiences, and a free cocktail hour called “the Spirit Hour.”