Richard Branson’s Virgin Hotels property is open in NYC — here’s a 1st look
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New York City’s most famed hotels, such as The Plaza and the original St. Regis, are centred around Central Park. But these days, if you want to stay in the most dynamic hotel neighbourhood in Manhattan, you need to head to NoMad — a bustling neighbourhood home to flower markets, views of the imposing Empire State Building and some of the most exciting hotel openings in recent years.
Another new player has entered the mix: the highly anticipated Virgin Hotels New York City.
It’s currently in a soft-opening period, and TPG got an inside look at the hotel before the grand opening scheduled for the spring.
Here’s what we found inside — and why we can’t wait for a proper overnight stay.
Inside Virgin Hotels New York City
The massive building juts into the sky from Broadway between 29th and 30th streets (a prime location to reach most of the city’s iconic tourist attractions). The new hotel is slightly set back from the street, with a modern portico welcoming guests with the iconic Virgin logo hanging overhead.
Inside the automatic sliding doors, guests are greeted by a subdued lobby with massive wooden reception desks and two large digital frames.
On the opposite wall, the large space is centred around a massive mural, “Where’s Richard?” by California-based artist Nigel Sussman. The cheeky mural is a play on the “Where’s Waldo?” book series, but instead of Waldo, keep your eyes out for hidden images of Richard Branson — the force behind the Virgin empire.
As a whole, the large hotel’s public spaces are bright and airy. The decor features pops of colour against industrial elements like exposed concrete — and of course, there are plenty of sharp reds, the brand’s signature colour. You can see the red on display in the lounge area, where a dramatic, dreamy, curved couch and hanging red fringe ceiling installation are showstoppers.
Designed by Brooklyn design firm Markzeff and architect firm Stantec, the building seemed to radiate light (at least during my tour) thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows in nearly constant view. The space creates a little oasis from the hustle and bustle of busy Broadway down below, but it still allows plenty of opportunity to see what’s going on.
It’s sure to be one of New York’s most Instagrammable new hotels; two spots stopped me in my tracks for a must-take photo. First, a larger-than-life, totally dramatic red staircase connecting the third and fourth floors. Seeing it, I couldn’t help but imagine a modern take on “Cinderella” where a red-bottom Louboutin (instead of a glass slipper) is left behind before the clock strikes midnight.
The second is this rainbow-like bookshelf in the hotel’s restaurant, Everdene.
Throughout the hotel, I found a fresh and modern yet eclectic and fun space. It was inviting and large enough not to feel like many cramped New York City hotels, but it was also full of cosy spaces to retreat to for privacy.
Although it wasn’t fully complete when I toured, the rooftop pool and The Pool Club (available to guests only) were especially exciting. (Pools are hard to come by in New York City, especially outdoor ones surrounded by some of the city’s iconic skyscrapers.)
If you’re a Virgin Hotels newbie, guestrooms are called “Chambers” — and this hotel has 460 of them. This includes suites and penthouses, reaching all the way up to the 39th floor. The brand also has a standard and (in my experience) highly practical room design that separates the sleeping and living area (“The Lounge”) from the bathroom and vanity areas (“The Dressing Room”).
The Lounge is designed for work and rest, so guests will find a smart TV, an ergonomic bed with a backboard-like attachment at the foot for lounging, a red (it’s everywhere!) Smeg minifridge and bar area stocked with local treats at “street” prices, a yoga mat and more.
The Dressing Room has a massive shower (seriously, I’ve loved every Virgin Hotels shower I’ve tried), a closet, a vanity with a mirror (perfect for selfies … not that I would know) and creature comforts like robes. The Dressing Room can be completely closed off from The Lounge, so a guest getting ready can spread out without disturbing someone who might be sleeping or working in the other room.
The rooms come in various configurations — including king-size rooms and ones with double beds. My favourite part of the room I toured was the spectacular view of the Empire State Building directly from the bed. Imagine waking up in the morning to a sunrise view of one of the world’s most famous buildings right from your pillow or crashing after a glitzy New York night to its twinkling, hourly light show. (Not every room will have the same views, so opt to choose one in the booking process or speak directly to the hotel while reserving.)
Bars and restaurants
Taking up the entire third floor is the 4,000-square-foot restaurant and bar Everdene. The space functions in more ways than one: Grab breakfast with a view in the morning, set up your laptop in coworking areas during the day, enjoy a cocktail before a show in the evening or settle down for a meal (featuring dishes like Nantucket Bay scallops or duck and foie gras empanadas) for a leisurely dinner.
The space is designed to be whatever type of space you need during a visit. Better yet, it has both indoor and outdoor areas. Guests can grab a board game and a drink in the “Lounge” area or head to the “Conservatory,” a large outdoor space, for a yoga class.
Later this year, a fine dining concept will also open in the hotel. Though we don’t know the specifics of it just yet, we know it’ll feature Italian and Latin cuisine served through “immersive culinary experiences.”
How to see it for yourself
Like most large new hotels, the Virgin Hotels New York City is opening in phases, but you’ll hardly be able to notice if you visit before the official grand opening later this spring.
For now, guests can book directly with the hotel for rates starting around $336 a night for an entry-level room. Travellers can also save by signing up for The Know, the hotel brand’s loyalty program that keeps track of all your hotel preferences. With The Know, guests can score member-only room rates, upgrades and even offers for exclusive dining experiences and events. Now through April 30, The Know members who book a stay will receive double points.
FEATURED PHOTO BY TANNER SAUNDERS/THE POINTS GUY
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