Out-of-this-world luxury and style in Virgin’s New Hotel in the Big D
By Janis Turk
While Richard Branson was in outer space a couple of months ago, I was keeping his bed warm back on earth.
Or so I’m told.
I was staying in “Sir Richard’s Flat,” in the new Virgin Hotels Dallas, which is said to be billionaire Richard Branson’s penthouse-like, high-rise apartment, the spacious “flat” he stays in whenever he’s in “Big D”… and not in outer space. How old is Virgin Hotel Dallas? NEW in 2021.
I’d been invited as a guest of Virgin Hotels Dallas since I have often written hotel reviews and penned several Texas guidebooks. GoNOMAD’s editor asked me to go as he wanted an honest and accurate review of the hotel for readers.
When I landed this sweet assignment, I invited my best friend to join me (he is younger than I am), a former New York travel editor who has stayed in some of the world’s best and worst hotels. Together he and I can size up a hotel’s merits and faults rather quickly.
Besides, it was his birthday weekend, so a high-end getaway adventure in Texas seemed like a nice way to jump-start celebrations.
My husband Dan came along, too, and there was plenty of room for all of us to fly high in Branson’s space-age flat.
Upon check-in, the general manager greeted us at the reception desk. He was friendly, polite, and professional. I’m happy to say he didn’t use any of those awful, scripted, corporate-friendliness phrases, like those used at so many of today’s more trendy hotels.
You know, like when you call the desk of some hip boutique hotel and the staff answers the phone, “It’s my pleasure to make your dreams come true” when you call for room service.
That makes me feel icky as if I’d just called a late-night TV 1-888 number. “Do not make my dreams come true! Just bring me a cheeseburger!”
The reception area is not so large, but it is big on style. With high ceilings, nail-polish-red area rugs, and bulbous pendant lights holding dozens of brass and glass spheres, the room also featured a pink Miami Beach-style back-lit mirror, grey and white geometric wallcoverings, and sculpture-worthy lamps atop a lacquered sofa table.
The wow factor was a giant modern art piece behind a gilded-wood desk. Below an oversized art print featuring young Queen Elizabeth image from a postage stamp was a comfortable seating area where guests could wait on the hotel’s own car service, a Virgin Red Rolls Royce.
Ride in a Rolls
Guests may request rides in the Rolls Royce within a three-mile radius of the hotel on a first-come, first-serve basis from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, and 9 a.m. to Midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. Three miles will get you to the popular Deep Ellum entertainment district or just about anywhere you’d want to go downtown.
We reached our suite and were certainly wowed. Coming in at a cool 1,400 square feet with spectacular views of the Dallas skyline from a long glass wall and balcony, Sir Richard’s penthouse flat epitomizes modern chic luxury.
Enter a long slim hallway, and there’s a sizeable guest half-bath, so partying friends needn’t walk through the billionaire’s bedroom to skip to the loo.
Off the spacious master suite is a formal dressing room including a full walk-in-closet system, sit-down makeup vanity with an illuminated mirror that made everybody look more attractive somehow, and a spacious walk-in shower and stand-alone red-pedicured-claw-foot tub.
The bathroom’s geometric black and white tile created an extra-attractive aesthetic, while the enormous closet had the same masculine, dark feel of fine dressing rooms I’ve seen in London’s best hotels.
Have a Good Knight’s Sleep
The master bedroom, which the hotel calls “The Sleeping Lounge,” features a one-of-a-kind patented “Best Bed Ever” mattress on a king-sized bed, from which guests can watch television or stream content from their own devices to a 42″ LG Smart TV on the opposite wall. I’m not crazy about such trendy branding, but the descriptions were fitting.
The living room was curved, long, and spacious and seemed open to the skyline with its wall of floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the city lights with a narrow glass-walled terrace the length of the room. Seating was comfortable on the plush blue and red velvet couch and chairs.
70s Style Round Table
A kitchen island with bar seating was handy, as was a 70s-style round plastic table for four and a fridge stocked with snacks and drinks, along with a freezer and ice machine.
The space was impressive. The only thing we all agreed we didn’t love was the colorful wrap-around wall mural along a long wall in the living room. Still, the view made the room outstanding, bringing the glittering skyline in, making the space look all the larger and more stunning.
At night Dallas sparkled like a rodeo queen’s rhinestone tiara, so we never closed the curtains.
Love the Liteboxer Workout
Beyond all that, in one corner of the living room stood a tough, tall, high-end Liteboxer exercise boxing machine offering guests opportunities for fun and fitness without leaving the suite. Liteboxer is described in its literature as “an immersive, competitive experience that adapts to your skill level, fitness goals, and music taste.” The machine stands tall and lights up in areas that you’re supposed to punch. Freshly-sterilized boxing gloves were provided along with Liteboxer instructions.
After playing with it for a while, we realized it could become addictive. It can be programmed it to give you a professional trainer-designed class workout, let you play competitive games with friends, or try to beat your own score as the machine measures your punching force, accuracy, and stamina.
The Liteboxer allows you to set goals and track your progress. For me, a non-athlete, It was enjoyable whether I wanted a serious hard workout or just a round of fun. My friend, far more fit than I, figured out all the machine’s options and enjoyed a real workout before we explored the hotel a bit.
Located at a snazzy address, Turtle Creek Boulevard, not far from the posh, famed, old-school Rosewood Mansion at Turtle Creek, and just over a mile from the heart of downtown Dallas, the Virgin Hotels is well situated, easy to get to from the airport, and easy to reach all the best hot spots in town.
Funny Library & Coffee Shhhop
When we popped back downstairs just off the reception area, I stumbled onto a photoshoot with attractive models standing before arched seating areas in an inviting and eclectic Funny Library & Coffee Shhhop.
An enormous Buckingham Palace guard comic-book art piece dominates one wall, while a stylish library display of expensive coffee-table books flanks another. This is a chill place to plug in and get work done on your laptop while enjoying a great cup of coffee.
My favorite part of the room was its decor: black and white courtly checked tables juxtaposed against big floral wallcoverings inside coved banquette nooks with little tête-à-tête tables. It all looked so sharp, young, and on-trend.
The Commons Club
Adjacent to the Funny Library is the large, airy hotel restaurant, the Commons Club, gleaming with the concept of a modern social club but featuring inventive culinary offerings, along with a draped wine and private dining room, live entertainment, a private VIP Shag Room cocktail area, and more.
The Commons Club bar, with its tubular bell-like light fixtures and its velvet poof seating and curvy striped sofas, looked like the kind of place affluent Dallasites might meet for drinks after work.
We’d already all had our Covid vaccines and wore masks, so even though there were outdoor dining spaces too, we were happy to sit inside.
Just off the Commons Club is the Shag Room, reminiscent of a room in Anabel’s, once an A-list, exclusive, private members club in London. Curved walls of thin mirror strips and emerald green leather banquettes line the space which would be perfect for a private cocktail party. Shag throw rugs lay below cheetah-print fringed ottoman seating.
Swim among the Stars
Our favorite part of the hotel, however, was the Pool Club, a fourth-floor rooftop pool and bar with cabanas, loungers, daybeds, adorned with these fabulous soft tiger pillows my friend had seen in a high-end Manhattan store at some crazy high price point. There were at least 50 of them scattered about the seating areas.
Surrounded by chill private cabanas guests can rent, the pool was the place to be, with dramatic views of the skyline. A more intimate hot tub area rests behind a gate beneath a shaded arched arbor.
Waiters served us, and we ordered a tasteful charcuterie tray to nosh on as we sipped umbrella-adorned fruity rum drinks and coconut water in the summer heat.
At night on summer weekends, The Pool Club is party-central.
Downtown Dallas Destinations
The Rolls Royce was being serviced and wasn’t available that day, so we took our own car to the Dallas Museum of Art, which is in fact the largest contiguous urban arts district in the nation, spanning 118 acres. The next day, we spent the morning at the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, set in the historic book depository building where Lee Harvey Oswald is said to have shot President
John F. Kennedy from a sixth-floor window.
Less than a block from the hotel we found a fabulous little New American gastropub, so on that August evening, we walked over and had a marvelous meal at The Meddlesome Moth.
We adored this casual but handsome spot with 140+ types of beer, craft-brew flights, fine wines, and menu options that would even please vegetarian and gluten-free-loving guests.
We enjoyed a tasty bone marrow appetizer and were delighted with the fresh fish and beef dishes we ordered. Service was far above-par, and we liked its outdoor patio with its awning and fans.
We felt like we’d just discovered one of Dallas’ best-kept secrets. Perhaps we did.
Back at the Flat
Back at Sir Richard’s Flat that night, we popped champagne, cut the birthday cake, and opened presents while the lights of the city glimmered and glittered in the dark Dallas night.
In the morning, the guys enjoyed a healthy fresh breakfast in the Commons Club while I took one last look at the hotel and found gems of pop art around each corner. I also visited the large exercise room that we hadn’t had time to use since we’d enjoyed our Liteboxer workout instead.
Virgin Hotels Dallas is a Cool Concept
The Virgin Hotels Dallas is a striking place that a young, beautiful, millennial crowd would love—an Instagram-worthy, trend-setting spot, where influencer types go to lounge at the coolest pool in the city or work in the Funny Library.
However, it’s also a serene grown-up space that even mature guests will enjoy, for the hotel offers high-style, sublime creature comforts, quality service, exciting art, and easy accessibility to downtown.
Virgin carefully curates its brand and knows what clients want. Sexy, playful, colorful, and fun, Virgin Dallas masterfully walks the tightrope between tastefulness and trendiness.
Many thanks, and cheerio Sir Richard!
So, if I were Sir Richard Branson, this is where I’d want to land when I come down to earth. For in his sky-high penthouse, I was lifted above everyday life and thrust into the orbit of the rich and famous.
So thanks, Sir Richard, for allowing us to stay at your place while you were floating in outer space. The view was awesome from up there, wasn’t it?
The Author received complimentary lodging from Virgin Hotels Dallas but the opinions are her own.