First-Ever Virgin Hotel Opens Stateside in Chicago

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By Kelsey Keith / Published by Dwell
Virgin hires Rockwell Group Europe to rethink the hotel room paradigm for its entry into the hospitality field, a modern hotel in a historic building in Chicago.

Virgin's inaugural property, designed by Rockwell Group Europe, features 210 guest rooms, known as "chambers" 38 one-bedroom suites, and two penthouse suites. The Commons Club on the second floor is the social hub for the hotel, and ground-floor public spaces include a 24-hour diner, Miss Ricky's, and Two Zero Three, an inoteca-style coffee shop-turns-wine bar.

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Dwell broke the news about the first-ever Virgin Hotel opening January 15, 2015. The hotel was designed by Rockwell Group Europe and each guest room includes a Smeg mini-fridge, Maya Romanoff felt wallcovering, and custom wood sliding doors.

Virgin Hotels Chicago
Old Dearborn Bank Building
203 N. Wabash Avenue, Chicago
312-940-4400

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Rockwell Group Europe helped Virgin figure out how to modernize one of Chicago's landmarked downtown towers, the Old Dearborn Bank Building on Wabash Avenue.

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The Virgin chambers break the fusty hotel room mold with a layout that maximizes light and entry space, while placing crucial storage near the entry. Sliding doors can close off the sleeping chamber from the anteroom, which is used as a dressing room with adjacent water closet and shower room. The wardrobes are by Poliform, the flooring is Porcelanosa, and the sink is by Kohler.

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A bright red mini-fridge by Smeg reinforces the Virgin branding in each room.

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A detail of the Maya Romonoff-designed felt wallcovering, a custom modification of an existing pattern that sports a vertical red line motif.

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In the one-bedroom suites, wall storage, bookshelves, a dining table, and a Vespa chair by Bel & Bel add to the relaxed, cheerful vibe. The room also sports a leather Poltrona Frau and red Artemide lighting.

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The 11,000-square-foot Commons Club on the second-floor, overlooked by an original glass-walled mezzanine, represents the communal heart of the hotel. For the lounge area, Rockwell Group Europe managing and creative director Diego Gronda included loveseats by Fritz Hansen, lighting from FontanaArte, and tables from Minotti.

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A dynamic hybrid of a bar, laid-back study, and restaurant, it provides numerous services and flexible spaces to unwind for breakfast, lunch ,and dinner. Rockwell Group Europe carefully evaluated the flow from one room to the next to create a unique and flexible spatial experience. As guests move through the library, the space opens up into the two-story atrium bar. Tremendous effort went into restoring the club’s historic double-height plaster ceiling, which is accentuated by exposed filament pendant lights by Arteriors. As guests make their way through the bar, they come upon The Kitch (pictured).