NewCity Design, February 20, 2015
Review: Virgin Hotel, Chicago, IL
Quality design and attention to details are key to the Virgin brand. Walking into Chicago’s newest hotel in the Old Dearborn Bank building at Lake and Dearborn Streets, you won’t see the Virgin name plastered on every pen or tapestry. Instead, you’ll be greeted by a chandelier forged from discarded trumpet horns. That’s because this hotelier understands that bombarding guests with brand names won’t get it far. From the weird to the whimsical, the Virgin’s interiors charm visitors with quirk and caprice.
Designer Rockwell Group played with textures, colors and themes to create nuanced spaces. Knowing the typical Virgin clientele, Rockwell splurged on spaces meant for working and drinking. The second-floor Commons Club features the Funny Library, displaying Second City-curated books with vintage kid accoutrements (think old-gumball-machine-meets-wax lips) and Chicago memorabilia. The Kitchen offers softer textures: herringbone mix-and-match seats with white linens and an open kitchen.
Perhaps the most stunning feature of the Commons Club, however, is the rediscovered historic ceiling. While remodeling the second floor, which once held bank offices, Rockwell knocked out a false ceiling to expand the room’s height; underneath hid a white, ornately textured ceiling, which has since been restored to its original beauty.
Beyond the Commons Club, the Virgin’s rooms, called “Chambers,” don’t skimp on the little things. Workspaces are lit beautifully with compact architect lamps in Virgin’s signature red. But if guests are looking to sit up in bed to finish their day, the headboard is slanted at a comfortable angle for lounging. Vintage mini-fridges, LED vanities and felt wallpaper make the room feel like a cozy—albeit hipper—version of home. (Anjulie Rao)
Virgin Hotel Chicago, 203 North Wabash