Virgin Hotels Chicago* – StudioGronda
Restaurant/Bar Virgin Hotels Chicago*Chicago, USA
Courtesy of Rockwell Group. Completed while a Managing Director at Rockwell Group, Madrid. Photos © Eric Laignel.

The First Property of Virgin Hotels, the Lifestyle Hotel Brand by Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson

The challenge was to create a new member of the Virgin brand family. Gronda and the design team had to develop a concept that is aligned with specific values that are key to Virgin and addresses a specific demographic audience. The project included the design of 250 guest rooms, including 38 one-bedroom suites and two penthouse suites; The Commons Club featuring the hotel’s main bar and restaurant; Miss Ricky’s, a street level diner; Two Zero Three, a coffee and wine bar; and The Spa. The interior of the guest rooms is understated yet playful, with a simple palette of natural woods for furniture and finishes and pops of Virgin’s signature red. Virgin tasked the design team to rethink the hotel room paradigm and space planning was key. The guest rooms break away from a traditional layout by offering two distinct areas, the Dressing Room and the Sleeping Lounge, which can be separated by custom sliding doors. Given a 28 m2 standard room, guests enjoy more flexibility, privacy, and user-friendly amenities.

2015 Gold Key Award, Finalist, Best Hotel Upscale
Photos © Eric Laignel.
© Eric Laignel

There was a lot of emphasis on maintaining a residential feel throughout the hotel, with a sense of wit and humor. The guestroom corridors feature red wall lamps reminiscent of street lighting and British townhouse-inspired red front doors. The quirky porcelain statue of a dog marks pet-friendly rooms.

Courtesy of Virgin Hotels.

Each room comes with an eye-catching SMEG mini-fridge in bright red. The Vespa chair adds a level of whimsy to the suites and distinguishes them from the more conventional, formal suites found in many business hotels.

*Completed while a Managing Director at Rockwell Group, Madrid.