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Virgin Hotels

Is billionaire Branson's latest endeavour a breath of fresh air for The Windy City?...

You may have noticed that Sir Richard Branson has been doing fewer round-the-world balloon flights and other similar billionaire Boy’s Own wheezes recently. Perhaps he’s too busy masterminding projects for his Virgin empire, such as this new venue from the Virgin Hotels division. Whatever Sir Richard’s involvement in the Chicago outpost’s development, he definitely stopped short of the interior design work which was carried out in partnership with Rockwell Group Europe.

All at Virgin Hotels Chicago revolves around The Commons Club, a 6,120 sq ft entertainment and leisure epicentre divided into four zones. The Commons Bar references the on-site boozer enjoyed by British politicians at the House of Commons (although presumably drinks here aren’t subsidised by the UK taxpayer), there’s somewhat self-explanatory areas known as The Kitchen and The Funny Library, and another private function space known as The Shag Room — presumably in the Austin Powers sense of the expression. Oh, behave. On top of that little lot, there’s the ground floor diner known as Miss Ricky’s, and a coffee and wine bar called Two Zero Three in reference to the hotel’s address on N Wabash. Remnants of the 26-storey Art Deco landmark — was once home to the Old Dearborn Bank — have been retained, including the 1920s oak cigar bar that now serves as the reception desk.

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