Mention the 1920s and an era of glamour and innovative design immediately comes to mind. With its latest renovation, Hotel Allegro aims to evoke that glamour while providing modern amenities.
Located at 171 West Randolph Street, Hotel Allegro is on the site of the Bismarck Hotel, which was originally opened in 1894 by the Eitel brothers. After thirty years the brothers demolished the building and built the Eitel Block, which included the Metropolitan Building, the 2,500-seat Palace Theater, and the New Bismarck Hotel. The New Bismarck quickly became one of the hottest spots in Chicago, hosting parties for such luminaries as Oscar Mayer and Duncan Hines. It was also the site of the first legal draft pour in Chicago on April 7, 1933. While prohibition wasn't repealed until December of that year, restaurants and bars could begin serving beer with an alcohol content of 3.2%, and at 12:01am the Bismarck was the place to quench that legally-induced thirst.
Beginning in mid-century the hotel declined until it was closed in 1996. The Kimpton group, which operates boutique hotels including Hotel Palomar and Hotel Monaco, purchased the Bismarck and re-opened it two years later as the Hotel Allegro. The group has already renovated the hotel once; now they're about to unveil Phase II of an ambitious project to showcase the building's art deco history.
The lobby will be reached via the Grand Staircase and guests of the hotel will be steadying themselves with the same brass handrails used by the Mayers and the Hines. The lighting fixtures overhead are also original; the set of eight chandeliers was found in the subbasement, and they've been cleaned up and finished with LED lights to make them more energy efficient.
Gone is the Encore Liquid Lounge. Instead, guests who desire a libation and social interaction can take a seat at the new lobby bar. This will feature a cut-glass mosaic on the wall, designed to make the bar gleam. They'll have local craft beers on tap and you can even get a growler to take to your room. Other to-go options are bottled cocktails and light bites. Having a choice is great for those times you want to meet others and for those other times when you just want to tuck into your room for the night. Of course, these to-go options will also be great for locals, commuters, and theater-goers.
While the Palace Theater closed after suffering the same decline as the hotel, and then the ignominy of a collapsing floor during a concert, in its place is the Cadillac Palace Theatre. One of Broadway in Chicago's signature venues, its stage has seen shows like Mamma Mia, The Color Purple, and Shrek The Musical. Now it's also the new home to the Joffrey Ballet.
The rooms themselves play on the theater-theme, including one designed to represent a dressing room. Because of the age of the building there are over 30 different configurations for the 483 guest rooms, so guests can stay in a new room each visit, or they can request a favorite.
Other touches that honor Hotel Allegro's storied history include the use of mixed metals in the several areas tucked away in the public spaces and the floor-to-ceiling stone-clad fireplace. The Savoy room brings to mind a library or a private club. Crescendo, located at the top of the grand staircase (music reference intended), is where the former gift shop was located. Now it's a comfortable space for meetings, relaxing, or getting some work done. Probably the most glamourous touch of all will be the portrait of a flapper decorated with real gold and silver chains created by local artist Sarah Raskey.
Hotel Allegro is set to unveil its renovation this May.