With historic hotel renovations occurring on seemingly every block in the Loop these days, it helps to be a building with its own industry backstory. As part of a three-phase renovation that will update the lobby and entrance, the Hotel Allegro at 171 West Randolph aims to reconnect with its own Art Deco past, when the property was known as the Hotel Bismarck. Owned by brothers Emil, Karl, Robert and Max Eitel, the Bismarck, which opened in 1926, was then the latest in a string of successful sibling entrees into the hospitality industry, starting with the Fair Hotel, a guesthouse-turned-hotel near the site of the 1893 World's Columbian Expedition. The "new" Bismarck -- the brothers razed their previous Bismarck Hotel, named after the Kaiser, to make room for the new property -- began welcoming guests at the height of the pre-crash Roaring '20s. Interior designers Simeone Deary Design Group aimed to recapture that era of exuberant design in the second phase of this Kimpton property update.
Completed last summer, the first stage of the project focused on event spaces, introducing Crescendo, a former gift shop at the apex of the grand stairway that was converted into a combination lounge, meeting space and private event space for up to 18 people, and the Green Room, a meeting space with a refined, study-like entrance lounge and fireplace.
The upcoming second phase, which will push to tab thus far to roughly $15 million and open at the end of April, focuses on creating a more active, flowing grand lobby decked out in period flourishes and restored fixtures.
While guests currently check in at a temporary ground floor entrance which used to be the Encore Lounge, crews are finishing up improvements and additions to the lobby floor, which will feature a bar, double-sided fireplace and lounge. Meant to "improve the sense of arrival," according to hotel manager Mary Perino-Fleming, the updated lobby will also include eye candy, such as a massive mural from local artist Sarah Raskey depicting a '20s flapper layered with actual gold and silver chains.
Along with an excess of brass and silver finishes and a planned glittering glass mural on the back wall, the forthcoming new bar was designed for social interaction, befitting its location near the main desk and elevators. Guests will be able to sit at a communal table or one of a dozen bar stools, or even order a bottled cocktail to take up to their rooms.
While the renovation can't be a complete restoration, since certain elements discovered during construction, such as the original terrazzo floors, can't be saved, it's still shooting to be a celebration of the hotel's past. That's certainly setting a high bar for glamour and entertaining -- at its height, the Bismarck hosted birthdays parties for wealthy businessman such as Duncan Hines and Oscar Mayer and even tapped the city's first legal keg after Prohibition in its Walnut Room.