By Mary Beth Klatt
Located in the heart of Chicago’s posh Gold Coast neighborhood with the Magnificent Mile nearby for upscale shopping and dining, the iconic Talbott Hotel, a Joie de Vivre hotel, was originally designed by John Archibald Armstrong and built in 1927. It was time, then, for the hotel to get a bit of a facelift. Following a $20 million renovation, local designer Kara Mann, retained the hotel’s classic Renaissance Revival charm with a top-to-bottom update of the 90-year-old building.
The Talbott is one of a few remaining European-style boutique hotels in Chicago, according to Don Copper, principal at GREC Architects, the architecture firm chosen for the renovation. With the overhaul, the goal was to maintain the hotel’s intimate feel but in a modern way by updating F&B service throughout the lobby and relocating the front desk to a remote space away from the entryway. Along with a new and innovative material palette, guestrooms were increased from 149 to 178, with the addition of a new restaurant, 20 East, from Chicago’s Four Corners Tavern Group.
Mann chose a neutral palette punctuated with color to bridge the gap between the classic and the contemporary. Traditional materials, such as plaster, milk-painted wood paneling, and terrazzo, are a part of the design throughout the ground-floor public spaces. The guestrooms continue that theme with modern and traditional elements, including textured wallcovering, white sheer draperies, a solid, deep ink-colored carpet, and a marble window sill that contrasts copper-toned accents in furnishings.
Mann was clear on her mission. “We wanted to maintain the historic authenticity of the hotel so we chose to keep the majority of the existing moldings but infused modern architectural elements to eloquently articulate the updating of the hotel,”she says. “The selection of new furniture and lighting were layers of modern and traditional to give a nod to the hotel’s past and future.”