Then and Now: Chicago’s Talbott Hotel

By Kelsey Ogletree, October 16, 2017

First opened in 1927, Chicago’s Talbott Hotel was at once a neighborhood hangout, a sought-after spot for vacationers and a destination for meetings and events. Blending into the landscape of Delaware Place in the luxe Gold Coast, it has been a fixture in the community for generations.

But to bring the beloved boutique into 2017, Joie de Vivre Hotels—the brand that owns the property—decided it was in dire need of a refresh. After undergoing a $20 million renovation that includes new guest rooms and suites (increasing total keys from 149 to 178), plus a facelift for the lobby, event spaces and patio, The Talbott Hotel reopened this summer. A new restaurant, 20 East, also debuted, providing primo people-watching alongside modern takes on American fare on its sidewalk patio.

Connect spoke with Director of Sales and Marketing Katie Joyce and General Manager Morgan Bailey to compare and contrast the old Talbott Hotel versus the new.

DESIGN

Then: Old-world charm.

Now: Interior designer Kara Mann wanted to bridge the old Talbott with the new Talbott. Because the hotel has such a strong history, you’ll see a combination contemporary and classic to create a new interior. She merged European style with modern fixtures to make it relevant and fresh.

F&B

Then: Formerly we had The Talbott Restaurant, which served pretty nondescript American fare.

Now: 20 East, managed by Two Roads Hospitality, features creative menus with quality-driven takes on American fare—think sandwiches, large plates, salads, etc. The burger is one of our top items, as is the lobster roll. We also have boards: hummus boards with grilled pitas, a salmon board, a prosciutto board and a burrata board. Having a sidewalk patio was a must. It has plenty of greenery and great lighting, and it’s nestled on a quiet, tree-lined street but still in heart of the Gold Coast.

GUEST ROOMS

Then: The former Talbott had a much more traditional style. The color palette was masculine—lots of browns, greens and orange.

Now: Mann incorporated a contemporary, neutral palette for fabrics and materials with subtle punctuations of color. Twenty-nine guest rooms, including seven Murphy bed rooms, were added by splitting some suites, though we still have one-bedroom suites.

Before Tabott Hotel guest room

After talbott hotel guest room

MEETING SPACES

Then: They felt small, had lots of dark woods and forest greens, and older European artwork. Spaces didn’t feel fresh.

Now: They have a much brighter palette. We added gorgeous chandeliers to our largest space (Reed Room), and also added contemporary, more refined fixtures to the rooms. The color palette now is shades of purple, tones of gray and a lot of bright white.

AMENITIES

Now: The renovation added a fitness center; the hotel previously didn’t have one. But out staff is our biggest asset. They really connect with guests on a personal level. We have employees who’ve been here upward of 20 years.

GROUP BUSINESS

Then: The Talbott had a lot of strong repeat groups, so we were lucky in that realm. All of the groups that were utilizing us prior to renovation are continuing to book with us.

Now: Businesses in the area who knew the old Talbott are interested in seeing the new and are booking groups here. Our sweet spot is the 30-40 person groups.

OVERALL BRANDING

Then: The historic property’s interior reflected its traditional façade, attracting an older demographic who had known it for years.

Now: We’re looking to be positioned as Gold Coast neighborhood hotel where travelers from afar feel like they’re home away from home, but we also want the neighbors and locals to come grab a drink and feel welcome to spend time here. We want to maintain as many of our former Talbott guests as we can, but because it’s a different look, we’re hoping to gain new travelers as well.

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