During our whirlwind 50 hour trip to Chicago, I decided to have us stay at the Kimpton Hotel Allegro located in the Chicago Loop. I had several reasons to stay here. The hotel was built in 1926 and I’ve written before about how we love to stay in old hotels, like the Waldorf=Astoria in New York. The Hotel Allegro is conveniently located near the ‘L’ trains so it would be easy getting to the airports for our flights and it was also within walking distance for many of the sights that we wanted to see. Normally this would be enough for me to choose this hotel but the Kimpton Hotel Allegro had one more thing going for it that made the decision a no brainer.
You see, the Kimpton Hotel Allegro was previously known as the Bismarck Hotel. It was the very same hotel where Sharon attended The Official 1988 Monkees Convention in the summer of ’88 and for nostalgia’s sake, she wanted to stay there again.
Like so many old hotels, The Bismarck lived on long past its heyday, fell onto hard times and eventually closed in 1996. That’s when the Kimpton Hotel company stepped in to purchase the hotel in 1998 and embarked on a mission to bring back the hotel to its former glory. If you are interested in the story of the hotel’s rebirth, you can find interesting articles here and here.
They didn’t try to do a full restoration, as much of the hotel had fallen into a condition that was beyond repair. However, they did try to bring the hotel back to a grand hotel style, reminiscent of the 1920s. So there was Art Deco design with dark colors, lots of crystal and striking design elements everywhere. I know that’s not everyone’s style but it was interesting to stay there. I’ve read that since the hotel’s rooms were not uniform, there are a numerous amount of room configurations so that few of the rooms are identical. This leads to a difficulty in reviewing the rooms since so few of of them are the same, but I’ll do my best.
We arrived at the hotel around 1PM, well before the check-in time of 3PM. I had emailed the hotel ahead of time asking for an early check-in but was informed the hotel was fully booked the night before so they couldn’t guarantee the room would be ready when we arrived.
We walked to the check in desk area on the second floor and was greeted by a friendly associate. We were informed that our room was ready and told about the hotel’s offerings. Coffee in the lobby every morning. Happy Hour every evening with prosecco between 5-6 PM. Hours of the hotel restaurant and so on. Having already been awake for about 10 hours, we just wanted to drop our bags off in our room and head to lunch so we could then take a nap. In my lack of sleep stupor, I totally forgot to give the “secret word.” Every few months, Kimpton Hotels releases a different phrase on their Facebook page and if you say it to the front desk when checking in, you may get a special perk. You can either follow Kimpton on Facebook or this thread on Flyertalk (where you can find out the perks at each Kimpton hotel.) Instead, we headed right to our room, which was located on the 11th floor.
It was interesting that the room numbers didn’t follow the typical odd/even pattern, which confused us for a second. Our room was located about half way down the hall, facing the back of the hotel. While we didn’t have a view, we also didn’t have any street noise, which was fine by me.
The room felt a little small, but that was as much a part of the actual size of the room along with the amount of furniture and the dark color palette used in the design. I guess as a function of the dark colors, the room had the best lighting of any room we could remember. There was a small closet near the entrance but it was an irregular shape and you had to hang the clothes with the hangers facing you instead of putting the clothes in sideways. Since we were only staying there for two nights, it was perfectly fine. We only had our two carry-on bags as luggage so the lack of storage wasn’t a problem as we just kept them on the luggage stands under the artwork. Most important to us was that the room had a plethora of plugs. One nightstand had a dock with two plugs and two USB connectors. The other nightstand was near the desk and had numerous plugs for devices, computers, etc. This is the main problem we have with hotels nowadays, but wasn’t an issue here.
I did sign up for the Kimpton Karma rewards program before our stay and took advantage of the perks that we were given, such as free wi-fi and the “raid the bar” credit. The free wi-fi in the room worked fine and we were able to sign on with as many devices as we wanted.
When I first looked at hotels in Chicago, the prices were pretty low for the dates of our trip. However as the date approached and I hadn’t booked a room yet, the prices went up significantly. I’m guessing this was because of the Lions Convention in town along with the three concerts happening the same weekend. The Kimpton Hotel Allegro was priced reasonably compared to other hotels but it was still more than we’d normally pay for a weekend trip. It does have a great location to walk around Chicago and is also conveniently located near several different lines of the ‘L’ trains. The decor was stylishly done but we decided that Art Deco just isn’t our taste for an entire hotel. I’d definitely stay here again but I’d check to see if anything else is available in the area first. For our next stay in Chicago for Frequent Traveler University, we’re spending a night at the Intercontinental Chicago Miracle Mile for the evening before the event starts. It’s another classic old hotel, built in 1929, and I get to use my free night I get from having the IHG credit card.
Do you have any favorite hotels to stay at in Chicago? Do you like to stay in renovated hotels or do you prefer to stay in a modern environment? Let us know!
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