The Hotel Allegro was created on the site of old Bismarck Hotel in 1998 in Chicago, Illinois. The original Bismarck Hotel was built in 1894 by Emil and Karl Eitel, brothers from Stuttgart, Germany. The Eitels were pioneers who installed ice-boxes in the hotel’s kitchen and air conditioning in the hotel’s restaurants. During World War I, the Bismarck was renamed the Randolph Hotel because of anti-German sentiment. After the war, the Bismarck name was restored. When the Eitel brothers built a new 19-floor Bismarck Hotel, the 22-story Metropolitan Office Building and the 2500-seat Palace Theatre, the original Bismarck was demolished.
The new Bismarck opened in 1926 with 600 rooms with spectacular features such as:
- a wide marble staircase with a hand-wrought balustrade in the spacious lobby
- vaudeville acts and big-name bands performing in the adjacent Palace Theatre
- authentic German cuisine served at the Bismarck’s Swiss Chalet restaurant
In 1956, the hotel was acquired by the Wirtz family, owners of the Chicago Blackhawks and the Chicago Stadium. They installed air-conditioning throughout the building and telephones in every room. With its fortuitous location across the street from City Hall, the Bismarck was the official headquarters for the Cook County Democratic organization.
In 1996, Pal/Met purchased the Bismarck and, with Kimpton Hotels as operator, embarked on creating a thoroughgoing new identity with a theatrical ambiance. It reopened in 1998 with a new name, the Hotel Allegro, and a new identity. In 2008, interior designer Martha Angus was brought on board to craft a design concept that would tell the Hotel Allegro’s modern “Be a Star” story, while maintaining a reverence for the building’s past.
Guests enter the hotel on a red carpeted sweeping staircase, which leads to the renovated lobby area known as the “living room”. A striking mural, above the reception desk of the S.S. Normandie, built in 1932 as the fastest and largest ocean liner in the world enhances the classic feel of the space. Nearby, guests can venture from past to present as they enter the adjacent Cameo Lounge, which shows a contemporary look with laser-cut ink splatter mirrors, bright red faux crocodile wall coverings, and white leather couches.
The Hotel Allegro’s 483 luxurious guestrooms have a sleek design incorporating reflective surfaces, and lustrous furniture made of macassar ebony. Past and present is fused with Art Deco design features such as 1940s-inspired French desks, headboards inspired by 1960s luxury cruise ship cabins and 21st century geometric patterns and accents, including plexi-bedside table lamps. The historic Walnut Ballroom has fifteen-foot ceilings, large windows, and nickel-plated chandeliers of 1910 vintage.
The Hotel Allegro is a focal point for sightings of pop stars and rock bands such as Poison, Pink, Christina Aguilera, Tommy Lee, Midnight Oil, Flock of Seagulls, Warrant, The Killers, The Roots, Perry Ferrell, DJ Miles, Maeda and Rhianna. The hotel’s restaurant, 312 Chicago, hosts politicians from neighboring City Hall while the lounge, Encore, provides production parties for actors and producers from the nearby theater district.
Frommer’s Review, New York Times,