Welcome To This Chicago Hotel That Pays Homage To The Gilded Age


seating area with low tables, chairs, a blue banquette and windows in the Waldorf Astoria Chicago

“We have a long history with this property,” says Carrie Tolman, a principal with KTGY Simeone Deary Design Group, about the Waldorf Astoria Chicago in the Gold Coast neighborhood. “We were part of the original design years ago, so this renovation was a chance for us to revisit an old friend.”

The hotel opened in 2009 as the Elysian, then became part of Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts. While the building’s ownership has changed hands several times over the years, the newest owners called on KTGY Simeone Deary Design Group to refresh the hotel and revitalize its energy. The plan included all guest suites and the first-floor lobby area. Perhaps most important for the community, the owners wanted to bring back Bernard’s, a beloved bar that had been turned into a meeting room. “We used details from the equestrian world for inspiration,” Tolman says of the second-floor destination. “We wanted it to be a sexy, cozy space.”

The team’s most dramatic transformation, however, was turning a small café on the first floor into a library that pays homage to Chicago Gilded Age socialite Mrs. Bertha Palmer. The opulent lounge has real peacock feathers on the wall and teal and lavender furnishings, but it doesn’t read as a stuffy parlor; rather, it’s an elegant space to share a tête-à-tête. “We wanted to respect and rejuvenate what was already there,” Tolman says, “while acknowledging and using the forward vision that we brought to the table.”