Jessica Alexander – Classic Glamour Lives On In Renovations At The Waldorf Astoria Chicago

A Hotel Podcast

December 22, 2023

Renovation work at the Gold Coast property is a return for KTGY Simeone Deary Design Group

Location: Chicago, IL

Perfect For: An upscale escape from the city in the heart of Chicago

When it comes to the Waldorf Astoria Chicago, it only makes sense that Chicago’s KTGY Simeone Deary Design Group would conduct the hotel’s recent renovations. After all, the agency has a long history with the property.

Back in 2002, the design firm’s co-founders, Lisa Simeone and Gina Deary, concepted the property’s previous identity, the Elysian Hotel Chicago. That version of the hotel would come to life in 2009, before adopting the Waldorf Astoria Chicago identity in early 2012. Now, two decades after Simeone and Deary’s initial work on the property, their firm has brought new life to the hotel in the form of a multi-focused renovation that wrapped in late 2022. That work includes the hotel’s rooms and suites, as well as the spa and fitness center, and F&B offerings.

“So really with any project, we always start with looking at the surrounding environment, where the property sits, sort of researching and in our initial concepting phase, always taking all of those factors into account,” KTGY SDDG Senior Interior Design Manager Jessica Alexander explains to A HOTEL PODCAST. “And on any project, that’s really where we kick off and create a unique concept and story for. Every one of our projects and each one is always different.”

“The original client’s goal for the Elysian as a property was to create a timeless hotel,” Alexander continues. “So that really carried over into our thought process for the renovation that was just completed. We look at the scope, we look at the story that we want to tell within each space, and that sort of really lays the foundation for our work.”

One such guest space that benefited from the upgrade is the hotel’s Astoria Suite. Alongside the stunning Presidential Suite, the Astoria is one of the hotel’s premier offerings, as Catie Walsh, Director of Sales & Marketing at the hotel, explains.

“The design team (at KTGY SDDG) did such an amazing job of really elevating and bringing in these beautiful design touches, but in a room that is to be used so flawlessly. So when you’re in the (Astoria Suite), there’s just this comfort and this ease at every touch point.:

“We looked at some of the key influences from the original property, specifically in the Astoria suite,” Alexander confirms. “We really wanted it to feel more residential in its overall detailing and scale, bringing in some of those iconic black and white marbles as accents. And we took three existing guest rooms and sort of reconfigured all of the planning to create this master suite.”

(A drink set in the Astoria Suite)

Keeping in line with the long-established tone of the hotel, the renovations draw influences from classic glamour, as Alexander explains.

“Originally there was inspiration drawn from the French fashion masters and sort of looking at those key icons such as Chanel and Dior and what really makes them timeless. You look at a black dress from Coco Chanel, that’s still going to be relevant ten years down the road. So sort of implementing that mindset into the overall design was really what guided the architectural shell, the black and white scheme, and making it a little more fashion forward in the luxury hotel landscape.”

It’s a sentiment Walsh also shares when detailing the classic luxury influences on the guest rooms.

“Touches like the ropes on the drapes and the design of the lampshades. I think the biggest influence that you’ll see which is really one of the most dramatic changes in the room is the headboards in all of our rooms are this stunning art piece and it you walk in the room and it takes you back. You just need a minute to look at it, and it’s just it’s not something you see everywhere else. It’s this stunning, again, a nod to kind of Chanel and her love of flowers and it’s just this beautiful floral headboard and it’s stunning. That’s the only word I can use. It’s stunning.”

For more on the Waldorf Astoria Chicago, including renovations to the hotel’s spa and F&B offerings, check out A HOTEL PODCAST podcast interviews with Walsh and Alexander below.

The former interview details Walsh’s approach to marketing as a team focus at the hotel, as well as the serene escape of the hotel’s semi-private courtyard. The latter podcast with Alexander goes into detail about the Waldorf’s F&B concepts, including the new Peacock Lounge and the return of beloved Gold Coast institution Bernard’s, as well as the expansion of the hotel’s Presidential Suite.