With a peculiar-looking cow - its red and black colored back reminding one of a giant Ladybird - walking up the front sandstone façade of the building means the 149-room Talbott Hotel in downtown Chicago is hard to miss.
To make it even more so, the hotel’s entrance with twin potted plants, ash-gray overhanging awning beneath which stood a valet in fully livery and polished glass and brass door, reminds one of a bygone era - a Private Gentlemen’s Club in Victorian London.
Neither image is quite what it seems – the cow is sculpted from fused plastic materials, a leftover from an innovative city arts exhibition - and the hotel, while demonstrating delightful aspects of what one might indeed term exclusivity, is open to everyone.
If location is a key consideration of your planned visit to the Windy City, then you would be hard-pressed to find anything more convenient than The Talbott – situated as the 86-year-old hotel is in the heart of the Gold Coast shopping district, fronting East Delaware, close to Wabash Avenue and a stone’s throw from North Michigan Avenue, the John Hancock Building and the Water Tower.
The old world luxuriance that the 4-star hotel’s front entrance hints at radiates beyond its revolving doors. Stepping into the lobby seemed as if stepping back in time, for all around is the essence of a classic, upper-class English countryside manor with chandeliers, magenta and duck egg -colored textile wallpaper with a floral motif, an abundance of mahogany-paneling, antique clocks, a fireplace, an elegant marble floor, plush leather settees and chairs and stucco ceiling.
Enhancing this impression further, shelves and walls are replete with hunting themes – framed paintings of riders in black hats and scarlet coats and polished hunting horns, bugles and a bronze statue of two horses as ornaments. The Victorian motif is also captured in a large farmed coat of arms and black and white photos of women in 19th century dresses.
The hunting theme even extends to bedrooms - average room size is 375 square feet, with suites being 825, according to the hotel officials - with gold leaf framed paintings depicting fox and hound chase scenes hanging from the walls.
Little Market Brasserie is the name of The Talbott’s restaurant, entered through a contemporary bar area open to the lobby. The restaurant features dishes inspired by classic French Brasseries with menu items including short rib-cognac poutine and cheese curds – its own version of French Fries. The brasserie also hosts breakfast.
While The Talbott doesn’t have its own in-house gym facilities, guests have free access to the nearby 30,000 square foot Equinox Fitness Club, that features a full-service spa, yoga and pilates studios, a cycling room, personal trainers and a lap pool.
With such a delightful mix of historical, contemporary and avant-garde reflected in its architecture, museums and entertainment, Chicago offers a long-to-be-remembered holiday and staying at The Talbott Hotel could be an important element of that.