Check Out the Charmant Hotel

Once home to the Joseph B. Funke Candy Company factory, The Charmant Hotel in La Crosse, Wis., is a sweet finish to a $30 million renovation and restoration. The name of the 67-room boutique hotel, which means “charming” in French, references a premium line of chocolates Funke produced inside the 19th century building. Kubala Washatko Architects led the major restoration effort while Simeone Deary Design Group confected a design narrative that pays subtle tribute to the golden era of candy manufacturing. The color palette encompasses warm hues of milk chocolate, rich tones of dark chocolate, and pinks and greens reminiscent of nougats. In the lobby, guests can cozy up with a pastry and coffee or cordials with chocolates in the parlor or settle in for a French-inspired meal at the property’s restaurant. “The first floor is all about the ritual of dining,” says Gina Deary, co-owner of Simeone Deary. “It works together as one big, great family living room.”

What’s Old is New
The design juxtaposes historic elements, such as maple wood flooring and exposed brick, with luxurious finishes. Simeone Deary repurposed the building’s old iron staircase into an elegant spindle wall behind the front desk. “Rather than approach this like a loft building, we approached it as a luxury product that happens to be in an amazing old space,” Deary notes.

Window to the Past
An art display case in the center of the lobby features Funke Candy Company memorabilia, such as original candy boxes, vintage equipment, and old photographs. “It pays tribute to the history of the building and the product that came out of it, sprinkled in with meaningful items to the community of La Crosse,” she explains.

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Feast Your Eyes
The front desk doubles as a vintage-inspired candy counter that tempts visitors with handmade chocolates, macarons, and other confections. “We wanted candy to be the jewelry in the space, as opposed to being the focal point of the design,” Deary says.