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A Night at the Moxy: Marriott’s New Millennial Hotel Brand

The word “millennial” gets thrown around a lot these days. It’s usually in the context of a Gen-Xer complaining about the way we do this or that, so when I hear that word I’m ready to get worked up and defend my generation. (Sorry Baby Boomers, but you MADE us this way!) But now that the world is starting to accept that we are the new wave of “adults” and starting families and throwing money into the economy, every now and then there’s a positive spin on what it means to be a millennial, and companies increasingly are catering to the unique generation that we are.

So when I heard Marriott created a new brand of hotels to target millennials, I was intrigued. Then, over the course of two weeks, I somehow managed to be in three different Moxy hotels. (It wasn’t intentional.)

The view out my window at the Moxy Chicago
The view out my window at the Moxy Chicago – a false window painted with some artistic scenes

Launched in 2014 and growing quickly, Moxy describes their line as having, “the heart of a boutique hotel and an appetite for adventure.” They’ve stripped down the hotel experience to the necessities and added back in only the things that make sense for the modern traveler.

Their website states:

We’ve done our homework. Or rather we gave it to some of the best design teams around. We asked them to get nosy and discover what people love, play with or couldn’t care less about, while at a hotel. That’s how we found out that most people never use their closets. And, while we’ve kept room for your stuff, we nipped more than a few solid inches for a sweet 42” TV and an even sweeter bed.

In the age of cheaper prices for less luxuries, I was a bit skeptical. (“Oh you want affordable airfare? How much are you willing to save to sit with your knees in your chest and only carry on a light sweater?”) But I’m also a Marriott loyalist, and I had to give this a try. (Not to mention their cheap price point makes Moxy eligible for my free night credit that comes with being a Marriott Visa holder.)

Moxy Chicago
Moxy Chicago

Moxy Chicago

Traveling for work often, I tend to stay at the Residence Inn, JW Marriott, or even the The Blackstone. But the Moxy Chicago was brand new (it opened on Wednesday and I arrived the following Monday) so there was something intriguing about being one of the very first to stay at a property. But apart from that, any guest can tell it’s certainly different from the get-go.

Moxy bar
Moxy has a bar instead of a front desk.

Moxy screams “millennial” from the second you step into the lobby – or lack thereof. You check-in at the bar which doubles as the front desk (why have a desk when you can have a bar?) and I was given a promotional dice roll which landed me a free taco.

The lounge
The lounge at Moxy Chicago

So what is different about The Moxy?

  • As mentioned, the front desk is at the bar – you literally walk up to the bar to get your room key. Oh and at night, there’s a DJ at the bar. Even on a Monday.
  • The rooms are smaller – You’re not coming to a city to sit in the room anyway, and Moxy knows that. For those of us that are used to European hotel rooms with only just enough space to squeeze around the bed, the rooms will feel spacious.
  • There are no dressers or closets – There are hangers, which is really all you need, and a steamer for de-wrinkling.
  • The lobby is actually a lounge, reminiscent of a co-working space – Like wework, it’s an easy place to hang out and do your freelance. The tables also have games like Cards Against Humanity.
  • Instead of a restaurant, there’s a taco shop. And the drink cooler has bottled matcha, sparkling Bai, espresso energy shots, and all of the other cliché (but accurate) drinks we love.
  • There’s no bar soap.
My room at Moxy Chicago
My room at Moxy Chicago
Comfy beds at Moxy
Comfy beds at Moxy

It’s the simplicity of a hostel with the comfort of a hotel, putting more emphases on the public spaces and stripping the rooms down to the bare essentials – while still giving you all the necessities.

Moxy Berlin Ostbahnhof
Moxy Berlin Ostbahnhof (Image courtesy of Marriott.com)

Moxy Berlin

I booked Moxy Berlin Ostbahnhof way in advance when planning a trip to Germany, mostly because the price was right (only about $100USD per night). The location wasn’t very central, but it was right across from a train station that got you downtown in minutes. It was also walkable to the trendier “Brooklyn-esque” neighborhoods of Berlin.

Some things I noticed …

  • Like Moxy Chicago, the bar doubled as the front desk, and this time I was given a complimentary welcome drink.  This one did however have a traditional breakfast buffet (for a fee) and switched to offering homemade pizzas at night. (I much preferred this over the Chicago taco joint. I like real breakfast.)
  • The rooms were similar: bare, but practical. One cool feature that I had never seen before was a sensor light underneath the furniture that illuminated when you got up in the dark.
  • There was no steamer in the room, but there was an “ironing room” on our floor. (There was actually one in Chicago too, but I didn’t notice it.) This made total sense to me – I don’t need staff to bring me their one and only iron and then have me block the entry to the bathroom with an oversized ironing board. I just need a place to quickly smooth out my wrinkled shirts.

Similar to my stay in Chicago, the Moxy Berlin Ostbahnhof gives you a feel for the “brand”. I did run into several older guests who seemed to enjoy the place just as much as we did, although I assume they did their research and knew what they were getting.

"I am noisy proud wild naughty bloody silly foolish but genuine"
The quote that greets you in the Moxy Berlin lounge – “I am noisy proud wild naughty bloody silly foolish but genuine.”

The Moxy Experience

The things from a “traditional” hotel that I missed? Not much. Because I travel a decent amount I did begin to appreciate my access to the lounge that my Marriott Gold status gets me (I like free breakfast), which is obviously absent from any Moxy. My one pet peeve was that there’s no lotion – that’s a standard hotel amenity that I don’t think needs to get scrapped. And maybe the rooms could use a few more hangers. But apart from that, for the incredible price point the Moxy offers, I have to say it’s a pretty good value.

I also recently hung out at the Moxy Times Square, but I only drank at their new Magic Hour Rooftop Bar and didn’t see anything of the actual hotel. (For those looking to “experience” Magic Hour, it’s much more of a traditional Manhattan rooftop, nothing much along the lines of the “urban amusement park” that’s described. That’s my one sentence review!)

Magic Hour Rooftop Bar at Moxy Times Square (NYC)
Magic Hour Rooftop Bar at Moxy Times Square (NYC) – putting green

In Conclusion …

Powered by the millennial need for human interaction and socialization, I like the idea that Moxy puts more emphasis on common space, and less into the part where you’ll be mostly unconscious (sleeping). Travel is designed to spend time out experiencing culture, not in a hotel room away from the outside world. If all you need is a comfy bed, and maybe a place to have a drink and unwind, and you don’t want to shell out a bunch of money to do it, then this is the place for you. Moxy is spearheading a trend that is likely to flourish in the age of “let’s travel more”.

So yes, I’ll be staying again.

Magic Hour Rooftop Bar at Moxy Times Square (NYC)
Magic Hour Rooftop views – Moxy Times Square

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