clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

River North’s millennial-focused Moxy Hotel is open for business

New, 14 comments

The 156-room boutique hotel brings a hip attitude and new public art to the corner of Grand and LaSalle

Photos by Jay Koziarz

It’s been 18 months since the then-mysterious Moxy Hotel landed its first construction permit for the northwest corner of LaSalle Street and Grand Avenue and the eight-story development is ready to welcome its hip, social media savvy travelers.

A joint venture between Friedman Properties and White Lodging Services, Chicago’s new Moxy is the seventh U.S. and 29th global location for the boutique brand launched by Marriott International in 2014. The hotel’s dark, grid-like exterior comes from architect DLR Group and is punctuated by vertical strakes illuminated in pink—the brand’s accent color.

Inside, the River North establishment concentrates all the action in its double-height ground floor space aimed at replicating the “social heart of a hostel.” The large communal area features two garage doors that open to the street and a lobby bar that doubles as the hotel’s front desk.

Conceived by Texas-based interior design firm Flick Mars, the party-like atmosphere is littered with games and “instagrammable” throw pillows. The space connects to both a library featuring a curated selection of books and vinyl records as well as a 24-hour taco joint.

The Moxy expects its guests to spend most of their time out and about (or at least downstairs) so its rooms are small but still thoughtfully designed. Notable touches include large floor-to-ceiling windows, space-saving folding chairs and tables that hang on the wall, and rotary phones that tell bedtime stories on-demand.

Outward facing guest rooms along LaSalle and Grand are treated to downtown views of River North while guests staying in the hotel’s “inner circle” get a different kind of view: other rooms located across the building’s narrow central lightwell.

Guests choosing to keep their curtains open are encouraged to embrace chance encounters created by the cozy layout. The hotel even goes as far as to provide message boards to communicate with potential new friends across the way. To not feel left out, party scenes are pained across inner circle rooms facing solid walls.

Chicago’s Moxy Hotel makes every effort to turn the traditional lodging experience on its ear. While some elements might carry a whiff of trying a little too hard to be cool, most aspects feel refreshingly different.

One piece of the Moxy puzzle that clearly falls into the latter category is the colorful six-story abstract exterior mural created by Chicago artist Jeff Zimmermann.

“I didn’t want to do a piece that was full of cliched references to Chicago and, luckily, the hotel didn’t want that either,” Zimmermann told Curbed Chicago. “Instead, I took a chain—an object used to bind and lock—and arranged it in the shape of heart. It’s a cousin to a knot design I painted at 30 E. Balbo in the South Loop and I like to think that it signifies finding love in unexpected places.

“But if it can catch someone’s eye and make them pause and ponder for themselves what my work means, I know I’ve been successful.”

Based on how passersby stop and curiously admire not only the building but the action within, the Moxy Hotel is doing something right as well.