Upon arriving, guests stroll past a wavy fun-house mirror, only to turn a corner and stumble upon an unexpectedly naughty sight: a lineup of enormous teddy bear-shaped topiaries sculpted into, shall we say, compromising positions.
After an initial gasp, it’s impossible not to laugh. You’ve entered an urban amusement park on high, and trust us, the magic of the Moxy is just beginning.
“Nobody’s ever done anything like this in New York City, and there’s no other space as big as this anywhere in the city,” says Mitchell Hochberg, president of the Lightstone Group, the company that developed Moxy’s flagship, 612-room Times Square property. “We want people to look around and give that smirk, to start the night out thinking, ‘This is going to be fun.”’
Elephant-head sconces holding filament bulbs light a corridor that leads to the 10,000-square-foot, indoor-outdoor rooftop space. Magic Hour’s indoor spaces offer a sultry, intimate vibe, and the outdoor spaces play up both a garden-party decor, complete with jaw-dropping views of the Empire State Building, as well as the pleasures of a racy carnival.
“Moxy is a cheeky brand, and everything we did, we didn’t take ourselves too seriously,” explains Hochberg. “We wanted to have moments where people would walk in, smile and say, ‘Oh, I’ve gotta tell my friend about this.’ Part of hospitality is entertaining the guests, not just giving them a great room, but making them have a great time.”
Two custom-made, shimmering carousel tops rise over rotating seats and a bar, and around yet another corner lurks a miniature golf course, saucily named Foreplay and dotted with suggestively posed pink bunnies.
“I think it was a function of us all saying, ‘What do we like to do? What happens at a carnival? What happens at a state fair?'” recalls Hochberg. “It’s not pretentious. There’s no velvet ropes.”
The urge to snap photos and post on social media is irresistible.
“I swear, it was not intended to be ‘Instagram-worthy,'” says Hochberg. “It was intended for people to come to the hotel and have memory points and say, ‘Wow, this is exciting; this is something I want to come back and see.'”
Even the rooftop’s food menu follows the state fair theme, dishing out treats like sausage and pepper sandwiches, flavored popcorn and a carnival burger.
Still, there’s one menu item that’s sure to raise eyebrows — and intrigue: the $99 Crash Pad. If someone’s night at Magic Hour is going so, ahem, magically, that they can’t imagine calling it quits, it’s possible to order one of 19 small rooms and, yes, spend the night.
Of course, guests of the Moxy will already have their own thoughtfully designed rooms to return to at night’s end. With rates that would make even the budget-savviest traveler smile, the Yabu Pushelberg-designed rooms cleverly maximize space with foldaway furniture, wood-frame beds with storage and open pegboard closets.
“The design inspiration was to think of it as urban camping,” says Hochberg. “You have smaller rooms, so let’s make them utilitarian. You’re camping in your room; you’re not hanging out in your room.”
As a result, the interior spaces make use of natural materials and neutral colors, with an emphasis on woods, copper and stone. This comfy aesthetic is found throughout the hotel’s public spaces, as well, like the second-floor atrium lobby and the multi-use Bar Moxy.
Hochberg says it’s already clear that these spaces will become the social heart of the hotel. He already sees both guests and locals working on laptops in Bar Moxy and the upstairs lobby throughout the day and staying well into the evening, when the the lights dim, cocktails are poured and a DJ begins to spin tunes.
“People from the neighborhood are starting to find us, and we really want to encourage it; we think the guests like to mingle with people from the community, and local people like to meet travelers,” says Hochberg. “This is what Moxy’s all about: It’s about a state of mind.”