When American banker and philanthropist Darius Ogden Mills opened the New Mills Hotel in October 1907,on the corner of Manhattan’s Seventh Avenue and 36th Street, he wanted it to be a place where working-class men could find affordable accommodations.
And for nearly a half-century, according to a historical document obtained by Lightstone, the real estate company that now owns the building, his vision came to life as clerks, mechanics, chauffeurs and the like stayed at the 1 875-room property, where hot meals and communal showers were among the amenities.
Now, almost 110 years after its original opening date, this same building has become an affordable hotel once again with the debut of Moxy Times Square on Thursday.
The property is the 15th of the Moxy Hotels, Marriott International’s design driven hospitality brand; at 612 rooms, it’s also the largest and will serve as the brand’s flagship. When the first Moxy opened in 2014, in Milan, it seemed to resonate with travellers, who were attracted to the sleek design, friendly but unobtrusive service, vibrant restaurants and bars and wallet-friendly rooms.
“That first Moxy was an instant hit because it combined everything that many travellers, and especially millennials, are looking for in a hotel, including buzzy public spaces and a sweet price point,” said Reneta McCarthy, a senior lecturer at the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University.
“All of the Moxy’s since then have been successful for these same reasons.”
Lightstone’s president, Mitchell Hochberg, said he agrees with McCarthy’s take on the wants of modern travellers.
“They don’t care about the size of their hotel rooms because they don’t want to be in their rooms other than to sleep. They also don’t care about someone carrying their bags for them and mints on their pillow,” he said.
To his point, with a starting size of 14m² the property’s guest rooms are intentionally cosy, but they’re not without upmarket touches such as 300-thread count Egyptian cotton sheets, 43-inch flatscreen HDTVs and oversized rain showers.
To maximise space, they have foldable tables and chairs that can be hung up on wall pegs around the room; the acclaimed interior design firm Yabu Pushelberg made the furniture for the bedrooms.
A night’s stay begins at $139 (R1 900), a bargain by New York City standards but far pricier than the between 30 and 40 cents the building’s first hotel guests paid in the early part of the 20th century. Room service isn’t available, but then again, staying at a Moxy isn’t about being in your hotel room – guests are encouraged to spend their time in the property’s lively communal areas.
In the Times Square Moxy, these public areas have polished concrete floors, exposed concrete columns, distressed brick walls, open ceilings, a lobby with plenty of leather couches to sink into (also designed by Yabu Pushelberg) and Instagramworthy art installations – the Japanese artist Sawada, for example, is behind the 4m glass and mirror bear hanging from the atrium at the main entrance.
And then there are the five restaurants and bars run by Tao Group, a company behind popular restaurants and nightlife spots, including the Marquee nightclubs in New York City and Las Vegas.
The interior design firm Rockwell Group designed three of the spaces, including the Legasea seafood restaurant, eggcentric sandwich shop Egghead and Magic Hour Rooftop Bar & Lounge, a sprawling indoor/outdoor rooftop bar.
The rooftop venue, open year-round, has views of the Empire State Building, a 28-seat rotating carousel and a menu item created to raise eyebrows: patrons can pay $99 to hang their hats in one of the 19 crash pads, which are fitted with twin beds and flat-screen televisions.
“They’re meant for customers who order one too many drinks or don’t want the night to end,” said Noah Tepperberg, a partner at Tao Group.
“As in with our other venues, we want to push the envelope.” However, unlike his other restaurants and bars, which are known for their velvet ropes and high prices, Tepperberg said the ones at Moxy Times Square will be more accessible to guests and non-guests and are less expensive.
The public, too, was welcome to dine at the marble-columned restaurant at the New Mills Hotel, which could seat more than 400 people at a time and served meals for as little as 5 cents. That property may have seen its last days in 1954, but the ethos of the new Moxy Times Square, in some ways, is a throwback to that past.
New York Times