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Hotel Moxy Is Basically a Funhouse

Inside the highly branded spot: a podcasting booth, makeovers from a drag queen, and, erm, bedrooms with see-through walls.

Photo: Peter Ranvestel

At Chicago’s new hotel Moxy, guests get a cute nickname: fun-hunters.

The highly branded Marriott offshoot in River North is, as general manager Rob Mastro puts it, a “boutique hotel with the heart of a hostel.”

In fact, the party starts the moment you walk through the door. Rather than a front desk, the lobby is occupied by a bar, where guests pick up their key cards and a gratis cocktail.

Oh, and everybody’s dancing. “It wouldn’t be uncommon to see a bunch of people dancing that would then check you in,” says Mastro. “Guests are usually blown away by that.”

As services like AirBnb become more popular with travelers, the hotel industry has had to adapt and cater to a different clientele. At Moxy, that’s meant a slew of millennial-targeted oddities, including a podcasting booth and hotel rooms with see-through walls—“a playful way for more engagement,” says Mastro. (Don’t worry, you can pull the drapes.)

Chief among Moxy’s idiosyncrasies: its makeover service is led by local drag queen Mikki Miraj. Performed smack in the middle of the clubby lobby, the hour-plus ordeal comes with a bottle of booze and ticket to club Baton. “We want to be partners with the local community as much as possible,” says Mastro, “so that when people come here, they really feel Chicago.”

Next up at the space? A taco-eating contest this Saturday—also judged by Mikki—and, if things go Mastro’s way, a package in which guests can quite literally pay to be tattooed by a local artist. They’re also working on various philanthropic initiatives—a portion of the hotel’s pet fees going to the Anti-Cruelty Society, and an event later this year benefiting Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Overwhelmed by all the action? Moxy also stocks classics like Jenga and Operation. “We’ve had anyone from 21 years old to 90 years old staying here,” Mastro says. “One of the first reviews we got, somebody said, ‘You made me feel young again.’ ”

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