While I was in London, I was lucky enough to stay in both the Moxy Stratford and the Moxy ExCel. A lot of travel sites have recently written up about the Marriott’s new trendy line of boutique hotels geared towards millennials popping up in big cities around the world. I had heard of the Moxy after my parents stayed there in Seattle (my father is quite possibly the world’s biggest Marriott fan). They weren’t particularly sold on the concept, but they definitely thought I might like it- it’s what happens when you’re not the target demographic. But after staying at both locations in London, I definitely want to share a bit of my experience. (Disclaimer: there are three Moxy locations in London and I did not stay at the London Heathrow location).
Pro 1: The staff is incredibly friendly and accommodating
Upon your arrival, your given your room key and a welcome drink (your choice of alcoholic or non). After a long-haul international flight, this is definitely very welcomed. I think I needed an early check-in each time, and the staff was able to accommodate me every time after a quick phone call. All of my bookings were for two nights at a time, and the final three nights were all spent in Stratford. The staff was wonderful and able to make sure I had the same room all three nights, so I could just settle in and not have to worry about changing rooms. During my stay, I had posted on Instagram that I was loving it so far. A first in this blog experience, upon my return to Stratford, a staff-member mentioned he saw “my kind words” on Instagram and hoped I continued to enjoy my stay. I was a bit stunned they had actually saw what I posted and mentioned it in real life – it was definitely a unique milestone on this blogging adventure too.
Pro 2: The Location
The Moxy Stratford had a wonderful location, centrally located next to the Stratford train station and the Westfield Shopping Center. I had never spent any considerable amount of time in East London, and it’s recently been redeveloped for the Olympics. Both locations are located under a five minute walk to the nearest train station. For me personally, my friends were all located fairly close by and it was about 20 mins on the tube to central London where my office and colleagues worked. Hotels in Zone 1 in London will always be more expensive, but Stratford sits right on the border of Zones 1 and 2 and ExCel is in Zone 2. So in this regard, the locations allow you to save a bit of money too.
Pro 3: The Rooms
I had a couple options when it came to places to stay – book a private room in a hostel or stay on friends’ couches. Upon walking into a room each time, I was impressed with the trendy decor and how clean it was. I got really excited over the fact that the TV would say “Welcome Morgan” each time – another first for me. While the rooms are admittedly a bit small, it was really nice to have my own space and privacy. The rooms are really tidy and efficiently designed. They had everything I really needed – a decent-sized clean, comfortable bed, a clean shower with a couple shelves to stash bathroom things, a TV, enough room to spread out a bit and privacy. I was happy to have an honest shower and not the standard European hand showers. While the bar in the lobby is open 24 hours, I didn’t feel like that led to a particularly noisy environment on the upper floors. Maybe slightly noisier on a Friday or Saturday night, but that is to be expected. Your stay also includes all-you-can-drink tea and coffee. I really enjoyed being able to end my nights by grabbing some tea in the lobby and heading to my room to enjoy with some Jaffa Cakes and trashy British reality TV (one of my secret guilty pleasures). I think it’s important to be able to hold onto some of your daily habits while you’re traveling, especially solo, so in this regard I was really happy I splurged and stayed at the Moxy.
Pro 4: The Trendy Millennial Vibe
I’m not really sure how else to qualify this aside from the Moxy has absolutely nailed the trendy millennial vibe. As a solo traveler in my late 20s, you want to be around people you’re own age that are a bit open to meeting people on the road (like you would in a hostel). I feel too old for a hostel anymore these days, and it’s hard to find that kind of ambiance at other hotels which tend to be filled with families on vacation and businessmen running off to meetings. The Moxy is a great mix of younger couples and travelers socializing at the bar and playing games in the lounge. It’s definitely got a great atmosphere and you’ll certainly find plenty of things to do and people to talk to in the lobby. There’s trendy decor everywhere with the elevators constantly updating with clever little one-liners. It definitely doesn’t look like any hotel you’ve been to before. The Moxy captures all the best aspects of a hostel and all the best aspects of a hotel and brilliantly brings them together.
And time for the cons of staying at the Moxy:
Con 1: The Location
This is getting listed as a pro and a con. The Moxy Stratford had a considerably better location than the Moxy ExCel. The Stratford location is right next to the Stratford tube station where you can catch a number of different tube lines, the DLR and the overground. At the ExCel, you’re limited to the overground and you’ve got a bit of a longer walk to the station. It took me close to an hour to get to Shoreditch from the Moxy ExCel Saturday night. I definitely wished I stayed in Stratford over the weekend, but c’est la vie. Lesson learned – look into where you’ll be staying a bit more prior to booking.
Further, the locations for the Moxy don’t seem to offer things like fantastic views from the room. My rooms overlooked a parking lot and a train station and another parking lot for the nearby Westfield shopping center. As a New Yorker, this didn’t bother me too much. I’m used to things like weird views from my window and street noise as I fall asleep. However, that being said, I would recommend trying to get a room higher up to avoid the street noise if that sort of thing bothers you.
Con 2: The Lack of Amenities
I don’t know about you but I don’t care about having a phone in my room, but I do kind of expect a clock to be in a hotel room. You wont find a clock or a phone in your room at the Moxy. My parents had warned me about the lack of amenities after their stay in Seattle, so I had tempered my expectations in this regard. You have just enough, and that’s about it. I was an idiot and forgot my hairbrush. I regularly forget my hairbrush for some reason when traveling. I ran down to the front desk to ask if they possibly had any combs or anything to sort out the rats’ nest on my head. I wasn’t too surprised when the answer was no. But, thankfully, there was the Westfield near by with a Boots Pharmacy where I was able to quickly grab one. I was surprised though, when my room at the Stratford location came with a hairdryer. For some reason, my room at the ExCel didn’t have one, but I didn’t bother to ask for one. I had come a bit prepared for all this, too. I had remembered to pack my hair dryer. While your stay includes all-you-can-drink tea and coffee, the food and drink available is all for purchase. Not wanting to blow more money than I needed to, I brought a bunch of snacks and tea to have on hand – and I was definitely glad I did.
I felt like my rooms got insanely messy quickly because I didn’t have any hangers to hang things up or drawers to put things in. You can’t really stash your things under the beds even. Towards the end of my trip, I started feeling like I couldn’t feel anything and like I was getting super disorganized. There’s definitely a few small ways they could improve the rooms that would help the overall experience. You get a couple coat hooks and hangers but no closet or wardrobe. Either a small wardrobe without the coat hooks, or the cook hooks with a set of drawers, would have been hugely helpful. Instead it seems they settled on some weird, ineffective combination of coat hooks and chairs to hang things on.
All this being said, I absolutely enjoyed my time at the Moxy locations in London. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for them in other cities in the future. At this point in my life, I have a lot of friends I want to see all over the world, but I can’t be sleeping on couches or staying in hostels. The Moxy feels like a less intimidating hotel with a more relaxed atmosphere. As a solo traveller, I definitely think I made the right move by staying at the Moxy locations. Just make sure to do your research a bit before booking a place so you know what to expect going into your stay.