Tokyo’s iteration of Marriott International’s energetic and youthful Moxy brand has done well to distinguish itself among the many traditional hotels that lie across the sprawling city. Located in the Sumida Ward, just five minutes on foot from JR Kinshicho Station, the property is a creative and playful entry to a neighbourhood most tourists wouldn’t even be aware of outside of focal points like nearby Asakusa, Tokyo Skytree and Ryōgoku’s sumo stadium; it is most certainly millennial in focus and modern in design, with a strong commitment to both the immediate area and the Moxy aesthetic, expressed through plenty of character and pops of neon-pink in the lively lobby, library and lounge areas.
An informal check-in takes place at the bar, which sits at the heart of the property’s street-level lobby and lounge. On one side of the bar is ample seating (think circular wire chairs and plush lounges) against graphic wall art and a foosball table, a colourful extension from the oversized pink teddy bear which greats guests on entrance. The other side opens into a casual open-plan dining area where the words “Pimp My Noodles” signal a 24-hour all-you-eat-noodle station, near which a mix of traditional and Western flavours are spread during breakfast each morning. A small fridge showcases soups from the hugely popular Soup Stock Tokyo, and there’s another for refreshing alcoholic drinks, juices and sodas to pair up with well-priced Japanese comfort food. The dining area’s ergonomic and inventive design across the 205 guest rooms reflect a pared-back sense of style that’s nicely juxtaposed with the more playful aspects of the lobby-slash-bar.
The clear focus here is on fun and being social. It’s a lifestyle hotel after all, and whether it’s the vintage gaming console by the bar or the constant day-by-day drink specials sprawled on a blackboard, Moxy constantly remind guests that they’re vibe is as much local hang-out as it is an attractive (and very well-priced, given Tokyo’s expensive hospitality scene) accommodation option for those wanting to explore the many historic neighbourhoods of Sumida. And that vibe is clearly a successful one; at night the lobby is teeming with locals which gives the property an endearing communal vibe, especially given that they regularly throw events loaded with Instagram-friendly visuals and brand partnerships. Granted, my stay was on a weekend although I imagine week nights are equally lively, if not a bit quieter.
The library is a nice touch from Moxy and no doubt a big reason for their success in the community. The space is decked out with seating opposite a large fake fireplace, brought to life with ornamental design and even a guitar which guests can pick up and play at will. A large communal table has power portals for both guests and locals to pop by and use their own laptops with free, exceptionally fast Wi-Fi. There’s a smaller room to the side with lounges and TV that anyone can use to relax, furthering this as a place that’s more an extension of the guest room than an area that isn’t conceptually linked.
And it’s the link between all areas that defines Moxy’s unique approach to hospitality. The guest rooms are comfortable and spacious enough, but they’re consciously minimal in design. A most charming feature is a row of around 20 wall pegs that hold an array of collapsible furniture and amble room for clothes, so people can customise the room their own way. A large walk-in rain shower is a welcome addition to the small but functional white-tiled bathroom that is uncovered by a clunky sliding door.
There are no cupboards or desks, save bedside tables, and the grey and orange palette is unexciting, but a big, flashy room would be at odds with the design choices here. It’s clear Moxy don’t want guests to laze in their room for the duration of their stay; it is but one room in a larger apartment, where the bar area is a kitchen, the library a lounge room, and the staff just some friends you live with.
Instead of room safes, there are lockers near the basement laundry and gym; instead of an ironing board stuffed into a small closet, there’s a room on each floor dedicated only to ironing, illustrated by life-sized photographs of male models in robes. The meeting rooms have ping-pong tables and a projector in case the hotel wants to host a film screening. It’s an odd layout, but it works very well, reinterpreting the streamlined, no-frills approach of modern low-cost hotels and flipping it with a sense of style.
Location is an interesting one. Kinshicho is widely known as one of the only red-light districts in Tokyo that isn’t overstuffed with rowdy young tourists, but instead quieter and friendlier locals. The area near the station is packed with food options and there’s quite a large shopping centre opposite the busy bus stop. It’s worth grabbing a bike from the hotel and exploring the underrated locale, which is packed with great ramen and sushi spots as well as some decent Italian restaurants. It’s only around 10 minutes by train to Tokyo Station, so if you’re missing the more touristy spots of Ginza, Shibuya and Shinjuku then you aren’t too far away. Use your time here to tick nearby Ryōgoku off your list, as it’s a neighbourhood steeped in Sumo culture and is one of the most exciting in all of Sumida.
Nightly rates at MOXY Tokyo Kinshicho start from approx. $84 AUD.
MOXY Tokyo Kinshicho
Address: 3-4-2 Kotobashi, Sumida-ku, Tokyo 130-0022 Japan
Contact: +81 3-5624-8801
The writer stayed two nights as a guest of MOXY Tokyo Kinshicho.