Coming of Age — The MC Hotel

—In the heart of Downtown Montclair, The MC Hotel is a demonstration of the city’s cultural growth and developed community.

It’s been nearly a decade since I graduated from Montclair State University and ever since, I’ve watched in awe of how the township has grown. Downtown is thriving. Spaces and lots that once collected dust along Bloomfield Ave have become flourishing businesses—places for the community to gather. For me, some of my most memorable experiences have been at these businesses. From writers’ workshops and concerts, to birthdays and first dates—there are so many moments I’ll never forget.

This summer, I had the pleasure of witnessing the opening of The MC Hotel. And from the moment I stepped inside, I could tell it was positioned to be another of those landmark locales. In years past, I had often wondered what would one day stand at the hotel’s central location at the corner of Bloomfield Ave and Orange Road. To be frank, I’d always been concerned that some big conglomerate would move in and the nichey vibe of the city would dwindle. But the new hospitality landmark—really the first of its kind in Montclair—feels to have enriched downtown’s culture rather than diminish its roots.

As if the hotel’s stunning interior and local outreach programs weren’t enough to convince non-believers like myself, it became abundantly clear to me the moment I heard Mayor Robert Jackson speak outside the hotel on that fateful August morning.

“[Businesses] of the past have meaning and charm in their time,” he said during the hotel’s ribbon-cutting ceremony. “That was a very different point in life—in this community. If you see what Montclair has been transformed into, what this end of town has become—it’s astonishing. It’s a special time for Montclair. Now we have a brand new, state-of-the-art, sparkling, fantastic hotel here. I want to thank and congratulate the people who made this possible.”

His words struck a chord. It was an affirmation of how I felt at that moment and how I felt about this new opening.

The MC Hotel

As I looked around at the investors and local leaders attending The MC Hotel’s ribbon-cutting event, it was evident that, for all involved, this was a passion project from the start. Inside the lobby, I also got acquainted with The MC Hotel’s art program—most notably featuring a 50-foot black and white mural by renowned West New York illustrator Ruben Toledo. At The MC Hotel, everything is in the details. Toledo’s stretched fabric mural serves as a natural path to liven up an otherwise empty space. Much of the artwork is inspired by the town’s creative roots, including original pieces hinting at Montclair’s visual surroundings.

“Our art is curated from about a 45-mile radius,” Emily Wittmann, Director of Lifestyle at The MC Hotel, told me. “Our partners are from Montclair and neighboring areas. So we really bring a lot of the community into our facility. It speaks to the mark of Marriott’s Autograph Collection. Know your locality and what you stand for.”

But it’s not just the artists who are local. Wittmann and her team have gone above and beyond the call of duty to make The MC  Hotel a living, breathing part of Montclair. They do this by working with local brands in any way possible, many of whom have strong community roots. During my first stay at The MC Hotel, I quickly recognized just how far they’d gone. Beers on tap included everything from Magnify Brewing in Fairfield to Ghost Hawk in Clifton, and an aptly named “MC Pilsner” straight from Montclair Brewery across town.

the mc hotel

At the bar, I tried my luck with one of The MC Hotel’s staple cocktails, Goodfella, a whiskey drink made with lemon, orange and Amaro CioCiaro (and to my delight, a metal straw). Though the cocktail was refreshing, the real kicker was that it was made with New Jersey’s Misunderstood Ginger Whiskey, the owners of which grew up right in Montclair, along with my coffee from Great Notch Roasters—another set of owners who live in town. The list goes on.

The 159-room hotel, managed by Aparium Hotel Group, joins the Marriott’s Autograph Collection and offers full-service dining in its 95-seat restaurant, Allegory, which only adds to the city’s robust dining scene. In addition to The MC Hotel’s lobby bar and restaurant is Alto—a 106-seat rooftop bar and lounge—which opened in October featuring its own unique cocktails and a retro ‘70s vibe. From this vantage point you can see Montclair State, Lower Manhattan and even the Verrazano Bridge. Here, the team endeavors to bring in local creatives and entertainment groups for collaboration.

As much as my stay at The MC Hotel felt very Montclair-inspired, being inside my fourth floor suite didn’t feel like I was in town at all—and that’s a good thing. What I mean is that the level of craftsmanship that went into its posh design of the hotel’s rooms gives one the notion of sophistication and being away (even if I can still see Whole Foods from my bedroom window). The MC Hotel’s gray and light cream color palette allow its details and artwork to shine through. Mini fridges and snack bars inside each room are also outfitted with community ties such as Joe Chips, Dolce Federica and Martin’s Pretzels, many of whom also live in town. 

By the time I was ready to head home (just a short drive up the road), it felt as though everything was truly linked—mainly because it was. Not in a forceful way, but sort of befitting of Montclair’s growing narrative. Everything, everybody, flows together. And that’s a testament to the people who live there and the city’s coming of age.

“It’s been an amazing journey,” MC Hotel’s GM Oscar Fontana Roos said. “This community is so important and so warm. They have taken us in since the first day that we were here. We’ve created some amazing partnerships in the last year; we’re working with some amazing collaborators all throughout Montclair… I want to thank the community especially because that’s who we are. We’re going to be a place for the community, and we want everyone to join us.”