A Glasgow MSP has called for the city council to introduce a set of design standards to ensure new buildings are constructed to a "high standard" following the revelation that a flagship city hotel is in need of major repairs despite opening less than six years ago.

Scaffolding is currently being erected around the Moxy Glasgow Merchant City hotel and above its roof in preparation for the maintenance work.

The Herald understands that the 181-bed hotel, which opened to guests in November of 2018, needs to be re-roofed after suffering water ingress.

Located within the Collegelands development on High Street - the oldest and one of the most historically significant streets in Glasgow - Moxy Glasgow Merchant City was the first time Marriott's design-led, experiential, budget brand took up residency in a UK city centre location. 

It was the second Moxy hotel in Scotland after Moxy Aberdeen Airport opened in December 2016, with the brand's third Scottish hotel - the 230-room Moxy Edinburgh Airport - following in January 2019, before Moxy Glasgow SEC - near the OVO Hydro - opened its doors in November 2021.

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Since the first Moxy hotel opened in Milan in 2014, the brand now counts 126 experiential hotels open across North America, Europe and Asia, with further hotels in the pipeline. The millennial-focused hotel brand encourages guests to “break the rules and play on”.

Elgin-based construction company Robertson Group served as main contractor for developer Vastint Hospitality - the property arm of IKEA - on the Moxy Glasgow Merchant City hotel. It sits next to Havannah House, a 458-bed student accommodation building which Robertson also built for Vastint that welcomed its first students in September 2018. 

Sections of the Glasgow hotel were created using offsite construction and transported to site using Vastint's 'innovative' modular construction techniques, before being connected and completed by construction experts on-site.

Modular construction technique covers the design, fabrication, transportation and assembly of all guest rooms - including structure, walls, complete bathrooms, room finishes and fit-out, as well as services including fire protection.

Ahead of the hotel opening, Robertson Group said the use of modularisation “allowed for quicker construction with no comprise on quality”. 

The frontage of the hotel ties in with existing developments within Collegelands, one of Scotland’s largest and most ambitious regeneration projects. The site, which caters for a number of uses including office, student accommodation, car parking, leisure and residential, was the founding place of the University of Glasgow, and takes up 1.1 million square feet on the corner of High Street and Duke Street.

Featuring a 24-hour bar, photobooth elevators, graffiti-covered walls and the use of ship lights as a nod to the River Clyde's ship-building heritage, Moxy Glasgow Merchant City quickly earned the title of ‘Glasgow's coolest hotel’ when it opened.

The Herald: Moxy Glasgow Merchant City hotel opened in November, 2018Moxy Glasgow Merchant City hotel opened in November, 2018 (Image: Colin Mearns)

However, the hotel’s design also drew heavy criticism from locals, with one likening it to “a fancified toilet portacabin”, another calling it “shameful…given the history associated with High Street” and a third saying it was “the worst kind of architectural underachievement”. 

Glasgow Labour MSP Paul Sweeney, who is a board member of the Glasgow City Heritage Trust, a member of the Glasgow Building Preservation Trust, said he was unsurprised to learn that the hotel required maintenance work.

He told The Herald: “It is not surprising that the Moxy Hotel in Glasgow’s Merchant City is in need of repairs so soon after construction. During the planning stage, the construction method and materials were highlighted by many, as inadequate, but it went ahead regardless.

“The High Street is Glasgow’s Royal Mile, and any new construction in the vicinity should respect the built heritage of Glasgow's medieval old town, like the late 19th century City Improvement Trust tenements opposite.

“It is time for Glasgow City Council to introduce a set of appropriate design standards that must be met in the new City Development Plan if new builds are to go ahead that both respects the heritage of our Conservation Areas and ensures the construction is of high standard.”

A spokesperson for Moxy Glasgow Merchant City told The Herald: “The hotel is undergoing maintenance work and therefore we need to put up scaffolding to ensure compliance with safety regulations.”

Glasgow City Council and Robertson Group were approached for comment.