This week I stayed at an Aloft hotel in the Houston Galleria area. I have been a frequent Starwood guest at their other properties such as St. Regis, Westin and Sheraton but this was my first time at Aloft.
Aloft definitely fits its style to be modern, fresh and fun. Instead of a typical staid front desk with high counter, the circular check-in area had two young, hip and helpful front desk folks standing behind an approachable waist-high counter. Behind them is an expansive bar (w xyz bar) and community-style meeting area. Arriving the first night around 7pm, the bar area was busy and occupied by several male business travelers.
The second night I arrived earlier and a few folks were working in this meeting area while the bar awaited its after-work crowd. As a female traveler, I would feel very comfortable sitting and working in this area alone, perhaps enjoying a glass of wine. Still, it is unlikely I would sit at the bar alone unless there was another woman or two to balance the gender mix, but that may be just me.
The functionality of the guest room was excellent. Lots of features such as the very easy-to-set and cute-looking alarm clock, power bar with plug-ins for two USBs, two power outlets, free bottled water, mini-refrigerator and in-room coffee (are you listening, St. Regis?).Though why not Starbuck’s brand coffee like in Westin & Sheraton rooms? Adding even more to the experience, Aloft includes plush towels, a very powerful hair dryer, and great lighting in the bathroom and sleeping areas. While the furnishings are not up to St. Regis standards, some of the in-room amenities are well above.
No hotel is perfect and Aloft is no exception. I did not like the thin walls where I could hear the television from the room next door nor the conversational voices in the hallway when the room door was closed. Like most hotel guests, I prefer the quiet of a central hotel heating/air conditioning system vs. Aloft’s noisier in-room units. Nevertheless, this one worked perfectly and quickly adapted to the temperature I set.
If you are one who likes to eat in the hotel restaurant, Aloft may be a disappointment. Instead, they offer a market area to purchase many items – sandwiches, yogurt, and numerous casual food items – along with a microwave for heating things up. I had stopped at Whole Foods and brought my own dinner to my room so never had an opportunity to use their market on this stay. However, this property does offer delivery service from the Capital Grill across the street. The menu looked great with lots of options and a very reasonable delivery fee, much less than room service charges at other properties.
All in all, Aloft has a unique style that was relaxing and had everything I needed for this visit. Yes, I would stay at another Aloft. Brand new Aloft hotels are planned for downtown Orlando (my home town), downtown Tampa, Munich and Stuttgart Germany, Panama, and more.
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