Loved my first Aloft stay… even if just for the afternoon!

I’ve gotta be honest, I’ve intentionally been putting off staying at Aloft hotels. For those of you not familiar with Aloft, it’s basically Starwood’s budget W Hotels brand. As a matter of fact all the signage at the hotel reads “A Vision of W Hotels.” Now, I don’t like W Hotels, so I figured I sure as hell wouldn’t like their “vision” either.

But I just spent the afternoon at the Aloft San Francisco Airport, and I loved it, even though I came in with a negative attitude expecting I wouldn’t like it, which makes it all even more surprising.

The front desk associate was extremely friendly, thanked me for being a Platinum guest, and assigned me a courtyard view room (considered to be the “premium” room, since the property doesn’t have suites). I instead asked for an airport view room, and got a room that quite possibly has the best airport view I’ve ever had.

Room with a view

It’s overlooking both sets of runways and the terminal, so I’ve seen everything depart from Lufthansa, to Emirates, to Japan Airlines.

Airport view

Then I had a snack at the WXYZ Bar, which was so much less pretentious than the XYZ Bar at W Hotels. The waitress was so friendly that I left a $10 tip on an $11 bill. She was extremely attentive, always smiling, and even offered me a Diet Coke to take back to my room.


I’m literally overjoyed by this hotel and I can’t quite figure out why. As I put some thought into it, I’ve come to the conclusion that this hotel (and perhaps the brand as a whole) is just really good at managing expectations. There are no suites so there’s nothing to get upgraded to. The front desk associate did everything she could to recognize my status, though, by thanking me for being a Platinum member, giving me a coupon for a hot beverage, and proactively offering me my Platinum amenity, all in an extremely friendly way.

The room is very simple, though smells fresh and is in immaculate shape. Admittedly this is a new hotel, but still, I was impressed by the simplicity, and I found everything to be extremely easy to use and designed with the frequent traveler in mind.

And then the service in WXYZ Bar was amazing. They don’t serve any “real” food but rather just drinks and appetizers. I found what I ordered to be extremely good, better than what I’d expect from something that probably came out of a microwave.

Anyway, I’ll be switching from going out of my way to avoid Aloft properties, to going out of my way to stay at them. Kudos to Starwood on the brand.

By the way, as I mentioned above I didn’t actually stay at the hotel overnight, but rather just spent the afternoon here. I had a midnight flight out of San Francisco Airport and could only get availability from Seattle on a flight that got me into San Francisco at around 4PM, so faced with an eight hour layover I had two options:

Option 1) Eat the equivalent of 23 servings of snack mix in an airline lounge
Option 2) Go to a hotel and work from bed in my pajamas

And I actually think the numbers work out fine as well. I value an elite night credit at around $60, because at the end of the year I’d probably otherwise have to mattress run. This stay cost me $100, so at that price I’m more than happy to pick up an elite night credit and essentially pay $40 for a comfortable place to relax for the afternoon and evening.

Anyone else love Alofts?

Filed Under: Hotels, Starwood Preferred Guest
  1. the airport hyatt has daytime rates. My colleague has an all day layover at SFO in a couple of weeks and got a room there from 1000-1800 for $70 or $80

  2. @Carl Lucky had a midnight flight.. dayrates are a good deal, but checking out at 6pm local time for a midnight flight? not ideal in Lucky’s situation

  3. I love Aloft too one of my favorite brands. They are like simple W’s without the pretentious “service”

  4. We had our first experience with this brand at the Aloft in Chapel Hill, NC a few weeks ago–we loved it as well! Nice rooms, super nice staff.

  5. My wife and I spent the night at the Aloft London last fall after arriving a day earlier than planned to avoid weather at home. We loved the property; great location, clean and friendly. I would absolutely go back or stay in a different one.

  6. We’ve stayed in a few Aloft properties. I really like the concept of them – kind of an upscale Ibis. But, as always, individual properties can really vary.
    I’m going to be interested to see Marriott’s new Moxie brand because I think they are going for a similar feel.

  7. I haven’t stayed in many SPG properties, but the one Aloft I stayed at was very nice and I’d definitely stay with the brand again.

  8. I’ve stayed in two: Birmingham and PDX. Really enjoyed both of them. I became SPG Platinum last year and hope to hit Diamond with Hyatt this year after the Hilton devaluation. I have found that I really like their newer “budget” properties (Aloft, Element, and Hyatt Place) much more so than Hamptons. Thanks to Hilton for pushing me away!

  9. Have stayed at the PDX, PHX & BWI Alofts. All convenient, comfortable, friendly, and with generally good price points.

  10. I stayed at the Westin SFO, which is across a parking lot from this property, and wasn’t very impressed. This makes me want to stay at the Aloft! If only the C&P rates hadn’t changed since I booked…

  11. Just as a side point, the politically correct and updated term for a waitress/waiter is “server”.

    As a somewhat budget traveler and in light of recent devaluations, I often redeem my points for the lower end properties such as Hyatt Place and Aloft and I have always thought them more than adequate!

  12. I am surprised that the SFO Aloft doesn’t have a suite – many of the new build Aloft properties are being built with suites – the Aloft Broomfield near Boulder, CO has essentially an extra guest room connected to the main guest room, the new Aloft in Oklahoma City has a two-story Presidential suite with a spiral staircase.

  13. I’ve stayed at Aloft Philly numerous times and on more than one occasion, the bed sheets have not been changed from the previous guest (found hair and wrinkled sheets) and the mattress is fatigued and saggy. Not my favorite place to stay. Housekeeping issues.

    Aloft in Brooklyn was fantastic because of the location (right down the street from station) and and it was a fantastic deal at just 7000pts a night until the increase in March this year. I’m so crushed by that!!!

  14. Not a good option if can’t drop sfo rental car first due to aloft co-leasing the property with airport parking company which charges $20 night mandatory parking fee whether flying or not. Also found staff extremely friendly.

  15. I’ve stayed at several Aloft hotels. The showers are great, the beds are ok, and the breakfast is not real good. But…. the bar is so much better than any other hotel in this category. The exercise room is a big step up as well. They are definitely catering to a younger traveling crowd, but even the older travelers can benefit from the “young vibe”.
    Aloft should definitely be a part of your hotel strategy

  16. I stayed at the Aloft Sukhumvit when I was last in Bangkok as it was across the street from the club I planned on going to. I was pleasantly surprised. While the hotel doesn’t have the amenities/luxury of the Millenium Hilton I usually stay at it was clean, a good value, and above all convenient. I also loved the option to pay something like 800 baht for an android phone with unlimited data/tethering that functioned as the room key.

  17. I truly hate the aloft and go out of my way to stay there…and thats after 7-8 stays. You liked it because it was a novelty….your first time. There will come a time when you are still awake at 2:00 wondering how your room at the Aloft is different than your dorm room at college and you can’t even come up with one thing…..

  18. Stayed at the same Aloft last week and it was perfect. I had a drink at the bar and a order of sliders and a great breakfest. Had a great nights sleep for half the cost of the adjoining Westin or Marriot and Hyatt down the street

  19. Somethings you don’t pick up without staying a night at an Aloft:

    1) Several Aloft hotels have trouble with noise leaking from the open lobby/bar. Depending on the design and size of the hotel.

    2) Tiny pool.

    3) Sliding door on the shower/toilet not great for privacy if traveling with someone else.

    4) Mediocre breakfast sandwiches.

    5) I’d say about 80% of people on Flyertalk hate the beds.

    6) Not many options to store your clothes.

    7) Depending on the hotel, the doors slam shut in the morning.

    8) The each room have an A/C unit. These typically are loud and prone to freezing over and not working (even in properties that are only a year old).

  20. If the culture at SFO is at all similar to the City of San Francisco, I’m sure you could work from an airport lounge in your pajamas.

  21. I just went out to the Aloft at IAD to do a “stay run” for Plat status at $49/night. I was not staying there because I wanted to be in DC. So I checked in , checked out the room and left. Why is it always the lower priced hotels with free internet?

    I was impressed with the indoor pool, the amenities……but that bed in just a cheap mattress. I like firm mattresses, just not that firm. The rooms is small by US standards, but the bathroom is nice, tub abd sep shower.
    I wouldn’t mind staying at these regularly if I could het then on starpicks for $49

  22. The SFO Aloft is an converted Clarion so it’s not going to have the same layout as newly built ones. That property always had excellent service but not so nice rooms, glad to see it got refreshed and a brand change.

    Pretty much all the chain hotels in that area charge for parking so it’s a given.

  23. Stayed at an Aloft in China (Zhengzhou). The rooms are small are decent and it’s good value. The only negative are the sheets. They’re not the most comfortable, but then again, shouldn’t really expect too much since it’s an Aloft.

    The great thing about Alofts in China is that they’re a bit nicer than their American counterparts. Multiple restaurants to choose from and in most cases, bigger pools and gyms.

  24. “This stay cost me $100” I assume you mean before taxes, and most importantly you stayed on a weekend. I just looked up some random dates in the next few months and found a pre-paid rate of $125 inc taxes, and a AAA rate of $113 including taxes, but only on a weekend. Weekday nights were $250 all in, even for AAA/AARP rates. I think you would have felt differently if you’d paid for a weeknight. But it may depend on just how “friendly” that waitress was to you. 😀

  25. I’d agree with what many others have said. I’ve stayed in several in the US and although I love the vibe and love, love, love the bar, I hate the beds, pillows, ac/heater and the dorm room feel, as well as their poor wifi. The Element is much nicer (beds, room size, free breakfast) and about the same price. The best is when you can find them next door to each other so you can stay at the Element and have breakfast, but visit the bar at the Aloft (i.e. Baltimore airport location) 🙂

  26. A couple years back I stayed at an Aloft in downtown Dallas for about 3 weeks on a business trip. It was pretty nice, and I liked the design, with a few caveats:
    1) There wasn’t really any closet in the room. There was a bar with hangers.
    2) There was no partition/separation between the shower and toilet — just a drain in the middle of the room.
    3) The room had an AV dock that was supposed to allow you to hook your computer up to the TV. There was a sign next to it that said something like “Need cables? No problem! Our front desk [or whatever clever name they have for the front desk] has got you covered.” So I called down to the front desk and they acted like I was INSANE for asking if they had cables for the AV dock.

    However, I thought the bed was very comfortable, I liked the decor, and the snack shop in the lobby was really convenient.

  27. @lucky why don’t you like W hotels. Just curious. I won’t stay at them on my dime unless its cheap but for work sure.

    But do agree alofts are generally a great cheap option. When my wife and I do milage runs out of Philly we always stay at the one by the airport. She’s military so it’s typically $79ish. (I would prefer the Marriott since it’s attached to the airport but it is usually way too much for a milage run).

  28. @ Jason G — I find they’re mostly style with very little substance, and the rates they charge don’t justify the level of service they offer.

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