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TPG Associate Editor Emily McNutt recently took off for one night in Miami as part of her brief OneGo adventure. After hearing about SPG’s Aloft brand, she decided to stay at the Aloft South Beach. Read on for her full review of the property. (All photos are by the author).
When I signed up to test out OneGo, the “unlimited flying” service, in February, I was prepared to be traveling a lot and staying in hotels along the way. After I learned I was going to be staying overnight in South Florida after a day of traveling from New York to St. Louis and then to Miami, I turned to the Hotel Tonight app to search for accommodations. If you’ve never used Hotel Tonight before, it’s a great tool to help you find last-minute hotels at low prices — you can also get $25 off your first booking by using promo code BKELLY99.
One of the most appealing options seemed to be the Aloft South Beach. I had heard about the relatively new and rapidly expanding Aloft brand and that it’s one of the hippest in Starwood’s collection, so I was excited to see it pop up as an option on the Hotel Tonight app.
Booking the room on Hotel Tonight was a very seamless process — with just the click of few buttons, I was ready to go.
The Aloft South Beach is an SPG Category 5 property, requiring 12,000-16,000 Starpoints for a free night, with rates starting at $224 per night in late-April. My room with two Queen beds was going for $180 the night I was there however, I booked my stay completely with Hotel Tonight credits.
Check-In and Lobby
The property opened in May 2015, so it’s still fairly new — a fact that was definitely noticeable on my drive in and in my first few steps into the lobby. Because my flight from St. Louis was delayed, I didn’t arrive in Miami until after 10:30pm. By the time I was able to get an Uber ride to the Aloft South Beach, I was exhausted and just ready for bed, so unfortunately I wasn’t able to fully take a look around the property.
Although I was really tired, I did notice that there seemed to be a lot of people up and moving around — especially at the w xyz bar. The one thing that caught me off guard was how hard the hotel attempted to be hip right from when you enter the door. I’m presumably part of its target audience — I am, after all, a millennial — but there was something about the property that felt like it was trying too hard to seem appealing.
The set-up of the property is kind of confusing — it faces the direction of the ocean and the ever-popular and busy Collins Avenue, but the front entrance is actually located at the back of the property. There’s a second entrance at the “front” of the building facing Collins Avenue, but in order for my Uber driver to drop me off, we had to drive around to the back of the building and through an empty parking lot. It was a bit strange.
The check-in process itself was smooth and fairly uneventful. There were two agents at the front desk and neither was overly friendly or welcoming, but it was pretty late. The circular front desk seemed to be situated in the middle of the room in between the two entrances.
The lobby of the property was very open and spaced out, but definitely had a colder feel to it — I noticed a lot of exposed piping and concrete columns that were scattered throughout the lobby.
There were plenty of seating areas around the lobby, but I didn’t see any of them being used — with the exception of the w xyz bar, which was right off the side of the lobby. The decor was very modern — everything from the lighting to the chairs and couches were unique and different.
That being said, I wasn’t the biggest fan of all of the decor. Everything is very busy and in your face. There was so much going on — from the longboard wall …
… to the indoor pool that was located under the stairs …
… to this slightly overwhelming photo array.
That being said, there was a nice and interactive feel to the lobby. If you can get past the loud and busy decor, the lobby would be a nice place to hang out in — however, since it’s South Beach, the pool and ocean sound like much better options.
My room had two queen-size beds and it was a fairly tight squeeze. I was there alone and couldn’t imagine another one or two people fitting comfortably in the room with me.
The strange artwork and decor trend continued from the lobby to the bedroom.
It was an interesting set-up — you actually walk through the front door and into the bathroom and closet area. If you continue walking straight, you’ll end up in the bedroom area. I liked the arrangement because there was nice separation between the two spaces.
The bedroom area was small but comfortable. The TV was right in front of the two beds — unfortunately the remote didn’t work. I tried calling down to the front desk about getting a new remote, but the rather unfriendly front desk agent told me the engineer had left for the night and they wouldn’t be able to do anything about it until he came back in tomorrow, which did not help me at all because I was flying out in the morning.
It ended up not being a big deal at all — I just manually operated the TV — and I was so exhausted anyway that I soon fell asleep.
There was also a wooden bench with a cushion right under the TV. It was extremely short — about up to my shin — and didn’t really serve all that much of a purpose.
The bathroom area was nice and very well lit. I liked how open the bathroom and closet area was — there’s plenty of room to put your stuff and it’s completely separate from the bedroom. The one issue I had with the bathroom was the sink. The faucet was broken and it would move whenever I touched it — so much so that I thought the faucet was going to break right off the vanity. As a result, I had to be extra careful when turning the water on and off.
There was also a refrigerator under the vanity with nothing inside. I’m sure this would have been nice to use if I had been staying longer than just a day.
The shower was nice and fairly large. There was a strange, long and narrow window inside the shower that looked out to the bedroom. It was a foggy window so there was really no privacy issue, but I don’t really understand why it was there in the first place.
Pool and Outdoor Space
My room overlooked a nice outdoor deck and there was also a pretty nice view of South Beach. It looked like there was a bar on the deck, but aside from the structure looking like a bar, there was no evidence that much of anything happened up here.
When I went outside to explore the area, I was very impressed with the deck. It’s quiet and relaxed — the majority of people were outside, but just below at the pool. I enjoyed sitting on the chairs up here for a while and catching up on some work.
It looked like this deck could be a great time if more people were outside. There were a couple of games and activities available, including these bright pink foosball tables.
The majority of the people I saw were in the outdoor area downstairs, which featured a very nice pool. I was wandering around taking photos around 10am and already spotted a large amount of people enjoying the pool. I would imagine the pool is never that quiet.
If I had to choose, I’d prefer the top deck over the pool — it’s quieter and offers better views of the surrounding area.
The hotel’s location is worth mentioning as well. It’s situated just about a five-minute walk from the beach. Just cut through the area in next to the W South Beach and you’ll be on the sand in no time — that’s hard to beat for a non-beachfront property.
My one night at the Aloft South Beach was pretty standard — I have pretty neutral feelings about the property. Its decor and styling really caught me off guard at first, but I ended up not minding the very busy and cluttered lobby so much. The open concept was nice, but a lot of the seating area space in the lobby felt underused.
I’d definitely consider staying at the Aloft South Beach again if I have to spend a night or two in Miami, but I’m not so positive that I’d want to spend extended time here on vacation. The Aloft South Beach gets the job done — I got a great night’s sleep!
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