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I just spent a night at the Aloft Dallas Downtown, and since the number of Aloft properties around the world is only increasing (and at a rapid rate), I thought this was a good time to highlight a few things that families should know about Aloft when deciding if it is the right type of hotel for them.
Aloft is Often a Good Value on Points
The Aloft brand isn’t a perfect match for families as it was designed for Millennial travelers as opposed to those with several kids along for the ride, but I’m covering them anyway because they can be a good value on points. This is in part because they are a lower frills brand in the Starwood family, but also because their locations are sometimes a bit more suburban. That said, they are expanding into more urban areas, like the Aloft Dallas Downtown where I stayed last night, so they aren’t only located near airports or on the outskirts of town.
To stick with the Dallas example, the Westin Dallas Downtown is 16,000 points per night this week and the Aloft Dallas Downtown is 10,000 points. You will see that trend hold up in many locations where the Aloft will be a tick or two lower on the award chart than the nearby Westin or W Hotels. If you are paying with cash, it is also often a good value as well with a worldwide average daily rate of $136.39.
Alofts are Funky…In a Good Way
Alofts are not only lower on the cost scale than some other SPG hotels, but it isn’t because they are tired, dark, and dingy. Not to say that all Sheratons meet that description, but while you will often find a Sheraton hotel at a lower price point in the SPG family, it may be a slightly more tired style and layout than what Aloft brings to the table. Not all Aloft Hotels are new-builds, but many of them have been newly built in the last few years.
The typical Aloft has a very bare-bones industrial style, but with bright colors and hotel-specific lingo splashed everywhere. To put it another way, it is kind of like IKEA meets Chipotle. If you are traveling with little kids, I have to imagine that the bright colors will be fun for them.
Aloft Showers Feel Like a Dorm
The shower is where I get a little wary of Aloft. I’m obviously a grown-up and am fine taking a shower instead of a bath, in fact, I prefer it, but I still don’t like the Aloft showers. They always feel like a dorm-style shower, and for me, that isn’t a good thing.
Part of it is the industrial styling and part of it is simply the in-shower soap dispensers they opted for over offering travel sized shampoos and soaps. I am sure that decision is better for the environment and overall cost savings, but it just does not vibe well with me at all. I have read too many horror stories of other things being added to soap dispensers than to feel comfortable slathering that blue-ish gel everywhere.
Of course, the fact that these properties largely do not have bathtubs also means that you will have to get creative when bathing the small kiddos who are used to baths.
Lots of Small Pools
On the plus side for those with little kids, many of the Aloft properties in the warmer climates do have small pools and outdoor spaces. And when I say small pools, I mean small. These are not the kind of pools where you will probably swim laps, but as long as you swim when there isn’t a happening pool party of Millenials going on, the very small and shallow Aloft pools that I have seen would be really fun for the toddler and young child crew.
Here is the Dallas Aloft pool as shown on their website that goes from extremely shallow to about three feet deep. From memory, the Aloft Austin pool is also around the same size and only a couple of feet deep.
Grab and Go Snacks and Breakfast
At an Aloft you probably aren’t going to have the option of a sit-down meal or visiting a club lounge, and instead, there is a kitchen gallery of sorts that has grab-and-go snacks and breakfast. They do usually have some hot breakfast items available in the morning, but just be aware there isn’t probably going to be a full-service restaurant available in your Aloft hotel.
Alofts are one of the SPG brands that already offer SPG Keyless access to your room, some have screens where you can order breakfast, and they are reportedly working on some more tech-friendly offerings. For one, they may offer two, large-format, HDTVs side by side so you can either watch two shows or perhaps use one as a larger screen to work on a presentation or similar. This is not something you will find in most Alofts at this point, but it is something you might see in the future.
Some Aloft properties also have a smart mirror near the desk where a standard, full-length mirror hangs. This mirror offers a live feed with weather updates that you can customize to link with your smartphone…in case that helps you out.
No Rollaway Beds
As a general rule, Alofts do not offer rollaway beds, largely because there isn’t always space for them to fit safely in the rooms. However, they do theoretically have what is called “Camp Aloft” that features a child-size air mattress and tent, which sounds super fun. The bad news is I have not read a whole bunch of positive reports on individual Aloft hotels knowing about that offering, so I would not count on that availability without talking to the property you are interested in first.
While we are on the topic of beds, the Aloft bed is not the same as the Westin Heavenly or W bed, though I generally sleep just fine in them. They are not usually hard mattresses, the pillows are plentiful, and the blackout curtains get a big thumbs-up from me.
My family has a booking at the new Aloft South Bend for next football season at a tremendous deal on points, so even though Aloft wasn’t built with families in mind, families can make the brand work as long as you know what you are in for and can prepare accordingly.
Does your family ever stay at an Aloft?
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