OVERVIEW OF BRAND
Aloft was founded in 2005 as “a vision of W Hotels” and is a part of the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) family of hotels. Although you will find some crossover with the W brand (e.g., Bliss bathroom products and the bar is named “W–xyz”), don’t expect what you will find at a W Hotel…but room rates are markedly cheaper than W. The vibe that I get when I stay at any Aloft is that of a hip, college residence-hall with a commons area for food/drinks and games (e.g., there’s a pool table and usually board games on the coffee tables) and compact rooms that efficiently use the limited space.
The brand is very consistent—once you’ve been to one Aloft, you’ve pretty much been to them all. Most variation between properties seems to be in the amount of gym equipment available, the upkeep of properties, freebies you get in the room, and the range/quality of the bar food. However, I’ve heard that some newer Alofts (especially in renovated buildings vs. brand new buildings) may have different layouts including suites.
Aloft–IAD opened about four years ago, and I have stayed here three times. It is located about 6 miles from the airport, and there is a shuttle that picks up from area 2H (call hotel to confirm shuttle pick-up as it doesn’t seem to keep regular hours). You may see one of two types of shuttles: A white van with the Aloft logo, or a shuttle bus with the Hilton Garden Inn logo (and a small Aloft logo) as they share the same parking lot. The shuttle ride takes about 12–15 minutes as they don’t take a direct route (probably to avoid the tollway).
This is the same as any other Aloft. You should find an LG flat-screen TV (42”, LCD, 720p), free Internet, free bottle of water, a coffee maker with 1 regular/1 decaf pod, a safe, a well-hidden iron and ironing board (look behind the bed’s “headboard”), and a fridge under the sink. Although there is an ice bucket in the room, there are no ice machines on the floors. You can only get a bag of ice in the pantry by the front desk, so you may want to grab a bag at check-in. The room will have “Tried+Blue” Bliss products, including a “Mini Blue” bar of soap and a small tube of body lotion by the sink; and shampoo-conditioner and body wash in built-in dispensers in the shower stall. Two complaints I have for this stay (see pictures): 1) the pillows were tiny for a king-size bed, and 2) the shower soap/gel was almost empty.
There is no room service. The bar menu at this Aloft is pretty good relative to the other Alofts I’ve been to. Prices for the bar food range up to $6.50 for appetizers (e.g., humus, spring rolls, and buffalo wings), up to $14.00 for entrees (e.g., fish ‘n tots, pizzas, and steak), and up to $5.00 for desserts (e.g., sundaes and cheesecake) and the hours of service are 5PM until midnight. Make sure to print out the following coupon (www.starwoodhotels.com/pub/gc/3140/6935639.htm) to get a $5.00 discount at the W-xyz bar. The re:fuel pantry is open 24-hours a day and you can get pre-made sandwiches and desserts. If you prefer something better, there isn’t much else within walking distance. There is a gas station right next door where you can get snacks and simple meals.
GYM AND POOL
The gym is limited for those who prefer weight training: There are two basic benches, a rack of dumbbells ranging up to 50 lbs., and 1 universal cable machine. The cardio equipment is in very good shape, consisting to 2 treadmills, 2 bikes, and 2 elliptical machines. There is an indoor pool next to the gym.
No club lounge and no suites. Gold & Platinum Members should get some coupons that seem to vary throughout the year (e.g., 1 free beer/wine at bar, 1 free snack from the pantry, and 1 free breakfast item). For my last stay, I got several free snack vouchers and I didn’t have to spend very much on food. Internet is free for everyone, which is typically a Platinum-only benefit at SPG hotels. Platinum Members can get 250 bonus Starpoints (not 500) for staying at Aloft. As an Platinum-Preferred Guest, I prefer the Westin–IAD, but this is a good alternative if the Westin is significantly more expensive.
The Aloft-IAD is a comfortable stay for those not needing any niceties and who want to rack up SPG Starpoints or Stay Credits. The atmosphere is “hip” and the bar/front desk staff is friendly. The food is decent (for an Aloft) and the gym is well stocked.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Chic and comfortable, the Aloft Dulles Airport North offers complimentary airport shuttle service to/from Washington Dulles International Airport and is located near the Dulles Technology Corridor. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Aloft Ashburn