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“ALOHA....a whole lot of nothing!” 2 of 5 stars
Review of aloft Birmingham Soho Square

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aloft Birmingham Soho Square
3.0 of 5 Hotel   |   1903 29th Avenue South, Homewood, AL 35209   |  
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Ranked #1 of 7 hotels in Homewood
New York
Top Contributor
50 reviews 50 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 31 cities Reviews in 31 cities
27 helpful votes 27 helpful votes
“ALOHA....a whole lot of nothing!”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed June 21, 2009

As everyone in the hotel will try to remind you....you're supposed to be staying in a fun and trendy chic place....or so they think with their greeting of Aloha everytime you walk through the front lobby bring on...but in reality...all you're doing is staying in a barely acceptable space that they have tried to convert into a "bauhaus NYC" style environment -with no luck!
Let's see...there is NO closet in the room...its a mule cloth curtain on a metal rod in front of a spare 12 inches of a converted shelving unit...the door for the bathroom is a "sliding mirror". The best has to be...there is only ONE light switch for all the room lighting...no bed lamps...no light near the bed...and to turn the room lights on or off...you have to walk all the way to the room door which means in the dark you are now trying to find the bed in a room you have no experience in navigating! What a nightmare that is when you have arrived late and have to be at a customers meeting in the early am and you bang your shin trying to go to bed! OH and if it wasnt for my own alarm clock on my blackberry, I would have slept right through my customer meeting because the wake up call never came. I travelled with two co-workers so I can verify all THREE rooms fell into the exact same descriptive layout. They also felt like everything here was so "cheap" but they were trying to give it a trendy name to try and set a different mood but we all agreed-it was still cheap! They totally failed at the "industrial ubran" decorating they were going for...I come from NYC and this place has no clue what "industrial urban" should be!
The staff at the front desk is so poor in terms of friendliness...I think they took courses on how not to smile! The hotel is not for business travelers- it has not one amenity that you would normally need...even the "public" printer...it was low on toner and printing a page with a large white gap down the middle...ask the front desk..."oh we don't have any toner for that printer"...ok so what should I do to print a piece of the presentation that was just emailed me...well you could go over about 5 blocks to ,...I put my hand up and said..."that's ok...I will figure it out"....

Avoid the Aloha at the Birmingham Aloft....or else you will be very angry with yourself for having given them a penny of your money...and I was travelling on the company and I still feel horrible they paid them anything!

  • Stayed June 2009, traveled on business
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (24)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Jackson, MS
1 review
3 of 5 stars Reviewed June 17, 2009

The hotel is definitely aimed at the younger crowd. The decor is indeed a trendy, minimalist, South Beach-type style, and loud music overwhlems the lobby. (I had to go outside to take a call on my cell phone.) The staff was friendly and helpful. The rooms continued the minimalist theme; they were clean and adequate in size. The bed, linens and towels were first-class. My only two complaints about the hotel were (1) the wireless internet and (2) the in-room air conditioners. The free "high-speed Internet" was "low-speed." At first, I thought the problem was with my computer, but everyone in our group who had a computer had the same problem. Work that I normally would do in 20 minutes connected back to the office took 2 hours. I also was disappointed to see that a room unit AC was used in a newly constructed hotel. With the AC on cool and the fan on, it was extremely loud and noisy.

  • Stayed June 2009, traveled on business
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Birmingham, Alabama
Top Contributor
64 reviews 64 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 30 cities Reviews in 30 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 13, 2009

This is NOT like any other chain hotel you've stayed in!

Its Young, its Techy Industrial design. Roomy, open and very well layed out. Underground/safe parking for vehicles.
The Lobby is Open& combined with the bar/Lounge and its a very popular hang-out for the younger crowd. This IS NOT your parents type hotel. Ecletic Modern and Impressive!
The staff was friendly and helpful.

I wish we could have spend MORE time here to explore!

  • Stayed June 2009, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Birmingham, AL
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 10, 2009

W Hotels are aimed at a younger (or, young-at-heart) crowd. Their contemporary design and ambience are offered for a premium price (about $400 per room). W Hotels usually offer top-notch service and commendable amenities for more than most design-conscious budget-minded people are willing or able to afford. Enter aloft (the "a" is purposefully lowercase) hotels. I'm a bit older than most hipsters, but still enjoy the vibrance of youthful energy.
I stayed at the new aloft in Homewood, Alabama a few days after opening and didn't expect much for the $89.00 I paid for the room. Seriously, how many well-designed hotels in a "nicer" part of town are $89.00? I understood before I booked that I wouldn't have access to services that most "high-end" hotels offer, and that was fine with me because I am an independent adult, capable of waking myself, phoning transportation, and operating gadgets and gizmos effectively. Besides, I'm also frugal.
My experience began with the front desk, which is usually my litmus test for hotel stays. Smiling faces and genuine human emotion are usually lacking in customer service, especially in hotels, but not here. I would like to commend a few people from the front desk in this review: Clifford, Casey, Alexa, and Meredith. They all exceeded what I would think a less-expensive hotel's staff would express concerning guest satisfaction.
Despite the abundance of certain services I am accustomed to with most Starwood properties and found absent in aloft hotels for a reason (to reduce price), I truly got more than I paid for: A wonderfully designed environment, with basic 21st century amenities (Free WiFi, LCD flatscreen in-room, and gadget hook-up!). I'm sure the price has increased slightly since opening, but it is certain to be much less than a W. For the budget minded fashion-savvy travelers who are not staying for a "special night", an anniversary, a honeymoon, or when "special services" are required, this is the perfect hotel. For all others who expect special treatment due to circumstance, stay elsewhere.
I didn't mind the $3.50 coffee and $2.50 sandwich (a combo is $2.50, by the way, which is what I paid for both) for convenience. I once stayed in a hotel in Lausanne, Switzerland where a small can of Pringles was $12.00 Swiss Francs (about $10.00 US Dollars) and the room was about $500 Swiss Francs per night! So, a $2.50 sandwich is not a problem.
This is my first aloft, but have stayed in the Franklin, TN aloft since. For the price, this is a wonderful hotel.
Remember travelers, do your research and you will get more than what you pay for.

  • Stayed April 2009, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Atlanta
Contributor
15 reviews 15 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
37 helpful votes 37 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 7, 2009

The new aloft Soho Square is actually located in downtown Homewood, a very nice, close in suburb just across Red Mountain from downtown Birmingham. It is extremely convenient to downtown, the 459 corridor, and Mountain Brook. Shopping & restaurants are plentiful nearby, with special emphasis on Homewood's shopping district and the 3 villages (Mountain Brook, English and Crestline) - all having a slightly different but authentic feel, as they were built years ago. Highly recommend Olexa's in Mountain Brook Village (just a couple of miles down Oxmoore/Hollywood from the hotel) for lunch.

Now to the hotel itself.

If the new aloft brand is meant to compete with Marriott Courtyard and Hilton Garden Inn, then there really is no competition. Starwood got it right with this new concept. It definitely has the dna of the W brand, but on a smaller scale suitable for business or leisure travelers who want convenience, good design and comfort with a very reasonable price tag.

The check in area is also the public space (bar, food, sitting areas) located when you enter the hotel from either 29th street or the parking garage. Service was very good for check in and the few other times I needed to interact with the front desk (which they call the 'aloha desk').

The room was very modern and functional in what felt like a good space. Had I been traveling with someone on this trip, it might have been a little tighter - the small bench seating that sits just under the TV is not suitable for watching the tube or for reading for very long as it really isn't that comfortable for more than a few minutes - I mainly used it to place my laptop bag and other storage. The bed was comfortable. The 42 inch LG flat screen was nice, with several HD channel options. And the desk area was very functional, with a digital audio/video box for transferring from your laptop to the TV. Remember to bring along the appropriate wires if you want to do this. It can be a cheaper way to watch a movie by bringing along your latest Netflix rental and watching in the room on the hotel TV. And...you get free in-room wifi here. Why can't the more expensive hotels offer this??

Loved the bathroom. I'm someone who hates tub/shower combos - and avoid them whenever possible. While this has been easier to do on more expensive hotel stays. - it's not easy to find in less expensive hotels. aloft has a shower only arrangement, fully tiled with soap/shampoo dispensers set on the wall. The fact that other guests may have had access to the same soap/shampoo really doesn't bother me - you find this often in very high end spa's.

Other than the excellent layout of the rooms and public spaces, "good design" is something you get with aloft that is sorely lacking with it's competitors. Forget the traditional look of your typical chain hotel. aloft is definitely different when it comes to how the spaces have been built out. The rooms feel more European to me than they do trendy. The colors are soft blues/greys with dark tan woods. The bathrooms are tile, glass, mirror and steel - some may call it industrial, but I think it looks more modern (in a good way).

There is very little to say that is wrong about the new aloft Soho Square. I would place it at the very top of hotel choices in the Birmingham area - location, design, price. The only point to make is that they really do not have an onsite restaurant. They serve some food at the bar, and have a market area to pick up snacks and quick items for breakfast, so if you are wanting room service, this isn't the place for you. If, however, you enjoy trying places nearby (and there are lots of options), you will be completely comfortable here.

aloft, in my opinion, is the very best in its class.

Please note that I am posting this same review (with slight changes) for a stay one week prior at aloft Nashville Cool Springs. Everything but the location was basically the same, with the Soho Square having a more urban feel and Cool Springs a more suburban layout situated near a major interstate.

  • Stayed June 2009, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Miami, Florida
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
12 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
22 helpful votes 22 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 28, 2009

This was my first stay at an Aloft Hotel. It was similar to a W in design, but half the price. Here are the things I liked: free wifi throughout hotel, huge flat screen TV mounted on the wall, easy ability to connect laptop to TV to watch movies from iTunes, young crowd staying at hotel, nice bar and lounge area, good shower area, friendly service when you check in, very computer/tech friendly hotel, EXCELLENT value, and even though there's no room service the prepared food in the "cafeteria" downstairs wasn't bad, there were healthy options, and it is available 24/7..

Here is what I did not like: very small gym, no room service (there is pre-made food downstairs), no laundry service to press clothes that have been wrinkled in travel, only one or two people at front desk and NOBODY ELSE IN THE HOTEL, found a palmetto bug crawling around in my room the last night of my stay (I was close to an exit stairwell, not that this justifies it), windows are not sound proof so hear a decent amount from the street outside (fortunately there wasn't a lot going on in the neighborhood), not sure why they have an indoor pool (especially since it's slightly larger than a bathroom tub); they should expand the gym.

This is a perfect hotel for young (or older, for that matter) business travelers whose clients don't want to put them up in a St. Regis level hotel. I think it's almost as good as a Westin, better than a W (which rips you off at every turn and is overly-hip), but obviously not a luxury level hotel. I would say, however, that they have the "tech" part of staying at a hotel down better than almost any luxury hotel I've been in. The huge flat screen TVs mounted on the wall, wifi, outlets throughout the lounge downstairs, electronic check in, were all major pluses in my book.

  • Stayed May 2009, traveled on business
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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North Carolina
Top Contributor
145 reviews 145 reviews
38 hotel reviews
Reviews in 42 cities Reviews in 42 cities
147 helpful votes 147 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed May 19, 2009

My husband and I spent 2 nights at the aloft Birmingham Soho Square (in Homewood) in May. He had a job interview and I came along for the ride. The hotel just opened in April, and I will second the other reviewers comments about location and style of hotel. It's very safe and there are some restaurants and shops right across the street and down the street, with what looks like even more places coming soon. However, the style of the hotel is very retro-modern; the lobby is concrete and neon with very loud music playing. There is a bar and ample seating with some seating outside next to a see-through fireplace. A pool table is in one corner of the lobby. Employees working the front desk greet you with "Aloha".

Rooms are kind of spartan. Think Holiday Inn Express for Gen-Y. The bed was decently comfortable, but the only light switch is by the door, so you will have to fumble back to the bed in the dark. Also, there is not a convenient outlet for the hairdryer. Either you have to plug it in by the coffee maker (not at the sink) or reach under the sink and plug in where the mini-fridge is (and I am not sure the cord would reach). The shower is walk-in with a grab bar but no seat or ledge. Body wash and shampoo dispensers are mounted to the wall in the shower. Water felt very soft and smelled like a pool (but this is coming from someone used to very hard well water).

I wish there had been more than one chair in the room, but it was fine for our short stay. The workout room contains 2 treadmills, 2 elipticals, and 2 bikes with a rack of dumbells and one universal machine (pretty comprable to Courtyard/Holiday Inn Express level hotels). The treadmills faced a wall, and the flat panel tv was mounted on the wall behind the exercise equipment, which did not make sense to me. The pool was indoor and very small.

Parking was convenient. You could park on the street right out front or there was covered parking adjacent to the lobby. I am not sure if it would be ample if the hotel were completely full, though.

All in all, the aloft concept is fine for a 2-night max stay. Some of the "theme" aspects were borderline cheesy- "splash" for the pool, "refuel" for the "Grab and go" food service area, "awake" for the in-room coffee, etc. I think if I were 5 years younger I would like it more, but the Homewood location was safe and convenient for our purposes in Birmingham, and it was nice to stay in a place that was so new.

  • Stayed May 2009, traveled on business
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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Additional Information about aloft Birmingham Soho Square

Address: 1903 29th Avenue South, Homewood, AL 35209
Phone Number:
Location: United States > Alabama > Homewood
Amenities:
Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 7 hotels in Homewood
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:3 star — aloft Birmingham Soho Square 3*
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Aloft Birmingham Soho Square is a hip new hotel! Enjoy the chic amenities of Soho Square. Walk to great shopping and local restaurants. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Aloft Birmingham Soho Square Hotel Homewood
Aloft Hotel Homewood
Birmingham Soho Square Aloft

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