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“Great Location, Great Techy Amenities if they work!”

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aloft Birmingham Soho Square
Ranked #1 of 6 Hotels in Homewood
Reviewed August 17, 2009

Location is walking distance to Soho Square which offers several good restaurants (Jackson's, Greyhouse Grill, Jinsei). They had outside parking as well as their own deck which was very convenient - this cuts out that extra charge for valet parking that can run up to $16 a day at some places! But as one reviewer mentioned, at full capacity, parking maybe a little sparse.
Front desk clerk Shonda was very pleasant and helpful - check in was very speedy. I asked for a room higher up so that the noise from the bar wouldn't interfere with my sleep later on that night - we got a room on the third floor and didn't hear any noise from downstairs - the loud air conditioning unit may have helped with that...
The room was nice and modern looking - the bed could have been softer but it was still comfortable. The mounted flat screen was very nice but I wish there was a better seating arrangement than the bench right under the TV...and the desk chair which wouldn't be comfortable longer than 10 minutes...
Some of the things in the room you can tell were on the cheap side but then again you have a kohler sink and an LG lcd...so I would say the place is a mix....
The box for hooking your laptop, etc. up to the TV was great! We brought our laptop and a couple of dvds along and were hoping to watch a movie later on at night. We hooked everything up to test it out and it worked great for the first 30 minutes and then it went out on us. We had brand new cables and the laptop was working fine so we didn't know if it was the box itself. We called the front desk and they offered to move us to another room but we had already settled in and decided on complimentary drinks and breakfast instead. But great that they actually offered! The in room movies ranged from $11-15. There were no technicians on duty so no one could really come up and check to see what it was but the bartender (who was the most tech savvy on staff) did come up and try to help...
After returning from dinner, we entered the lobby and the xyz bar was in full swing. The reviewers say that this hotel is for the young crowd but it seemed the crowd at the bar was 30 and up (which is fine by me!!).
Overall it was a pleasant stay in a nice, clean room - it would've been great if our connection to the tv worked but we did have wifi.
Also front desk told us, they will be getting their own restaurant Michael's steak and seafood? Something like that and a free shuttle service in the next couple of months.

  • Stayed: August 2009, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank NiazaDG
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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282 - 288 of 300 reviews

Reviewed August 6, 2009

I stayed in this hotel last week since it was directly across the street from a client. By far it was one of my most frustrating hotel stays ever. I travel weekly for work and have come to realize I like simple things while staying in a hotel room. There are no lights on the night stand, so to turn on/off lights, you have to go back to door. The ironing boards are only about 3 foot tall, so you have to try to sit on your bed to iron. There are no drawers to store anything and the "closet" just has a drape to cover. You have to pay for their overpriced coffee. The final straw was my Thursday night stay, all I could hear was the thumping of base music from a live DJ in the bar. I guess they are trying to drum up business, but no one was in the bar area.

The staff is not very friendly and everyone is trying to be too trendy.

  • Stayed: July 2009, traveled on business
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Thank corey77003
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 29, 2009

I visit Birmingham frequently for work and generally need to be near the BJCC, so the Sheraton is the obvious choice, but on this trip, I didn’t need to be downtown, so thought we’d (traveling with co-worker) try the new Aloft in Homewood. I understand the property has only recently opened, so imagine that many of the kinks experienced during our stay have been ironed out… maybe.

First off… the location is great – just across from the Soho Square shopping area and well within walking distance to Main Street in Homewood. Lots of great little shops and some good restaurants, too! Plenty of parking and no charge -- huge plus, as it $17 for valet and $12 for self park at the Sheraton.

The hotel itself is very edgy, hip, modern vibe. I appreciated the funky touches throughout the lobby like the various games, magazines and books, but could have done without the REALLY LOUD music. The music itself was not the issue, but the volume at which it was being amplified. Seriously not necessary.
There is no restaurant, but a nice little snack/grab and go area for coffee, fruit & various other sundries, which was sufficient. There is a restaurant being built next door… not sure if it’s connected to the hotel or not.

Our rooms were on the 5th floor – mine had a view of Vulcan, while my co-worker had a direct view of the condo-construction next door. The room was a bit quirky, but clean. There is no place to sit except for a desk chair and a built in bench, neither of which are remotely comfortable. There is actually no closet, but instead a sort of curtained-off area to hang your clothes – so storage in the room is quite limited. Upon entering the room… I noticed right away that it felt stuffy and a bit humid. The air conditioning unit was cranking full speed (and it was LOUD! I know AC units are noisy, but whoa… the loudest ever), so I assume it would eventually cool. I thought maybe the system was equipped with one of those systems that senses when a person is in the room… not the case. I am generally a cold-natured person, so I thought I’d sleep OK with the current temp – well… it was hot as hades all night. The next day, I had to leave for some work appointments, and asked that someone take a look, when I returned, it had not been fixed. I called down and was told that no one from maintenance was in… one of the check-in clerks attempted to monkey with it and was instructed by maintenance via phone to “restart” the unit – we left for dinner and upon returning about 3 hours later – it was still hot! I seriously could not sleep in that heat a second night and after being very patient about the situation, I asked that I be moved to another room. I was told that was not an option. The front desk clerk with whom I was speaking, literally said “What do you want me to do?” I said, “you come up a solution!” she then said that I should call the GM on his cell phone (mind you –by now it is 10pm). I had reserved the room via priceline @ $55 a night, so proper customer service must not be included in that rate! So I took her advice and called the GM… an hour or so later, he called back and said they would be moving me to another room.

So… needless to say, my experience is a bit jaded due to the whole AC situation (It’s JUNE in ALABAMA!) The problem really seems to be that there is no one on staff who is in any position to make a decision. When confronted with anything other than checking people into their rooms, staff seems to be at a loss.

Things I liked: location, free wifi, bar, lobby, location, dog friendly!

Things I disliked: lack of customer service, rooms are a bit too “college” dorm/ikea-like for my personal taste, SLLOOW wifi, no light/lamp next to the bed, stiff pillows

  • Stayed: June 2009, traveled on business
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1  Thank bethy2120
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 22, 2009

I was traveling to Birmingham for an interview and brought the family along. So, I was looking for a place to spend some Starwood points for a free night stay when I discovered Aloft. This new hotel brand is very themed and quite unconventional. The concept attempts to capture the demographic who would identify themselves as "hip, cool, and sophisticated".

What attracted me to select the hotel was a prominent promotion on their website for "camp aloft" a themed experience for children. The package included special bedding, games, toys, and snacks on arrival, and special kids menu. The promotion promised a very kid friendly experience.

After a long day on the road, we arrived about 2 hours after the kids bed time. When we entered the lobby, the Starbucks groupies were shooting pool in the lobby bar and the meager staff in their Polo shirts and khakis seemed shocked by the interruption to their themed environment by the entrance of my 4 and 6 year old kids.

Conventions are comforting because one knows what to expect...how to behave. As I entered the hotel I felt a bit like Crocodile Dundee encountering the bidet. There was no conventional staff to greet me, no one to help with the bags, the "front desk" was small and unusually located.

The room was also unconventional. Two spaces were defined by a partial wall. On the entrance side of the wall was the bathroom and a small amount of shelf space (no closet). The opposing side of the wall was the bed and wall-mounted tv. The room was all concept and no common sense. The AC was on the bed side of the wall, but the thermostat was on the bath side, so, the AC ran all night. The shower (no tub for the little ones to bath in!) had a glass wall. So, when my wife woke early to bathe, it lit the entire bedroom and woke everyone else up. The lavatory was one of those bowl-on-top affairs one might see in Architectural Digest. Owners of more traditional homes like ourselves would benefit from an owner's manual to figure out how to use it. For example, it took me several minutes to figure out how to let the water out after shaving.

The "camp aloft" was two unmade blow-up beds in back packs. (It took about an hour to get the staff to find bedding and get the beds set up. Unprepaired for the two little guests, it took another hour to apparently send a staff member to the corner drug store to put together a paper bag of goodies to fulfill the promised games and treats).

So many things were so wrong with this concept hotel that my wife and I had no choice but to resort to humor. Breakfast was the apex of our laughter since we couldn't figure anything out. There was a "station" for funky pastries and another "station" for coffee (kids menu?!). But the utensils for the food were hidden around a corner and the condiments for the coffee were in another room entirely. There was cereal artfully arranged on a table, but no milk on display anywhere. We had noticed a multiply pierced young woman in a chefs toque observing us for a while. When I finally approached her for help, she disappeared to the back to produce some milk.

The "space" offered only individual seating with tiny top-heavy tables just the right size for ones lap-top. It only took about three seconds for my 4-year-old to tip the table and spill cereal all over the floor. Once again, the mystified staff seemed to not quit know what to do with kids in their environment. We had to ask for a broom and clean up the mess ourselves as the staff paced nervously at a distance. We think that there was a charge for the food, but no one was keeping track of what we took, and there was no"station" for paying. Oh well!

If you have kids...run away from this brand and throw rocks. If you are single, hip, and sophisticated...you will love this place.

  • Stayed: July 2009, traveled with family
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1  Thank ecologic1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 4, 2009

This is a contemporary hotel with a superior staff. My daughter and I stayed here when in Birmingham to find her and apartment for grad school. We found the staff very friendly and helpful. They knew our names and even ran off apartment listings for us. Homewood is a quaint area that is an easy five minute drive to the UAB campus. A variety of restaurants and cute shops are within walking distance. My only complaint is there is no reading lamp on the night stand. We did move the desk lamp so the problem was easy to solve. It has underground parking which was nice because it was 96 degrees outside. I would recommend this hotel and will stay again.

  • Stayed: June 2009
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Thank LouisianaRock
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 4, 2009

Yes, it's an uber trendy hotel trying to mimick the Nordics design. It was not cozy but did it's job well because we did find it to be rather clean. But, what good is it when my husband and I woke up to the loud AC every 10 mins and we woke up groggy? It is so loud that it interrupted our TV time, I had to blast TV to volume 40 and I still couldn't hear the TV. Staff was nice, they had a nice book of menus for restaurants - but everything is across the street. I liked the Burger at Greyhouse Grille though ($13). Interesting experience, definitely mediocre. Free covered parking, nice bar area (cheap drinks).

  • Stayed: June 2009, traveled on business
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2  Thank indaheezy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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
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3  Thank DMKANDOIT
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about aloft Birmingham Soho Square

Address: 1903 29th Ave S, Homewood, AL 35209-2617
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 6 Hotels in Homewood
Price Range: $145 - $209 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — aloft Birmingham Soho Square 3*
Number of rooms: 111
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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