A night at the Aloft

Charleston, South Carolina

In my travels, I’ve stayed at five-star hotels in the Czech Republic and no star hotels in Malaysia. I’ve spent nights at geothermal domes in Patagonia, Bushmen huts in Botswana, aboard trains in China and 600-year-old homes in Morocco.

Wherever I’m heading, accommodation is always important to me. It can turn a great destination into a terrible experience and a terrible destination into a great experience. It can help to provide a better understanding of a foreign culture; when alone, it can also foster the meeting of other solo travelers.

The point is, I’m always up for staying somewhere new and somewhere different. Which is what brought us to the Aloft Charleston this evening.

Aloft is the new brand by Starwood Hotels and Resorts. Their hotels are located in less than prime locations — this one was out by the airport, about a 15 minute drive to the French Quarter — and have been positioned to compete with Hilton Garden Inns and Marriott Courtyards. Rates are quite reasonable; our room, with an AAA discount, was $109 bucks.

So, why stay there?

Because Alofts are actually really cool places to stay. The hotel interiors have been designed by David Rockwell, who has also designed Nobu and the JetBlue terminal at JFK. Starwood has marketed the brand as an affordable W targeted at “the person who likes Dwell, fashion and music but doesn’t need to spend $500 a night at a hotel,” according to a senior vice president.

Check-in was quick and easy. There were automated kiosks for those averse to interacting with a human. We had no problem talking to the front desk clerk and were given a room on the first floor. We strolled through the lobby, which had a nice bar, some seating areas and a pool table.

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Our room was spacious; a comfortable king bed, a gigantic flat screen on the wall and a nice sized bathroom. There were other less traditional touches — Bliss products, a selection of “intelligent” magazines like the New Yorker and the aforementioned Dwell as well as an ergonomic desk chair and free Wi-Fi.

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There was also an outdoor fireplace in the courtyard, which was adjacent to the swimming pool and some mid-century modern lounge chairs.

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The view from our room certainly wasn’t the most scenic — the parking lot and neighboring strip mall. But for a night, the price, design and comfort that Aloft offered would be hard to beat.

UPDATE: I’ve just learned that there’s an Aloft Chapel Hill set to open its doors next May.

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Comments

  1. John Briley says:

    Hey Marc,

    Good post. Thought you’d be interested in my friend Andrea’s piece on the Philly Aloft for Wash Post Travel:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/14/AR2009071403194.html

    Hope all is well with you! – JB

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