This is my review of the Aloft hotel at the Excel centre in East London.
The Aloft website is here if you want to find out more.
When Starwood invited me to try out the SPG Suite at the O2 last week, they also offered me a free room at the Aloft London hotel at Excel. Whilst I live in London, I had never stayed at an Aloft before so I thought I would give it a try. I was impressed.
Aloft is, as I see it, a budget lifestyle brand. Whilst there are over 100 Aloft hotels now, only four are in Europe – one in Belgium, one in Turkey, one in Liverpool (an excellent Category 2 redemption) and this one.
What do I mean by budget lifestyle?
Well, there is no room service and no mini-bar, although there is a fridge. Instead you get a shop just off the lobby where you can buy food, drink and coffee 24 hours a day (see below). When the bar closed at night, we simply walked 20 feet to the shop and bought some beer there, taking it back to the bar to drink!
Aloft is not short on amenities. The ‘modern’ essentials are included – wi-fi and fixed line internet is free, you get decent quality Bliss toiletries and there was both a kettle and a coffee machine in my room. This is a long way away from the Holiday Inn Express model.
There is a cool-looking bar which has live bands a few nights a week – not something you usually associate with a ‘no frills’ property.
Aloft London Excel even has a swimming pool – a very funky looking pool as you can see – and a large gym. This hotel actually has plenty of ‘frills’ when you get down to it.
Take a look at my suite:
As you can see, it is well furnished. Here is the surprising bit – last Friday, this suite was selling for just £149. A standard room was £95. Where else in London can you get a suite that would sleep a family in a hotel with a swimming pool for £149, the day before arrival?
(Note that pricing at Aloft is heavily influenced by what is happing at Excel, so you may find that rates are a little crazy if there is a major event taking place.)
Unlike most low-cost hotels, Aloft also has a smart-looking restaurant called Fede although I didn’t try it out. On Friday, instead of sitting down for a restaurant breakfast, I decided to save time by grabbing a box of cereal and a cappuccino from the shop in the lobby.
In terms of transport, the hotel is roughly 60 seconds walk from Prince Regent station on the Docklands Light Railway. Do not get off at Custom House for Excel which is at the western end of the complex – the hotel is at the eastern end. You are just three stops from Canning Town where you can transfer to the Jubilee Line.
It is worth adding that the hotel is very, very close to City Airport. I had a plane flying past my window every five minutes or so. Soundproofing is fantastic, however, and you will not be disturbed by the aircraft.
In terms of a Starwood Preferred Guest redemption, the hotel is 10,000 SPG points per night. My target value for an SPG point is 1.5p so I would only use points if room rates were inflated due to an event taking place at Excel.
All in all, I found Aloft London to be a very sound hotel and excellent value for money. It is a massive improvement on the Ramada hotel next door when I stayed a couple of years ago. If you can make the location work for you then it is well worth considering. I would certainly be willing to stay at another Aloft property based on my experiences here.
You can find out more about the hotel, and book, on this page of their website.
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