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Review: the Aloft London Excel hotel

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This is my review of the Aloft London Excel hotel at the Excel centre in East London.

I last stayed here in 2015 so it was interesting to revisit, nine years on. Very little has changed inside the hotel, with no obvious bedroom refurbishment.

What HAS changed is that Excel has started work on a major extension. The hotel has lost its water views and the front now faces into the grey wall of the new extension rather than the dock.

The Aloft London Excel website is here if you want to find out more.

Aloft London Excel hotel review exterior

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.

Alternatively, you can now take the Elizabeth Line, jump off at Custom House and do the ten minute walk down to Prince Regent – or take the DLR for one stop.

Whilst not marketed as an airport hotel, you can get to City Airport by taking the DLR (outside the door) back to Canning Town and then changing onto a DLR train on the airport branch. It works but clearly the Courtyard London City Airport hotel – which is brand new – is a better bet and will save you 20 minutes. We reviewed that here.

What is Aloft?

Aloft is, as I see it, a budget lifestyle brand.  There aren’t many of them in Europe – the last one we viewed was Aloft Madrid Grand Via in 2021. Marriott inherited the brand when it bought Starwood and it seems to have been relegated in favour of rolling out Moxy. Aloft is more of a halfway house, like Hyatt’s Andaz. It has modern styling, statement bars and restaurants and leisure facilities, without the small rooms and hot desking lobbies of Moxy.

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) as you may see at a Hilton Garden Inn or similar:

Aloft London Excel hotel shop

Aloft is not short on amenities – you still get a kettle with tea and coffee (smart ‘Paddy & Scott’s’ coffee bags, to be precise) in your room, for example.

Three things show you how far away you are from the Holiday Inn Express or Hampton by Hilton model:

  • there is a cool-looking bar, W XYZ, which has DJ and live music sets on certain nights
  • there is a restaurant, Docksider, which whilst I didn’t eat there looks a cut above your standard Holiday Inn Express-style microwave-driven restaurant (mains are £18-£25+)
  • Aloft London Excel has a swimming pool – a very funky looking pool as you can see – and a large gym. I used a PR photo as it was busy when I popped in.
Aloft London Excel pool

This hotel actually has plenty of ‘frills’ when you get down to it.

Rooms at Aloft London Excel

This is where I get grumpy. I booked the cheapest possible room – Aloft King – and I got …. an Aloft King, on probably the worst floor (2nd, really 1st) and facing the worst direction (over the car park to a small building site and the DLR track – note that the soundproofing is not up to modern standards).

This is what being a Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite member gets you ….. nothing, apparently. The very least they could have done was put me on a higher floor where there is a view (if facing north) and the train and construction noise is reduced.

Let’s take a look at my room. The bed and bathroom are, as it happens, identical to what you get in a suite here (I had a look back at my 2015 photographs). The only difference is the amount of space around the bed. The suites are very cheap here – only about £50 more than a base room – so you may want to splurge.

Aloft London Excel hotel review king room

What you’ve got here is a ‘floating’ bed (ie the base doesn’t come right to the edge so the mattress seems to hover), a chaise longue to the right and a surprisingly wide desk to the left. The desk chair directly faces a window although you can’t see this.

From the other angle:

Aloft London Excel hotel review bedroom

The bathroom is open. Look to the left of the photo below and you’ll see the front door of the room. However, there is a sliding mirrored panel to conceal the loo and shower. There is only one sink – don’t be confused by the reflection.

Aloft London Excel bathroom

The Bliss toiletries I had back in 2015 are now replaced by a generic ‘Greener Lifestyle’ brand, in large refillable bottles bolted to the wall.

Breakfast

I had time for a quick breakfast before I left, which is served in the Docksider restaurant (which, of course, is no longer dockside thanks to the bulky Excel extension opposite).

Aloft London Excel Docksider restaurant

It was decent – better than a Holiday Inn Express / Hampton by Hilton breakfast, but not hugely so. I would preferred an at-table coffee service rather than using a vending machine, but apart from that the selection of hot items, cereals, pastries and salad items was good. Having smoothies was an extra bonus.

Aloft London Excel hotel breakfast

Conclusion

As you can see, Aloft London Excel is perfectly decent hotel, albeit arguably heading towards needing a refurbishment.  You can’t argue with what I paid, which was £102 for a Thursday night, especially as the hotel has a pool.

Breakfast would have been extra but was free due to my Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status. It seems it was £95 when I stayed in 2015, but the hotel has lost its views since then and a number of other hotels have sprung up nearby.

(Note that pricing at Aloft is heavily influenced by what is happening at Excel and you will find that rates go crazy if there is a major event taking place.)

In terms of alternatives, the nearest hotels are the DoubleTree by Hilton, which used to be a Ramada, and the Premier Inn opposite it. These are two minutes walk away. You also have a new Moxy, (review), Hampton by Hilton and Holiday Inn Express which directly face the airport terminal – these are 5+ minutes walk from Aloft but are signposted from Prince Regent DLR.

You can find out more about Aloft London Excel, and book, on this page of their website.


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How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards (May 2024)

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Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which can be used to earn Marriott Bonvoy points

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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