A review of the Aloft Hotel in Rogers-Bentonville, Arkansas
Although I’m a big fan of Starwood brands (e.g.: Sheraton, Westin, W), I had never stayed at an Aloft location and was quite looking forward to this weekend stay. Knowing that it’s a spin-off of the W brand, I was a little apprehensive about the atmosphere; most W “living rooms” have a club feel in the evenings with music that is cool but often too loud for conversation. On the other hand, I love just about everything else about W hotels and was looking forward to seeing how that played out at Aloft.
I was definitely not disappointed! The design is every bit as cool and maybe even trendier than a W. My companions – the lovely Mrs. and two teen-aged gals – were suitably impressed as well. We all liked that it was about the size and substance of a mid-range hotel (think Four Points, Holiday Inn Express, etc.) but carried the look and feel of a somewhat larger, more upscale hotel. The W xyz bar and Re:Mix lounge & pool table did make it a bit busy and noisy during the evening, but it was nice to see the lively social atmosphere. Like W, these areas are not isolated from the check-in or lobby areas. The girls quickly ditched their bags, bought some ice cream in the lobby and settled into the big, comfy lounge seating. The Re:Mix area is really nicely decorated and quite comfortable, as is the Aloft Backyard outdoor patio; I would have liked more time to enjoy it…or maybe take it home with me!
The front desk (the “Aloha Desk”) is right up front and doubles as the command center for the lobby area, which includes Re:Mix and Re:Fuel, the food and beverage station. The fare at Re:Fuel was, to be honest, a big disappointment. Though we booked a rate that included breakfast, it turned out to be your typical continental fare: cereals, pastries and fruit. More substantial breakfast fare, such as breakfast sandwiches, burritos and wraps, are available but at additional cost. That’s not what I call “breakfast included.” Further, to call it a “self-serve gourmet eatery” (as claimed on their website) is a serious stretch. Beverages did include lattes and cappuccinos, but they are provided by a machine that seems to prepare them from packaged mixes. Not great, but not bad. Also, there are not many places to sit and eat. The table in Re:Fuel is turned into a serving station, so you can’t sit there, and the lounge seating is made for relaxing, not eating. There are a few seats at the bar and near the pool table. There was plenty of room to move the paltry pastries to the counter and provide some much needed seating.
The rooms were (mostly) excellent. I was surprised at the size, actually! Just inside the door, the vanity area has a long wall separating it from the beds. That wall is your closet and provides a good amount of storage for two. The vanity on the opposing wall provides enough space for two to get ready without elbowing each other in the head. (A nice feature!) Further on is the toilet and shower; this was the only flaw in the room. The all glass shower left a gap of a half-inch or more when you closed the door. That gap is right about where you stand under the shower, so water splashes out. The result is water all over the floor. The girls didn’t complain of this in their room so I won’t assume every shower does this.
As with every Starwood property I’ve stayed in, the beds were comfy and clean. The room’s simple décor was very appealing, but there were quite a few wall scuffs. The ample desk area and a built-in sofa occupied the wall opposite the beds. It was a great work space – a big desk with good light and no clutter – but the flat-panel TV being mounted on the same wall made it difficult to watch TV while seated at the desk.
There is also a pool and fitness center here. We didn’t have the time on this trip to indulge, but they did look well maintained with a variety of cardio and strength exercise options. Overall, a good night’s sleep and a comfortable experience but don’t pay extra for that “gourmet” breakfast. Take the money and head for the IHOP down the street. I enjoyed this stay and will probably book at Aloft again…just not at a “plus breakfast” rate. Live and learn, right?
Worth Noting: Pets are welcome! Aloft’s Arf Pet Program offers a dog bed, bowl, “woof-alicious” treats, and toys. I didn’t think to ask what happens if you have something less canine…like a marmot, for example.