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The back of a sample Aloft Smart Check-In keycard
It turns out that the number of people who check-out of hotels the old-fashioned way is shrinking at an alarming rate. But what about checking in? Are people in such a hurry these days that they can't bear the thought of waiting in line to get their keycard and be told which room is theirs?
In a word, yes. Judging from the popularity of Aloft's smart check-in program, people seriously value convenience over a face-to-face welcome. And the numbers speak for themselves: last month, the program reached 10,000 users, even though only a limited number of Aloft hotels are equipped to use it.
This year, Smart Check-In is set to expand to even more properties all over the world. In case you're considering signing up, here are some fast facts on how the whole thing works.
Brooklyn Hotels / MTV Hotels / Awards Ceremony Hotels / Indigo Hotels / Music Hotels / Aloft Hotels / Sheraton Hotels / → All Tags
It was announced two weeks ago that the MTV Video Music Awards will be heading to Barclays Center on August 25, making it the first major annual awards show to ever pick Brooklyn over Manhattan. And if you plan on doing the same with your hotel room, you better act fast. The following Brooklyn hotels still have availability on the big night, but time's running out!
Opened last September, Hotel BPM would be an obvious choice, as it's Brooklyn's (and, as far as we know, Manhattan's) only music-themed hotel, with a DJ-curated playlist that pulses all day long through Bose speakers installed around the hotel (of course, if you don't feel like jammin' out to Beyonce, you can always turn the volume control knob to 'off.' Rates from $309.
The Wythe Hotel is a 20-minute train ride from the venue where the VMAs will take place, but it's by far Brooklyn's coolest hotel at the moment. Though we've had some issues with ill-tempered waitresses, we mostly love the place for its gritty industrial vibe and glorious sixth-floor rooftop bar. Rates from $305.
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Here's one advantage to being located next to Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, CA: Aloft Cupertino, which opened yesterday, is now the first Aloft hotel to feature Apple TV devices in all 123 guest rooms. This is great news for anyone not interested in paying $15-$20 just to watch an in-room movie (ie, us, and pretty much everyone else).
The ingenious little box-shaped devices (pictured) basically allow you to stream music, TV shows and movies on iTunes, Netflix, Hulu or MBL.com straight from your Apple device onto an HD TV.
So while it's a handy thing to keep around the house, it works just as well—if not better—in a hotel. Wanna order room service while running through all the episodes of Downton Abbey? Or watch the Angels vs. Giants game in your bathtub? Or sing (loudly) along with the cast of Glee? The possibilities are endless.
And if being able to stream all your favorite media for free wasn't enough, the hotel will make things easier by resetting the boxes each time a guest checks out (that way, your account settings won't be compromised). Aloft will even go ahead and sync up iTunes to match whatever country you're from
Of course, you'll need reliable WiFi to actually access the content on your iPhone, iPad or iPod. And luckily, Aloft is one of the upstanding brands that offers it free.
The other week, The Aloft Miami Doral opened just east of the Miami International Airport. With rates starting at about $169 the first weekend of April, or $229 if you need a room tonight, the spin-off brand of W Hotels brings a (somewhat) affordable option to the area. It also brings funky design, free WiFi and a pleasant lobby scene for folks tired of the same ho-hum highway and roadside inn options.
But if you're worried this Aloft might be too far away from the South Beach action, don't fret too much. Another Aloft Hotel is opening in Lower Brickell on May 16. This Aloft will look like other Alofts with a w xyz bar, a re:mix lobby lounge, a 24/7 pantry, an outdoor pool and free onsite parking. But it's just steps away from the American Airlines Arena and the Miami Marlins Ballpark. Reservations are not open now, but we're gonna guess room rates will be close to $200-$250 a night.
But if that still isn't good enough for you, again, don't fret. A third Aloft hotel is expected to open by the end of 2014, this time in Miami Beach proper.
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A new $140 million development project in South Boston will feature a double whammy hotel, comprised of a 330-room Aloft and a 180-room Element. Designed specifically for visitors of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, the new Aloft-Element duplex will be located on D Street, only half a mile away from the convention center.
But in addition to cheaper rates, we also know that Aloft and Element generally tend to have a cooler, more modern feel than Westin, and will be able to offer convention visitors a lively place to get an after-work drink (w xyz bar), as well as plenty of fitness-oriented amenities (free bike rentals, in-room gym equipment).
Though there is currently an Aloft Lexington and an Element Lexington, this will be the brands' debut in Beantown proper. Though, not that Boston hasn't seen its fair share of hotel action over the past year. With the recent opening of The Revere and the newly-renovated Langham Boston, travelers to the historic city ought to have plenty of tough decisions ahead when it comes to booking a room.
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Yeah, we know: airport hotels are little more than a necessary evil.
Whether it's a delayed flight, a layover, a late arrival or a god-awful early departure the next day, our reasons for staying in one rarely involve the word fun. Or even "nice."
Imagine our relief then, when we arrived at the Aloft Phoenix Airport recently—after midnight, tired and cranky—and were rewarded with something closer to a city boutique hotel experience.
Check-in was fast and simple, and the front-desk guy made sure to tell us about the free WiFi. Bless.
Click through our gallery to check out our room and you'll understand why we wish we were staying longer than eight hours.
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British Airways announced today its "Big British Invite," a promotion that offers two nights free accommodation in select UK hotels when you purchase a roundtrip ticket between the US and the UK.
You can book this deal through March 31, 2013, and the free hotel stay is valid for travel from January 9 through May 31, 2013. In other words, you must book the airline tickets by March 31st for travel between now and the end of May.
There are participating hotels in London, Glasgow, Newcastle, Manchester, and Edinburgh, and while there are an abundance of Holiday Inns on the list, you'd be silly to pass up the extra nights. Hotels in London include the Royal National, President, Aloft London ExCel and Rembrandt.
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There's tons of New York hotel news flying around this week and we don't have time to give each and every story the love and attention it may deserve, so you will have to settle for some news briefs.
· Follow The Rainbow to the Standard Hotel: On Tuesday, a bold new work of public art debuted on top of (where else?) The Standard New York. Titled "Global Rainbow, After the Storm," by US artist Yvette Mattern, the work features seven beams of high-powered laser light projected into the sky. The rainbow is actually visible for up to 35 miles, though it only uses the amount of power equivalent to two hairdryers. Sadly, the installation is short-lived: tonight is the last night to see it in action.
Remember all the hype when Starwood introduced its Aloft brand? They had us waiting and waiting for Lexington (MA) to be the first ever Aloft destination, and then Canada got the scoop. That was only four years ago, and believe it or not, there are now over 60 Alofts worldwide. On this side of the pond, we’ve so far had to make do with Aloft London ExCel (where we witnessed some Photoshop battling), and more recently Aloft Brussels Schuman.
That’s set to change with the announcement of two new hotels in Germany, Aloft Munich and Aloft Stuttgart, both scheduled to open in 2015.
As evidenced by past marketing stunts like Brooklyn's Portlandia screening, or the awesomely nerdy Photoshop art battle in London, Aloft hotels like to stay on top of all the trends. Music trends, nifty iPhone check-in trends, video art trends. The list goes on....But there's one area in particular they're focusing on more these days: furniture.
Aloft guests over the next year will be spotting a few new features in the rooms that are part of the brand's evolution. One example? The little wooden dots you see above.
To the uneducated eye, they appear to be just that: little wooden dots. But on closer inspection, it turns out the dots* are actually a quintet of coat hangers, artfully arranged and ingeniously disguised. Well, color us stupid!
Just a smidge behind the initially proposed opening date of August 30th, today it was announced that the Aloft San Francisco Airport will fling-open its doors on September 13th.
The former Clarion Hotel, which dates back to the 1960s, was added into the Starwood fam. They company gave the aging hotel a makeover, proposed future greatness, and now the 263-room property has a sparkly Aloft name-ring on it.
Like other airport hotels in the chain, this one is close to transportation—less than three miles from SFO (a free shuttle runs back and forth every 15 minutes) and a short walk from the Millbrae BART station which will get you to downtown San Francisco in 20 minutes. We say double win, and one to consider when thinking about your favorite San Francisco hotel.
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Ready or not, Aloft is slowly infiltrating every corner of the world—India, China, and the US are all in line for multiple openings this year. And it was announced last week that South Korea is even set to get its first Aloft by 2014.
But in the more immediate future, we're looking at two US openings this month: Aloft Asheville on Aug 23 and Aloft SFO on Aug 30. One will be a place to retreat from (or invite back to your hotel room) all the ukulele-strumming Blue Ridge Mountain hippies. The other will be a place to lament your delayed flight. Both will spoil you with free WiFi.