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Hotel Review: Aloft San Francisco Airport

Related Posts:
Hotel Review: Hotel Nikko San Francisco
Hotel Review: W San Francisco
Lounge Review: SFO Delta Sky Club
Flight Report: Delta DL 1859

 

Millbrae, CA
Room 142
September 5-6, 2016
Room Rate: $152 USD

 

Introduction

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but seriously, booking a 6:30 AM flight SEEMS okay in theory, but never is so in practice. And that’s the story of how we ended up at an airport hotel.

Aloft San Francisco Airport

Aloft San Francisco Airport entrance

After a one night stay at the W San Francisco, Brian and I checked into the Aloft by the airport to get us (and Marshall) that extra 20 minutes of sleep before flying back to JFK first thing the next morning.

Jump to the Takeaway

 

Check-In

Check in was quick and friendly. As always, when traveling with a pet (as I was on this trip), I had to sign off on the standard pet waiver forms when checking in. The Aloft brand is generally pet friendly, and does not charge a fee to have your pet stay with you (though cleaning and damage fees may apply when warranted). This property is no different.

I given my keys – room 142. I usually hate being on the first floor for safety reasons, though I was not traveling by myself this time around. Even so, I realized the rooms upstairs were more expensive than the lower level rooms – and I most definitely booked the cheapest rate (after all, I was spending only 12 hours on the property). I didn’t think it through then, but, as a female traveler, a room on a higher floor would have been nice. I do recognize that the downstairs rooms may be specifically assigned to people traveling with dogs, though surely they have rooms upstairs reserved for people with dogs who book the high floor rates?

Aloft San Francisco Airport rooms and rates

Aloft San Francisco Airport rooms and rates

Before I walked over to my room, I noticed how busy the common space was – usually the common spaces in the Alofts I’ve been to in the past are typically empty – people generally keep to themselves. However, at this property, there were plenty of people using the common spaces, playing pool, and hanging out at the bar. It was refreshing to see, though I’ll admit I never thought I’d be seeing this level of socialization at an airport hotel.

Aloft San Francisco Airport lobby

Aloft San Francisco Airport lobby

Aloft San Francisco Airport first floor hallway

Aloft San Francisco Airport first floor hallway

Aloft San Francisco Airport room 142

Aloft San Francisco Airport room 142

The Room

Our room was all the way at the end of the hallway, which is great for privacy, and running laps with your dog to tire him out. There was also an exit to the parking lot near our room, which is convenient for those traveling with their car. All exits required an active room key card to grant guests access back into the building.

Aloft San Francisco Airport first floor map

Aloft San Francisco Airport first floor map

I’ve stayed at a few Alofts in the past, and the bathrooms tend to be on the smaller side (regardless of the actual bedroom size), but this property had a nicely large bathroom. The bedroom was slightly bigger than the bathroom, and was spacious.

Aloft San Francisco Airport room 142 king bed

Aloft San Francisco Airport room 142 king bed

Aloft San Francisco Airport room 142 desk and TV area

Aloft San Francisco Airport room 142 desk and TV area

Though the room came with only one chair, the bench between the desk and AC unit doubled as an extra seat or worked as a luggage rack.

Aloft San Francisco Airport room 142 closet and safe

Aloft San Francisco Airport room 142 closet and safe

Aloft San Francisco Airport room 142 sink area

Aloft San Francisco Airport room 142 sink area

Aloft San Francisco Airport room 142 bathroom

Aloft San Francisco Airport room 142 bathroom

Aloft San Francisco Airport room 142 bathroom

Aloft San Francisco Airport room 142 bathroom

Aloft San Francisco Airport room 142 bliss products

Aloft San Francisco Airport room 142 bliss products

I have friends who hate that the Alofts only come with a 2 in 1 shampoo and conditioner product (I’ll admit I don’t love it either), but I usually travel with my own conditioner anyway, so it’s not the worst thing in the world. For those who don’t pack any conditioner, this could definitely put a damper on their stay.

All in all, I was pretty happy with our room. It felt very comfortable, and was by far the largest Aloft bathroom I’d ever seen. Though I wasn’t thrilled about the first floor room, it turned out to be pretty convenient when it came to taking Marshall outside for a quick walk.

Aloft San Francisco Airport room 142 king bed and Marshall

Aloft San Francisco Airport room 142 king bed and Marshall

On-Site Dinning

Since the Alofts are not standard full-service hotels, they do not offer a room service menu. However, all guests have access to the Re:fuel snack bar located in the lobby, which offers snacks, beverages, and fruit.

The hotel also has the W XYZ bar on-site, which serves up snacks and cocktails.

Aloft San Francisco Airport Re:fuel

Aloft San Francisco Airport Re:fuel

Aloft San Francisco Airport Re:fuel

Aloft San Francisco Airport Re:fuel

Since the Aloft and the Westin San Francisco Airport share a parking lot (though I believe there is a division between the slots assigned to each hotel), guests at the Aloft have the option to dine at the Westin’s restaurant Grill & Vine and conveniently charge it to their room. This is a great option, since most Alofts do not have sit-down dining options available.

Grill & Vine Menu

Grill & Vine Menu

On-Site Amenities

As I mentioned, this property is not a full-service hotel, so amenities like an on-site spa is not going to be in the cards, but they do offer a small gym with basic workout equipment. This property in particular offers a pool (which I don’t think I’ve actually seen at an Aloft before), and had an outdoor lounge area with a ping pong table.

Aloft San Francisco Airport outdoor lounge area

Aloft San Francisco Airport outdoor lounge area

The hotel also offers an airport shuttle, which operated 24 hours a day (though by request between midnight and 4am). Do know that the shuttle also makes a stop at the Westin next door and stops at all terminals, so expect a travel time of about 20 minutes door to door.

 

Pet Travel

As I’d mentioned, this property is pet-friendly and does not charge a nightly fee when staying with a dog. Per their website, dogs up to 40 pounds are welcome, and are offered a dog bed, bowl and treats. I was not offered these items at this property, but I have while staying at the Aloft Manhattan – Financial District.

It was nice to have these when traveling, since I never travel with a dog bed. I usually manage to remember to bring a food bowl, but having an extra one available is never a bad thing. While these would have been nice at this property, we were here for 12 hours so it even worth me asking the front desk for these (though I’m sure they would have obliged had I requested this). They did provide us a tag to hang on our door to let hotel employees (and other guests I suppose) know we had a dog in our room.

Aloft San Francisco Arf door tag

Aloft San Francisco Arf door tag

One thing I did like about the property, as someone traveling with a pet, was the outdoor space. Sure, the whole property was dog friendly, but it’s always nice to be able to be outside with your dog – Marshall in particular loves the great outdoors, and when traveling, he doesn’t get as much outside time as he’d like, so it’s always great when a hotel we’re staying at has this available to us.

Other than the outdoor lounge, the property had plenty of wide, open walkways for Marshall and I to walk on without risking being run over in the parking lot. The pet waste station I found around the back was also a nice touch.

Aloft San Francisco Airport pet waste station

Aloft San Francisco Airport pet waste station

Overall we had a good stay. This Aloft is a great option to stay at when traveling with a pet, thanks to the fact the don’t charge a pet fee, plus its proximity to SFO. The Westin next door does not charge a pet fee, however, in my experience, most Westins typically do.

This property is located about a 5-10 minute drive from SFO, and is right next door to a Westin hotel. There is a nearby Four Points by Sheraton, but this hotel is a bit further away (and is not pet friendly).

While rates fluctuate, the Aloft is typically about $10-20 cheaper than the Westin, (though on some dates, I found the inverse to be true). Below is a price chart for a random weekend I ran in October. Depending on your length of stay and your needs during the visit, either the Westin or Aloft is a good choice given their location, proximity to the airport, and similarity in price.

San Francisco Airport SPG hotels

San Francisco Airport SPG hotels

 I typically had never been much of a fan of the Aloft hotels , mostly because once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all – they are all very similar. It’s clear they all have the same supplier, as all properties seem to use the same striped bolster pillows, bathrooms all feature the same wall and floor tiling, and well – the properties just all look and feel the same. In some ways, this can seem really boring, but in other ways, it’s really nice because of the consistency – you know what you’re getting into. I think every Aloft I’ve ever stayed at has always had this modern-ish look, has been new (though due mostly in part to the newness of the brand as a whole), dog friendly, and offers the same level of (limited) service – but the staff is always friendly and helpful. Brands like the Westin and Sheraton (though mostly the Sheraton) are huge, and because of the number of properties, the consistency in service, product, and appearance of property can fall anywhere on the spectrum, from top notch to leaving much to be desired. There is something to be said about predictability – it’s not always a bad thing.

I do think, however, that the Aloft is trying to break out of the mold of the standard select-service hotel. As Arun had recently written, the Aloft brand is slowly integrating iPads in their rooms, to allow guests to use Siri as a digital concierge, and also control room functions like lights and temperatures. While this property did not have this feature during my visit, I think it’s something that Aloft’s target demographic (millennials who appreciate modern look and function, but aren’t at the W price point just yet) will find appealing.

This property is one of the better Aloft properties in that it has more to offer (indoor pool, option to dine next door and put the charge on your room bill) than most that I’ve stayed at. Surely staying at an airport hotel isn’t everyone’s first choice, but if you find yourself needing to, this is a good one to be at.

Marshall also feels pretty good about the Aloft San Francisco Airport

Marshall also feels pretty good about the Aloft San Francisco Airport

 

The Takeaway

Lounge: No
Make a Green Choice: Yes
Check In: 8/10 – Front desk staff was quick to process us and get us on our way.
Elite Recognition: 7/10 – To be honest, I’m not sure the front desk associate even looked into my account for this, but then again, this is an airport hotel, and I’m sure most of their traffic are overnight guests, and they aren’t trying to win anyone over. I did see the 250 platinum gift points post when I left, so that’s a win.
Room: 9/10 – Solid, spacious room with the biggest Aloft bathroom I’ve ever seen.
In-Room Technology & Entertainment: 7/10 – Standard flat screen TV, free wifi for guests booking through spg.com. Outlets by the bed were not as plentiful as I would have hoped.
Staff: 8/10 – There weren’t a ton of staff around (again this is a select-service hotel), but those I encountered were pleasant.
Location: 8/10 – Excellent location if you’re trying to get to SFO in as little time as possible like I was. Oh an there’s an In-N-Out across the freeway, I definitely recommend having your uber driver take you through the drive through (source: first hand experience). For those looking to be in San Francisco, this can be a bit of a trek.
On-Site Dining: 9/10 – Standard Re:fuel and XYZ Bar options, but I liked that you could eat at the Westin’s restaurant and bill it to your room.
On-Site Amenities: 9/10 – Indoor pool, gym, plus plenty of space to lounge and hang out.
Hospitality Services: 7/10 – Nothing special here (though standard for these types of hotels), though I look forward to seeing the Aloft brand implement Siri within the rooms.
Hotel Appearance: 9/10 – Looks like every Aloft I’ve ever been to!
Overall Rating: 81/100 (81%) ★★★★

 

One unusual sight caught my eye at the property – a cellphone booth! Gone are the days of standing outside awkwardly taking calls in search of privacy. This is either something guests find incredibly useful, or a funny joke on Aloft’s part.

Aloft San Francisco Airport cellphone booth

Aloft San Francisco Airport cellphone booth

6 Comments
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