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Old Sep 25, 10, 6:00 pm   #1
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
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Arrow Aloft Brussels Schuman, Belgium [Master Thread]

Hello

After I already thought I had seen all SPG hotels in Brussels, I of course had to acknowledge that there is a brand-new one: the infamous Aloft finally opened its doors in Brussels!

As I had some issues recently with the Sheraton downtown (and now finally going there again quite happily after everything is getting better...), I nevertheless wanted to give the Aloft a fair chance.

As from the office I would have to take tube to Rogier to get to the Sheraton, the Aloft was even somewhat better located - by foot it was somewhat between 10 and 15 minutes. The location is just next to the Leopoldpark and the Eurpean Parliament, which for sure will make it a perfect location for many people.

And before you think this is going to be lots of PR for this new hotel - I personally will not go back. But let me explain a little bit more ;-)

When I arrived there, I walked into the lobby. The lobby is of course not as in any "normal" hotel, but quite a cluster and mix-up of different things...
There is a round check-in counter quite centrally located, next to it a food court thing with self-service and pay at the CKI counter, the bar nearby, some area to sit down for either the grab-it-yourself stuff or the bar drinks.

This itself was quite okay, prices quite normal for Brussels hotels. But what I did not like was the way one is treated by staff. Not rude per se, but most certainly not very friendly either. Quite a young team, semi-unwilling explaining the new hotel and offering a rehearsed and fast recall of what the hotel has to offer. Nothing bad, but certainly not a warm friendly welcome and especially not something to be proud of for this Aloft...
Also I would not consider myself not as too old (36), the volume and the music selection in the lobby was most certainly not to the taste of me, and most people there (way older) didn´t enjoy it either...

After this okayish thing at best I finally was offered the only available PLAT gift: 500 points. And one voucher for a drink. But please not at the bar - you can grab yourself a coffee from the serve-yourself area... okay, I saved this one for the next day. Coffee is quite okay ;-)
I wonder that this Aloft does some PR with offering people on Eurostar to have two drinks for free, but for PLAT is really eager to tell you that you are not to use this voucher in the bar... anyway...

Internet is free for ALL guests - nice! But then you might want to have a look at the list of hotel with bad internet speeds. The Aloft Brussels (being only open for a month!) should not be on this list - but it was one of the worst WiFi experiences I had lately! Internet speed hardly existent and in the room only medium coverage with sometimes even being pinged out...

The rooms - very spartanic. The room was not too small, had a nice huge king bed in (very comfy I might add), a chair... That´s about it.

No seriously, the chair was below something which might be used as a desk, which was running along the wall. The TV was a nice 42" LCD - but then again they should add a nice list with TV programmes. They have a coffee maker in the room. Bath is really okay, only very limited stuff for taking a bath - unlike your common Sheraton or alike. The pillows were nice, but one was too flat - and two were just too big. Very picky here, but sorry, pillow is big point apart from bed. The silly Aloft rolls in psychodelic colours on the bed - no clue what to do with those... speaking about the colours: the room was mostly kept very darkish-brown nearly into black, but this was broken by some greenish stripe mixup from both the curtain, the bed and some other objects.

Later on I asked whether this was a room upgrade or what? I wondered because the big rooms should have a seperate living area - which mine certainly did not have. In the end I was told by staff that PLAT would get normal room, as for the other room they only have THREE! And not to bother poor PLATs with upgrading some and others not, all get the same room. Because they only have three... yeah, sure, nice try

During the night the whole lobby thing gets louder and maybe also more crowded with the bar serving enough alcohol. As I had to go with my people from office to some restaurant nearby, I arrived late enough not to see any more people in the lobby around midnight and the lobby being very quite already.

During the breakfast you can only serve yourself from this grab whatever you like point nearby the check-in and can sit nearby. For half the price I also could sit in some nicer cafe on my way to work ...


So in a nutshell: staff could really be nicer. I like the young profile and appearence with polo-shirts (albeit the colours...). But the whole approach towards client could be reconsidered. For check-in I was treated by three people, being cut short of talking twice because always accepting phone calls - and the other ones speaking to each other?!
For check-out I was told to do this on my own at this "cool" check-out computer. Just enter room number and first three letters of your surname, put in your credit card, and everything just will follow along. Being told by a service team member "I really like that machine" I wonder whether this is because he does not have to check me out, or ???

Rooms are okay, certainly very new, stylish, good bed. I did not like the room though - but that has something to do with personal taste. Others might find it quite nice. Could be less spartanic.

And something else about room number: my room number was not even on the sign. Go left for numbers a-b, right for x-y. Unfortunately, there were already three rooms missing on the sign. So I had to walk around and search my room. Staff knew about this issue, but doesn´t know how to fix it?! I had some ideas... never mind.

Location most certainly is very nice. If you are a young PA for some MEP and want to mingle with some other PAs, this hotel might hold everything and all you need. If you are just a silly old lad like I am, this hotel was nice to have a look at and next time go back to some other hotel in Brussels.

Don´t know whether this whole story was utterly helpful, but I had some mixed feelings in the end about this Aloft thing and do not even know for sure whether to recommend going there or just advise against it altogether.

Given that it is a brand-new hotel, maybe things have to come together a little bit more. I would be interested for some other FT comment on this one.

Kindest regards as always

~t

PS Originally I wanted to discuss pricing and availability with reservations, as I was considering getting some of my team colleagues in there for next year. But given the mediocer service, the inability to get a reasonable priced breakfast and the high prices altogether, I decided against in the next morning and just check-out without ever mention again to see someone from reservations
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Old Sep 26, 10, 3:46 am   #2
 
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Originally Posted by teckardt View Post


Later on I asked whether this was a room upgrade or what? I wondered because the big rooms should have a seperate living area - which mine certainly did not have. In the end I was told by staff that PLAT would get normal room, as for the other room they only have THREE! And not to bother poor PLATs with upgrading some and others not, all get the same room. Because they only have three... yeah, sure, nice try
teckardt,

Thanks for the report and reminding me of the fact that I actually contacted the property two weeks ago inquiring about upgrades for Platinum members and if they offer any add. goodies...

Did not receive an answer, but you provided enough clarification and I guess based on the SPG T&Cs, they are fine ...
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Old Sep 26, 10, 8:59 pm   #3
 
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Originally Posted by FD1971 View Post
teckardt,

Thanks for the report and reminding me of the fact that I actually contacted the property two weeks ago inquiring about upgrades for Platinum members and if they offer any add. goodies....
There is no Platinum upgrade benefit at any Aloft.

Quote:
Our Best Rooms. Expect automatic upgrades at check-in, including Standard Suites.......This benefit is not offered at Aloft and Element properties.
https://www.starwoodhotels.com/prefe...s_landing.html
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Old Sep 27, 10, 8:10 am   #4
 
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self serve washing machine!

this is a great feature when you are in the middle of a long trip :-)
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Old Sep 27, 10, 9:19 am   #5
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There will always be some people who don't understand the limited service/lots of attitude branding of aloft. I think the acceptance of this model is going to be fairly limited - hundreds of potential worldwide locations, not thousands - but it has its place in a chain with nine brands.

The absence of Plat room upgrade has been the rule for aloft and element from Day 1. There's no excuse for lack of knowledge of SPG elite benefits.
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Old Oct 1, 10, 12:54 pm   #6
 
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Originally Posted by TerryK View Post
There is no Platinum upgrade benefit at any Aloft.
Exactly the reason why I contacted the property...

Some GM's are smart enough to realize that they should offer a bit more in order to get some business...
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Old Nov 27, 10, 6:34 pm   #7
 
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Aloft in Europe – Trip Report Brussels Schuman

Having found no space at by far the best value Brussels Starwood, the Four Points, which is cosy, comfortable and accommodating in every sense of the word, I decided to invest a rather steep €190 for room only at Aloft. The chain boasts a bold new concept that should appeal to the style conscious with “grab and go” catering and a lively social scene. The Schuman is in the heart of Commission territory where the main competition includes a Sofitel, a Crowne Plaza, the lesser Intercontinental offering of Holiday Inn Schuman, a Renaissance by Marriott and a more distant Hilton and Radisson Blue.

First impressions are everything and mine were not good. As you walk from Schuman station to what should be the obvious entrance given the address and signage, you are greeted by a less than obvious climb up some badly lit steps to a door, which on the night I visited was out of service due to a party. I was sent around the side of the hotel down a dark and dingy alleyway to what seemed like a side entrance but is in fact the main door. Immediately inside is a small round counter inside which you couldn’t fit the average four-seater kitchen dining table, barely big enough for the single staff member to stand inside. There was a long queue, which I joined, and when I approached the counter, which I assumed was the concierge, I asked “where is the reception?”, to which I got the reply “This is it”. There is no concierge. I was offered a late checkout and given my key without a hint of a smile.

The party didn’t help and I had to fight my way through the tiny foyer to the two lifts, which seemed to take an age to arrive. When I reached the eighth floor in a geological timescale the doors opened to an almost overpowering smell of new carpet, owing to the fact the hotel has only been open just over a month. I made my way along the dimly lit corridor to a corner room (presumably my Gold upgrade gift) and used the contactless card to activate the lock. I opened the door.

I was greeted by a black hole. With only the faintest glimmer of light from the corridor lights I struggled to find a light switch then realised it didn’t work. I assumed there was a place to slot the room key in, which there was, but what did it fit in? I found almost by touch alone a cube-shaped plastic block, but if this was going to activate the power, where was the slot? After a few minutes I finally figured out it had to be slid in diagonally downwards from right to left. Then there was light, the most chilling, unshaded green glimmer of low-energy light from the over-bed fluorescents, bouncing off the darkly painted walls, dark bed covers and plain, almost charcoal coloured carpet you ever saw. The room was huge but almost empty. Without an item of furniture to be seen, it felt like I had entered a giant warehouse and was about as welcoming. Only the “Aloft” channel on the TV added any hint of warmth.

The only usable surfaces were basically a laminated kitchen worktop and two small shelves each side of the bed. Behind the bed was a thin wall about half the width of the room, which barely concealed a small area to hang clothes, coffee/tea making facilities, a somewhat ornate wash basin, a large empty space quite some distance away with no carpet or lights and a shower the other side of this. I mention the large empty space because when you wash your face and hands there isn’t a towel in site and you have to walk into this dingy place to find one. There is only one large towel too. If you wanted to shower at night and again the next morning you'd either be using a wet towel or a hair drier. There isn’t anything else you'd expect to find near the sink either, no face towel, no soap or other toiletries and barely enough space to place any unpredicted necessities you might have remembered to bring with you.

Having washed and brushed up I went back downstairs to check out the eating facilities. It turns out the “grab and go” shop is all there is. If you imagine your local Marks and Spencer’s ready meal counter only all the really nice stuff has been removed leaving only about three three budget varieties then that’s Re:Fuel. Except unlike Marks and Spencer, the meals cost five times as much at €10 each. Having already observed no microwave in the room, like you might expect in Homewood or Staybridge Suites with similar catering, I enquired at the concierge, sorry I mean reception, where I was supposed to eat this meal once I’d taken out a mortgage and spent half the evening cooking my own dinner. The answer, in the lounge, the same lounge that was bursting with people at the party. There wasn’t a seat in site. So my option was buy the meal, cook it, queue at reception behind half a dozen people checking in or asking directions to the party cloakroom, pay for the meal, fight my way through the crowd, wait five minutes for the elevator then go fumble in the dark to get back into my prison cell, switch on the lights and eat the meal presumably sitting on the edge of the bed, since there wasn’t a chair in sight. This is meant to allow me to get hot food and save me time, right? In fact at home I could drive to my local Marks and Spencer and back and cook the meal a lot quicker. I gave Re:Fuel a miss. Jolly nice Indian restaurant on Rue Stevin though that does a great Thali!

When I came back the party was in full swing. It seems half of Brussels had turned out for the weekly Wednesday DJ event, which also occurs on a Thursday. As far as I could work out none of them were guests at the hotel. Hence the cloakroom queue snaking its way across the lobby. I couldn’t see through the crowd to get anywhere near the Wxyz bar, but its Christmas tree lighting looked a lot bigger than its stock of alcohol. I went back to my room, wishing I’d been in the Four Points where my Gold card would have at least earned me a bottle of sparkling water. Thank heavens for my Cobra.

Well, nearly time for bed. First to shut out the gleaming streetlights. My Gold card hadn’t quite come up trumps with the corner room. I had no less than three windows overlooking the beautiful underpass and railway lines. Only problem was, the flimsy curtains on two of the windows didn’t quite stretch to full closure and the pull down blind gets pulled out of its guides as you lower it. Now remember this place is a month old. I’m not sure what happened to the double glazing either. Usually when I enter a hotel room I have to turn the TV volume down but in order to accommodate my usually bedtime flick through the channels I had to turn the volume up to block out the street noise. Yes street noise, on the eighth floor! And where they bought the wall-mounted TV from I don’t know. Yes it was large. Yes it had lots of channels, some of which were supposedly HD. However, they must have asked Philips to do a special production run to build a set with such poor definition. It was barely watchable. I could only make out the late night Belgian TV run of Hi-de-Hi because I know the characters. One last thing, I must recharge my mobile before I go to sleep. My only option was to use the socket near the bed occupied by the alarm clock. Thank goodness mobiles have alarms. I do hope the next guest doesn’t oversleep when he or she finds its midnight forever.

The bed was comfortable enough but it wasn’t exactly quiet outside so I can’t say it was the best night’s sleep and after watch the clock, or rather my mobile, tick away each hour it was finally time to rise and shine. Me that is, not the room lighting. That was as chilling as ever. I make my way to the bathroom. Thankfully, at least the shower has a bottle of shampoo on the wall as I hadn’t assumed I would need to bring any. At least this made up for the lack of a bar of soap by the sink. Shame the shower was half a mile away or I could have used shampoo for soap but still. I laid out the floor cloth rolled up outside the shower and tried to close the door. But hey, guess what? The glass door is so close fitting to the floor, you can’t put the floor cloth anywhere within the area swept out by the door, so you have to walk on bare floor tiles, slippery ones at that, to stand on it. As if I didn’t already have cold feet about this place.

Well breakfast time and more “grab and go”. Thankfully it wasn’t an all night party and there were some seats. I grabbed a bacon roll, which needed to go in the microwave for 30 seconds, a dish of fruit cocktail and some cereal. The fresh bread and croissants hadn’t arrived. So much for 24 hour opening. So much for the bacon roll too. The microwave doesn’t have a 30 second setting and by the time you’ve queued behind a couple of people checking out not only is it cold but its also over evaporated in the cooking and turned into a soggy mess. I did actually find out that there is a thing called an honesty slip to save queuing to pay for food, but you’d never see this if you didn’t know where to look. The fruit cocktail is more of a fruit cockup. It consists of mandarin and well mandarin juice. A steal at €3.60 and we all know which of our favourite hotel chains is doing the stealing. In my view Starwood don't rank highly in the breakfast stakes (at least not outside the US anyway) but I’ve never had anything as bad as this for €15, including non-refillable coffee.

It’s not often I can find the time, let alone the motivation, to submit a trip report. However, it was when I was asked at checkout by the still lone receptionist at the end of the still long queue if I’d enjoyed my stay that I felt a compelling urge to warn others off repeating my thoroughly disappointing experience at Sheraton’s first European Aloft property. It would be just madness to select this hotel. If you are just looking for SPG points in Brussels then the Four Points off Louise and within easy reach of most of the city by tram is my recommendation. If you really have to stay near Rue de la Loi then Aloft’s location is nowhere near as good as the Crowne Plaza, where you are made to feel welcome, the restaurant is very good, rooms are cosy and the late night bar is well stocked. Frankly even the rather depressing Holiday Inn Schuman would get my business before the Aloft ever would again and I could have got a room there on the same night for €70 less. I don’t know what other Alofts are like but I am determined never to find out. For those that do, I suppose the only positive thing I can say is that those concierge queues are bound to get shorter.

Last edited by lhr baby; Nov 27, 10 at 7:08 pm.
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Old Jan 9, 11, 12:18 pm   #8
 
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Just back from my mini-RTW over the holidays and I had a stopover in BRU for the first time. I avoided the older Sheraton at the airport and took an ancient train for 5 euros to Central Station where I saw the Le Meridien mere feet away. I wanted to try the aLoft Schuman given that I have stayed in the Montreal one a few times and wanted to compare. I attempted to grab a taxi and all of them wanted 20 euros for the short trip. Yes, its New Years Day but still - they would prefer to stand and chat and smoke all night rather than actually drive. I finally had the Meridien call a cab and the nice guy honoured the metered fare which was refreshing.

The entrance of the aLoft Schuman is very similar to Montreal in most ways but the gentleman at check-in was refreshing after encountering cranky Belgians at the airport, on the train and the taxis. He was pleasant, acknowledged Plat status, and asked whether I had ever stayed at the Montreal one, being from Canada. That was kinda cool I thought.

I went up to my corner room (not sure if that was an upgrade or not frankly) and noticed the similar layout to Montreal, however, there were some quirks. The swinging door into the bathroom is crazy. The door smacks right into the room safe so I had to make up a password to prevent the door from whacking the safe door each time. Also, the shower area needs a glass enclosure in my opinion but perhaps it is just a European thing.

The other quirk was that the desk working area was facing a wall rather than out a window. Felt a little bit like detention.

Overall, the price was great for Belgium. The room was new. The front desk staff outstanding.

Now that Brussels Airport? Ugly. Ugly. Ugly. The newer wing is fine but the up and down and around to arrive at baggage claim is so 1980s.
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Old Jan 9, 11, 4:54 pm   #9
 
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Aloft Brussels Shumann

Location: great, a few minutes walk from the Shumann station, and about a 20-25 minute walk to most of the city centre.

Staff: I found the reception staff to be quite friendly and helpful (perhaps earlier reviews of their demeanor worked ).

Room: I think one thing to keep in mind, and I saw this from when I stayed there, is that the Aloft experience is for you NOT to linger in your room, having engineered so much social space in their lobbies. There's no sit-down-and-read-a-book space nor furniture in your room, as there's LOADS of couches and such throughout the several areas of the lobby. The only chair is the one for your "desk" and that "desk" is really just a wide shelf along the wall. The desk is just not spacious enough to get any amount of paperwork nor files sorted, but there's loads of workspace areas in the lobby. I found it easier not be so critical of the room when I just kept in mind that the brand didn't intend it to be a place where I did anything but sleep & shower. yes, as already posted, the card slot in the room takes a while to sort out. I had to hold the room door open to let the hall light in to see what/how to slide the room key card in it. Whilst most Starwood's will supply you with the extra dental kit or razor you might need, the Aloft charges for these. Only bathroom amenities are a bliss bar of soap and bliss face wash. Shower gel/shampoo dispensers on the shower wall.

Gym: had a great selection of weights and equipment, yet it's all in the basement. And, when you get to that basement level, the lights are all on a power-save function that shuts them off when no-one's there nor moving, so you walk out of the elevator in darkness, wondering it you're on the proper below-ground floor for a while before lights kick on. And, there's no windows whatsoever, so you get the feeling of working out in your basement gym.

Plat recognition: as noted already, you get a voucher for a specialty hot-drink (cappucino, expresso, etc.) at Re-Fuel, which does have take-away cups as well as mugs, if you're grabbing your cuppa to go. 4pm checkout. compliementary water bottle in room.
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Old Mar 2, 11, 4:13 pm   #10
 
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Some mixed reviews here. Any current reports? Is there an option to get a hot breakfast here or only grab n go?
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Old Apr 21, 11, 5:29 pm   #11
 
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It's a typical Aloft, but I would say that the lobby entertainment at this one is a bit on the loud side. I think that vibe puts most business travellers off a bit.

What I like about this place is that it's a nice comfortable room, new TV for kicking back and there is a decent restaurant next door. It's also very convenient for my office and allows me to have a nice 10 minute walk in to work in the morning.
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Old Jul 11, 11, 6:21 pm   #12
 
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Stayed here for one night last week. Near tube stop and close to some decent bars/restaurants. Room was a corner room, may be handicap room, as the shower was huge with bars and seat in the shower. Room otherwise was decent. Bar drinks about 9.50euro per and I didnt get to try the snack area. Received 2 drinks for the AM, but didnt try them. On fri nights you can plug in ur own ipod/phone and play ur music over the speakers downstairs. Otherwise, ok property for the price.
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Old Aug 27, 11, 2:10 am   #13
 
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SPG Platinum + 4-day stay + August Low-occupancy

Pre-arrival: Non-refundable, €57 rate, booked through SPG.com. I thought the hotel website was quite good, with useful information and no deceptions. Took the bus (12/21) from Brussels Airport; 34 minutes, with a 500 meter walk to the hotel; bus tickets must be purchased with euro coins or a valid credit/debit card (mine didn’t work), no bills. Coming in from West Africa got me to the airport at 5:30AM. Miraculously, no wait for the bus and a bit after 6:00AM, I was in the hotel neighborhood. Exti restaurant was a great place to hangout and find vegan (and non-vegan) food. Decent coffee and wifi. Fine neighborhood, with plenty of food and grocery stores.

Arrival: I’d asked for a 9:30AM early check-in, and held out hope, based on generally low occupancy. And the hotel came through. I didn’t get my first-choice (king bed – it seems these are a bit scarce here) but two bed set-up available and I was settled. Woman at the front desk was efficient and friendly. Good English. Helpful in getting oriented. I think I was the hotel’s oldest guest, ever, but I came away feeling younger. Expansive lobby with a pair of Apple (eek!) computer terminals with the non-North American keyboards. Typical aLoft food/bev offerings, but pretty pricey (as has been noted) and decidedly on the un-healthy side (muffins, pastries). Happy Hour 1800 – 1830 advertised at the hotel and about town. (I didn’t go.) Two elevators were adequate, but moved pretty slowly.

Room: No problems, except for poor lighting on one end of the desk. I liked the beds. The shower set-up, with liquid soap/shampoo dispensers, I’ve grown accustomed to…which is a bit different than saying I like them. Ahem. Used the Ethernet cable instead of the wifi; it worked better for me. Empty refrigerator was handy. Odd drain setup in the sink; couldn’t get it to hold water or to easy release it.

Fitness Center: Aside from being a bit warmer than I would have liked, great. Ample space and equipment (Life Fitness – the kind WITHOUT television screens, if you care). Towels and water always available. Getting to the fitness center usually involved getting off the elevator and walking in a totally dark hall until the sensor-activated lights came on.

Wrinkles: I’ll mention this only because the hotel handled it very well. I’d put out the “Do Not Disturb” sign mid-day while I ran to grab a bite before returning to work. The housekeeper ignored the sign and was making up the room when I returned. I reacted strongly because I had left somewhat-sensitive workpapers in the room during my five-minute absence. We talked, but she seemed to not “get it”. Eventually, I got her to leave, without finishing the room make-up (which seemed to bother her). A couple of minutes later, the hotel called to apologize and explain: “she’s new and wanted to do an extra-good job”. As I say, well- handled.

Overall: I’d do it again and probably will.
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Old Aug 31, 11, 3:15 pm   #14
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 365RoadWarrior View Post
I think I was the hotel’s oldest guest, ever, but I came away feeling younger.
I was thinking exact the same thing there a few weeks ago! But the effect on me was that I left feeling old...

Just wanted to add: if the bus is number 21 (the one that runs in the evening and on weekends), there is a stop next to the hotel (one stop after Schuman).
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Old Feb 11, 12, 4:36 am   #15
 
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I don't quite understand all of the complaints about this property. For an Aloft hotel, this is above average compared to what I have seen in the US. It's not aimed at business travelers or high-end suite-loving types.. it's for casual people that don't spend a lot of time in their room during the day. Get over it. No suite upgrades. No plentiful breakfast buffet. Why is this so hard to understand?

That aside, I found the room size to be larger than the usual domestic Aloft.


As someone previously mentioned, the slot for electricity is not the usual size.


There are also self-checkin and checkout machines, which was interesting. The front desk spoke good English and provided some suggestions about nearby eateries / shops.

The location for the airport bus stop is across the street (coming from BRU). Going back to BRU requires a different bus stop.
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