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Aloft Excel, London, United Kingdom [Master Thread]

Aloft Excel, London, United Kingdom [Master Thread]

Old Oct 31, 11, 4:37 pm
  #1  
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Exclamation Aloft Excel, London, United Kingdom [Master Thread]

The hotel is open and I'm staying here at the moment on their opening week offer of GBP99 inc VAT. I've not stayed at an aloft before - so far impressed with functional, well-furnished room. Free 1Mbps wifi and Freeview channels on Philips TV, a couple of bottles of water and the (not very generous) single English tea bag for use with the kettle. As a Gold member, I've been offered a beverage in the morning from the re:fuel area.

Other thoughts: very friendly staff at bar and reception (although that might be down to the fact it is opening night and the place seems rather empty), really nice pool (beautifully warm) with sauna/steam room (not working).

To access, take the DLR to Prince Regent and there's a walk through directly to the hotel. I came from Waterloo, and it took about 30 minutes (via Jubilee line to Canning Town then change to the DLR). From a tourist perspective, there's not much around other than the exhibition centre and airport, but given the DLR is so close, this shouldn't be too much of an issue.
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Old Nov 16, 11, 1:02 am
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Stayed here this past weekend. First time staying at an aloft. Here are my thoughts:

> Concept is nice, very modern and 'cool' vibe
> Self check-in - all worked and issued single key (despite 2 persons on rez) - key issued did not work in elevator. Had to go back to desk and wait in the queue to get new key(s) {defeats the purpose of self check-in}
> Room is not very functional - large desk space and a couple of cubbies - no drawers to put things in. Skinny wardrobe with 5 hangers. No iron/ironing board
> Make shift place to do ironing in guest laundry area but no hooks to hang clothes on after they're been ironed. Room is dimly lit and not well ventilated. No source of water. I understand this is temporary as they have not yet received supply of irons from supplier. I suggested to Manager they should offer complimentary pressing service in the interim.
> Arranged car service one night and despite us being out front, he was miles away at the wrong address. Return trip, driver didn't know how to access hotel, despite having address. Clearly they need to advise cabbies/car service of their opening and location.
> requested room to be cleaned late to both housekeeper and supervisor. On going out for the evening (5:00pm) asked front desk to advise housekeeping room was now free to be cleaned. Returned at 9pm and room had not been touched. In speaking with the Manager, he advised clerk had failed to advise housekeeping and arranged to move us to a clean room.
> DLR was not running due scheduled maintenance. No problem, hotel offers courtesy shuttle to Canary Wharf - oops, shuttle doesn't run on weekends! Mentioned to Manager that perhaps they should have kept the shuttle on for this weekend
> Attempted self check-out - machine could not read room card so I had to go to the front desk. Mentioned this issue to Manager (same one) and all he could say is they were having problems and had advised the vendor of the issues (then maybe you should not have people using them until they're fully functioning?)
> Despite being on a pre-paid stay, I had a balance of 1.00. Apparently they auto-charge a charity donation and it's up to the guest to ask for it to be removed.

The stop and go food bar is a bit confusing. People don't know the prices. However, the drip coffee in the morning is complimentary. The chocolate stuffed croissant (@ 1.50) was very good.

Location is ideal to the City Airport (11.00 by private car).

Location to DLR is great for getting around. Easy connections to the tube. Allow 30-40 minutes to the West End, 20 minutes to Canary Wharf, 85 minutes to LHR.

Other than the hotel and the ExCeL Centre, there is nothing else around except for a couple of other hotels.

If it wasn't for the 68.00 per night for Sat-Mon stay, I would suggest staying somewhere else until all of the bugs can be worked out. Staff are young and new and don't seem empowered or experienced in dealing with irregularities (or trained in how to make/keep someone happy). I am not a high maintenance person and after the room not cleaned incident, I discussed all of the other issues with the Manage on duty. As he was offering to move us to a new room, it would have cost him nothing to put us in a suite (the place was empty), offer breakfast the next morning or even a drink in the bar. But there was nothing 'above and beyond' extended.

Perhaps when it comes time for you to stay here, all of the opening faults will have been resolved.
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Old Nov 16, 11, 7:50 am
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Originally Posted by todd-r View Post
Staff are young and new and don't seem empowered or experienced in dealing with irregularities (or trained in how to make/keep someone happy). I am not a high maintenance person and after the room not cleaned incident, I discussed all of the other issues with the Manage on duty. As he was offering to move us to a new room, it would have cost him nothing to put us in a suite (the place was empty), offer breakfast the next morning or even a drink in the bar. But there was nothing 'above and beyond' extended.
Sounds like almost every Aloft I've ever stayed in. At least they are consistent on the type of service they provide across the brand
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Old Nov 16, 11, 8:09 am
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Originally Posted by todd-r View Post
Staff are young and new and don't seem empowered or experienced in dealing with irregularities (or trained in how to make/keep someone happy).
Would tend to agree with this. Everyone's really helpful but the basics haven't been resolved. I'm currently struggling to get a VAT invoice from them for my recent stay (I would have thought this was one of the most basic requests), but despite two phone calls and an email, I've got nowhere.
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Old Nov 16, 11, 4:26 pm
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My first time in an Aloft last weekend and I am not a fan of the concept really certainly not at the price of the Aloft London. At 96 inclusive of taxes there were a lot better options in the area and I was surprised at the lack of upgrade as a Plat and feel this should have been more clearly signposted.

To me this feels like an upmarket Holiday Inn Express or downmarket Mint Hotel. I do not see how the rates at this property are sustainable in the face of better cheaper full service competition in the immediate vicinity (brand new Ramada, Novotel and Crowne Plaza all offering a better experience IMHO).

The midweek rate of 200+ a night is a rather bad joke given that I can get a corporate rate at the nearby and better located Four Seasons Canary Wharf for less than the corporate rate at the Aloft. I live in the area and don't often stay locally but was curious about this property. I can see some pricing adjustment or massive corporate discounts crystallising in the not too distant future. At weekends the Hilton and Marriott in Canary Wharf are also much better options unless you absolutely must stay at the hotel.

On the plus side we had dinner and breakfast at FEDE in the Aloft and would definitely visit the restaurant again. It just seems bizarre that a restaurant within the hotel is not integrated to the level that bills can be charged to the room and thus SPG points earned. The room design is also much better than the W Leicester Square.

It also wasn't fully clear whether the car park was chargeable. I was told that it costs 14 a day, but then was not charged upon exit.
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Old Nov 16, 11, 4:46 pm
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Originally Posted by Land-of-Miles View Post
I was surprised at the lack of upgrade as a Plat and feel this should have been more clearly signposted.
Aloft and Element hotels are not required to give upgrades.
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Old Nov 16, 11, 4:50 pm
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Originally Posted by Astrophsx View Post
Aloft and Element hotels are not required to give upgrades.
Do they even have upgrades? I thought one of the ideas behind these properties is that all rooms are identical.
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Old Nov 16, 11, 4:54 pm
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Originally Posted by mahasamatman View Post
Do they even have upgrades? I thought one of the ideas behind these properties is that all rooms are identical.
Some Alofts feature suites and there are several different floor plans at Element hotels. From time to time I've had upgrades, usually based on repeat business and not status.
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Old Nov 16, 11, 4:56 pm
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Originally Posted by Astrophsx View Post
Aloft and Element hotels are not required to give upgrades.
I obviously know that now, but it isn't exactly obvious if you haven't stayed in one of these properties before. Since this policy seems to be a departure from the SPG norm, is it really asking too much to signpost this in advance of a stay either upon booking or in the pre-check in email?

The other shortcoming is that since there were clearly unsold suites one way to have resolved the lack of Plat upgrades would have been to offer a decent rate on a paid upgrade. There is no conflict there with Plat upgrades (since no-one gets one anyway) and it allows the property to sell an otherwise unsold suite.
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Old Nov 16, 11, 5:11 pm
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Originally Posted by Land-of-Miles View Post
My first time in an Aloft last weekend and I am not a fan of the concept really certainly not at the price of the Aloft London. At 96 inclusive of taxes there were a lot better options in the area and I was surprised at the lack of upgrade as a Plat and feel this should have been more clearly signposted.
The lack of upgrades is in the SPG T&C.
a. Upgrades to the best room at Participating Properties at time of check-in, based upon room availability for your entire stay, including Select Standard Suites, except at Aloft, Element and Starwood Vacation Ownership properties.
If this is similar to North American Alofts the rooms are virtually identical. The only upgrade would be to a higher floor.
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Old Nov 16, 11, 5:19 pm
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Originally Posted by Land-of-Miles View Post
I obviously know that now, but it isn't exactly obvious if you haven't stayed in one of these properties before. Since this policy seems to be a departure from the SPG norm, is it really asking too much to signpost this in advance of a stay either upon booking or in the pre-check in email?
It's in the terms and conditions of your SPG membership. I'm guessing as SPG terms and conditions are as popular to read as the ones for iTunes

Originally Posted by Land-of-Miles View Post
The other shortcoming is that since there were clearly unsold suites one way to have resolved the lack of Plat upgrades would have been to offer a decent rate on a paid upgrade. There is no conflict there with Plat upgrades (since no-one gets one anyway) and it allows the property to sell an otherwise unsold suite.
I don't believe there is a mid-level room between the basic and suite. I know that with Sheraton hotels you are usually solicited in your confirmation email for a paid upgrade to that level, but since the upgrade to the suite is $150 you may have to ask if they have any paid upgrade specials at the hotel. The website does not list how many suites are available, but I'm going to guess out of 250 rooms there are not many.
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Old Mar 15, 12, 6:47 am
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stay

stayed here last week as a Plat. no upgrade, didnt ask...Its amazingly convenient to LCY. A bit of a train ride to the city. As a property, the rooms are great with full screen setup for HDMI plugins etc, so you can hook up and project. The Plat breakfast thing was like a $10 credit or something? I took the 250 points for 1 night. Overall, a great value and very nice. But in the middle of nowhere -- no taxi driver could find it.
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Old Mar 15, 12, 9:46 am
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Originally Posted by Keyser View Post
now clue why....all the other properties in london have availability....its only the aloft for that particular weekend....
Aloft tends to have operate in a very local silo. i.e. A big event in central London won't necessary impact rates at Aloft, whereas a local event to the Aloft will raise rates there, but not any further for the SPG properties.

For example, during the Paralympic Games, the Aloft is unavailable, but all other London SPG options are available and well priced. Same goes for weekends where there there the Olympic test events in east London and the Aloft is priced up or unavailable.

It's definitely a quirky property in terms of London availability.
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Old Mar 15, 12, 10:17 am
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Originally Posted by RAPC View Post
Aloft tends to have operate in a very local silo. i.e. A big event in central London won't necessary impact rates at Aloft, whereas a local event to the Aloft will raise rates there, but not any further for the SPG properties.

For example, during the Paralympic Games, the Aloft is unavailable, but all other London SPG options are available and well priced. Same goes for weekends where there there the Olympic test events in east London and the Aloft is priced up or unavailable.

It's definitely a quirky property in terms of London availability.
perhaps....i've asked my ambassador to find out if the property can offer me the reservation for a day....if not then no harm....
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Old Mar 15, 12, 12:38 pm
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Originally Posted by Keyser View Post
perhaps....i've asked my ambassador to find out if the property can offer me the reservation for a day....if not then no harm....
Absolutely. Hotels will sometimes waive this direct too. Hope they come through for you.
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