Hotel Review: The Aloft London – a haven for the business traveller
London’s reborn Docklands might not be the first place that springs to mind when planning a trip to the capital. Formerly part of the Port of London – at one time the world’s biggest port – the area spanning Southwark, Lewisham, Newham, Greenwich and Tower Hamlets spent many years neglected and underused. But with the recent regeneration of the area and its proximity to the O2 stadium, Canary Wharf and the financial district, it is emerging from the ashes to become a convenient option for business and leisure travellers alike.
Located just minutes from London’s City Airport, the Aloft Hotel is ideally placed for those coming and going from the capital, and provides a welcome haven away from the hustle and bustle of central London.
Those visiting on business are particularly well catered for, with the financial district and Canary Wharf both easily accessible via the hotel’s excellent transport links. But the real clincher is the fact that it is directly connected to ExCel London – an exhibitions and international convention centre that draws in scores of visitors to the various events that take place throughout the year.
Travelling from central London, the hotel was surprisingly easy to reach. The DLR from Tower Hill delivered us directly to the hotel’s doorstep in around 15 minutes, with the Prince Regent station located just a minute or two’s walk from the main entrance.
Going in the opposite direction, Canning Town is just three stops away, where travellers can transfer to the Jubilee line for central underground stations. There is also a free shuttle bus from the Aloft over to Canary Wharf, making for a well-connected destination that is far more convenient than one might expect.
Arriving tired and with heavy bags in tow, we spent a few minutes trying to locate the main entrance, which is not especially obvious when arriving on foot. We eventually found our way in via the back door, and once we were in, we were pleasantly greeted at reception. The mealtime itinerary and facilities were explained thoroughly before our room keys were dispensed, and we made our way up to floor 8 to see what lay in wait, taking in our surroundings as we went.
On first impressions, the hotel appears spacious, modern and relaxed, with a serene yet atmospheric lobby and bar area located within easy reach of the front desk.
The Refuel station which sits directly opposite offers up a broad selection of snacks, drinks and breakfast items, including an impressive array of superfood salads, smoothies and green teas to accompany the usual sandwiches, cereals and crisps. Handily, it remains open 24 hours a day, so while the hotel may not provide room service, guests are free to help themselves to food and drink at any time they choose.
The Aloft London ExCeL also boasts a large swimming pool along with a sauna and steam room, making it the first of its kind to do offer such a comprehensive range of facilities. Setting a new standard of luxury and providing guests with the opportunity to relax and unwind makes this particular venue a real game changer for the brand – and a destination that provides everything the weary traveller could want for an evening spent recharging the batteries.
The hotel offers a total of 252 rooms spread over eight floors, and we were pleased to find that ours was located on the very top. The room itself was modern, stylish and spacious – a reflection of the theme that is established down in the lobby. The king-size bed and white linen made for a comfortable, crisp and clean place to rest, and two floor-to-ceiling windows meant that the world outside could be easily viewed whilst languishing on the pillows – along with the 42 inch flat screen TV.
After putting our sore feet up for a few moments of much-needed rest, we decided to shower and prepare ourselves for the evening ahead before making our way down to dinner
The large bathroom area boasted a spacious shower cubicle with Bliss shampoo and shower gel dispensers mounted on the walls, and the shower itself was big and powerful – a real pleasure in which to wash away the stresses and strains of the day.
A coffee machine with a selection of flavoured pods served as a pleasant surprise alongside all of the usual tea-making facilities, and though we were a little disappointed to find that the fridge was empty, we soon relaxed upon remembering the Refuel station downstairs. Panic over.
High-speed WiFi is available in all areas of the hotel, and our room also provided phone chargers and ironing equipment – essential facilities for anyone who is planning on getting some work done during their stay.
Dinner was served at the FEDE restaurant on the second floor, where my partner and I opted for a main course of seafood tagliatelle. The meal was quick to arrive, and portions were generous – a comforting and flavourful dish that was just what we needed to satisfy our hunger. While I enjoyed a glass of prosecco, my partner opted for a beer, and after deciding to skip dessert, we made our way down to the W XYZ bar to see what was in store.
Although we were staying on a Saturday night, the bar area was quiet and relaxed – though live music is a regular feature, happening several nights a week. After deliberating over an extensive cocktail list packed with signature drinks as well as more traditional options, we settled on a Barcelona Mojito and a Tuk-Tuk-Tini and as the seating area directly in front of the bar was reasonably occupied, we went in search of an alternative. Wander further on and you will find an array of cosy and well-hidden sofas and cushioned booths that are perfect for those in need of a little more privacy. An enjoyable place to sit back and chat about the day – but be careful not to fall asleep, as we nearly did!
After a good night’s sleep, the only that was left to investigate with the breakfast, and the vast array of English and continental food items at the buffet certainly did not disappoint. We gratefully tucked into a selection of fresh fruit and yoghurt before piling our plates with eggs, crispy bacon, perfectly cooked sausages and all the trimmings. We were pleased to find that everything was hot, good quality and cooked to perfection, and finished the sitting with cappuccinos from an easy-to-use, self-serve machine, satisfied that we were well set up for the long day ahead.
As a first timer with Aloft Hotels, it’s safe to say that the brand has won me over.
The Verdict: A modern, calming and well-connected hideaway that makes for an enjoyably tranquil stay without compromising on cool. the Aloft London ExCeL has a simplistic, fuss free take on luxury which leaves guests free to enjoy their time at the hotel in a way that is very much of their own choosing. Largely free of tourists, it’s a haven for the business traveller, and allows for plenty of relaxation and respite along with the peace and quiet to make a good dent in that workload.