Friday, March 27

Aloft Hotel Denver

This week, after finding out my flight from Denver to Salt Lake City had been cancelled, I was met with the choice of either staying the night in the airport a la Tom Hanks in The Terminal, or using the UAL-supplied voucher for a reduced-rate stay in a local hotel. I ultimately chose the latter.

Ultimately was the case when first I called the supplied number and was told there was only one room left in the area, it was forty-five minutes away, and there was no hotel-supplied transportation. Let's see - it was then 10pm, about 11pm before I'd even get to the hotel, then up at three to get a cab, four to get it, five to get...

I dropped my carry-ons into a nearby seat just as a Denver International employee asked "Staying the night?" "Yup." "Compliments of the City of Denver" and handed me a hermetically-sealed blanket.

This wasn't looking promising.

Adjacent to where I'd dropped everything was a telephone bank, and from where I was seated, could see another weary traveler tapping away at his laptop, his AC adapter plugged into an outlet next to the phones. I figured, what the hell, I'll surf the night away.

That's when I noticed my hotel voucher had a website address. Hmmm... I had nothing to lose.

"Only one available room in the area" my ass. There was a room available, it was only fifteen minutes from the airport, and their shuttle was shared by Marriott, among others. And only $69.

I'd never packed my laptop bag that fast. I was out the door even before the hard drive had spun down.

Waiting for the Marriott shuttle out in ten degree weather - and blowing snow - in a light jacket wasn't fun, but after a short ride I was checking in at the Aloft Hotel Denver.

From the outside, I'd never have guessed that this was even a hotel. It honestly looked like an office building. Inside, however, there was a bar, funky sofas, and a slightly-heavy metal beat in the background. The circular check-in desk was a bit unexpected, but I wasn't in the mood to be picky. What awaited me was a soft bed to catch some Z's before my 6am flight the next morning.

Card key in hand, I made it to my room in no time. Landing on the second floor, it again looked like I was in an office building. This is a hotel?

Once in my room, I wondered aloud who the hell had the air conditioner on in this weather and made a beeline for the heater controls. Cranked it to 79 degrees - the highest setting - and waited. And felt... something.

It felt a bit like I was back out waiting for the hotel shuttle. And amazed that SNOW was blowing in through a gap between the heating unit and the wall.

About to do an about-face, I decided instead to grin and bear it, and buried myself under the covers. And the next thing I heard was the wake-up call I requested when I checked in, four hours later.

Others have reviewed the Aloft chain, and there's no reason to go into too much detail here. The place is designed for the upwardly mobile executive who needs a place to hook up their laptop, a place to sleep, and a place to freshen up before that next multi-hundred dollar business meeting. Million-dollar? I'd have chosen the Marriott next door. But for my needs, it was just OK.

I did eventually make it home; that's where I am now. While the amenities were overly-modern, and unexpected, the surprise of the in-room snow machine made me want to write this review.

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