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In 2005, looking to expand its insignificant footprint of contemporary hotels, Starwood (now Marriott), launched Aloft Hotels. At the time, Starwood Hotels had just one brand that could be labeled a contemporary brand. That brand was W Hotels. While the W Hotels brand was well-received, the brand catered to travelers willing to spend a substantial amount of cash for a hip and modern lodging experience. Starwood’s Aloft Hotels, though trendy and hip, would allow more frugal guests to enjoy a W Hotels-like experience.

The first Aloft Hotel opened near Montreal-Trudeau International Airport in 2008. With a few exceptions throughout Asia, the vast majority of Aloft Hotels were initially constructed near airports. This earned Aloft Hotels a reputation for being a cheap and modern airport hotel. However, over a decade later, Aloft Hotels are finally making their way from airports and into major urban centers and trendy suburbs.

The College Points checked out one of the latest Aloft Hotels a day after it had opened its doors to guests. More than a decade later, the Aloft Hotel Cortex in St. Louis, Missouri, shows how far the brand has come. Here’s what you can expect from your stay at an Aloft Hotel.

Stay Summary: Aloft Hotels St. Louis Cortex
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Aloft Hotels Cortex in St. Louis, MO

The Aloft Hotels Cortex in St. Louis, MO, opened its doors to guests on June 8th. The hotel is located in the Cortex Innovation District, which is home to a growing number of start-ups and tech-focused companies. The hotel is the first hotel in the Cortex community.

This particular property also features some noticeable upgrades over older Aloft Hotels. That being said, The College Points decided to check out the much-anticipated property just two days after it had officially opened.

Front entrance of Aloft Hotels Cortex in St. Louis.

The Room

With a few exceptions, most Aloft Hotels offer just two room types; two queen beds, or one king bed. I’ve stayed at nearly two dozen Aloft Hotels over the past few years, and just three of those properties featured suites or premium rooms. This isn’t great for Marriott Bonvoy members hoping to score an upgrade; however, with only two room types, booking an Aloft is straight-forward and consistent.

I selected a room with two queens beds for my night at the Aloft Hotel Cortex. There are two styles of guest rooms available at Aloft Hotels. This is the result of a recent design change. Newer hotels feature a more airy and brighter interior with a sitting area. Older properties feature darker, more industrial feeling guest rooms with a traditional desk as opposed to a sitting area. The Aloft Hotel Cortex, having just opened its doors, features the newer design.

Guest room with two queen beds at the Aloft Hotels Cortex in St. Louis, MO.

The room is divided into two sections, the bedroom and living space, and the closet and bathroom. The bedroom and living area featured two queen beds, a small couch, table, mini-fridge, coffee maker, and a large TV. Like many newer hotels, the TV featured the ability to stream content from your device and streaming services like Netflix or Hulu.

The bed was quite comfortable. I managed to get a solid 9 hours of sleep that evening despite a late night with friends and a few alcoholic beverages. Newer Aloft Hotel properties also feature noticeably more comfortable bedding.

Two queen beds in guest room at Aloft Hotels Cortex in St. Louis
View of the sitting area in a two queen bed guest room at the Aloft Hotel Cortex.
Guest room with two queen beds at the Aloft Hotels Cortex in St. Louis, MO.
Coffee maker and mini-fridge in guest room at Aloft Hotels Cortex in St. Louis
The unique decor found in a guest room at the Aloft Hotels Cortex.
View of 4220 Duncan in Cortex from a standard two queen bed room at Aloft Hotels Cortex in St. Louis.
View from a standard two queen bed room at Aloft Hotels Cortex in St. Louis.

On the opposite side of the unique partition dividing the two sections of the guest room were the closet area and bathroom. A new trend found at modern hotels is the elimination of a traditional closet. I prefer a conventional closet space as they typically have far more space than the new free-standing open-air closets found at newer hotels. The Aloft Hotel Cortex featured one of these new trendy closets, along with a place to store luggage and an in-room safe.

The bathroom at the Aloft Hotel Cortex felt more premium than bathrooms at other Aloft Hotels at which I’ve stayed. Additionally, likely a result of the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, this hotel featured individual shampoo/conditioner and body wash products as opposed to dispensers mounted on the wall within the shower. As is the case at all Aloft Hotels, the shampoo//conditioner, body wash, soap, and lotion, were Bliss products.

View of the bathroom and vanity in a guest room at Aloft Hotels Cortex
Bliss amenities in guest room at Aloft Hotels Cortex

Overall, I much prefer the new guest room design. My room at the Aloft Hotel Cortex was reasonably large, bright, airy, and comfortable. That being said, the older design found at most Aloft Hotels is also quite comfortable with the only issue being the lack of light and dark interiors.

The Property

Located in the growing Cortex tech community and start-up incubator, the Aloft Hotel Cortex featured the standard Aloft amenities but with a more premium and unique aesthetic. The hotel was unique in that the lobby was different from the standard Aloft Hotel design. The Aloft Hotel Cortex also featured significantly more seating and social space than other Aloft properties I’ve visited.

Service at this particular hotel was phenomenal. Each hotel associate I encountered was extremely welcoming and accommodating. From check-in to check out, I can only recall positive encounters with hotel associates and staff. This included the welcoming and outgoing bartender at the WXYZ bar on the second floor of the hotel.

On-Site Amenities

The Aloft Hotel Cortex features a variety of on-site amenities plus an on-site restaurant that will open later in the year. The restaurant, Wasabi Sushi, is still under construction as of June 2020. The property also features an indoor pool and fitness center. These are two amenities that can be found at most Aloft Hotels. Additionally, the hotel features a large courtyard with fire pits and a variety of seating.

Lobby area at the Aloft Hotels Cortex.
Lobby seating at the Aloft Hotels Cortex in St. Louis, MO.
The pool area
The fitness center at the Aloft Hotels Cortex.
View of the Aloft Hotels Cortex courtyard facing south
Future home of Wasabi Sushi at Aloft Hotels Cortex.

The Aloft Hotel Cortex features a variety of on-site amenities plus an on-site restaurant that will open later in the year. The restaurant, Wasabi Sushi, is still under construction as of June 2020. The property also features an indoor pool and fitness center. These are two amenities that can be found at most Aloft Hotels. Additionally, the hotel features a large courtyard with fire pits and a variety of seating.

The WXYZ Bar and Lounge

During my stay, I connected with a few friends to celebrate the opening of the new Aloft Hotel, just a few blocks away from our college campus. We decided to check out the WXYZ bar and lounge. While every Aloft Hotel features a WXYZ bar and lounge, this particular property features one of the nicer and more upscale WXYZ locations I’ve encountered. Located on the second floor, the bar is accessible via the lobby. The WXYZ bar and lounge at Aloft Hotels Cortex features a variety of seating ranging from standard tables to more communal seating. Additionally, the bar features a pool table near the entrance. However, due to the on-going COVID19 pandemic, the pool table was covered up to prevent guests from using it.

The WXYZ Bar and Lounge at the Aloft Hotels Cortex as viewed from the entrance.
View of seating at the 2nd floor WXYZ Bar and Lounge at the Aloft Hotels Cortex in St. Louis.
Outside seating at the WXYZ Bar and Lounge at Aloft Hotels Cortex in St. Louis
The staircase leading up to the WXYZ Bar and Lounge.

The bartender on duty the evening of my stay was unbelievably friendly and accommodating. The bar featured a few specialty drinks. We were unfamiliar with the specialty drinks and consulted the bartender, who was extremely knowledgeable of the menu. Once we received our drinks, we made our way to the outdoor seating area. The outdoor seating at the WXYZ bar is phenomenal, not just by hotel standards. The outdoor seating area, extensive drink menu, and friendly service make the Aloft WXYZ bar an ideal place to kick off or end an evening out.

The Bottom Line

Bonvoy members often overlook Aloft Hotels. This is understandable as, for much of the brand’s existence, Aloft Hotels were commonly located near airports. However, with a new generation of travelers looking for unique and affordable lodging, it would appear as if Marriott is looking to bring Aloft Hotels to city centers and up and coming neighborhoods. While, personally, I found the previous Aloft Hotel room and property design to be reasonable considering the average nightly rates, the updated design found at properties like Aloft Hotels Cortex is a noticeable upgrade. With competitive nightly rates, various on-site amenities, and a fantastic bar and lounge, the Aloft Hotels Cortex in St. Louis is easily my favorite Aloft property.

Featured image by Max Prosperi / The College Points

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