Book the Aloft Abu Dhabi Hotel here
For my last day of my time in Abu Dhabi, the F1 Grand Prix was in town. I did not know why, but room rates were $250+ in the city of Abu Dhabi. So I was looking for a points option.
The Aloft Abu Dhabi is a Starwood Category 2, with 3,000/4,000 points per night redemption option. Despite the downmarket branding of many Alofts in the US, the hotel in Abu Dhabi is more of a 'luxury light' experience.
When I drove to the hotel, I noticed that the military had blocked off the road right next to the mall that has the development where the Aloft is located. It took me a solid 30 minutes to find an alternate route.
The building and the lobby on the upper floor are simply cool. I like W hotels for their design, but not for their absurd price tags and attitude. So I thought Aloft should be a better match for me.
The check-in was friendly, but it took a long 20 minutes for reasons I'm not aware of. My credit card wasn't even scanned. The agent went back and forth and seemed completely lost by my request to simply check-in (what else do check-in agents do at a front desk?) I did ask about any other Platinum benefits, although I realized this would make things worse. But I got a free alcoholic drink (that's more valuable thank you think in the UAE) and a hot drink plus breakfast and points. No suite upgrades available and I did not push for it.
You can take out an alcoholic drink from the bar, but only if you double bag it – growing up in Europe, the US laws about public drinking still seem odd to me, but two bags? Really?
The room was nice enough – bigger than I thought, with an excellent bed and mattress. The internet came in at 2 Mbit (rather slow for Starwood Premium Internet) and later that night would by extremely slow. No work for me, then.
The bathrooms are huge and mine was equipped with a separate shower that had high pressure, warm water and did not flood the whole room (as many W hotels seem to do).
I went up to the 12th floor in search of the pool in my bathing pants and stumbled out of the elevator. The security guard spotted me and immediately started yelling at me, "This is a public place! Get dressed and get out!" I asked him where the pool was and he rudely yelled 5th floor at me (I mistakenly thought it was on the 12th floor). Mind you, there was nobody else on that whole floor – nobody who could be blinded for life by my bare chest! So I find this deeply disturbing – who hires such rude people and why isn't' there a manager to instruct people to help guests find the pool and not yell at them? It seems management has other worries.
The guard 'chased' me back into the elevator and made sure I wasn't going back towards 'his' floor. Come on – is that how 'guests' are treated?
Once I found the pool on the 5th floor, I was surprised how warm the water was and how well the trees were integrated into the pool. However, the whole area looked a bit barren. No more yelling here, but also no towels or drinks.
After a swim, I went on to the gym (I changed into proper workout attire to avoid being thrown out of the hotel for good for missing the dress code again). The gym was busy on a Sunday night and had great equipment and a bit of a view towards the pool.
I did get some breakfast items for take-out (I checked out at 5.45AM) but they were of low quality and I did not dare touch them. The lounge food at the Priority Pass Lounge in Abu Dhabi Airport was actually way better (to contradict usual expectations).
In summary – as many hotels in the region you will find high room rates, you will find a great and luxurious hard product and disappointing soft product. The employees I encountered at the Aloft Abu Dhabi were either hapless, indifferent or rude.
3,000 Starpoints is a great deal, given the room rates, but I'd rather stay in a budget hotel than be yelled at by a security guard and face staff that have no training or faith in their work.
Book the Aloft Abu Dhabi Hotel here