Aloft Hotel, Whitefield, Bangalore - The stay and play place
Aloft Hotel in Whitefield, Bangalore, is a business hotel that caters largely to longer-duration visitors who are in town for a training or project at one of the many tech parks that comprise the heart and soul of that area. Brightly colored, cheerful, engaging, and upbeat, Aloft goes out of its way to live up to the many taglines (such as the stay and play in the title of this piece, as well as its rest and refresh theme), found at its lobby and website. Hackneyed a sentiment as it may be, the impression I came away with after spending a weekend there last month, cannot be better described than: home away from home. A perhaps sought after ideology for those who are far away from home for work.
The design and color scheme of Aloft Hotel is vibrant and smile-inducing, as is the service and cheery staff. The front desk employees, wait staff and such were all in different colored t-shirts: White, Blue, Green and Black, to be precise. Each group had a color, and I was pleased to see polo neck tees and pants as the dress code, rather than gaudy uniforms/sarees or monochromatic suits as is the norm. The lobby has numerous vibrant elements, including the lit color blocks featuring Aloft slogans, interesting objets d’art, such as a vintage Italian scooter and a digital ticker tape running across one end of the lobby. The ticker is apparently an Aloft brand staple. Part of the lobby, named Re:mix, was a space filled with colorful chairs (plus a couple of rockers and recliners) and a pool table that received quite a bit of action (apart from my pathetic attempts, there were others who exhibited vastly superior skills). Even more fun, perched on a bar stool and tall table setup, I found Jenga, Pictionary, Scrabble, and other board games invitingly displayed for one’s entertainment.
I was greeted by a fruit platter, plate of cookies, and bottled water on getting to my room, alongside a set up for tea/coffee. Quoting my welcome letter, Aloft really does offer elements that are unique, modern, and fresh. Instead of a coffee shop, there’s an open 24 hours a day Grab ‘n’ go station, which has soft drinks, snacks, fruits, yogurts and ice creams that you can pick up and charge/pay for at the Front Desk. You can also make your own coffee creation or cuppa tea there. There is a charming bar named W xyz, with dim lighting, more interesting art on the walls, and a great starters/snacks/drinks menu. My companion and I spent a very enjoyable Saturday night there, tended to by the attentive staff while sipping on cocktails, one of which was a delightful vodka+lychee concoction that I tried and fell immediately in love with.
I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the superb food and dining experience at Aloft’s Mediterranean restaurant, Estia. Dot.yum is their multi-cuisine restaurant that has both an extensive buffet (which we sampled on Friday night) and an array of a la carte options. I have to give special space and mention to the stupendous, alcohol-included, Sunday brunch – whatta spread! A live counter with momos and appam and stew was available, alongside salads (wine-poached pear salad, anyone?) breads, cold cuts (salmon, German smoked ham) and spreads (Hummus, Beetroot Tezakki). Soups, standard Chinese fare like noodles and sides, and Indian tandoori items as well as some south Indian specials made up the rest of the extensive offerings. And how can I fail to describe the dessert table which had Pannacotta, Kalakhand, Gulab Jamun, pastries, and ice creams?! I was told that they will soon add a grill section in the outdoor area, where BBQ meats and such will expand the food on offer. Apart from hotel guests, there were a few outside groups, including a little girl’s birthday celebrations. That definitely warmed my heart, as I am sure it did for those business guests away from their own families. The live music, provided by a lady with a keyboard and smoky voice (who also performs at W xyz), only added to the mood at our leisurely and luxurious brunch.
The pool area, named Splash, featured a good sized pool with a large Buddha head on one side, pool chairs scattered around the edges, and even four cabanas with comfy cushioned seating. This spot was particularly attractive post sunset, when the other Buddha and Stupa (which made me think of Borobudur, Indonesia) lit from within, cast their shadows and the water gleamed and danced in the lights. My room overlooked the pool, and day or night, one found the area occupied. Guests came to relax and smoke, or spilled over from Dot.yum, which opens out onto Splash. On Sunday afternoon, the group of newly arrived guests from England (Accenture I was told) were either in the pool, or sunbathing. As I wandered around the hotel, I found there were different areas for lounging and getting a little quiet…comfy seating arrangements could be found by the two restaurants, near the elevator doors, and on the way to the fully equipped gym, with its cutesy name of Re-charge.
This review would obviously be incomplete without mention of the rooms and facilities. There’s a vast open air lawn space that seems perfect for weddings in particular, on one side of the hotel. Tactic is the indoor meeting space, with all the A/V and Wi-Fi bells and whistles. While we were there, a car rally took off and ended from the hotel entrance, and there were corporate gatherings at Tactic (up to 5000 people can be accommodated). Aloft has one hundred and sixty six rooms and four suites, each with a pool or garden view and equipped with either a double or queen size bed, both larger than most of us are used to. That the beds were comfortable and the pillows fluffy, almost goes without saying.
The suites had sitting rooms and an extra little toilet/sink, and all the rooms had similar bathrooms (sink and dressing area outside). And here lies my one complaint with Aloft. The bathrooms were small and in particular, the shower space was cramped. I found that the shower drain was not the most user friendly and almost flooded the bathroom the first night I was there. I may be persnickety, but a well designed and good bathroom always make me happy (there wasn’t a single bathtub to be had, something I always look forward to in nice hotels). I liked the innovation of having dispensers for the body wash and shampoo (containing Bliss Spa products, a well known brand) rather than the small bottles of stuff that one generally finds. From an environmental and practical standpoint, that is a smart way to do it. The usual accoutrements (shaving kit, dental hygiene kit, etc) were also on hand, as was a white robe and bathroom slippers.
Would that I lived and worked in the Whitefield area, or indeed, that Bangalore traffic were not so horrendous and South Bangalore not so far from Whitefield! I know I will make the long trek back to Aloft again, to enjoy the food and hospitality. If I’d been closer, I am sure this repeat visit would be done, rather then being on my wishlist! I unequivocally recommend Aloft as a fun and feisty place to stay and would not restrict it to just business travelers. Any visitor is sure to be charmed and enjoy a night or three there. And the food will most certainly not disappoint!