Just completed a one-night stay at the Aloft Washington National Harbor hotel over the Labor Day weekend.  This was a short “staycation” for Mrs MJ on Travel and me, our first visit to the National Harbor, and my first stay at one Starwood’s newest brands, Aloft.  Billed as a vision of Starwood’s chic W brand, but at a lower price point, you won’t have to look far to see the W influence.  Music fills the lobby, and the place has a certain…well…vibe.


Check-in was swift and pleasant.  We were warmly greeted upon approaching the desk, by a staff member who was on his toes.  My Starwood Preferred Gold status was immediately recognized, and soon we were on our way to our 7th floor river view king room which was touted as an upgrade by the front desk staffer.

The Room

The room was spacious enough, and we had a great view of the Potomac River as promised.  My first thought upon looking things over was that I felt like I’d landed in Sweden.  The furnishings are very European in style and function.  A 42″ LCD television was mounted on the wall, and the work desk included an electronic “box” with a/v inputs to the TV as well as electrical outlets.  Wired and wireless internet access are provided free of charge.  The bathroom was much like the entire room, European in style, with a large walk-in shower stocked with dispensers of the necessary Bliss products.

The hotel has a nice fitness center and indoor pool.  I didn’t try these services so I can’t comment on them.

The Area

National Harbor, the convention-entertainment-residential multiplex, is located just south of Washington, DC on the Maryland side of the Potomac River.  Anchored by the huge Gaylord National hotel, National Harbor offers dozens of retail outlets, numerous restaurants and bars, and no shortage of people watching.  We sampled a bit of everything dining on small plates at several restaurants, beginning with Rosa Mexicana, and proceeding around the complex with stops at McCormick and Schmicks as well as Cadillac Ranch.  Service and food at all were acceptable, with Rosa Mexicana being our favorite for taste and quality, but getting more of a “C minus” for speed of service.  Whatever you choose to do, you won’t have any need to leave the complex to keep yourself fed and entertained.  The hotel itself, hosts the WXYZ Lounge, which was empty at its 5pm opening, but every seat at the bar was occupied when we returned to the hotel late in the evening.

The Bottom Line

I liked the hotel, and am really intrigued by the Aloft brand in general.  Aloft makes a lot of sense for any number of potential customer groups, from families with children and pets to hard-charging business travelers.  The W influence gives this great value hotel a cool vibe that makes it worth checking out.