Across the street from the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, the Amway Center, City Hall, and Church Street nightlife, this former utilities building has been given new life as a hip, urban hotel in the middle of the action downtown.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The hotel is adjacent to Interstate 4, thus the journey to the theme parks by car should be quick and easy. However, expansion work on the highway, scheduled to continue through 2020, means that drive times are seldom accurate, and congestion is a real issue. The SunRail train runs weekdays until about 9 p.m., and on some weekends, offering some relief from the congestion, depending on your destination. But the rail line doesn’t go all the way to the parks. Ride-sharing is a great option for those who don’t want to drive, particularly since there is no self-parking at the hotel, only valet.
Rooms feature 10-foot ceilings, creative use of space, and high-tech amenities, including free Wi-Fi, along with floor-to-ceiling windows offering great views of downtown.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Because this is a re-purposed 1950s concrete office building, room configuration can sometimes be puzzling. Carving individual hotel rooms out of existing office and meeting spaces required some creative juggling, sometimes leaving guests scratching their heads at furniture configurations.
Wet rooms lined in sleek gray tiles feature raised sinks, dark wood vanities, and Bliss product dispensers in the showers.
Gleaming polished concrete floors reflect lots of neon, giving the lobby a hip, busy bar-lounge-meeting place vibe. There’s also a street-side pool deck, and bar, with music, both recorded and live, filling the space.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The lobby is known for its party atmosphere, and you are downtown, which, like any city, can be noisy. But the thick concrete walls of this hotel are like bunker walls, cutting down on the noise level.
The small pool and deck are separated from busy Orange Avenue by a few steps and a low wall, offering little privacy, but a party atmosphere that emanates from the W XYZ bar right next to the pool.
Guests can get light and healthy fare in the gourmet snack station which is open 24 hours. No restaurants on-site, but fine or fast dining choices abound within a few feet of the front door.
A happy-hour and party atmosphere reigns in the lobby and lounge. The W XYZ bar is not the spot for a quiet after-work drink. However, if you are looking for a fun, vibrant, brightly lit space that serves seasonal cocktails, wines and beers along with bar snacks and music, it’s the place to be.
Stay alert for celebrity sightings. Performers from the Broadway road tours and concerts at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts across the street have been spotted at the bar.
The Aloft is convenient to public transportation, from the free Lymmo buses, which stop nearby, and take you around downtown, to the SunRail commuter train, which offers an easy ride north to Winter Park, or south to Sand Lake Road, near Universal. But Orlando is really a driving city, and a car or ride-share would be best if theme parks are on your to-do list. That being said, there is public bus transportation direct to the theme parks from the main Lynx bus station, about 5 blocks north of the Aloft, where for around $2.50 you can avoid the $20 parking fees at the parks.
4 Rivers Smokehouse offers prize-winning barbecue at City Hall (next door). The Boheme offers fine dining in the Grand Bohemian Hotel (across the street). Kasa (half a block away) features Asian fusion. Dozens more eating choices, from hamburgers and beer to fine French cuisine, are within walking distance on Orange Avenue and Church Street.
Downtown Orlando comes alive at night, and the Aloft is right in the middle of it all. DJ-driven beats drive the vibe at the W XYZ bar in the lobby, but clubs and pubs nearby offer a wide variety of entertainment: jazz piano at the Grand Bohemian Bosendorfer Lounge (across the street), dancing til the wee hours at a wide range of boozy nightclubs, folk music at an Irish pub, German drinking songs at a beer hall (all within blocks of the Aloft).
WHY WE LIKE IT
Convenient to the action, whether a Broadway show or celebrity concert at the Dr. Phillips or an NBA game at the Amway, the Aloft offers a trendy Downtown retreat, and the theme parks are only a half hour away.