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During my drive from Brooklyn to Dallas, I planned to stay 2 nights at hotels along the way. Long story short, my freaking car broke down. And I was plunged into a land of endless Plan Bs.
I prefer Hilton hotels. So during a fuel stop around dusk, I searched for a room on the Hilton app. Nothing was available within 100 miles. And I was tired from driving since 4am.
I didn’t have 100 miles left in me. I was ready for anything – even a roadside motel, “Psycho”-style.
So I checked Hyatt and Starwood. No Hyatt hotels in rural Virginia (not a surprise, but worth a looky-loo).
But there was a random Aloft hotel 45 miles away. I booked a room at the Aloft Winchester, nestled near the West Virginia border in extreme northern Virginia. It was ~$120 with taxes for the night.
As an added bonus, there were no pet fees! Hilton likes to charge $30 to $75 as a non-refundable pet deposit. So that was a silver lining.
I booked on my phone and sped down the highway. I was so tired, my eyes were literally crossing. And I was getting bad road hypnosis.
Obviously, I made it because I’m writing this now. That day is etched into my memory as one of the longest of my life…
Arrival and check-in
- Link: Aloft Winchester
Google Maps guided me into the parking lot. I turned off my car’s engine, and it quickly unwound, spent. I felt similar.
I ran in to the desk. The agent told me there was a baseball tournament in town, and I’d booked the last available room for the evening because of a cancellation. Lucky!
From the corner of my eye, I noticed an entire teenage baseball team in the “common area” as these millennial-focused hotels are so fond of having. *full-body shudder*
The agent noted my SPG Gold status (from my Platinum Amex). She invited me to grab a drink and a food item from the Re:Fuel snack display, which was a nice gesture.
I told her I was bringing a dog and she assured me it was totally fine. I grabbed the room key and went to gather my things and critter.
I threw everything down in a heap, got the dog settled, and immediately took a LONG, HOT shower. I’d been sitting in a hot car for… hours, stewing.
The room was cozy, but I was here for one purpose only: to PTFO (pass the bleep out).
The room had a modern, kinda retro-y vibe. It was very clean. And quiet. And the king-sized bed looked like heaven.
It had that whole “no dresser, room divider, compact yet spacious” thing going on. So when you walk in, you’re pretty much in the bathroom, which was directly to the right of the door.
Around the divider, the rest of the room.
I sat down at the desk and uploaded photos from the day. Then suddenly wanted a nightcap, despite my exhaustion. But probably because of it.
The photos uploaded quickly via the hotel’s wifi. All-in-all, the room was clean and comfortable and the wifi quick. I say this all the time, but it’s all I ever want in a hotel room.
I was pleased and surprised by how welcoming the staff and other guests were toward my pup. He’s such a sweetheart, but sometimes people are surprised to see dogs in dog-friendly hotels. He was exhausted too, poor guy.
He curled up at the foot of the bed, as he does each night. And I went to grab a beer.
I took a few snaps of the lobby and social spaces as I sipped a local brew from the hotel bar.
Each space flowed into the next. There was a pool table and a few other seats and couches. But they filled up fast.
The service at the bar was perfect. I sat at a table in the middle of the room, and pondered little dilemmas as I finished my drink.
There was a gym with a few weights and a couple of basic machines on the first floor. Nothing extraordinary, but nice to have. There was also a decent-sized pool. But I didn’t have time to experience the hotel’s features.
I headed back up to the room and fell asleep in under 2 seconds (PTFO’d).
My stay at the Aloft Winchester in Virginia was excellent. The staff was awesome. And the way they welcomed me and Fenwick made us both feel at home. Cheap and cheerful best describes this place – it’s a combination I personally love.
I wasn’t “into” the open layout, some of the loud colors, and the trying-too-hard modernness of the hotel’s concept. That’s to be expected with the Aloft brand.
But the bed was comfy, and the room was clean and quiet. So the basics were well-covered. I would recommend this hotel, especially if you’re into Marriott/Starwood.
Quickly need to get this off my chest. I’m eternally miffed by the small amount of points SPG loyalists earn for paid stays.
I earned 530 Starwood points in total: 270 for the room, 135 as a Gold elite bonus, and 125 bonus as a “gift.” Gee, thanks!
There was a promotion at the time for booking through the app, so I earned 500 more Starwood points on top of that. It blows my mind the promotion gave me nearly as many points as the actual stay. And that the base amount of points was only… 270. K. What’s the allure?
The low earning rate slash difficulty in earning Starwood points has always been my #1 concern about the program. I guess it’s a moot point now, with the merger and all.
The next day, we woke up and sped away to Tennessee. And stayed at a Hilton. But that’s another story altogether… 🙂
Have you stayed at the Aloft Winchester, or another hotel in the area? How’d your stay compare?
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