The Aloft at San Francisco international Airport has been one that I’ve intended to book on several occasions over the past several years, but last-minute changes in circumstance have always placed me somewhere else. But finally – after all these years, I was finally going to get a chance to experience the Aloft at SFO.

A full review of my 1 night stay at the Aloft at the San Francisco International Airport (SFO)

You’re probably scratching your head wondering why I was so excited to try the Aloft – and I don’t blame you. The Aloft hotel chain isn’t all that luxurious, but they are consistent and I really like the low-budget/high style thing they have going on.

I expected this Aloft to be great. It probably had something to do with the fact that San Francisco is home to some of the biggest and most influential tech companies in the world and I was naturally expecting greatness. It would seem that they would want to have one of their best properties on display here, right?

Location

The location of the Aloft SFO is clustered in the heart of Millbrae, just south of the airport and across the street from all of the other airport hotels – including the Waterfront Marriott (SFO) I’ve stayed at not too long ago.

aloft sfo location map
The Aloft hotel is located just south of SFO.

To be honest, this is not a particularly nice area. It’s not dangerous or anything, but it is a very crowded and busy area with lots of construction going on. Half of the surrounding buildings seem to be run down and deserted, while the other half (like this hotel) are new and modern.

Aloft SFO main entrance
Main entrance of the Aloft Hotel San Francisco International Airport.

First impressions

But hold on a second. Is this place really new and modern? I could tell immediately after walking to the front door that this aloft was nothing more than a remodeled old hotel with fancy new wallpaper and neato lighting fixtures.

It just didn’t seem to have that “built from the ground up” feel to it like the other Aloft properties that I’ve stayed at, especially with the check-in desk floating off by itself in a huge empty space. It was awkward to say the least, and it didn’t feel right at all.

Aloft SFO check in desk
Main lobby of the Aloft Hotel San Francisco International Airport. This is the check-in desk (which is about as stylish as what I saw at the W Hotel in Austin, but much more on the “casual” side of the spectrum). Pretty neat.

The lobby (including the kitchen and lounge)

Aloft SFO lobby lounge
The lobby actually looked really good, and typical of other Aloft’s that I have stayed in.

The other side of the lobby looked extremely stylish and comfortable like a typical Aloft should, so I just shrugged it off as I walked to the elevator on the way to my room.

Aloft SFO lobby layout
If there is one thing that the Aloft hotel chain does right, it’s lobbies. I want to hire them to redo the interior of my house!
Aloft SFO lobby design
Loads of snazzy design everywhere you look.
Aloft SFO self service kitchen
As typical with other Aloft hotels, the self-service kitchen looked to be very convenient.
Aloft SFO food
Don’t expect fine dining here – this is basically just snack food. But I’m not complaining!
Aloft SFO food and dining
The self-service kitchen is quite convenient, but the prices are borderline outrageous. Only eat here as a last resort!

Getting to my room

Aloft SFO elevator
Mood lighting in the elevator! I’m digging this!
Aloft SFO guest room hallway
Aloft Hotel San Francisco guest room hallway.

The room

Unfortunately, there was more disappointment as soon as I opened the door to my room. There was no doubt in my mind now – this really did used to be an old dumpy chain hotel that had been simply rebranded into an Aloft for as little money (and effort) as possible.

The only thing “Aloft” about this room were the curtains and a few other minor little details sprinkled throughout. One of the things I really liked about this brand during my past stays (Aloft PHX and Aloft PDX) was the fact that the room layouts were slightly different from a typical hotel room.

The layout of this room was as sterile and generic as what you saw in my review of the Comfort Suites at the Anchorage Airport. As a matter-of-fact, it even smelled like a Comfort Suites property – complete with the nauseating stench of chlorine and fresh paint.

Aloft SFO room
Comfort Inn or Aloft? I couldn’t quite tell at first. I guess the best way do describe this is a G rated version of the room I had at the Vienna Airport Moxy Hotel.
Aloft SFO twin beds
The room was clean, but it had none of the high style that I have come to expect the Aloft hotel chain.

Aloft SFO queen beds
Aloft Hotel San Francisco International Airport dual queen beds.
Aloft SFO room layout
Nothing special here – the layout is pretty much standard-issue hotel room.
Aloft SFO room entryway
A closer look at the door showing the bathroom just off to the right.
Aloft SFO room amenities
If it weren’t for the Aloft branding on the desk, I wouldn’t even know what brand of hotel this was.
Aloft SFO furniture
The material used on some of the furniture pieces was really stylish though.
Aloft SFO in room desk
The desk was decent place to get some work done.
Aloft SFO AV connections
Good connectivity to the TV, but…do people really use this stuff?
Aloft SFO window shades
The window shades did an excellent job of blocking out sunlight. Perfect for all you vampires out there who crave complete darkness when you sleep.
Aloft SFO air conditioning
The high-tech cooling and heating system.
Aloft SFO view
The view from my room. Not at all that glamorous.

The bathroom

Aloft SFO bathroom
The bathroom was certainly up to Aloft hotel standards.
Aloft SFO bathroom and closet
Combining the bathroom with the closet does seem a bit strange at first, but it’s actually pretty good use of space.
Aloft SFO closet space
The closet is very IKEA-like – but it works.
Aloft SFO bathroom vanity
Aloft SFO bathroom vanity.

Final thoughts (and a warning)

The biggest problem I had with this hotel was the fact that it was very rough around the edges and it was very clear that they had put very little money and effort into remodeling the rooms to fit the Aloft brand.

My one-night stay here was not consistent with my other Aloft experiences, and it really makes me wonder if this brand is as good as I think it is in my mind. I’m not going to lie when I say that I was very disappointed with my room, and it was a bit shocking to me considering the fact that this is San Francisco – the tech capital of the world – and the state of the room was not fitting of such a world-class destination.

I know that sounds a wee bit elitist and possibly naïve, but all my other hotel stays in San Francisco over the years have been nothing but top-notch experiences. Experiences so good that they set the bar for what I expect hotels to be like whenever I travel the world.

Aloft SFO room quality
The entire ceiling was like this. Classy, eh?
Aloft SFO bed linens
Hand written markings on the bed linens. Really?

It’s not often that I write such negative review, but the Aloft SFO deserves it. The staff was nice, and half of the lobby was cool, but the rooms do not live up to the standards of the brand (at least my room didn’t). For the same amount of money, you would be much better off to choose another property.

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