It is said that small little things make all the difference. Aloft, the newest entrant in the hotel market of Ahmedabad seems to be doing just that. I was invited by the hotel for an experience of their property that included a night’s stay with all meals. An itinerary was drawn up and sent to me beforehand. Aloft Ahmedabad is located on the ever-busy Sarkhej- Gandhinagar highway, opposite Bhagwat Vidhyapeeth in Sola area. Not very far from my residence, I reached a little behind time, and was warmly welcomed by the cheerful reception staff. The reception area is quite generously designed. The welcome drink, a Green Apple Cinnamontini (Rs150) was quite refreshing. While signing the registration forms, in one corner I noticed a signature area marked ‘talent’. On enquiring, I was told that the staff at Aloft address themselves as ‘Talent’. Small little things that impress, I collected my room key and was escorted to my room located on the second floor.
My room overlooked the hotel’s swimming pool and the main road. I had a look at a few other rooms too, for similarities. Large open-able windows on either side of the wall ensure that there is plenty of natural light coming in. most amenities are provided, including an ironing board and iron. The rooms are spacious and well appointed, though it could have done away with the black paint on one of the walls. There is a 42” LCD with a cable TV set-top box which didn’t have all channels playing at the time, while I would have liked a DTH connection. There was some issue with the set-top box in my room, which was attended to within no time. The beds were comfortable and large, enough for my 6’2” frame to fit in. The room also contained a couch, a utility desk and a study desk. The couch was placed under the TV, which might not make for comfortable sitting. The bathroom was equipped with separate shower gel and shampoo dispensers, a neat touch. There was a cordless telephone, but without the important extensions printed on the handset or the main phone unit.
Per the plan, my lunch was organized at Dot.Yum, the restaurant located on the first floor. The entrance to Dot.Yum isn’t very prominent, with the door in one corner of an open sitting area and the swimming pool. A fire extinguisher is kept next to the door, which could have been discreetly put elsewhere. I was ushered in and led to a table by a large window. Mine was the only table occupied in a subtly furnished restaurant with 52 covers. On the menu for me was a Gujarati Platter (Rs 425) that began with Farsaan (snacks) consisting of Khandvi , Nylon Khaman and Patra accompanied with a peanuts tempered papaya and carrot salad and Guajarati Kadhi & Green Chutney. This was quite filling and tasted well, with the exception of the nylon khaman, which was overly sweet. I was joined by Sous Chef Santosh Chand Bhartiya, who hails from Allahabad. More conversations on food and Gujarat followed along with the main course, which included Methi Theplas, Guajarati Kadhi, Bhinda Sambariya, Palak Papad nu Shak, Falavar Bataka nu Rasa, Moong Dal Khichdi, Poori and Doodh Pak, with Aamras, curd and rice poppadoms on the side. Santosh revealed that farsaans are served to all in-room guests on checking in, something which seemed missed out in my case.
Satiated and hence sleepy, I returned to my room and dozed off, to be fresh for a tour of the property and a chat with Vikas in the evening.
Evening cometh, I dressed and went downstairs, albeit a bit late, to be told by the reception that Vikas would join in a few minutes. As told by him, Aloft opened in Ahmedabad in June 2013. Most of the staff is between the 20-35 age group, which emphasizes the hotel’s punchline- ‘for the young business traveler’- if you’re young, only then can you identify yourself with your customer. The area of the hotel is huge, compared to other Ahmedabad hotels, with an immense parking space. There’s a well appointed banquet hall with a separate entrance that can hold 100 + people at a time. Also is a gym, called re:charge.
Vikas then took me to another feature of the hotel- Re:Fuel, a 24/7 pick-n-go area, where readymade eatables are available. Located in one corner of the hotel lobby, this featured packets of instant soup, instant noodles, candies, coffee, sandwiches, burgers, juices, pastries and such items. There is also a pool table, another table with board games and internet connectively all around in the lobby to keep oneself occupied. Even if one is dropping by for a coffee, internet is free, fast and convenient, with Wi-Fi and cable ports provided all over- Small little things that make a difference.
We had our evening tea at wxyz, the mocktail bar and lounge. The area is delightfully done up, with comfortable sofas, bar stools and low tables evenly spread. The décor is colorful but not intrusive. The bar counter with muted lighting underneath the countertop and the rightly heighted bar stools make for a comfortable seating. The background is adorned with shelves containing multi-colored bottles of various syrups that go in the making of mocktails. There were 3 small-screen TVs installed side-by-side above the showcase, which do not make for comfortable viewing, especially from a distance. The menu is an even mix of various cuisines of the world. Vikas explained that the dishes might sound the same as available at other places, the difference lies in small twists in the preparation. wxyz also features a unique selection of teas and coffees from all over the world- Monkey King Jasmine Tea, Organic Bolivian Coffee, Indian Peaberry, Aged Monsoon Malabar, Herb Infusion Camolle (said to cure body aches), Mangalam Golden Tips, to name a few. The most interesting one was perhaps the Blooming Flower tea, which is a dried flower bud that opens up while brewing, and lends a distinctive flavor to the tea.
Chef Santosh and Chef Prashant Tiwari were my companions over drinks and dinner at wxyz. Shubham, the 24-year old bartender served a series of mocktails, starting with Asian Smash– with coconut milk, basil, lemongrass, palm sugar and Monin rum. Next was Blueberry Iced Tea, followed by Chili Mocker and Afternoon Tea Martini (all Rs 150 each). The Asian Smash wasn’t much of a hit, the coconut milk and basil didn’t combine well and the flavor of lemongrass was lacking. The Iced Tea was refreshing, with just the right hint of blueberry. Chili Mocker and the Tea Martini were good too in their own right. Dinner consisted of Bruschetta (225); Chicken Wings with Nachos, house-made Barbeque Sauce & Salsa (Rs 275); a combo platter including a half Tandoori Chichen, Dal Makhani and Garlic Chili Cheese Naans (Rs 375); Gosht Parda Seekh (Rs 350); Peeli Mirch aur Sarson Ka Fish Tikka (Rs 325); Anjeer, Akhrot aur Rajma ki Shami (Rs 225); Irish Lamb Stew with Caraway Flavored rice & Pepperonata of Bell peppers (Rs 400); Herb Crusted Prawns with Mushroom Confit & Herb Rice (Rs 600); Hainan Chicken Rice with perfumed broth & Chili Ginger Sauce (Rs 350). Dessert was Ras Bhare Ghevar (Rs 160).
The portion sizes were made smaller on request. The notable dishes were the chicken wings, which were lollipops coated with barbeque sauce made in-house. The chicken was cooked just right and had a nice crunch with the juicy insides. The dal in the platter is undoubtedly one of the best I’ve had in Ahmedabad, same for the tandoori chicken with soft, tender meat and the marinade combining well. The gosht pada seekh was mutton seekh kebabs, wrapped in roomali roti, cooked in tandoor. The roti was too thick to be called roomali and the meat inside felt dry. The fish tikka was a hit, with the fish cooked just right, not flaking and retaining the bite with the slight flavor of mustard. The Shami was a first for me, with bits of walnuts and figs combined nicely with kidney beans. The star of the show was the Irish Lamb Stew- with just the right consistency of gravy and subtle hints of all the flavors. Another hit were the prawns, perfectly cooked with the shell on, retaining the bite and a beautiful texture. The Ras Bhare Ghevar had a faint sugary taste, paired nicely with the little balls of rasmalai. I’m not a desserts person, but I quite liked this one.
Morning breakfast was a buffet affair at Dot.Yum. This was mostly the same as any other hotel in Ahmedabad. I had Vada Sambhar, a Veg Sandwich, a Masala Dosa, a Masala Omlette with bacon & chicken sausages and a scrambled egg with hash browns, accompanied with Masala Tea. Mostly everything was quite nice, except the hash browns that felt quite ‘oily’. The issue I could see was with the service, which seemed a bit slower than required. Also, ketchup served in sachets doesn’t reflect well on this class of a hotel.
All in all, Aloft was a nice experience with nothing much to complain about. The people are eager, attentive and do not come in the way. The hotel offers all the comforts of a five star, in a format that ensures you’re always at ease and well taken care of. If you’re visiting Ahmedabad, or wanting a weekend break out of your home, Aloft should be tried. It is fairly new, less than a year since it has opened, and I’m sure the small little discrepancies will be ironed out with time and experience.
Ratings (Out of 5)
Food: 3.5 | Ambience: 4.0 | Service: 3.0 | Overall: 3.5
Alcohol: No | Credit Cards: Yes | Amenities: Spa, Conference Room, Handicapped Friendly, Gym, Restaurant, Coffee Shop, Swimming Pool, Banquet Hall
Address: Aloft, Opposite Bhagwat Vidhya Peeth, SG Road, Sola, Ahmedabad, Gujarat | Phone Number: 079 6604 9499
Disclosure: This is an invited review done at the invitation of the hotel