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Aloft Providence Downtown Review: Fresh Style in Downcity

Providence’s plucky spirit, creative style, and fresh food scene were what sold us on moving to Rhode Island over 20 years ago, so it always heartens me to see an exciting new hotel or restaurant making its home in our Creative Capital.

When the Aloft Providence Downtown broke ground near the river in the Innovation and Design District, I was happy to see another hotel property opening in the city, especially when I heard it was going to have a rooftop restaurant and bar.

Always willing to take a “staycation” in Providence, we booked a getaway to break up those winter blues. Plus, it gave us an excuse to try out some of the city’s new cocktail bars and restaurants without worrying about where to park!

I was wowed by the Aloft Providence Downtown’s massive suites and impressed with the youthful energy of the restaurant and bar. But read on for my full review!

Aloft Providence Downtown Review

Lobby mural in the Aloft Providence

Note: I was hosted by the Aloft Providence for a complimentary stay. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission.

Located on Dorrance Street in the new Innovation and Design District along the Providence River, the Aloft Providence Downtown is within easy walking distance to College Hill via the Providence Pedestrian Bridge and all of the restaurants and attractions in Downcity.

Aloft is part of the Marriott portfolio of properties (yay for Bonvoy members) and caters to the young modern traveler looking for a happening social scene. Or, the Aloft is what my husband refers to as a “W Hotel-lite,” meaning the vibes of a W brand hotel with a slightly lower price point. 

Glenn at the downstairs Aloft Bar

You catch these vibes as soon as you enter the lobby of the Aloft Providence, with the vibrant artwork and public spaces designed for gathering and fun. The lobby bar is youthful and hip, with a small pool/snooker table and social gathering spots scattered throughout the space. It was perfect for a return from hibernation and a reminder that not everyone spends their Saturday nights in the winter wrapped up in a blanket on their couch watching Netflix.

Lofts at the Aloft

Tamara and Glenn on the couch of an Aloft suite

Since I had never stayed at an Aloft hotel, I didn’t have any set expectations on what the room would be like, although I may have conflated it with the somewhat minimalistic style of the AC Hotels. In fact, when I checked in and they told me I had been upgraded to a river view suite, I didn’t even blink, expecting it would just be a slightly larger room, maybe with a pull-out sofa.

So imagine my surprise when I opened the door to this massive 500+ square foot suite. Honestly, I had no idea the Aloft had rooms that nice but it made for a perfect special treat after a long, tough winter stuck at home.

Aloft couch and table

Our suite featured a very large sitting area with a semi-circular couch. It felt apartment-like with a huge flatscreen smart television (just in case you want to snuggle on a different couch and stream Netflix at a hotel instead of your home), tons of storage, and amenities like a small fridge and coffee station. There was even a retro radio — not that I could figure out how to turn it on — maybe that means I’m not as old as I think?

We had a lovely river and city view with massive windows letting in tons of light (don’t worry, the shades do a good job of blocking it out in the morning!) The downside of the river view is a fair bit of street or rooftop noise, but the AC/heat fans do a good job of masking that. 

Dry bar amenities at the Aloft

The bathroom was another big surprise, with two pedestal sinks and a massive walk-in rain shower and soaking tub in a wet room. The Aloft Providence is also the only place that I’ve seen Drybar toiletries, which is a nice switch from the Paul Mitchell you find in many Marriott brands. If only the hairdryer was also a Drybar product I might finally have a good blowout at a hotel. But, as my husband pointed out, too many people would probably try to walk off with those.

We certainly loved our stay at the Aloft Providence and would recommend upgrading to the suite if you have the budget or Bonvoy points/status for a bit of a treat!

Keep in mind that despite the suite, the Aloft isn’t a luxury brand — you won’t find bathrobes and slippers or room service for breakfast in bed — but it is ideal for those looking to enjoy all the city has to offer from a fun and conveniently-located home base.

If you do book a staycation at the Aloft Providence, I would recommend requesting a room away from the elevator, as the “going up” and “going down” announcements are quite loud and the sound travels down the hall a bit. Luckily for us, it was not a problem down the hall, and even though the hotel seemed busy enough, we didn’t encounter any loud hallway noise.

Blu Violet

Blu Violet at the Aloft Providence Downtown

In addition to the WXYZ Bar in the lobby and the Re-Fuel snack bar that is available 24/7, the Aloft Providence is home to Blu Violet, featuring Haitian fusion cuisine and cocktails. Located on the seventh floor and featuring a panoramic rooftop terrace, Blu Violet is a hit with locals and visitors alike and reservations are very strongly recommended. We attempted to get a drink before hitting the town but it was full, so we retreated to the quieter WXYZ Bar downstairs.

Crepes at Blu Violet in the Aloft Providence Downtown

However, we were able to enjoy a Sunday Rum Brunch at Blu Violet. This is not for the hungover or those that want to have a quiet brunch with friends (for that check out some of my other favorite Providence brunch spots.) However, if you want to keep last night’s party going, the live DJ music keeps the energy high.

I’m not a morning person so I had trouble adjusting to the volume after a late night and a few glasses of wine, but at least the music was brunch-appropriate and not “you are at a nightclub”. The service was great though and the food was unique and delicious. We ended up having a very late dinner the night before so I stuck with the crepes with eggs and watercress salad. Somehow Glenn managed to finish off the Haitian meatballs at 11 am and from the bite he shared, they were quite tasty. 

Blu Violet also had a fun and creative cocktail list, but since I can’t drink rum and I was still swimming in wine from the previous night’s indulgences, we stuck with water and coffee. Even if you don’t stay at the Aloft Providence, Sunday brunch at Blu Violet would be a fun way to celebrate an occasion or get together with girlfriends too, especially when the weather is nice enough to enjoy the rooftop terrace!

Things to do on a Providence Staycation

View from Blu Violet

There are so many things to do in Providence, but if you are visiting in the winter, the options are a little bit more limited. A few of our favorites include:

  • Ice skating or ice bumper cars at the Providence Rink
  • RISD Museum of Art (advance tickets currently required)
  • Boutique shopping along Westminster Street
  • Walking along the river and across the Providence Pedestrian Bridge
  • Cocktail bar hopping (near the Aloft try Red Door, Needle & Thread, or Marcelinos)
  • Winter Farmer’s Market at Farm Fresh RI
  • Sunday shopping at the Providence Flea
  • Brewery hopping (Narragansett Brewery is walkable from the Aloft)
  • See a show or performance at the Providence Performing Arts Center, Trinity Rep, or the Vets

Other places for a romantic dinner within walking distance of the Aloft Providence include:

  • Bayberry Garden
  • Gracie’s
  • Bellini
  • Hemenways
  • New Rivers

For cocktails, if you want to leave the hotel, I would recommend:

  • Needle & Thread
  • The Red Door
  • Marcelinos

Also, check out these ideas for other romantic getaways in Rhode Island.

tamara

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