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Recently, our family traveled to Columbia, South Carolina and stayed at Aloft Columbia Downtown. This was our first time staying at the hotel. We were visiting to watch our favorite college team, the University of South Carolina women’s basketball team, take on one of their SEC opponents. And while the game didn’t disappoint, the hotel didn’t, either!
In this hotel review, you’ll find out about some of the things we really liked about the hotel, like the location and aspects of our hotel room. We’ll also share a few negatives of our experience. And we’ll also let you know how you can get a great rate if you’d like to stay at this downtown Columbia hotel, too!
The location of the hotel is excellent if you’re attending an event at Colonial Life Arena – or if you’d like to enjoy a great meal!
Colonial Life Arena
Since our family loves going to University of South Carolina basketball games, the location of a Columbia hotel relative to Colonial Life Arena is important to us. (A number of other events also take place there, including men’s basketball and concerts. Click here to see an event schedule and how to purchase tickets.)
Colonial Life Arena is about half a mile from Aloft Columbia Downtown. And the walk from the hotel to Colonial Life Arena is pretty much a straight shot – there’s no worrying about when you need to turn left or right or what not. As long as you know that you’re walking in the correct direction on Lincoln Street, you just keep walking until you reach Colonial Life Arena. And that is great if you have a poor sense of direction like I do!
Other Nearby Restaurants & Attractions
The hotel also has a convenient location if you’d like to enjoy some delicious food, shopping, or other things to do.
And that is because Aloft Columbia Downtown SC is located in the Vista. The Vista is an official South Carolina Cultural District (one of only 9 in the state). There are a number of options for dining, shopping, arts, and entertainment.
Maps are available on the first floor of the hotel if you want to see nearby restaurants and stores. This was a really helpful and appreciated feature.
And if you’re looking specifically for where to eat nearby, you can also check the television in your hotel room! The TV in the room had listings for places to eat close to the hotel. You could search through them and see helpful information like phone numbers, addresses, and dress code. Here’s a listing for one of my family’s favorite restaurants in the area, Liberty Tap Room:
If you’re looking for places to eat in the area, we also recommend Thirsty Fellow Pizzeria and Pub as well as Old Chicago Pizza and Taproom.
Lobby & Atmosphere
The hotel lobby (and atmosphere in general) is very modern.
And since we were staying in December, the Christmas tree was a very nice touch!
There are a few great spaces where you can relax and hang out. Inside, there’s the Re:mix Lounge, where you can play pool.
Outside, there’s a terrace in the front. It’s also a place where you can relax with a drink ordered from the W XYZ Bar inside the hotel.
In back, you’ll find the Backyard, a lounge outdoors with plenty of seating. There’s also a fireplace so you can keep warm at night. Of course, it’s Columbia, so that will only come in handy during part of the year. But it’s definitely nice to have in the winter!
Our family really liked the hotel room! Let’s go over the pros and cons right now.
The queen beds were very comfortable. And since many hotels only give you 6 pillows, having a total of 8 pillows in the room was appreciated.
There were a number of outlets and USB ports throughout the room for powering and charging electronic devices. On the desk alone, there were 3 plugs and 4 ports.
The lights near the ceiling were not quite overhead lights, but they did a good job of keeping the room better lit than many hotel rooms.
Speaking of light, I liked how the desk was placed in front of the window. During the day, you could use both the desk lamp and natural light.
In fact, the room’s layout made the most of the space it had. For example, there was a bench underneath the TV, which was a great place to store bags. And there was even room under the bench for suitcases, too. Also, the mini fridge was located under the bathroom vanity/counter, which kept it out of the way.
The mini refrigerator kept things cold, but it was on an uneven surface or platform. Whenever we would open it or try to put something inside, it would tilt back and forth, which made things difficult.
The AC/heat unit was a little frustrating. It seemed that adjusting the thermostat simply by one degree would trigger the heat or the air conditioner, so it kept going back and forth between being too hot and too cold. I finally turned it off altogether (which unfortunately made it too hot). For most of the year, though, it probably doesn’t get cold enough to cause the heat to come on, so I doubt this is usually an issue.
The biggest con for me was the toilet in the bathroom. Not only did it not have a lid, but it could be a little too forceful when flushed. To the point that we would flush the toilet and then immediately jump out of the way.
However, while I certainly didn’t like these issues, they wouldn’t be enough to keep me from staying at Aloft Columbia Downtown again. The positives of our hotel stay – and the room itself – definitely outweighed the negatives.
There’s one more thing that’s worth mentioning, though it wasn’t a con for me personally. Since it’s a downtown hotel, you could hear some outside noise, including trains (albeit from a distance). I actually really like hearing trains at night. But if you are a light sleeper who might be disturbed by it, keep that in mind when deciding whether to stay here.
There is a Mr. Coffee coffee maker in the hotel room, but there is no microwave.
An extra roll of toilet paper was located in the bottom drawer. This was helpful, though it wasn’t an immediately obvious place to find it.
There is a fitness center on the first floor if you’d like to fit a workout into your trip.
And if you need to get some work done or print anything off, there’s a business center (called InTouch) with a couple of computers and a printer.
Dining & Restaurants
As we mentioned earlier, there is a hotel bar, the W XYZ Bar. There, you can order food as well as drinks. When we were there (during the week), the bar was open in the evening until midnight.
Re:Fuel Cafe, a grab & go market, has snacks, bottled beverages, and microwavable meals.
If you’d like breakfast, you can place your order at the front desk. You can choose from breakfast items such as a breakfast biscuit sandwich, egg and chorizo burrito, a plant-based breakfast sandwich, oatmeal, cinnamon roll with cream cheese icing, pearl sugar waffle, and more. During our trip, breakfast was from 6:30 AM to 10:00 AM.
The staff members we encountered were friendly and helpful.
Aloft Columbia Downtown Parking
There is a parking garage right next to the hotel. Self parking costs $14 a night and valet parking is $22 a night.
The Aloft Columbia Downtown hotel is an excellent place to stay during a trip to Columbia. If you’re wanting to visit Colonial Life Arena, it’s only about a half a mile away and a straightforward walk. If you’d like to be near dining options and fun things to do, the hotel’s location in the Vista is perfect for that. And if you just want a nice and comfortable place to stay, this Columbia Aloft hotel delivers on that as well.
Ready to book your stay? Click here to get a great nightly rate.