The winter doldrums always beat me down and this year was especially challenging. But by late February I was ready to emerge from my cocoon of coziness and isolation and make an appearance in the world again. Not quite a social butterfly, but still willing to stretch my wings in society before flitting off to faraway places. Seeking some couple time, my husband and I decided on a Providence staycation for a romantic weekend away from home.

Since the teen is old enough to stay home alone, “getting away” to somewhere close by in case we are needed is the perfect option, hence the staycation. Ever since we moved to Rhode Island 20 years ago, Providence has charmed us. Despite the challenges of the last two years, the Creative Capital continues to evolve and there is always something new to see or do — from restaurants to lounges to food trucks to beer gardens — Providence has not lost its energy or plucky spirit.

Aloft Providence Review

Aloft Providence mural by elevator

Note: I was provided a complimentary stay and brunch at the Aloft Providence for purposes of this article. All opinions are my own.

It is encouraging to see more hotels coming to downtown, and the Aloft Providence is the latest to break ground. Located on Dorrance Street in the new Innovation and Design District along the Providence River, the Aloft Providence 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.

Man drinking at the Aloft Providence lobby 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

Couple on the couch at the Aloft Providence 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 Providence king suite couch and chairs

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 masking that.

Drybar toiletries at the Aloft Providence

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! But as a brand new property that opened in late 2021, every room is new and you can even smell the fresh carpet in the hallways.

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

Bar at Blu Violet

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

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.

Terrace view from Blu Violet

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

Ice bumper cars in Providence
Image courtesy of the Providence Convention and Visitors Bureau

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 Performancing Arts Center, Trinity Rep or the Vets

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

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

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

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