15 hottest products of 2008: Aloft & Element Hotels


They're hip, stylish, have Wi-Fi access and games, and can make going to sleep a lot easier.

No, we're not talking about the iPod Touch, iPhone or BlackBerry Smart Phones. We're talking about hotel rooms. And not the type of rooms you might have encountered in your youth with 1970s style and the amenities of a police station. The stylish Aloft and Element hotels -- with self-service check-in kiosks and a touch-screen concierge -- are owned by Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Inc., so you'd expect a good deal on a great room.

If you've ever stayed at a W Hotel, also owned by Starwood, then the Aloft and Element are like mini versions of W. Aloft, named because the rooms are like "a loft," have nine-foot ceilings, oversized windows and the wonderful beds Starwood is known for, at least at the Starwood hotels I've stayed at. Aloft rooms also have high-tech office and entertainment areas with free wireless Internet access, one-stop "connectivity solution" for multiple electronic gadgets -- all linked to a 42-inch flat-panel, HDTV-ready TV. Rooms at both hotels start at about $100 per night.

"Starwood's newest lifestyle brand, Aloft, is stylish, fun and affordable," Brian McGuinness, a Starwood senior vice president, said in a press release announcing the opening of an Aloft hotel in Phoenix. "With its urban design, aesthetic and loft-like rooms, Aloft Phoenix Downtown will offer an electric and eclectic experience targeted to younger, style-conscious travelers."