The more economical and down-to-earth cousin of Starwood Hotel's W Brand, Aloft
(900 Washington Ave. S
, 612-455-8400) opened this sleek Minneapolis property in 2008 (my photo here was taken shortly before the opening, hence the unfinished landscaping). Just down the street from the Bolt and Minneapolis Eagle gay bars, and a couple of blocks south of the Guthrie Theater and Mill City Museum along the city's Mississippi waterfront, the gay-friendly Aloft is a great option for design-minded, discerning travelers who don't want to break the bank. Rooms are boldly decorated with Bliss bath amenities, huge flat-screen TVs, state-of-the-art entertainment centers with plug-and-play and connectivity stations, free Wi-Fi, and large window that let in plenty of natural light. Suites are similarly high-tech, but with lots of room to kick back (they're 750 square feet). The 24-hour take-out snack center, re:fuel, comes in handy when you return to the hotel hungry after bar-hopping. There's also a lobby cocktail lounge, called the w xyz bar.
Aloft is also close to the Metrodome, so it tends to book up when Vikings football games and other big events are going on (the Minnesota Twins played at the Metrodome until 2009, before moving to the new Target Field, just northwest of downtown).