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I’m not afraid to admit that I am a hotel snob. I used to travel over 100k miles per year for work, so I feel sl...
I’m not afraid to admit that I am a hotel snob. I used to travel over 100k miles per year for work, so I feel slightly justified in my opinion. Because we need at least eight hours (or more) of sleep, it’s so important to get a good night’s rest.
You don’t have to be a true hotel snob to enjoy luxury hotel upgrades. Here are my tested tips for maximizing your hotel experience on the road.
Making your booking on a bargain-hunter website like Priceline or Expedia? Sorry, I can’t help you. Hotels sell blocks of rooms to these sites at a discount, but it’s not a free lunch: These rooms come with restrictions, which range from no loyalty points to “we are going to put these people in the rooms we haven’t renovated yet.”
Where should you be booking your hotel? The hotel’s own website is the best choice: They’ll give you good insight into the types of rooms available, you’ll get good rates, and you can make special requests when you book.
Other sites that can help you get the best rooms are Room 77 and Kiwi Collection – where in-house experts and concierge teams that have hotel relationships help you with your booking. Plus, working with a concierge, or even a traditional travel agent, can help you pick the hotels that have the best suites or recently renovated rooms.
If you’re on a hotel’s website and not seeing what you want, call and talk to the front desk at the hotel. Don’t let them transfer you to a generic call number. Instead, tell the receptionist you have some specific questions about that hotel and would like to speak to someone at the hotel.
There is no excuse to not join loyalty programs: They’re free, and they come with benefits. For example, at Kimpton Hotels, loyalty members get free Wi-Fi, minibar discounts, and often-unexpected treats and perks. But at all hotels, belonging to the loyalty program can be the difference between a “just ok” room and a great room—so sign up and get that special room number reserved for you long before you arrive.
You’ll find plenty of advice for getting hotel upgrades that centers on “being nice.” You’ve got more problems than wanting an upgrade if you aren’t polite to all the hotel staff. We’ve all seen the abuse they deal with so, please, be nice. Also, tell the check-in clerk about what you’re looking for. Here are some example sentences you can use:
“I’ve really had a pretty rough week, and if you have an ultra-quiet room that still has a nice view, I would really appreciate that.”
“Is it possible to get a beach-facing room? We’d be happy to pay a small fee for the inconvenience.”
“This weekend is our anniversary—can you do anything special to help me surprise my partner?” (Obviously, you need to send your partner to go check out the lobby bar while you use this one.)
To paraphrase an old saying, if you don’t ask, the answer is no. So just ask, as you never know what you might get!
Lots of credit cards come with hotel perks. Obviously, hotels love their own loyalty cards, like a Hilton Visa. Do you have a Visa Signature card? Book at the Visa Signature Hotels website for instant upgrades. In the past couple of years, many hotel chains have been giving cardholders an extra bump in elite loyalty status, so if you don’t travel often, you can still score those extra bonuses.
The downside to credit cards is that their benefit is limited to the affiliated points program, and of course, if you don’t pay off your balances, you end up paying more in interest than you would have just paying for a nicer room.
If you’re planning a two-week jaunt in the Caribbean during high season, and you’ve booked the basic room, don’t expect much in terms of upgrades. When hotels are near capacity and you’re sticking around for awhile, it makes it hard for them to give you a nicer room as they have to accommodate many other guests who are coming and going.
This is where a pinch of expectation-setting is required: Don’t ever book a hotel room that you will not be satisfied with unless you get an upgrade, because you might face disappointment. Be happy with freebies and upgrades, but be happy getting the clean, comfortable room you booked in the first place.