11 of the best ways to score a hotel upgrade
Hands up if you want to check in to the superior room.
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Something that can really make a holiday is finding yourself at the check-in counter of your hotel being handed a key to a much more luxe abode than you may have originally booked.
What are the secrets to unlocking this perk? While we don’t have a hard and fast answer for you, we do have a couple of pointers that can help increase your chances of securing a hotel upgrade.
How to get a hotel upgrade
1. Be part of the program: Some hotel chains offer membership programs that provide you with benefits for frequent stays, including upgrades.
- Anantara Privilege member: Special members-only rates apply to Privilege members. Upgrade your status to receive complimentary room upgrades.
- LeClub Accor Hotels member:Get discounts, free nights with points earned and upgrades when you obtain Gold status.
- Hilton Honors member: Once you reach Gold Status (20 stays or 40 nights) you can tap into complimentary upgrade options.
- IHG Rewards club member: Holiday Inn IHG members can earn points that they can then redeem for bonus rewards nights.
- My Millennium member: The Millennium and Copthorne memberships grant you access to complimentary stays and discounts. Upgrade to Elite status to receive two upgrades per membership year.
- MyOaks member: While no upgrades are available for MyOaks members, you can still earn points for member deals and discounts.
- Marriott Rewards member: Stay four consecutive nights and get the fifth free. The more you upgrade in status, the bigger the benefit.
- Starwood Preferred Guest member: Earn points through stays and shopping that you can then spend on various items including flights. Stay three consecutive nights and get the fourth free. Upgrades come when you obtain Gold Status.
- TFE Hotels eClub: Sign up to the TFE Hotels eClub for 10% off member stays at hotels like Adina and Vibe. No upgrades available.
- Hyatt Gold Passport members: Earn points for every dollar you spend and receive nights for free. Upgraded membership status can get you free upgrades.
- Hotels.com Rewards member:One free night for every 10 nights stayed. No upgrades available.
- Qantas Frequent Flyer members:Clock up points when you stay at eligible hotels. You can later exchange these for stays.
2. Get the right credit card: Many hotels offer credit cards that automatically make you eligible for an upgrade. Hilton’s Citi Hilton Honors Reserve card automatically grants you gold status, as does the Hyatt Credit Card.
3. Tell the staff that it’s a special occasion: When checking in, sneakily drop in that you’re celebrating something. Could be a birthday, could be an engagement; whatever it is, it should be something worthy of a better room. Even if you don’t score that upgrade, you might get a free bottle of Champers out of it.
4. Ask for it but be nice about it: The worst they can do is say no, and the hotel staff will appreciate that you are being polite about it. Don’t make a fuss if they say no and don’t ask for the upgrade when other guests are around.
On that note, make a request for a specific room and don’t aim too high. Bumping yourself from a standard room to the Presidential Suite is probably not going to happen, but asking for a superior room might be possible.
5. Say something nice about the staff: When you’re at the hotel, be polite and leave good feedback for the staff. Got a bit of social media influence? Use it by sharing your love for the hotel online. The hotel will remember the praise and if you return, they may upgrade you automatically because of it.
6. Book a new hotel: New hotels don’t yet have the reviews to prove that they’re worth their salt, so they may be more likely to yield to an upgrade request to please you, especially if they have rooms to spare.
7. Book through the hotel: It’s true that booking through websites like Booking.com and Hotels.com can have the benefits of a slightly cheaper rate, but booking through these sites means that the hotel has to pay them a commission. The hotel also doesn’t receive your personal details prior to your arrival. By booking direct you’re suggesting loyalty to the brand itself, which can increase your chances of an upgrade.
8. Arrive late rather than early: The afternoon to early evening is a non-peak time at the check-in desk, meaning they won’t be rushed when taking care of you. It also means the staff will have better knowledge of what rooms are available for the evening. It might not align with your flight but it might align with an upgrade.
9. Stay just one night: Shorter stays are more likely to get an upgrade as premium rooms may be filled the following days or have the potential to be filled.
10. Pay the price: Booking the cheapest room or getting a discounted room is probably not going to win you any favours. Be willing to pay an uncancellable full rate to prove that you’re serious about staying at the hotel. Brand loyalty is everything.
11. Make a complaint - but only if it’s justified. If there’s something wrong with your current room, return to the counter and let them know. The hotel staff are there to make your stay a good one, so if a plug isn’t working or the toilet doesn’t flush properly, bring it up. They’d rather address the problem then and there than have you complain later. If it’s something that can’t be fixed, they’ll likely bump you to another room (hopefully an upgraded one).
Hotel memberships and deals that could help you score an upgrade
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