‘A bit of creative licence’ could get you a free hotel upgrade

Simon Calder reveals the first thing he does in a hotel room

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Arriving at the hotel check-in desk to find you’ve been upgraded to an opulent suite is the stuff holiday dreams are made of, and according to luxury travel blogger Jessie Moore (@PocketWanderings), it could actually become a reality in certain situations. Jessie runs the blog and Instagram account Pocket Wanderings, where she documents her jet-setting lifestyle around the world and shares her top tips and trick to take your travel experiences to the next level.

If you’re jetting off for a special occasion, Jessie says letting your hotel know about it might just benefit you. She said: “If you’re celebrating a special occasion, make sure you let them know. There will often be the option to add a booking note at the time of booking, so you can do it in a more subtle way than emailing them directly.”

And while lying to your hotel isn’t recommended, Jessie does say you can stretch out celebrations.

“I’d also use a bit of a creative licence here,” she told Express.co.uk. “Perhaps you’re travelling the week after your birthday. Although it may not be a birthday trip per se, you could easily make it one!”

Even if you don’t have a special reason for travelling, booking directly with the hotel can still pay off. They are much more likely to reward those who didn’t opt for cheap third-party deals.

Jessie said: “You’re more likely to get an upgrade if you book directly with the hotel. Although there are advantages of booking with a third party site, you won’t be a priority in terms of an upgrade.”

Nicky Kelvin, head of The Points Guy UK, says this is the best way to benefit from reduced rates and protect your booking.

He told Express.co.uk: “Online travel agencies make it easy to search a wide variety of airfares and hotel options, but what you get in convenience you lose in benefits and protections. If you need to make changes, it’s much easier to deal directly with a property.”

Room upgrades are always subject to availability, and chances are if there’s a customer with a higher status, they will be the ones to enjoy a free upgrade.

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But that’s not to say you can’t become a high-status customer yourself. Jessie explained: “If you have a favourite hotel chain, check whether they have a loyalty scheme. This is another great way to improve your chances of an upgrade.”

While smaller, boutique hotels are unlikely to have loyalty schemes, big global players including Hilton, Marriott and Hyatt all offer their own enhanced rewards schemes ideal for the frequent flyer.

“Some credit cards like the American Express Platinum Card actually come with elite status at several hotel groups,” added Nicky.

If you do have a penchant for boutique hotels, there is still a chance your loyalty to one location could pay off. Jessie explained: “Even if they don’t have a loyalty scheme, make sure you use the same email each time you book and your loyalty may just get you a freebie thrown in.”

Best hotel rewards programmes 2022

Experts from The Luxury Editor have put together their top five recommendations for travellers looking to join a global hotel rewards scheme.

Marriott Bonvoy

Marriott offers six tiers of benefits for Marriot Bonvoy members who spend at the brand’s hotel chains or via their partner credit cards, car rentals or flights.

There is a dedicated app for members to keep track of their earnings and members can also bid on elite experiences, including dinners with Michelin-starred chefs and wellness retreats, through the Moments scheme.

IHG Rewards

With 5,2000 hotels across nine brands, IHG offers members the chance to earn points all around the world. The rewards club is made up of four levels which promise members exclusive rates and free Wifi across its global properties.

Members can also combine points and cash to access unique rewards.

Accor: Accor ALL

Accor customers can sign up for discounts via the brand’s lifestyle programme ALL.

This includes benefits at over 3,000 hotels and can result in savings of up to 40 percent on top of promotional deals. Points are earned through leisure and business spending, including those who check into Accor’s co-working spaces.

Hyatt: World of Hyatt

Hyatt members can benefit from up to 15 percent off room rates, free nights, complimentary parking, room upgrades and club access. There are four different levels members can work towards and will be rewarded for each milestone they reach.

Hilton: Hilton Honors

With hotels in every corner of the globe, Hilton’s lucrative scheme sees members climb from bronze to diamond, earning points and benefitting from special deals as they go. For the equivalent of every $1 (£1) spent, hotel guests accrue 10 Points.

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