1. Check the location of your hotel.
Check the hotel’s position in advance – is there significantly nicer sight on one side of it? Or any other ‘better’ aspect that rooms for the same price might have?
When checking in at the reception, ask if you could have a room with that view or if your room could be in the uppermost floor etc. If one is not available, you may be offered a free upgrade. This strategy landed me a nice big room in Paris, instead of having a tiny one with a view of the Eiffel tower. – Veronika of TravelGeekery.com
2. Be loyal
The most successful way to get regular upgrades is to be loyal enough to one hotel program to earn elite status. In Ryan Lile of Frequent Flyer Academy‘s case that’s the Starwood Preferred Guest program, which comes with the added benefit of 4:00pm checkouts. Very handy when you have a late flight and even as a Gold (mid-tier) member I usually get a better room than I’ve booked.
- In most big hotel programs (Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, Starwood) it’s also possible to use hotel points to upgrade a booking, just like you can upgrade an airline ticket with frequent flyer miles.
- I’ve also had luck calling the front desk on the morning a reservation begins and letting them know if I¹m staying for any sort of special occasion (birthday, anniversary, etc.) I simply ask if they would be able to place me in a nicer room. (And if they help me out I make sure to tip the person who helped me when I arrive).
With some chains, such as Hilton, there’s an opportunity to bid on or confirm a room upgrade at the end of the booking process.
- And of course it never hurts to ask at check-in (this is true for airlines and rental cars, too). If the hotel has upgraded rooms empty, it would rather give you a deal on an upgrade and capture some additional revenue than let the room stay empty. This is much less expensive than booking a suite to begin with.
3. Go straight to the source
Daraius Dubash and Emily Jablon of MillionMileSecrets.com like to book through the hotel website. Hotels pay commission to sites such as Orbitz etc. So your chances of an upgrade are higher if you book directly through the hotel website (assuming the prices are the same). Or if you have certain credit cards (say, the AMEX Platinum) and book through their Fine Hotels & Resorts program, where hotels usually throw in upgrades, meals, and spa treatments etc. MasterCard and Visa both have similar programs for folks who book hotels thorough their website.
4. Show up late
One way to upgrade your hotel room (for free) is to wait until later on in the day to check in, say the early evening hours. That’s when hotel personnel will know of any upgraded rooms that still aren’t booked, and you might be able to grab one without paying extra. Thanks for the tip David Bakke!
On a few occasions Eileen P. Gunn of FamiliesGo! got to her hotel after 3:00 (say, between 3:00 and 5;00) and the basic rooms she booked were all taken. They were given an upgrade!! In Hong Kong twice at the same hotel, the YMCA Kowloon (which is a full-service hotel in HK), they were upgraded from a standard room to a 2-room corner suite with a fantastic view of the harbor.
5. Give and Get
The Hyatt Chicago Magnificent Mile invites guests to upgrade their hotel room experience while giving back to Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. This year-long campaign kicked off in fall 2014, and allows guests who book the Room for Hope suite to donate the $100 upcharge of booking the suite directly to Lurie Children’s. Additionally, for every 50 nights the Room for Hope suite is booked, Hyatt Chicago Magnificent Mile will donate five room nights to Lurie Children’s for use by a patient’s family.
6. Go BIG
Dan Miller of Points With a Crew travels with a family of 8!! That can mean MULTIPLE hotel rooms, but their favorite travel hack is to book a 1BR suite at a Homewood Suites, then call the day before and ask if there are any upgrades to a 2BR suite due to his Hilton Gold status. So, far they’re 2 for 2 on getting an upgrade using this great travel hack!
7. Book in the middle
Choose a midlevel room. You’re less likely to get an upgrade if you’ve booked the cheapest room in the hotel according to Renee LiButti of Vegas.com. Renee also says that if you’ve booked the room for one night only, it will be much easier to get an upgrade for a single night than for a seven-night stay.