Using Hilton Honors points to book reward nights is generally quite straightforward if you’re booking for 1 or 2 guests. However if, like me, you often want to book hotel rooms for family stays, then things can be more complicated. Room occupancy and options can vary significantly between individual hotels, and finding the best value options for a family stay can take a little more research.
Here are the key things I consider when booking hotel rooms for a family stay through Hilton Honors. I have four children, so am typically looking for the best option for hotel stays for 6 people.
1. Find Hotels with Higher Occupancy ‘Standard Rooms’
With Hilton Honors, redeeming points for a ‘standard’ room gets you significantly better value. Even where the jump to the ‘premium’ room option is just a few pounds on the cash price, the hike in points can be 10,000’s. This usually means that booking a premium room with points makes little sense. However, if you need to book a room for more than two people, in some cases a standard room is not an option. I normally start by looking at options for two rooms, each for 1 adult and 2 children (3 people). I look at all the possible hotels which would work for my stay and narrow it down to those where this option fits for a standard room.
Here’s a clear example of the difference this can make. For this summer we were looking at booking a luxury break somewhere in the sun. Hilton Malta and Hilton Diagonal Mar Barcelona are both priced at 60,000 points per night for a standard room for 2 people. However, if you increase the capacity to 3, Barcelona increases to 153,000 points per night, whilst Hilton Malta remains at 60,000 for up to 4 people per room. This is because the capacity of the standard rooms are different. For a family trip, this clearly makes Hilton Malta much better value if booking by points.
2. Book a Standard Room and then Contact the Hotel to Upgrade
Where it’s not possible to find an alternative hotel, the next option is to book the standard room with points and then contact the hotel to try to pay the cash difference to upgrade. In the case that this isn’t possible, you can always then cancel the booking and get your points back.
This winter I booked a room at Hilton Curio Grand Tirolia, Kitzbuhel for a ski break. At this hotel, to have 3 guests per room you require a ‘King Premium’ room, which adds about 30,000 points for a relatively small cash difference (I think it was 20 Euros). So, I booked a standard room and then contacted the hotel by telephone – I was given the email address for the reservations team and was able to arrange to pay the difference to upgrade the room.
3. Test Different Room Occupancy Options
It’s always worth testing the different room occupancy combinations which could work for you. For example, sometimes we find that booking one room for 2 people and one room for 4 people works out better than 2 rooms for 3. If we consider the Malta example above, a family of four would obviously be much better off booking one room for 2+2. In contrast, in the Barcelona example, the points hike is so big that it would be better value to book 2 rooms for 2 people!
Very occasionally some hotels have rooms which can accommodate 5 people. For example, Hilton Vilamoura has two bedroom apartments available to book.
4. Ask if they have Interconnecting Rooms
For a family stay, interconnecting rooms are often much more convenient, improving the use of space and making it much easier to spend time together.
When booking two separate rooms I normally email the hotel before booking online with points to ask. 1. Do they have interconnecting rooms? 2. Can these be requested in advance? 3. Is there an additional cost?
The responses will vary – for example, Hilton Malta confirmed that yes they do have interconnecting rooms, but that these couldn’t be allocated until check-in unless a suite was booked.
5. Look at Whether Gold/Diamond Status Benefits are Usually Extended to the Whole Family
If you have Hilton status, then researching its value for a specific hotel is worthwhile. Despite the fact that Hilton Gold benefits, such as continental breakfast and availability upgrades, officially only apply to the member plus one guest, the reality is that many hotels extend this to the whole booking. For families, getting two rooms upgraded or free breakfast for everyone, can be really useful. In my experience this is actually relatively common, I’ve rarely had breakfast restricted to just 2 people and I have had times where we’ve all been upgraded.
The hotel might not be able to confirm this in advance, and it will vary, however TripAdvisor is a useful source of information – and there are also Hilton status Facebook groups you can ask. If you search the reviews for ‘Gold’ or ‘Diamond’ you’ll see the experiences of other members and their comments regarding whether the benefits were extended.
Note – if you do book two rooms, ensure you request that these are on the same invoice so that you definitely receive points for both rooms.
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