Hotel Travel Tips
In the hotel business, loyalty still has its rewards: free Wi-Fi, loaner BMW bikes, and spa discounts are among the perks you receive for joining Fairmont's free Presidents Club program.
That's just one of the tips and tricks we've compiled that will improve your next hotel stay—and before you even arrive. Some are easy adjustments to your travel habits like bringing your own bottled water or checking in later in the day when managers have a better sense of their inventory and will be more open to a spontaneous upgrade.
Other hotel strategies involve taking advantage of tools that do the research for you. Hipmunk's new last-minute deal aggregator compiles rock-bottom prices for unsold rooms up to 72 hours ahead of arrival. And online service Tingo will automatically rebook you at a lower price if your room rate drops.
Now that's the peace of mind that sets you well on your way to a good hotel night's sleep.
For the complete list of 100 ways to travel better, check out T+L's December issue and tablet editions.
Edited by Brooke Porter, Nikki Ekstein, Amy Farley, and Jennifer Flowers. With reporting by Peter Schlesinger and Bree Sposato.
Don’t be a Stranger
Staying in touch pays off: Fairmont Hotels & Resorts posts giveaway contests on its Facebook page (a recent prize: a private party at London’s Abbey Road Studios). Starwood offers bonus points for checking in via Foursquare or Facebook.
On Facebook and Twitter, mentioning a hotel may lead to a more customized experience. For example, a traveler who recently included Hilton in a tweet about his grueling cross-country drive was welcomed with a room upgrade.
If you need a timely response on a customer service issue, sharing the story or even posting a photo can get you a quick answer. Be sure to use direct channels (an @reply tweet on a hotel’s Twitter handle, or a direct message on Facebook).
Ask for Advice
Hilton’s @HiltonSuggests Twitter handle doubles as a concierge: send requests for local tips, and you’ll get a personalized reply from a team of worldwide contributors. Four Seasons’ Pinterest board lets guests create a custom itinerary with local experts before they arrive.
Consult the Algorithm
Track the Hotel Rate
Book with online service Tingo, which will automatically rebook you at the lower price if your room rate drops.
Bundle Your Room with Your Airfare
Pick a Card
Take a Calculated Hotel Gamble
Turns out HotelTonight, the pioneer of same-day mobile bookings, partners with select hotels in each destination so it can guarantee availability. Check the app leading up to your trip to get a sense of what will be on offer in your destination. Then be quick on the draw the day of: deals go up at noon each day.
Look For Unsold Rooms
Don’t want to cut it too close? Hipmunk’s new last-minute deal aggregator compiles rock-bottom prices for unsold rooms up to 72 hours ahead of arrival.
Avoid Hotel Wi-Fi Fees
International: Mi-Fi hot spots, such as Verizon’s Jetpack 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot MiFi (from $49.99 with a two-year contract), provide a set amount of data for a fixed monthly price. Don’t want an annual contract? Boingo Wireless offers access to more than 700,000 hot spots worldwide for as little as $7.95 a month.
Show a Hotel Brand Your Loyalty
Omni Select Guest: Free Wi-Fi, shoeshine, daily coffee delivery, last-minute discounts
Preferred iPrefer: Free Wi-Fi, late checkout, space-available upgrade
Fairmont’s Presidents Club: Free Wi-Fi, loaner BMW bikes, newspaper delivery, spa discounts
IHG Rewards Club: Free Wi-Fi, newspaper delivery
Club Carlson: Free Wi-Fi, restaurant discounts
Kimpton Intouch: Free Wi-Fi, newspaper delivery, mini-bar and hotel bar vouchers, spa credits
Small Luxury Hotels of the World: Automatic upgrade, breakfast for two after one stay
Tip Like a Pro
Change your bills into smaller denominations right as you check in to your hotel. That way you won’t be left empty-handed when the bellman arrives with your bags.
Get a Room Upgrade
Be Nice: Front desk agents are usually empowered to change a guest’s room at their discretion. A little smile can go a long way.
Stay at a New Hotel: Recently opened properties may not be as full, and have an added incentive to court return guests.
Be a Regular: Hotels prioritize guests who are frequent visitors. If you are often in the city, be sure to let them know.
Check in Later in the Day: Hotel managers have a better sense of their open inventory as the day goes on, and will be more amenable to a spontaneous upgrade.
Say “Thank You”: If you had a great stay, let the hotel know in writing or via social media. The compliment may be repaid on your next visit.
Bring Your Own Water
T+L calculated the average cost of bottled water at luxury hotels in five cities.
Las Vegas: $4
New York City: $7.25
Los Angeles: $7.81
Stay in Someone Else’s House
For Urbanites: Airbnb has 500,000 listings in some 33,000 cities, from Parisian pieds-à-terre to New York City brownstones.
For Sophisticates: Onefinestay lists only high-quality apartments in L.A., London, New York, and Paris—all stocked with extra amenities, including loaner iPhones.