5 Easy Ways to Get an Amazing Hotel Room Without Paying for It

St. Giles suiteAnytime I check into a hotel and hear the words, "We went ahead and upgraded you, Ms. Fischer" -- it sounds like music to my ears. There's nothing better than booking one room type and being bumped up a category or two, or three, or four -- or possibly even higher than that.

And that's exactly what happened to me last night when I was staying at the St. Giles in New York City. Much to my delight, I found out I'd been upgraded from one of their deluxe king rooms to a nice suite, probably because I was a repeat guest, and they like to treat their loyal customers well.

But when I checked into my room and found something that wasn't quite to my liking, I went back down to the front desk and politely explained my situation -- and that's when something amazing happened.


I was promptly given the keys to another room, which turned out to be what can only be described as the penthouse suite. (Seriously -- I about fell over when I opened the door.)

And I know what you're thinking -- I totally lucked out and will most likely never stay in a room that amazing again. I'd say you are probably right, but this isn't the first time I've found myself being suddenly upgraded to the nicest room in the hotel. (It's happened a handful of times -- even once at the Gansevoort Park, where the Kardashians lived during their reality show.)

It turns out there are secrets to scoring an upgrade. Here are a few tips and tricks I've picked up along the way during my travels.

  1. Don't be afraid to ask -- I know this sounds so simple, it's kind of stupid, but it does work. Particularly if you're checking in at night, if hotels have unsold rooms, most of the time they'll gladly give you an upgrade if space is available.
  2. Watch for standby upgrades upon booking -- More and more properties offer these now, and they are great for getting a fancier room for as low as $10 extra per night. You'll see them when booking your room online, right after you're issued a confirmation number.
  3. Become a frequent "stayer" -- Joining rewards programs for different hotel chains and coming back to the same properties again and again establishes loyalty, which is probably the easiest way to obtain upgrades. Always remember that hotels want (and need) your business.
  4. Speak up if something isn't right -- News flash: the staff doesn't know if you have a complaint about your room if you don't tell them. Never hesitate to alert them if there is something wrong, because it's their job to fix it.
  5. Complain effectively -- Who would you be more likely to upgrade? An irate guest who comes up to the front desk and yells in your face, or someone who calmly and respectfully explains their problem without being the least bit harsh or intimidating? The sweeter you are, the sweeter room you'll wind up with.

Have you found any tricks to getting upgraded at hotels?


Image via Mary Fischer

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