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

Hot List 4

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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Vegeta Vegeta

Just booked a sold out hotel for 90$ a night via Priceline (thanks Mr Shatner lol) normally 250$ a night. Screw upgrades, I don't go on trips to complain about the color of the drapes in my hotel room. It's a bed with a roof over it.

nonmember avatar Christina

Mention you're on your honeymoon if traveling with your spouse. This got me a ridiculous upgrade once.

Rootbear Rootbear

I work at a hotel. I cannot express how annoying it is to be constantly asked for an upgrade at the same price you're paying for a standard room. What the hell makes you so special that you feel that you deserve an upgraded room for the same price. I cling to out upgraded rooms like grim death so if something happenes to another room where a guest NEEDS to be upgraded then I'll have something to offer them. Another thing I can't stand hearing that immediately makes me see red is "oh is that the best you can do for me?" YES its the best I can do for you, I'm sorry, have we met?

The frequent stayer thing is true as well, but that doesn't necessairily entitle you to an upgrade. A frequent stayer who's NICE to us will automatically entitle you to an upgrade.   :)

ANOTHER thing....is that 3rd party booking sites do not automatically mean cheaper rooms. You may think you're getting them cheaper, but many hotels have property specific rates that are not available online. Like, if you're booking for medical travel, sometimes rooms booked directly with the property can be cheaper.

Also, Vegeta, you should call the hotel and make sure that your reservation went through. If it's a sold out hotel that you booked at, they may not have closed out online or something may have happened so you were able to book it. 

Melan... MelanieJK

Why should you have to ask for an upgrade?      It means you're overpaying for what they gave you initially.    You shouldn't be considered special because you ask or because you had a complaint or because you're a frequent guest.    Every first time guest is a potential frequent guest.

I prefer pricing where everyone who gets the same product or service pays the same.     It's stressful to have to hunt and bargain just to make sure you're not overpaying.    Stress free travel is my goal.

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