Even if your company’s travel policy will only cover a standard hotel room, there are many ways you can upgrade your stay to better surroundings at hotels like Hilton, Conrad, Waldorf Astoria and DoubleTree: sometimes, even to rooms with full Executive Lounge privileges.
Whether you’re a frequent guest at Hilton Worldwide properties, have some Hilton Honors points to burn or don’t mind paying for a better room – at a discount, of course – here’s how to get upgraded.
1. Be a Hilton Honors Gold or Diamond member
The easiest path to an upgrade is to be a Hilton Honors Gold or Diamond member, as these guests enjoy complimentary upgrades at Hilton, Conrad, Waldorf Astoria, Curio, DoubleTree, Canopy, and Tapestry Collection by Hilton hotels.
Gold members normally receive upgrades to “preferred” rooms – the definition of which varies between hotels, but can include those with desirable views or amenities, corner rooms, or rooms on high floors.
Upgrades may also be to the next-best room type than the one booked, or to Executive rooms with Executive Lounge access, where daily breakfast, refreshments, snacks, evening drinks and canapés can often be enjoyed.
(Although Hilton Honors Gold members receive breakfast regardless of their room type, the remaining Executive Lounge privileges are only provided when the traveller books or is upgraded to an Executive room.)
These upgrades are usually based on availability at the time of check-in for the entire stay, but can sometimes be granted the day prior to or the morning of arrival for a pleasant surprise during online check-in, as this author has experienced as a Hilton Honors Gold member when staying at the Hilton Helsinki Airport hotel:
Some hotels may also upgrade Gold members to suites from time to time, but this is above the norm and isn’t to be expected.
Under the rules of the Hilton Honors program, top-tier Diamond cardholders can be upgraded to the same room types as Gold members but with the ‘official’ addition of junior, standard and one-bedroom suites, and with Executive Lounge access always included regardless of the room type.
Upgrades aren’t normally offered on group reservations, when a hotel has no high-level rooms available, or to villas or Executive Suites; to the Imperial Floor at the Waldorf Astoria Rome Cavalieri; to Napua Tower at Waldorf Astoria Grand Wailea; or at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island.
2. Pay cash for an ‘eStandby’ discounted upgrade
Don’t have a shiny Hilton Honors card in your travel wallet? That’s okay: you might be able to upgrade your stay by paying for an ‘eStandby’ upgrade, sometimes referred to by hotels as a ‘Nor1' upgrade.
The concept here is that the overall cost of your original room plus the cost of your upgrade will be lower than if you'd booked the better room type in the first place: saving you money on personal trips, and making things easy for business travellers willing to pay the extra themselves for a better room.
Not all hotels offer these upgrades, but to check what’s possible on your next stay, login to your Hilton Honors account, click ‘my reservations’ at the top, and then click ‘view/edit’ next to the reservation you’d like to upgrade:
On the next screen, scroll down, and look for the ‘you are eligible for a custom upgrade’ box:
Travellers with the Hilton mobile app can also head to the ‘stays’ tab, click ‘upcoming’, tap their desired reservation and then select ‘request upgrade’:
If available, your options will appear, and can cover everything from higher floors and Executive rooms through to super-late check-outs, early arrivals, and grand suites, depending on what the hotel chooses to offer:
With each room category, you can also see how much you may save by upgrading your room via this channel rather than by booking the higher room outright as a confimed reservation, based on your travel dates and reservation price:
You can choose to request only one type of upgrade, or can select multiple room types to maximise your chances (only one room type upgrade can be granted, of course) – and you’ll be asked to confirm your selection on the last screen:
As with complimentary upgrades for Gold and Diamond members, these upgrades are also subject to availability at check-in for the entire stay. It’s the price you pay for getting your upgrade at a discount, because if the hotel is full or has no higher-category rooms available, you’ll stay in the room type you originally paid for, at no extra charge.
If successful, the cost of your upgrade will be added to your hotel folio for payment upon check-out – and if you’re paying this out of your own pocket rather than billing your company, hotel staff can easily move the expense to a separate folio for separate payment, to keep your travel manager on-side.
3. Use Hilton Honors points for a room upgrade
Last but certainly not least, you can also use Hilton Honors points for a ‘Room Upgrade Reward’ – which, unlike complimentary and eStandby upgrades, can be confirmed and guaranteed from the moment you book rather than at check-in on the day you arrive.
It’s a good move to keep up your sleeve if having a better room is important to you, such as for a weekend away with your partner, but we should highlight that Hilton Honors no longer uses fixed reward costs, so you won’t know how many points are needed for your upgrade until after you’ve booked.
These upgrades also aren’t available at every hotel, so you could book a paid stay to discover either that upgrades aren’t available at all, or that upgrades are available, but that you don’t enough points to secure one.
Where offered, you can find the option on the 'view/edit' reservation page on the Hilton website, by following the same initial steps as for an eStandby upgrade.
The best way to ensure you stay in a higher room category is, of course, to book that category from the start – either using money or Hilton Honors points for your reservation – but when that’s not possible, an upgrade is your next-best bet for a more memorable stay.