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If you've ever experienced the feeling of getting a free hotel room upgrade, you know what it's like to be on cloud nine. A while back, I showed up to the Four Seasons Resort in Whistler, Canada. I had booked a standard room online, but upon arrival, they were able to update me to a suite.
What a pleasant surprise! Room upgrades can really make your trip that much more special. While most people receive upgrades unexpectedly, there are ways you can not leave it up to chance and get a room upgrade without spending extra money.
So without further ado, here are the best ways to get free room upgrades for your next trip.
1. Tell them you're coming for a special event
Have you ever told the restaurant staff it was your birthday just to get a free dessert? We've all done it before, and although you need to go out of your way to say something, it can be worth it.
The same goes for hotels. The hotel business is so saturated that if a hotel can get a raving review, they'll often go above and beyond for it. Having said that, let the hotel know it's your anniversary, honeymoon, birthday, or any other special event.
If you're traveling solo, you could even play the pitty card and tell them your friend just died or you're healing from a divorce. Whatever it takes, right?
2. Travel during the off-season
Few people traveling means more availability and lower hotel prices. For the sake of getting a free room upgrade, consider visiting during the off-season or shoulder season.
Although traveling in the off-season isn't always ideal, the extra space, bigger bed, and added room features could make walking in the stormy weather, or the lack of open businesses worth it. Just spend the downtime starfishing in your king-sized bed.
3. Join a hotel loyalty program
Is there a hotel you usually stay at when you travel? If you aren't part of their loyalty program yet, you could seriously be missing out.
When you check-in as a customer part of a hotel's loyalty program, they're more likely to roll out the red carpet out for you. And if you have enough points, you can use them to get room upgrades without spending actual money.
This is the easiest way to get free room upgrades, and it's guaranteed, as long as you spend enough at the hotel chain to earn enough points.
4. Don't rush to check-in
It seems contradictory to waste hours not at the hotel when you've paid for it. But if you check-in a little later, perhaps in the evening after the front desk staff already sorts all the rooms, you may get a free upgrade.
Some people cancel last minute, or flat out don't show up, leading to more room availability. It's even possible your hotel oversold your room category, which gives staff no choice but to upgrade you.
5. Resist the cheapest room
It's hard to resist the most affordable room in a hotel. But sometimes, it's worth paying a little more for a middle room. In terms of room upgrades, paying for a middle room can help you because the front desk staff aren't going to upgrade you to the master suite if you only paid for the cheapest room in the house. With the cheapest room, you might get upgraded to a middle room. But if you have a middle room, your chances of getting the presidential suite increases.
6. Just ask
It may be intimidating if you need to ask instead of having it offered to you, but asking does work. If the staff don't have an answer off the top of their heads, it will at least get them to check the system.
Just make sure you ask without any expectations and where there are no guests around to overhear — your request is more likely to be followed up if there isn't a wave of other guests who want the same treatment.
7. Stay 1 or 2 nights
If you stay for a week, it may be harder for staff to give you an upgrade as opposed to if you only stay a couple of nights. This is mostly due to upgrade rooms only being available for short amounts of time.
To note: not all front desk staff have the same powers to give you upgrades and freebies. The user-roll for different levels of staff might vary from hotel to hotel. If you feel like the staff helping you are limited in what they can do, you can ask for a reservations manager.
8. Book at newer hotels
Newer, less known hotels often won't have a high occupancy rate in their first year of business. In this case, many new hotels leave more delightful rooms available purposely for upgrades. Remember, since the hotel business is such a saturated industry, hotels look for opportunities to get good online reviews, word of mouth, social media comments, and anything that will help them with brand trust and awareness.
This rule also applies to independent or boutique hotels. You will get a more personalized experience, and the hotel will be more interested in turning you into a repeat customer.
Other perks you can get for free
If your room upgrade plan doesn't work out, there's no need to be down. You can ask the hotel about other offers they may have available. Here are some extra things hotels often offer.
It's likely the hotel has some extra designer brand stuff on hand like shampoos, conditioners, slippers, exotic teas, and sometimes even bikes for guests. Anything you may need that's out of the ordinary, don't hesitate to ask.
Ask about dining deals. If your room doesn't already come with free breakfast, you may be able to score a 2 for 1 deal at the restaurant or some kind of discount.
What you may not be aware of is some hotels carry a pillow menu. Yes, you read that right. You can look at a selection of different kinds of pillows and chose the one you want. Some other free perks might be the hotel will organize a special flower bath or spa for you. This can often be seen in Bali hotels.
The last say of the day
Finally, you don't have to be too lucky to get hotel room upgrades. It's not that hard to do, as long as you're always polite and follow the steps above. And, when you find a hotel that consistently gives you upgrades, don't take it for granted!
However, it's important not to have expectations as not getting a room upgrade could actually put a damper on your trip. Just be happy for what you can (or can't) get.
And it never hurts to ask for extra perks.