Hyatt Place Richmond/Chester
Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

How Important Is That Hotel Room Upgrade To You — Seriously?

Is more room or a better view really necessary?

You have certain expectations when opening the door and walking into the room which is assigned to you at a hotel or resort property: a reasonably comfortable bed and a bathroom are certainly starters; and no one typically complains about free parking and a decent breakfast which is included in the room rate…

How Important Is That Hotel Room Upgrade To You — Seriously?

Hampton Inn Tarpon Springs
Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

…and who would not be pleasantly surprised to open the door to a room — only to find a spacious well-appointed suite?

A suite — or a room with an amazing view — may be a pleasant surprise…

…but do not expect a suite — or an upgraded room, for that matter.

“Did you know that the Hilton Honors terms and conditions state that more than three-quarters of their properties worldwide don’t offer complimentary room upgrades for those with status?” Stephen Pepper asked in this article which he recently wrote for Frequent Miler. “This seems like an absurd policy to have. If Family Feud was to ask 100 people what benefit they most associate with hotel elite status, I’d assume that the number one answer would be ‘room upgrades’. Stating that guests with elite status won’t get a room upgrade at many of your properties is a ridiculously customer-unfriendly proposition.”

Initially, I would be inclined to agree with him — but he then posted this information in the article:

The figures below won’t be entirely accurate seeing as new properties are being added all the time, while some existing hotels will have converted to other brands or moved to other chains. Still, the numbers will be broadly accurate and so give a good idea as to how many locations are affected:

  • Embassy Suites – 257
  • Hilton Garden Inn – 862
  • Hampton – 2,544
  • Tru – 178
  • Homewood Suites – 505
  • Home2 Suites – 384
  • Hilton Grand Vacations – 55
  • Motto – 3

That’s a total of 4,788 properties worldwide. Hilton has 6,215 properties overall which means that 77% of Hilton properties worldwide don’t offer complimentary room upgrades for members with elite status.

He is right about one thing: I do not expect an upgrade at any of the aforementioned brands of the Hilton portfolio. In all of the years in which I have been a guest at many of those brands — most notably, Hampton Inn and Hilton Garden Inn — I might have been upgraded a total of six times.

One suite at a Hampton Inn and Suites had a tub with jets in it in the bathroom, which was one of three rooms in the suite. It was very nice and unexpected to have been upgraded to that room — I believe it was in Idaho Falls in Idaho — but I would not have necessarily called it spectacular or luxurious.

At a Hilton Garden Inn some years ago, I was unexpectedly upgraded to a room which was typically the same room as any other room at a Hilton Garden Inn — except that it was approximately ten feet longer in length at the most. Again, that was quite nice — but nothing that I really needed or especially wanted.

Based on those experiences, I really am not disappointed when I do not get upgraded at any of those hotel properties, which brings me to ask this question…

…how important to you is being upgraded to a better hotel room — seriously?

Suites and Upgraded Rooms Can Be Overrated

Hilton Capital Grand Abu Dhabi
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

On Tuesday, November 26, 2019, I wrote in this article that suites can potentially be overrated in three different scenarios, depending on the situation — and the same can basically be applied to upgraded rooms which are not otherwise suites. If you are traveling with a family, being upgraded to a suite can be a pleasant and welcome surprise — especially if you want a separate room for the kids within the same space instead of simply a separate bed or two completely separate rooms. Also, if you are traveling on business and need to host a small meeting or party, a suite can definitely foot the bill — especially if you still want a room to get away from it all for the moment, which is usually the purpose of the bedroom portion of the suite…

…but what really is the point of being in a larger room if you are traveling alone? What if the upgraded room is either dark and dingy despite turning on all of the lights or opening the window shades and curtains; dated with furniture and decorations from decades ago; equipped with an uncomfortable bed with an old mattress; filthy and not kept well; barely furnished where I had little more to stare at than basically bare walls — or a combination thereof? What if you are upgraded to a room which may technically be larger and may have a marginally better view but is not really a suite or an upgraded room?

Final Boarding Call

Home2 Suites by Hilton Pittsburgh Cranberry, PA
Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

This article does not pertain to resort properties and higher-end hotel properties, where expectations are higher — and I am not discussing the inclusion of breakfast at those properties as well.

With all due respect to Stephen Pepper — and I genuinely do respect his work — this is much ado about nothing, in my opinion. I am perfectly fine with the offerings at such hotel properties which are part of the brands of Hampton Inn, Hilton Garden Inn, Hyatt Place, Fairfield Inn, and other mid-range properties of most of the multinational lodging companies — which is the majority of the brands which he listed in his article. Being upgraded at these particular hotel properties really adds little to nothing to my experience, as that is the way they have been for many years.

In other words, I am perfectly fine most of the time with not being upgraded at hotel properties of the aforementioned brands. I know I will get a reasonably comfortable bed, a bathroom which typically is equipped with everything I need, free parking most of the time, and a decent breakfast which is included in the room rate.

Am I wrong? If so, how?

Photograph ©2015, ©2018, and ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

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