25 tips from a hotel connoisseur
Behold, the cheerful hotel staff greeting you when you arrive at your destination hotel. Boy do they know some secrets. As a hotel expert, I also know a few tricks!
Upgrading your room when you arrive is probably one of the biggest flexes of the front desk person. They can help you walk into a room that will make you ooh and ahh. Or, they can put you in their oldest room with no view.
How do you get these upgrades, freebies, and hacks? As the saying goes, it’s good to be nice. Hotel employees want to be nice and give you nice things. You just have to figure out how to get them. And being nice is probably the fastest way to get there.
Of course, there are plenty of other hacks and tricks that will help you find the best hotel that will keep you happy throughout your trip. Not just a place to lay your head.
After staying at hundreds of hotels and helping friends and family book theirs, I’ve gathered quite a bit of information about hotels and how they work. I was upgraded to the Presidential Suite at Harrah’s New Orleans. I was a Platinum Elite member at Marriott. My account with a single booking app has over 50 unique stays. Here are 26 tips I’ve learned as a hospitality connoisseur.
1. Tipping is a MUST
Tipping at reception, housekeeping, and valet is a must in the United States and the Caribbean. Tip housekeepers at the start of your stay, not just at the end. They will reward you for your kindness.
2. Enter with the locals
The valet and bellhop guys are your best travel friends. They can get you things that only locals know how to get. Sometimes these guys are a better option than the concierge, who often recommends hotel partners rather than local places that are really good.
3. Ask for a room away from the elevator
Ask for a room away from the elevator – less noise. And. no one passes all the time, on the way to take the elevator.
4. Use a travel agent
Travel agents can offer you extra benefits that are worth it! With the inside scoop, they may be able to offer you room upgrades, free meals, activities and more.
5. Sandwich method for upgrades
Slip a tip to your receptionist between your ID and credit card upon check-in. You can ask for free upgrades or a better view, or nothing at all. They will usually plug it! (Note: I use this one in Vegas mostly.)
6. Last minute hotel reservations
Last minute bookings can be your friend. Unless you are going to Carnival or Mardi Gras, last minute bookings can be cheaper.
7. Ask for a free drink or apps
Hotels with restaurants usually have drink tickets available. And they hand them out like candy on Halloween. You just have to ask.
8. Timing of your recording
Check in when the hotel is least busy, usually between 3-5pm. This is when employees are least busy (and probably least stressed.)
9. Be High Key Over Low
Be polite and discreetly ask questions about upgrades, etc. Rudely doing it won’t make it happen. And asking at a busy time of day is like bringing candy to class. Everyone wants it.
10. Free Cancellation
Pick up the phone and call the hotel. It may take a while to be convinced, but you can usually cancel your hotel room at any time.
11. Reschedule instead of cancel
Reschedule 10 days later, instead of cancelling. If you don’t want to deal with the phone call, you can always reschedule or change your travel date with your hotel at no cost. Then call back in a day or two and cancel. (This sneaky trick doesn’t always work!)
12. Walk in and negotiate
Come in and negotiate. If you like to bargain like me, try getting into a hotel that you know isn’t full. (Here’s a hint, check the parking lot for the number of cars.) You might be able to get a room for less than what third-party booking sites offer.
13. Dig for Unique Amenities
Not all hotels reveal their juicy secrets. Loaner cars and concierge levels may not be offered outright. Look at hotel reviews and scour the hotel’s website to be sure.
14. Bring your water bottle
Bring your bottle of water from home. Many hotels now offer filtered water in their gym. Instead of buying plastic water bottles, just bring your water bottle from home and refill it as needed.
15. Don’t just find amenities, use them
Don’t just find the amenities, use them. Ask for turndown service when you check in. Email your concierge and let them help you with reservations. Take a dip in the saltwater pool. Use these UP amenities!
16. Don’t Worry About Your Phone’s Charger
Call downstairs if you forgot your charger. Every hotel these days has all the chargers you would need to charge your cell phone or tablet. Just call downstairs and ask for it and they’ll probably send one straight to you.
17. Corner bedrooms
Corner rooms are my jam! The extra space is well used and some hotels even add picture windows to corner rooms. The W San Francisco helped me study in style with its wraparound window seats in its corner room!
18. Ask for a high floor
Some hotels may not have a ton of upgrade options. Its good. Ask for a higher floor instead. The higher the floor, the better the view.
19. Ask about an airport transfer
Many resorts and hotels offer a free ride to the airport. Some offer transfers at a lower rate than you would get if you booked directly with the transport company.
20. Leave a review of your favorite local hotel.
Leaving reviews, especially positive reviews, can get you far with hotel managers and employees. Also, make sure you have a picture of yourself in your bio so they can recognize you the next time you visit.
21. Send an e-mail in advance.
I had a bad experience in a hotel (deafening construction noise at 5am). Otherwise, I loved the hotel and wanted to give them another chance several months later. I emailed the manager I spoke with the first time to let him know I was coming. The person no longer worked there, but my email got through to the current manager. And, she offered to pay for my room for two of the four nights I was there!
22. Ask for your breakfast to go
You can have your daily breakfast in a takeaway container if you don’t have time to sit down for breakfast. Just ask when checking in.
23. Check in early
After staying up all night to catch a red eye and land at an obscenely early hour, I was exhausted. I tried to wait until 10 am to try to check in but my eyes were so heavy. I said f-it and went to the hotel. I told the receptionist that I had just arrived after a long night of travel and they gave me a key and sent me to bed! This may not work in all hotels. Some may require additional time or additional fees.
24. Late check out
If I’m staying at one of the chains, I usually request a late checkout when I arrive. Otherwise, I wait about 30 minutes before leaving to ask. Did you know that Marriott Platinum members can request a check-out until 4:00 p.m.?
25. Stay After Departure
Do you have a later flight? Use hotel amenities after checkout. You can use their gym, pool, business center, and lobby until it’s time for you to head to the airport. In addition, they will keep your luggage.
26. Walk through the hotel
I always like to walk around the hotel right after check-in, if I’m not too tired. I found libraries, conference rooms inside old vaults and maybe a ghost or two!