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Thanks to miles and points, many of us can enjoy a certain amount of luxury in our choice of hotels that we otherwise never would be able to. I realize that not ever high-end hotel would be considered a luxury hotel, but for the purpose of this post, will consider the top tier hotels to be “luxury” hotels.
Free nights by way of sign-up bonuses, spending, or anniversary bonuses are a really nice thing to have. There is one problem that can stem from those free nights however – where and how to use them!
Luxury at Home or Away?
Ok, you have signed up for the Chase Hyatt credit card (one of the best hotel credit cards available) and you have your two free nights at any Hyatt hotel. Where do you use them? If you are fortunate enough to have a top-tier Hyatt in your city, then the choice might be a little easier – or is it easier?
The problem many people run into is whether they want to go on vacation to see a destination or go on vacation to stay in a nice hotel. Even though people try, it is really hard to mix the two of those in a single stay! The reason is that if you are seeing the destination, you are missing out on a large amount of time in the nice hotel. True, hotels are really just a place to lay your head while away from home, but a really nice hotel can be so much more than that! A nice hotel boasts amenities and restaurants that could keep you within its doors for your entire stay – and let you leave at the end satisfied.
My hotel stays are definitely a mix of the two. When I travel by myself, I stay (for the most part) in fairly cheap hotels or hotels that I can get a great deal on with points. Most of the time, I am going to be out and about and really just need the hotel to crash in. There are times when I may be in the hotel for a longer period (need to do some work, staying off my feet before/after a race, etc), but even then, I am still fine with a basic hotel room.
When it comes to travel with my family, I normally slide more to the middle – something nicer but not luxury. That again is because we do not plan to stay in the hotel for the majority of our time and a really nice hotel makes it that much harder to get out. 🙂 However, when it comes to travel with just my wife, I definitely like to choose nicer hotels. When it is a mini-vacation of just a couple of days, I normally will go more for the top-tier locations because we are just looking forward to relaxing and we do not need to be running all day around the town. In situations like that, I want the nice hotel with the comfortable room/suite and elegant accessories. While not essential, it does help with the relaxation!
Travel To Stay Or No?
The question then becomes – do I want to travel any type of a distance to a new city to use my free nights at a luxury hotel? If I do that, the chances are very good I am going to want to explore the new city and that will directly influence the amount of time I stay in my great hotel. But, if I stay in the great hotel a lot, I am going to miss out on the new city! What to do!
Here is how we have handled it in the past with our free nights for “luxury” hotel stays. We end up using them in cities that we may call “home” cities – cities that we are already quite familiar with and do not need to explore. We would have no problem using them in our real home cities except our “home” city does not have any luxury hotels in it (the top hotel in town is a 3 1/2 star). So, we resort to our “home” away from home cities. The cities we have done this with are New York City and Washington DC. Both cities present great opportunities to stay at luxury hotels within the chain we have free nights at and as part of their upscale offering, they are more centrally located than the lower tier hotels may be. This way, we are still in the middle of things for when we do want to go out and it does not feel like we have to make going out an all-day affair.
When we received the free nights from the Chase Hyatt card, we used both sets at the Andaz 5th Avenue (Manhattan). If we stayed in our real hometown, it would have had to be at the Hyatt Regency Rochester. A nice place but definitely not where we want to stay with free nights at any Hyatt!
Now, we could have used them someplace like the Park Hyatt Vendome in Paris (which is a very popular hotel to use these free nights at) but neither of us had spent time in Paris and it would have felt like a waste for us to use them. We would not have been able to enjoy the hotel to the fullest while exploring all of Paris. That definitely is not the case for everyone, but that is our thinking.
Solution To Get The Max Value
One of the ways to mix visiting a new city with staying at a luxury hotel is to combine your free luxury nights with other nights. In the case of the Hyatt nights, you could use the two free nights at a luxury hotel at the end of your visit to the city. For the first couple/few nights, you could use points to stay at a mid-tier hotel. This way you can stay in the first hotel to explore in the city and then stay in at the fine hotel for the last couple of nights.
So, what is your method of using the free nights? Do you use them at a high-end hotel and stay in or do you use them at lower-tier hotels and get out? Or is it a combination of the two?