Behold, the joyful hotel staff that greets you when you arrive at your destination hotel. Boy do they know some secrets. I, a hotel connoisseur, know some tips too!
Upgrading your room when you arrive, is probably one of the biggest flexes the front desk person has. They can help you get into a room that will make you ooh and ahh. Or, they can put you in their oldest room without a view.
How do you get these upgrades, freebies and hacks though? As the saying goes, it’s nice 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 quickest way to make that happen.
Of course, there are quite a few other hacks and tips that will help you find the best hotel that will keep you happy your entire trip. Not just a place to lay your head.
After staying in hundreds of hotels and helping friends and family book their own, I have gathered quite the intel on hotels and how they operate. I’ve been upgraded to the Presidential Suite at Harrah’s New Orleans. I’ve been a Platinum Elite Member with Marriott. My account with just one booking app has over 50 unique stays. Here’s 26 tips I’ve learned from being a hotel connoisseur.
1. Tipping is a M-U-S-T
Tipping the front desk, housekeeping and valet is a must in the U.S. and the Caribbean. Tip housekeepers at the beginning of your stay and not just at the end. They will reward you for your kindness.
2. Getting in with locals
The valet and bellhop guys are your besties on trips. They can get you things only locals know how to get. Sometimes, these guys are a better option than the concierge, who is often recommending hotel partners rather than local places that are actually good.
3. Ask for a room away from the elevator
Ask for a room away from the elevator- less noise. And. no people walking by all the time, on their way to get on the elevator.
4. Use a Travel Agent
Travel agents may be able to get you extra perks that are worth it! With the inside scoop, they may be able to get you upgrades on your room, free meals, activities and more.
5. Sandwich method for upgrades
Slip your front desk person a tip between your ID and credit card when checking in. You may ask for any complimentary upgrades or better view, or nothing at all. They will usually hook it up! (Note: I use this one in Vegas mostly.)
6. Last minute hotel bookings
Last minute bookings may be your friend. Unless you’re going to Carnival or Mardi Gras, last minute bookings may be cheapest.
7. Ask for a free drink or apps
Hotels with restaurants usually have drink tickets at their disposal. And they give them out like candy on Halloween. Just ask.
8. Timing Your Check-In
Check in when the hotel is at it’s least busy, generally between 3 and 5 p.m. This is when the employees are least busy (and probably the least stressed.)
9. Be High Key on the low
Be polite and discreetly ask about upgrades, etc. Doing it rudely won’t make it happen. And asking at a busy time of day is like bringing candy to class. Everybody wants some.
10. Canceling without a fee
Get on the phone and call the hotel. It might take some convincing, but you can generally cancel your hotel room anytime you need.
11. Reschedule instead of cancelling
Reschedule for 10 days later, instead of canceling. If you don’t want to deal with the phone call, you can always reschedule or change your date of travel with your hotel for no fee. Then, call back in a day or so and cancel. (This sneaky trick doesn’t always work!)
12. Walk in and negotiate
Walk in and negotiate. If you like to negotiate like I do, try walking in to a hotel that you know isn’t fully booked. (Here’s a hint check the parking lot for the number of cars.) You may be able to get a room for a price lower than the third-party booking sights are offering.
13. Dig for unique amenities
Not all hotels give out their juicy secrets. Loaner cars and concierge levels may not be offered outright. Look at hotel reviews and dig around on the hotel’s website to be sure.
14. Bring your water bottle
Bring your water bottle from home. Many hotels now offer filtered water at their gym. Instead of buying plastic water bottles just bring your water bottle from home and fill it up as needed.
15. Don't just find the amenities, use them
Don’t just find the amenities, use them. Ask for turn down service when you check in. Email your concierge and let them help you with reservations. Take a dip in the saltwater pool. Use those amenities UP!
16. Don't stress over your phone charger
Call downstairs if you forgot your charger. Every hotel nowadays has all of the chargers that you would need to charge your cell phone or tablet. Just call downstairs and ask for it and they’ll probably send one right up.
17. Corner Rooms
Corner rooms are my jam! The extra space is utilized well and some hotels even add wrap -around windows to corner rooms. The W San Francisco helped me study in style with their wrap -around window seats in their corner room!
18. Ask for a High floor
Some hotels may not have a ton of upgrade options. That’s okay. Ask for a high 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 through their deal than you would get if you booked directly with the transportation company.
20. Leave a review of your favorite local hotel.
Leaving reviews, especially positive ones, can get you a long way with hotel managers and employees. Make sure you have a picture of yourself on your bio too so they can recognize you the next time you visit.
21. Email ahead of time.
I had a bad experience at a hotel (deafeningly loud construction noise at 5 a.m.). I loved the hotel otherwise and wanted to give them another shot several months later. I emailed the manager I’d spoken with the first time to let him know I was coming. The person no longer worked there, but my email got to the current manager. And, she offered to comp my room for two of the four nights I was staying!
22. Ask for your breakfast to go
You can get your daily breakfast in a takeaway container if you don’t have the time to sit down for breakfast. Just ask when you check in.
23. Check in early
After staying up all night to catch a red- eye and landing at an obscenely early time, I was exhausted. I tried to wait until 10 a.m. to try to check in, but my eyes were SO heavy. I said, f-it and went to the hotel. I told the receptionist I’d just come in after a long night of travel and they gave me a key and sent me to bed! This may not work at all hotels. Some may ask for extra time or extra fees.
24. Check out late
If I’m staying at one of the chains, I generally ask for a late check- out when I arrive. Otherwise, I wait until about 30 minutes before check out to ask. Did you know Marriott Platinum Members can request a check out as late as 4 pm?
25. Stay after check out
Have a later flight? Use the hotels’ amenities after check out. You can use their gym, pool, business center and lobby until it’s time for you to head to the airport. Plus, they’ll store your luggage.
26. Roam the Hotel
I always like to roam the hotel just after check in, if I’m not too tired. I’ve found libraries, conference rooms inside old vaults and maybe a ghost or two!