10 Ways to get a hotel room upgrade

Richard Mellor

From simply asking nicely to arriving at 5.30pm, these are the best ways to swap standard room for suite—without paying any extra.

You’ve seen them, right? Those smooth-talking operators who charm the front-desk receptionist into giving them a much-better room courtesy of some select vocal voodoo. How do they do it? How can you do it? Read on to find out…

 

PRE-GAME

 

1. Short and suite?

Fact: short-stayers have a better chance of upgrades. That Premium Suite might be available for your two nights, but it’s very unlikely to be free for a whole fortnight. So, if possible, book a brief trip.

 

2. Timing is everything

Going in shoulder or off-season also helps, as does travelling on weekdays to tourist-happy hotels, or on weekends to more business-minded residences. Hotels’ online reservations page often given an idea—courtesy of lower prices—of when they experience less demand.

 

Read more: How to have a holiday by yourself

 

3. Spend more

Who do you think’s likelier to be upgraded to the penthouse: you in your entry-level Economy Standard Room, or John Smith in his Deluxe Room? Correct. The better you book, the better you’ll be upgraded—and the better your odds, as an evident cash cow, of receiving such preferential treatment.

4. Join the loyalty programme

This one’s obvious: Hilton, for instance, is far likelier to bestow kindness on Honors members than other customers. If you’re not a member, ask for details upon arrival and give the sense that you’re keen on signing up.

 

5. Flex your social muscle

Do you have a lot of Twitter or Instagram followers, or are you a prolific TripAdvisor reviewer? If so, email your booking to the chosen hotel, and subtly drop in—via your signature perhaps—the fact that you’re an influencer. Most hotels will be desperate to please such a big shot.

 

ON ARRIVAL

 

6. Celebrate publically

If you have a reason to be at the hotel—a honeymoon, an anniversary, a planned proposal—mention it at front desk. Don’t do it slyly; just declare the fact, and ask “If there’s anything you can do…”

 

7. Fix up, look smart

Looking like a big-spender or celebrity will up your chances of being treated myself like one. So wear a suit or smart dress as you land at reception, and act classily.

 

 

8. Be subtle

Rather than directly request an upgrade, quiz staff over the cost of one—looking like you’re not strapped for cash. If relevant, inquire about the spa menu is another good tactic, giving a clear message: you’re here to spend.

 

9. Communicate your availability

Hotels often ask if you’ve stayed with them or their brand before; if they don’t, find a way to announce it’s your first time—and, while you do, emphasise that you’ve cooled on a rival hotel or brand (research this in advance), and are seeking a replacement. In other words: “I’m likely to come here a lot, and I’m up for grabs.”

 

Read more: 7 Travel fails to avoid when booking a holiday

 

10. Timing is everything

Arrive between 5pm and 6pm—by then, all vacant rooms will have been cleaned and become available, while the receipt of most bookings mean front-desk staff know the availability situation.

 

More travel tips from Richard Mellor

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