How Will achieved Hilton Diamond (top-tier) status for £68 of Tesco vouchers!

I always enjoy reading interesting tales of the exploits of Head for Points readers.  I was therefore very intrigued to read this story from HFP reader Will.

Diamond is the highest level offered by the Hilton HHonors loyalty program.  It usually requires 30 stays, 60 nights or 120,000 Hilton HHonors base points to be earned in a year.

Hilton Diamond 2

A lot of Hilton HHonors members do not take Diamond too seriously, mainly because Hilton HHonors Gold offers such good benefits.  As a Gold, you will receive free internet, free breakfast and potentially a room upgrade.  The main benefits of Diamond, on stays, are guaranteed Club Lounge access (if the property has one) and potentially a better upgrade.  Some hotels do offer their own benefits for Diamond members, though, which is what triggered Will to push for Diamond.

(The official list of benefits for Silver, Gold and Diamond Hilton HHonors members is here.)

There are three things you need to know to understand his story:

Hilton counts reward nights towards status

Following the Hilton HHonors recategorisation earlier this year, two UK hotels were given ludicrously low 5,000 point per night redemption levels (for comparison, Conrad New York is 90,000 points in peak months)

Silver, Gold and Diamond Hilton members can book a 5-night redemption for the cost of 4 nights

So, over to Will (I have edited slightly for clarity):

I’m off on an eye-wateringly expensive (to me at least) trip to Hilton properties in Dubrovnik and Rome next week and decided to see if I could boost my chances of a room upgrade and get some free sunbeds at the Waldorf-Astoria Rome Cavalieri. In theory, the sunbeds would have cost me more as a ‘Gold’ than the mattress run below would cost me if it did in fact get me ‘Diamond’.

I’m already Hilton Gold …. and emailed Hilton to request a Diamond Status challenge.  They obliged and offered me Diamond with 21 nights in 90 days.  [Note:  given that Diamond usually requires 60 nights in 365 days, Hilton probably doesn’t feel that this challenge is very generous, but it did work nicely for Will]

I had 3 nights already booked in Moscow so needed another 18 nights.

I’d converted some Tesco points to Hilton via Virgin Atlantic on the 50% bonus offer earlier this year.  £1 of Tesco vouchers usually gets you 250 Virgin Flying Club miles, which convert into 500 Hilton HHonors points.  During the promotion, £1 of Tesco vouchers got you 375 Virgin miles and so 750 Hilton points.  I then realised that Hilton points stays count towards status and found that the Doubletree Hotel at Newcastle Airport was a Category 1 hotel.  This meant, as a Gold, it could be booked for just 4000 points per night for stays of 5 nights or more (5000 per night for shorter stays)

I booked in 19 nights (to be on the safe side) at a cost of 79,800 Hilton HHonors points (it ended up being 4,200 points per night due to the extended nature of the stay and the way Hilton only offer the discounted rate up to a certain number of nights). I had also registered for the ‘Daily Grand’ promotion which if it triggered on this reward stay would give me a rebate of 1,000 points per weeknight and 2,000 points per weekend night (it did indeed trigger)

Due to logistics I arrived a day later than planned so I was now down to the minimum 18 nights I needed.  I was handed not only 36 free breakfast vouchers as a gold member but also 36 free drinks vouchers for a regular alcoholic drink at the bar!

I charged a meal to the room to give the stay its best chance of tracking without complication, slept 1 night and left never to return.

I called them on checkout day to explain I was not able to check out in person which was fine.  2 days later I checked my Hilton account to reveal the charges as:

Total points cost of 19 night booking:

79,800 Hilton HHonors points
Daily Grand points rebate: 27,000 points
Base points/bonus points: 1,712
Net points cost of stay: 51,088

Paying £1 of Clubcard tokens per 750 Hilton points put the cost of the stay at £68.12 of Clubcard tokens (plus a £20 meal to ensure the stay tracked).

My account had been upgraded to Diamond status!

Unfortunately, since Will booked his stay, the Doubletree at Newcastle Airport has been reclassified as a Category 2 Hilton property and now costs 10,000 points per night.  There is, however, still one UK hotel that costs just 5,000 Hilton HHonors points per night – the Hampton by Hilton Corby / Kettering.

If you live anywhere near the East Midlands and want to bump up your Hilton status, you may find that you can get Hilton to offer you a ‘status challenge’ that can be met with a chunk of very cheap reward nights at this property.  Will, meanwhile, should be congratulated for his creative thinking!

(To see our complete list of all current hotel promotions for the major chains, click here to visit our ‘Hotel Promos’ page or use the link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Which hotel chains let me collect Avios points?
Triple Avios with Le Club Accorhotels until 30th September
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Comments

  1. Wozza2404 says:

    Not sure I’d chase this if I was as far short as 18 nights, but it’s a good idea if I’m a couple of stays short of Diamond at the end of the year.

    • The specific savings he made in Rome offset the cost easily in this case.

      • luckyjim says:

        Really? Bearing in mind that Tesco vouchers are worth between 2 and 4 times their face value? Cost of travelling to Newcastle? Cost of Will’s time? It is ingenious, but if I valued Spa access that highly I’d stay at a different hotel.

        • Sir Stamford says:

          Good insight as to how to achieve Diamond status with minimum cost especially with future Tesco conversion bonuses!

          But I would urge caution to the headline cost of £68.12 Tesco vouchers. The opportunity cost of £68.12 of Tesco Voucher is roughly £163.49 worth of Avios at the usual conversion rate and valuation of 1p apiece. Coupled with the £20 meal, the total opportunity cost is around £183.49.

          As a Diamond member, you should get a complimentary room upgrade but as always this is subject to availability. On tripadvisor, there have been reports as recent as June 2013 that Diamond members were not upgraded.
          Link: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowUserReviews-g187791-d190138-r164158980-Rome_Cavalieri_Waldorf_Astoria_Hotels_Resorts-Rome_Lazio.html

          Of course, there have also been many occasions that Gold and Diamond members have been upgraded.

          Rome Cavalieri does list complimentary sun-beds as a benefit of HHonors Diamond members. Link: http://www.romecavalieri.com/hhonors.php

          The cost of the sun beds are, if I am not mistaken, €18 per person each day. Being a Diamond member travelling with a partner, could potentially save you about £30 per day based on the current FX rate.

          Would you forgo £183.49 for potentially £30 of savings per day? It would naturally depends on the length of your stay in Rome Cavalieri and whether you intend to use the facility every day.

          I do realise that Diamond status could come in handy with other Hilton stays but my view is that HHonors Gold status is good enough as it carried most of the benefits a Diamond would get.

          Sir Stamford

      • Mrtibbs1999 says:

        Guaranteed lounge access is worth the vouchers alone! I think he is a very smart chap.

  2. Charlie says:

    What a waste of a hotel room! I guess it would have been difficult to get someone to sleep in it without worrying about running up room service bills.

  3. Colin MacKinnon says:

    Now, can he sell the breakfast and drinks vouchers on Ebay…..

    • Flashware says:

      They’re only valid on the date written on them… so they would be of no use!

  4. Flashware says:

    Lucky I’d say… I had a few award stays during that period but none of them gained the bonus points from the Daily Grand promotion.

    On another note, I booked my final stay required for Diamond a few days ago so will move up from Gold very soon! I did mine the quickest way possible, which wasn’t easy.. changing from one hotel to the next on my weekly trips away so that I qualify based on stays rather than nights!

    • Mrtibbs1999 says:

      If you spent even £1 on incidentals you got the daily grand! I made a lOcal phonecall every stay. It’s in the terms!

  5. Very well done Will…very proud of your mindset!

  6. Mrtibbs1999 says:

    Well done Will! I have been eyeing up the Corby Hampton myself, but didn’t think for one minute they counted reward stays on a status challenge!

    With this in mind, the 5k per night hotels in Sharm coupled with Air Berlin are now looking very tempting!

  7. Wozza2404 says:

    Hmmmm. Thing is, this didn’t cost £60, it cost £60 of Clubcard vouchers.

    My dodgy maths makes that just over 14k Avios without a conversion bonus. I’d value 3 OW RFS flights to FRA considerably higher value than £60.

    I’d also value 50k Hhonors points at more than £60, too, as a night in a 50k band hotel can easily stretch you to £150.

    It’s a YMMV situation, but those £60 CC vouchers would be worth a couple of hundred pounds to me, so those sun loungers would have needed to be phenomenally expensive to make it worth my while.

    • Raffles says:

      It depends how many Hilton stays you do as well. As well as those particular benefits on his holiday, Will also gets Hilton status for the rest of the year.

      I had a similar situation this month. I have 7 InterCon nights over the next 2 weeks – 3 Dusseldorf, 2 New York (award), 2 Boston (award). Should I have spent £400 for Royal Ambassador? We already have a suite in DUS so not much upgrade chance and my Mrs would put a stop to emptying the mini bar every night! New York and Boston are award stays – with RA benefits not guaranteed – and also stays where I will not be in the hotel much. I therefore decided not to go for it. It could have gone either way though.

  8. Oliver bennett says:

    I love reading stories like this! Well done that man! Good thinking, good planning, good execution. Fantastic!

    I personally don’t value Hilton diamond that much over hilton gold (which I already am) but fair enough if you do.

  9. Raffle, I had not idea you would make me a HFB d-lister for this story :)

    To clarify something, I currently have lots of avios and almost £2k worth of clubcard points waiting to be converted to something and I usually make about 5 hilton stays a year. I would not have bothered with this if:
    1. The hilton stay was not going to be repeated
    2. I was not clubcard point ‘rich’

    The reality is I have more clubcard points than I need right now so their value at the margin is simply what they are worth on face value.

    Writing this from sunny Dubrovnik where the kind girl at reservations has waived the EUR70 a night room upgrade charge due to diamond status- I did have to ask for it though as the initial room was nothing other than I had booked.

    • Sir Stamford says:

      Enjoy your holiday in sunny DBV!

      As a HHonors Gold card holder, I have been upgraded 5 times in my last 7 stays with various Hilton worldwide. So, I won’t go the extra mile to achieve Diamond status for an upgrade. Having said that, your tips are invaluable. Thank you for sharing.

      One thing I don’t really agree is whether having lots of Clubcard points or Avios is a factor in valuing the Clubcard points at face value.

      Unless someone has stopped collecting Avios and has no further use of it or has an infinite amount of Avios that can never be used up in their lifetime, the valuation at the decision making process needs to be based on the opportunity cost of what you can do with the Clubcard vouchers.

      Sir Stamford

      • Mrtibbs1999 says:

        did you get lounge access every time?

      • … it’s certainly possible to have a high earning rate of Avios that beats your spending rate, and with the threat of devaluations one shouldn’t hoard too many avios.

  10. Dominic Barrington says:

    And I live five miles from the Corby property…. Hm…..!

    • Mrtibbs1999 says:

      Inbox me on flyer talk, same user name as here. I’m interested in having the stays made for me 😉

  11. Quentin says:

    So how do you go about requesting a Diamond challenge (I am currently gold). And can you do the same with other programs?

    Also, do any of the hotels do tier matches – which might make Diamond in Hilton more valuable yet…

  12. Dominic Barrington says:

    Hm… can’t find any Honors redemption nights in Corby over the summer at all….

    • Dominic Barrington says:

      Sorry – ignore that, but you have to look later on in the summer. Are we sure that they accept award stays? And what is it Will did to get some points back as a rebate?

      • Mrtibbs1999 says:

        On the daily grand promo (Q2 – Expired now) If you spent even 1p on incidentals the bonus was triggered( 1k points per night week, 2k per night W/e). This quarter it won’t work as it is a 3x and 2x bonus, so 2×0=0 and 3X0=0 :(

        • Dominic Barrington says:

          Ah – if no bonus points returned, it would completely wipe my stash of Honors points, and I don’t think it is worth that to get Diamond.

  13. What's the Point says:

    I love reading stories like this!
    When staying away with Hilton, I will always look to change hotels mid stay to earn more stays towards Gold/Diamond and trigger more Virgin Atlantic miles.
    We are off to Berlin in Dec: 1 night at Hampton Luton Airport, 1 night at the Hampton West Berlin and 1 night at the Hilton Berlin. Great rates with the 40% offer at the moment.
    Mrs WTP doesn’t seem to mind changing hotels, she values the free breakfast/internet we get very highly highly.

  14. signol says:

    Don’t forget you can usually get Gold easily online – eg. Instant Silver with Gold after only 4 stays.

  15. That’s a shame the 5k NCL bargain has now gone. I was just about to use it too (as I needed to stay there!) That said 10k is still a good deal if you need to be there, but not quite the amazing bargain it once was.

  16. I’ll never get near Gold status, if I decide to splash on a hotel room not getting free WIFI as happens at some Hilton properties really puts me off booking them, I’ve stayed in youth hostels for less than £10 in the last couple of years and got free WIFI and a free breakfast, I can’t understand why some hotels still charge for WIFI.

  17. Amazed says:

    What a fabulous story – a great idea! I notice that Hampton Newport/East is also a Category 1 hotel not mentioned here – might be convenient for those in the South West/Wales – any reason why that property would *not* count?