New York Stories #3 – Getting Hilton HHonors benefits on a Hotels.com booking

The night before I flew to New York, I spent the night at the Hilton Munich City.  This article is both a review of the Hilton Munich City and an example of what happens when you do NOT book direct.

The Hilton Munich City hotel wasn’t an entirely random choice.  With my New York flight not until 3pm, I would have a couple of hours in the morning to wander around the centre of Munich.  I knew where the Hilton was as it is about 30 seconds walk from the Holiday Inn where I had a rather dull stay a couple of years ago.  It is also attached to an S-Bahn station on the line that runs to and from the airport so it was easy to access.

Hilton HHonors points were a no-go because of the terrible value – I think it was something like €150 or 50,000 points.  I would have wanted at least €220 of value to justify that.  I also had a £100 gift voucher from Hotels.com to use up before the end of the year and this seemed a good opportunity.

Hotel loyalty schemes and third party bookings

All of the major hotel loyalty schemes are clear about their position on third party bookings.  By ‘third party’ I mean anything from large booking sites such as Expedia down to sites such as the British Airways ‘use your Avios to book a hotel’ portal.  Corporate travel agents are not usually included in this restriction for obvious reasons.

In almost all cases the rules are:

  • you will not receive points for your room rate
  • you will not receive a qualifying night towards earning status
  • you WILL receive credit for incidental spend

Where the chains differ is in their treatment of elite benefits.  This varies substantially by chain and can even vary from hotel to hotel.  Hilton is generally seen as one of the best.  If you look at the terms and conditions of Hilton HHonors there is no mention of elite benefits being restricted if you booked via certain channels.

One issue when booking via Hotels.com or a similar site is that the hotel does not know you are an elite member.  I could have called the hotel in advance but I didn’t.  However, I handed over my Hilton Gold card at check-in and the clerk very efficiently began to add my details into the booking and process my benefits.

Hilton Munich City gave me the majority of my Gold benefits:

I was given free breakfast (otherwise a crazy €29)

I was given free in-room internet.  This was at the premium level, fast enough for video streaming.

I did NOT get a room upgrade, but the hotel was very full – they struggled to find me a king room at all as per my HH preferences.  (hotels.com had only offered a twin so that is what I booked).  I also checked in late.

Overall the hotel is not bad.  It is getting towards the point where it needs a full refurbishment, without a doubt.  However the rooms are large, everything worked and there was a kettle with tea and coffee.  The Hilton Munich City has also excellent facilities – two restaurants, a coffee shop for anyone put off by the €29 breakfast bill, a beer garden, a large bar.  No pool though.

Here are a few shots of my room.  It was perfectly satisfactory for one night although you won’t be over-excited about anything:

Hilton Munich City Centre bedroom reviewHilton Munich City Centre room 2 reviewHilton Munich City Centre bathroom review

And here is an interesting photo of my mini-bar!

Hilton Munich City mini bar review

The city centre (ie the historic centre, inside the old walls) is about 10 minutes walk away.  You can also take the subway instead which will drop you in Marienplatz, the main square.  Given that hotels in the historic centre are substantially more expensive than those just on the edge – like the Hilton and the Holiday Inn – it is not a bad trade off.

If you are a Hotels.com Welcome Rewards member you may welcome the opportunity to push yourself nearer your next free night by trading off a relatively modest number of Hilton points – especially if you have already requalified for Hilton HHonors status for next year.  As long as you are still getting your status benefits, and depending on what Hilton HHonors promotions are currently running, it may well make sense.

(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.)

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Comments

  1. Waribai says:

    As a Gold member, my experience has been that they usually upgrade you on 3rd party bookings if you email them in advance. At Syon Park, even got upgraded to a suite on a family stay.

  2. Dave W says:

    I stick my HH # in the comments section of hotels.com when booking and it usually gets through. I’m diamond and get all the usual perks (internet,breakfast,Exec lounge and an upgrade sometimes). I find a casual “am I in the room my secretary booked or…” Trailing off at the end leaves the receptionist a touch confused and I think increases my chances of an upgrade. Could all be in my head though and I could just be needlessly bullying hilton staff for no reason.

    I also find that about 25% of the time the points post through anyway despite the fact they shouldn’t.

    • That’s a good plan, I shall try that. Even without prior notice I am 80% for upgrades on arrival with the Diamond card.

  3. Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

    As for the rest of your benefits, I (quite reasonably) wouldn’t expect to get your welcome gift or bottled water if you don’t let them know about your status in advance.

    • When I book through my company’s TA the hotel is never aware of my status in advance, but in all recent stays they have brought the goodies to my room a few minutes after checkin.

  4. I’ve stayed a few times at this property. As you say the location is good, especially for airport connections. I found the breakfast buffet to be pretty extensive, far better than US Hilton offerings. The Exec Lounge also has hot snacks every evening. Normally it’s pretty good value when paying cash (not points as you say) so I’d return again.

    Minor typo BTW – it’s just the “Hilton Munich City”, there’s no Centre in the name 😉

  5. Haven’t made a hotels.com booking using my Amex Gold Card for a few months but I always got triple points for the booking, although you are billed in pounds as the transactions are processed in the USA they counted as outbound spend.

  6. Danksy says:

    Gold after 4 stays Paul? Tell me more? It took me about 12 months to get mine!

      • AndyGWP says:

        This is of interest to me, though the other links appear to have expired (and the berkshire hathaway only runs for stays until the end of September so I can’t use it)

        Any thoughts on whether the Carlson Wagonlit has new terms? (the post indicates this offer went live in 2013, but the link still works and there appear to be no T&C’s!)

        • If the link still works I would presume it is OK ….

          • Would a stay booked with points count towards the 4 stays do you know?

          • Yes, Hilton give stay credit for all points, cash+points and cash bookings (not made via 3rd parties) so any of those routes would be fine.

          • Yes, should do.

          • Thanks Alan and Rob.

            I knew about the 4 nights for Gold offer but didn’t think about it when I was away for my summer holiday and stayed at some Hilton’s so missed an opportunity.

            I’ve got one stay at a Hilton next week and the Hampton in Newport which is available for 5,000 points isn’t too far for me, 15,000 points for Gold seems reasonable to me although I’d have to pay 3 lots of the Severn bridge tolls as well!

            I did the MilePoint offer last year, reading their forum they are doing a premium package this year but they say it won’t involve Hilton.

      • Moonman85 says:

        Last year I completed a 4 stay in 90 day promotion to get gold.

        Would I be able to use this 4 stay in 90 day promotion again? And if so would I drop down to automatic silver you get until you complete the 4 stays?

        • There was a HFP reader a few months ago who registered for a promo like this and dropped down to Silver! Not 100% sure it would work again but I reckon it would – although I would be more confident if I had already dropped down from Gold.

  7. Danksy says:

    I’ve had poor experience with getting 3rd party booked stays credit points.

    Barcelona via hotels .com didn’t work
    Dublin doubletree via BA didn’t work
    London bridge via hotels.com didn’t

    Overall I’d say about 20% success rate! since I was chasing gold status for a while direct booking was more preferable to me at the moment!

  8. Thanks for the write up.
    One point of interest, I recently stayed in a Hilton Garden Inn in the US booked via a 3rd party and was able to get my points and stays by filling in a missing stay request on the honours website. They were more diligent when I tried the same trick twice though!

  9. paul molyneux says:

    Dansky….when signed up for HHonors card there was a promotion whereby you automatically got upgraded to silver for nothing. There was then a promotion which I am pretty certain was a post on here that earnt you gold status after 4 stays. Raffles can you help out??????

  10. Is the £100 hotels.com gift voucher just a welcome rewards credit for having achieved your 10 nights, or something else?

    • Something else – They did a lengthy bit of market research earlier this year and paid participants a £100 voucher

      • You’ve got to love hotels.com! Cashack, welcome rewards, no fees for amex, a genuine price match guarantee AND they dish out vouchers!

        I did, however, have my first problem the other day. I was booking a hotel via Hotels.com, but could not use my Amex. It seems some hotels have the option of only allowing you to pay by visa/mastercard, even where you pay for the room in advance.

      • Yes, I did that as well. Still need to spend my voucher.

  11. Irons1980 says:

    I am IHG Platinum Ambassador and twice this year I have included Crowne Plaza stays with a flight booked on BA.com as it saved me a fortune each time… My experience was that emailing the hotel in advance gave me access to all benefits… in Istanbul City CP, it included lounge access with breakfast and a room upgrade on an otherwise basic RO stay, so I was very happy. Same goes with emailing in advance on points redemption stays

    • Yes, when I booked a night at the Indigo Ku’Damm in Berlin using some M&M that were about to expire, I emailed in advance and got an upgrade as a Platinum member. So it’s always worth emailing in advance.

  12. Jon Easthope says:

    Slightly OT – I’m staying at Hilton Dartford with wife and kids en-route to France next week. As Hilton Gold, do they also benefit from free breakfast or is it just me?

    • It’s technically for the cardholder and one other guest in the same room, but I believe a lot of properties are more flexible than that.

    • signol says:

      I’ll be there myself on Tuesday 😉
      I usually get booked a b&b rate by my company, but there’s a good chance of getting a “free drink from the bar” coupon for being Gold!

  13. Waribai says:

    Even though IHG do not include free breakfast, when staying at a CP or HI we always walk in to the restaurant give our room number and eat. At checkout very rarely do they add it on to the bill. YMMV

  14. Your timing is perfect with this article. I had no idea just how much hotels hated third party booking agents until I queried my missing points with both HI and Accor following a recent trip to Germany (both booked through lastminute). Accor, to be fair, humoured me and gave me 300 complimentary a-club points because “we could see the obvious mistake you made in not booking directly with us”. HI didn’t budge at all.

    I would have booked directly with them, but their rates were so much higher even with points included I would still have been worse off. I don’t even think keeping my status is worth paying the extra.

    Lesson learned.

    • But the chains all operate best-rate guarantees, even if these can be a pain. So if the rate is so much higher on the hotels’ own websites, just post a claim. Or, if that’s too risky, given the difficulties one can have meeting the terms and conditions, phone/email the hotel in question and ask them to match the lower rate. That has worked for me in the past.

      • They are a total pain. IHG just turned me down because the cheaper rate on another site included breakfast, whilst the more expensive rate on ihg.com was room only! And IHG is one of the better ones ….

    • Out of curiosity, why did you book via lastminute rather than hotels.com? Hotels.com has a good price match guarantee – if lastminute has the lower price, hotels.com will (in my experience) match it. The other poster gives the example of IHG not matching a rate at another site because breakfast was included with the cheaper room. Hotels.com did offer me a match under the same circumstances, and apologised for not being able to offer the breakfast as well.

  15. darkwingduck says:

    Hotels.com have the worst customer service department I have ever come across. They are fine for all things automated, but the moment you need a real person to do something then good luck.

    • Not my experience at all. I’ve had to speak to them twice, and spoke to a person twice within a minute or so. And those people were really helpful.

      I’m gold with them so not sure if that helps.

    • I’ve only had to email them about something once and got the quickest reply I’ve ever had from a customer service team.

      Sent the email and within less than a minute noticed a hotels.com email in my inbox which I assumed was an automated response but turned out to be a reply to my email.

      • I mentioned on their focus group that I’d found a cheaper rate for my hotel in Genoa on another site and had raised a claim but had no response. Within an hour, their CS had emailed me, apologised for not replying earlier and credited the difference.

  16. 99redballs says:

    is that a rubber bath duck or an adult ‘massager’?