Club Carlson family room redemptions …. a good deal or not?

If you have kids, hotel reward redemptions can be a bit messy.  Most programmes only make standard rooms available for redemption and, especially in big cities, these are small with a maximum occupancy of two people.

(There are exceptions – in London, Holiday Inn Mayfair and Holiday Inn Camden are two I know that regularly offer rooms with two double beds for redemption.)

The only option is to book two connecting rooms.  I promise you, however, that getting hotels to honour requests for connecting rooms is a complete nightmare.  I have stayed at super-luxe hotels where I have personally contacted the Director of Rooms in advance and had a guarantee in writing that my connecting rooms would be available – only to find out, on arrival, they were not.

The other downside of booking two connecting rooms is that, in terms of value for your points, it is often a bad deal compared with paying cash for one superior / deluxe room.

Club Carlson – the Radisson, Park Plaza and Park Inn programme – made a change of its programme in 2014 which brought in ‘Family Room Redemptions’.  These are an interesting option worth looking at if you have sproglets.

The only Club Carlson property where I redeem on a regular basis is Park Plaza Westminster Bridge in London (below), where my brother and his family occasionally stay when they visit.  I reviewed the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge here.

Park Plaza Westminster Bridge

The hotel offers three levels of redemption:

Standard room at 70,000 points

Standard Atrium room (?!) at 105,000 points

Studio Room (‘Family Room Award’) at 87,500 points

The Atrium room is an unbelievable waste of the extra 35,000 points.  These rooms only sell for a modest premium and are the same size.

The studio rooms are a lot bigger and well worth 87,500 points for a family.  The rooms sleep three adults or two adults and two children.

Plaza on the River London is also interesting.  They are offering 1-bedroom suites at 60 square metres for 105,000 points, 50% more than the standard redemption.  This would sleep four people.

As well as offering ‘Family Room Awards’, Carlson also has ‘Premium Room Awards’.  If you can’t see a family room offered, click through to the details of the premium award.  This rooms are usually bigger and may be able to sleep a whole family anyway.

Don’t forget that Club Carlson is an American Express Membership Rewards at the generous ratio of 1:3, so this article may be more relevant to you than you think!

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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  1. So, Club Carlson to MR (1:3), then MR to Avios (1:1)?

    Or am I missing something?

  2. For what it’s worth, the Hyatt properties in London (The Churchill and Andaz Liverpool Street) have rooms with a maximum occupancy of 3 people. A couple of years ago, I booked a King Room redemption at The Churchill for myself, my wife and my daughter. The lady at check-in had this unmistakeable “uh-oh!” look on her face – she didn’t explain but it sounded like the room they allocated wasn’t appropriate for 3 people. So she upgraded us to the presidential suite, complete with separate bedroom for my daughter, “his & hers” shower and lounge access! My daughter particularly enjoyed having her own large screen TV…

  3. My wife and I now have three children (1 x five year old and 2 x 15 months). I have been saving IHG points but now realise that they are not going to get us very far because we would need two rooms for any stay as highlighted by Rob.

    I tend to ask the hotel directly whether we can all fit in one room and I am often told we cannot due to either fire regulation, insurance or health and safety and I wonder how much truth there is to this.

    We stayed at the Hilton, Southampton in December and although the website suggested four was the maximum occupancy for the suite, they allowed us all seeing as it had a lounge in addition to the bedroom.
    We are staying at the Sofitel, Gatwick in April but again had to book a suite and ask the hotel directly if the kids could sleep in the lounge area.

    I called HiEx Windsor yesterday and was told we would have to book two rooms.

    Does anyone know if children under a certain age do not count towards the occupancy?

  4. Freddy Starwood says:

    Raffles – thanks for posting an article with specific reference to families. This is good timing as I need some family hotel rooms this summer, and have been saving up MR points with a view to converting to either HHonors, or having read this, Club Carlson. We are 5 – myself, wife, 6yo, 3yo and 1yo, and with the help of a 2-4-1 have booked flights LHR – ICN (Seoul), return from NRT (Tokyo) – LHR, in August. Flights are in Y : J would of course have been nice (and a better use of miles) but the household account didn’t stretch to four J seats and there wasn’t availability anyway! However I have also separately booked PUS (Busan) – NRT on JAL in J for 37k avios and £65 for all five of us.

    Anyway I will now be looking to see what CC has in Japan and Korea – if anyone has any tips for where to stay or how to make redemptions work for family hotel rooms work then do let me know. Have around 60k MR to play with.

  5. It would be great to have an article or series of on the best way to make use of points for families. It seems in general pretty hard to use hotel points sensibly (dont get me started on Hilton premium rewards). I’ve found that quite a lot of IHG properties, especially in the UK do rooms for 4 on standard reward redemptions and usually kids eat free. As for Avios, RFS in economy seem reasonable at least there is some chance of 4 seat availability even during School holidays, and the amounts required are not too unobtainable. Perhaps not the greatest value, but for me at least earning mainly through work, better than a kick in the teeth.

    • I am going to be writing a series of articles for Family Traveller magazine, as it happens, which I hope to copy over here if they let me.

  6. Wally1976 says:

    We managed to get rooms (on points) for 4 of us at some Holiday Inn Expresses last summer around East Mids/Staffs no problem.