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.
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.
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.
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.)