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

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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. 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!

  2. 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

  3. 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.

    • Brian says:

      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.

  4. 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.

    • Simon says:

      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.

      • Fenny says:

        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.

  5. 99redballs says:

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

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