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

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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, Holiday Inn Camden and Hilton Park Lane are three I have booked for my brother in the past with two double beds in a standard reward room.)

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 or junior suite.

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 kids.

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 also 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 a 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 transfer partner at the generous ratio of 1:3, so this article may be more relevant to you than you think.

PS.  One other option for family-sized rooms is via Marriott Rewards.  A lot of Marriott hotels offer, via the usual booking site, larger rooms for a co-pay on top of the standard reward price.  When we went to the JW Marriott Venice (review here) in 2016 we booked a Junior Suite, sleeping four, for the standard 35,000 points per night plus €110.  Bargain.  It doesn’t always work out – when we went again this year, it wanted 40,000 points per night (higher category now) plus €300 so we paid cash instead – but it can be a good deal.

How to earn Radisson Rewards points from UK credit cards (December 2020)

Radisson Rewards does not have a dedicated UK credit card. However, you can earn Radisson Rewards points by converting Membership Rewards points earned from selected UK American Express cards.  These include:

Membership Rewards points convert at 1:3 into Radisson Rewards points which is a very attractive rate.  The cards above all earn 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent on your card, which converts to 3 Radisson Rewards points.

Even better, holders of The Platinum Card receive free Radisson Rewards Gold status for as long as they hold the card.  It also comes with Hilton Honors Gold, Marriott Bonvoy Gold, Shangri-La Golden Circle Jade and MeliaRewards Gold status.  We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here.

(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.)

Comments (33)

  • LondonRed says:

    I think an article or two on various aspects of family points travel would go down well.
    I’ve found in the UK (outside the major cities anyway) hiltonDT and Holiday Inn seem pretty good for having standard redemptions that sleep 4 (although as the kids get older their tolerance for sharing a sofa bed is diminishing) .We often use them to break journeys or go somewhere random for a weekend away. I think we have redeemed in Oxford, Bristol, Taunton, Bath, Colchester, and Cambridge to name a few. Hilton is good with the free (DG) breakfast and also Holiday Inn with the kids eat free offers.
    In London Hilton Canary Wharf does family rooms as standard redemptions We got a nice suite upgrade when there for the Athletics this year.
    Internationally it seems much harder to find, although just booked Hilton Labriz seychelles for 5 days on points for a family holiday.

  • Tracy says:

    I find that some hotels are very accommodating if you contact them. I needed one night in Monterey, California next summer as part of a driving trip but the Intercontinental in Monterey only allowed standard room redemptions sleeping 2 adults. I emailed the hotel who said to book the standard room & they would manually change it to a 2 bed room sleeping 4. I booked it and it was updated within the hour 🙂

  • Sussex Bantam says:

    Two thoughts which might help (our kids are 8 and 10 now so we’ve been at this a while):

    1) Airlines will offer to take your car seat and buggy free of charge. I think they all do this – we’ve certainly used most of the major ones. Whilst it is a bit of a faff getting it to the airport from the car there is real value in knowing that it is your car seat, how to fit it and that it isn’t covered in vomit (or at least it is your own kids vomit…)

    2) We’ve had success using Novotel as a hotel chain. They seem to come with sofa beds largely as standard and this is a decent option for younger kinds. Not working so well for ours now they get older. Marriott has also worked in a few places for us.

    Generally though we’ve ended up paying cash for hotel rooms and using points for the flights.

  • ankomonkey says:

    Don’t SPG often do second room at 50% for families if paying cash?

  • ankomonkey says:

    O/T: @alan. We discussed months ago the honouring of Accor status at Fairmont properties. I’m Accor Plat, currently staying at Fairmont Istanbul. They told me the two schemes are not integrated so registering my Accor status would get me any points or benefits.

    I quite wanted to point out that I’m the highest Accor status and presumably post-integration this would get me something so couldn’t they offer an upgrade or something out of good will, but I wasn’t brave enough…

    • Alan says:

      Did you manage to use your Fairmont upgrade certificates that they gave you via Accor Plat?

      • ankomonkey says:

        I didn’t get them. At the time the offer was on I didn’t expect to stay at a Fairmont Hotel any time soon. I did try to register for them after the offer had officially ended, but their IT was solid and refused to process the promo code.

  • Andrew says:

    Rooms that sleep four are all very well, until you have a family of five.

    • Jonty says:

      We often invite a friend or relative, book 2 rooms for 4/2 but actually sleep 5 in one, one in the other.

    • Wally1976 says:

      One of the many reasons we decided to stop at 2 children!

    • the real harry1 says:

      not so difficult so smuggle in the fifth one when they’re young! 🙂

      we used to pull the switch the hoody trick with the 2 boys, not sure reception staff were ever remotely bothered & I’m sure they knew exactly what was going on