If you have young children, 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.
What are the best hotel redemptions for families?
There are a few ways around this, but none are ideal:
Hilton Honors lets you redeem for ‘premium rooms’. The rate is VERY poor, however, because Hilton pays the hotel real money for your room. Expect around 0.2p per Hilton Honors points at best compared to my expected 0.33p+.
Some Marriott Bonvoy hotels let you pay extra at the time of booking to upgrade a redemption. This is a fantastic feature (we have used it a few times at JW Marriott Venice to get a Junior Suite on points, which sleeps four easily). Unfortunately not many Bonvoy hotels choose to take part.
World of Hyatt is the only major hotel programme to have an award chart for suite redemptions, and to let you book them online. This is an easy way of getting the space you need for children. Unfortunately Hyatt points are not easy to earn if you are UK-based unless you buy them when a decent bonus is available. Another sweet spot is booking via the Hyatt Prive scheme which guarantees an upgrade at time of booking. This allows you to save by booking one category lower than the room you actually need.
At any hotel, you can 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. In addition, two connecting rooms will often be a bad deal compared with paying cash for one superior / deluxe room or junior suite.
IHG Rewards Club has nothing to offer familes. Your only option is to book two standard rooms and see if you can get connecting ones. One sweet spot is using the 241 weekend voucher from the Ambassador programme to book a suite, which can bring down the cost to a reasonable level. Adding reward nights behind this will, off peak, usually mean you can keep the suite.
Accor Live Limitless is a revenue-based programme so you can book any room you want, with the cash price divided by 2 Eurocents to get to the number of points needed.
Hotels.com Rewards has some value for families. For every 10 nights you book, you get a free night for the average value of those 10 nights. Importantly, you can book a more expensive room – perhaps a deluxe room or junior suite, to get space for children – and pay the extra in cash.
Radisson Rewards did it best – but no longer?
Radisson Rewards – the Radisson, Park Plaza and Park Inn programme – had ‘Family Room Redemptions’. These were an interesting option if you have kids, especially as Radisson Rewards is an American Express Membership Rewards transfer partner at an attractive 1:3 rate.
The idea was that Radisson Rewards had three levels of reward:
The first two are self explanatory. The ‘family’ option was a room which was large enough to take at least one child, which could be anything from a large standard room to a suite depending on the hotel.
Radisson Rewards appears to have discontinued Family Room Redemptions, however.
Look at the Radisson reward chart
This is the page on the Radisson Rewards website which shows their pricing by category. You will see pricing for Standard and Premium rooms, but Family Room pricing has gone.
Neither were showing them.
I DID still find what is probably the best value family room redemption, at the Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront in Cape Town (see photo below).
Radisson Blu Waterfront offers a two-bedroom sea-view suite as a ‘family room’ redemption. It is 110 square metres and, in normal times, sells for over £700 per night. For points – look under ‘Redemptions – Family Room’ – it is just 87,500 Radisson Rewards points per night.
This room is still bookable. Whether this is an error or not, and will soon disappear, I don’t know.
If Radisson Rewards really has pulled the plug on Family Room Redemptions, it will have wrecked one of the few unique features about the programme.
Many hotel loyalty schemes are in ignorance about their members. A large proportion of heavy business travellers have children, and whilst they may stay in standard rooms during the week they want – indeed NEED – more flexibility when redeeming.
At the very least, let members book two standard rooms in the same transaction with a box to tick if they would prefer connecting rooms. IHG Rewards Club doesn’t even let you book multiple reward rooms at the same time, so the hotel may not even realise until you arrive that you have booked more than one.
A bit of thought may be enough to swing some business towards your chain from competitors who don’t understand what a family is.
PS. If you’re travelling on British Airways with your family, I recommend you have a look at this HfP article which explains how British Airways Household Accounts work, including how to earn Avios for children.