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Review: Is Hilton Honors the best hotel loyalty scheme? (Part 1)

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This is the second part of our overview series looking at the main hotel loyalty schemes.  Each scheme will be covered over two articles on consecutive days. One will list the basic facts of the scheme  – basically ‘How does Hilton Honors work?‘ – the other, published tomorrow, will be my subjective view of what is of particular merit.

The full series of articles can be found here:

Hilton Honors covers 7,000+ hotels globally under 22 main brands – Waldorf Astoria, LXR, Conrad, Hilton, Hilton Grand Vacation, Embassy Suites, DoubleTree, Hilton Garden Inn, Homewood Suites, Hampton Inn, Canopy, Curio, Tru, Tapestry Collection and Home2Suites.  New brands include Signia (convention focused), Tempo, Spark (economy), LivSmart (budget extended stay) and Motto (group focused).

The Hilton Honors website is here.

Hilton Honors review

What is the geographic spread?

The European properties are mainly branded Hampton and Hilton with a growing number of DoubleTree, Curio and Waldorf Astoria sites. I think that Hampton is now the biggest brand globally.

In general, many UK Hilton branded hotels in the regions are tired and in need of refurbishment although newer openings (London Bankside, St George’s Park, Manchester, Bournemouth) are impressive.

DoubleTree is well regarded despite technically being one rung below the main Hilton brand. After a few years of stagnation, there have been a number of high-profile hotel openings – Hampton (a budget brand with free breakfast) is seen as having most potential and they are now popping up across the UK.  There is also a more modest roll-out of Hilton Garden Inn which targets the same three star market, including an intriguing one in Snowdonia and one built into the racetrack at Silverstone.

Curio Collection has a strong niche in encouraging luxury independent hotels to join the Hilton ‘system’. The most recent high profile UK Hilton opening, Lost Property St Paul’s in London, is part of Curio (review here). LXR, aimed at larger independent luxury hotels, signed up The Biltmore in Mayfair as its first UK member.

How does Hilton Honors work?

Do I use them?

I do.  I currently have Hilton Honors Diamond status although it will lapse in March 2024. I originally got this via a Hilton status match, which I outline here and locked it in for 2021, 2022 and 2023 due to Hilton’s generous covid status retention policies.

Recent 2023/24 HfP review stays include Hilton Berlin (review), The Trafalgar St James in London (review), Hotel Resonance Taipei (review), Hampton Bournemouth (review), Hilton Diagonal Mar Barcelona (review), Hilton Frankfurt City Centre (review), Canopy San Francisco SoMa (review), The Gantry Stratford (review), Hilton Belfast (review), Hampton London City (review), Conrad Riviera Maya Tulum (review), Hart Shoreditch (review), Lost Property St Paul’s (review), Hilton Rotterdam (review) and Motto Rotterdam Blaak (review). We certainly got around last year ….

Of personal paid stays, I spent five nights at Waldorf Astoria Palm Jumeirah in Dubai over Christmas in 2020 using purchased Hilton Honors points. My stays in 2022/23 were more prosaic – Hampton Stansted Airport (review), a couple of stays at Hampton York and a return to Hilton Bournemouth (review) – but totally satisfactory.

Looking at UK airport hotels, HfP has looked at the Hampton at Gatwick Airport which is directly at the North Terminal as well as the Hilton at Gatwick South Terminal, Hilton Heathrow Terminal 4, the Hampton at Stansted Airport, the new Hilton Garden Inn at Heathrow T2 and the Hilton Garden Inn at Hatton Cross / Heathrow.  Click the link for our review of each of these hotels.

Hilton Honors review

If you’re looking for personal recommendations, I like Conrad New York Downtown where I have stayed three times on a redemption – it has HUGE rooms by NYC standards as it is ‘all suite’. It now has an ‘all suite’ sibling in Conrad New York Midtown, photo immediately above – although be warned that it has a handful of standard sized rooms that are often used for redemptions.

For families, we visited Hilton (was a Waldorf Astoria) Syon Park outside London a few times when our children were younger which is good for a ‘not very far from home’ break. We also went to the impressive Hilton St Georges Park at the National Football Centre in Burton-upon-Trent.

I have been particularly impressed by some of the hotels in the Curio and Tapestry collections.  Hilton is managing to entice some genuinely good independent hotels to join these ‘soft branded’ chains. I am also fond of Hampton, which I see as a cut above Holiday Inn Express. Whilst I’ve never paid to stay at a Canopy, I’ve toured a few and am impressed by the combination of style and cost.

What are the elite levels in Hilton Honors?

Here is a summary of Hilton Honors elite levels and benefits:

  • Silver – requires 4 stays or 10 nights. Benefits are 20% bonus on base points, free bottled water at most brands.
  • Gold – requires 20 stays or 40 nights or 75,000 base points. Benefits are 80% bonus on base points, ‘preferred’ room of some sort (often just a higher floor or better view, not necessarily next category up), free breakfast (F&B cash credit in the US), additional bonuses from 40+ nights per year.
  • Diamond – requires 30 stays or 60 nights or 120,000 base points. Benefits are 100% bonus on base points, non-guaranteed upgrade, free breakfast (F&B cash credit in the US), free high-speed internet, guaranteed lounge access.  Additional milestone bonuses kick in from 40+ nights per year to encourage you to keep staying after you earn or retain Diamond.
Hilton Honors review

Hilton has been running regular status match promotions over the last couple of years. The current version of Hilton’s status match is here.  You get Gold status for 90 days and will retain it if you complete eight (for Gold) or 14 (for Diamond) nights in that time. If you are interested I suggest waiting until March / April when it should update and offer status to March 2026 instead of the current March 2025.

All elite members receive ‘fifth night free’ when booking reward nights, effectively a 20% discount on a 5-night stay.

Reward stays DO count towards earning status.

Suite upgrades are NOT an elite benefit. I am not saying that a Diamond will never get one, but the hotel has no obligation to do so.

British Airways offers free Diamond status to Gold Guest List members of British Airways Executive Club which requires you to earn 5,000 tier points in one year (3,000 tier points to renew).

The Platinum Card from American Express offers free Gold status for as long as you retain the card. The Centurion Card, which is invitation only, offers free Diamond status.

The full table of elite benefits is here.  As with all other major brands, you will not receive anything, neither points nor benefits, if you book via a third party website such as Expedia.

You can transfer your points to friends and family without charge. I have found this surprisingly useful, especially as transfers can be done online.  It lets me sweep the handful of points my wife earns each year into my account so they are not wasted.

Long-term Diamond members can request a one-off rollover of their status without the need to formally requalify which is handy if changing jobs, taking maternity leave etc.

Elite nights (but not elite stays) roll over if you achieve more than is required to renew your current tier level but not enough to be promoted.  You can also gift status to a friend if you stay more than 60 nights per year.

How do you earn Hilton Honors points?

For each stay, you will earn 10 base points per $1 plus a bonus of:

  • 20% for Silver
  • 80% for Gold
  • 100% for Diamond

Some limited service brands, not present in the UK, have a lower earning rate of 5 points per $1.

Hilton Honors is always running a major promotion so your average number of points earned per stay will always be higher than the numbers quoted above. See our ‘Top Hotel Bonus Points Offers‘ page for any current offers.

Other Hilton earning partnerships of note include:

Is Hilton Honors the best hotel loyalty scheme?

What are Hilton Honors points worth?

We have an article dedicated to working out what Hilton Honors points are worth which you can find here.

Our mid-case valuation is 0.33p per point but you can do a lot better.

How do you spend Hilton Honors points?

There are now NO published redemption categories. Previously, redemption rates for hotels ran from 5,000 points in Category 1 to 95,000 points in Category 10.

Under the new structure, the number of points required is based on the cash cost of that particular night.  The ‘pence per point’ value varies by hotel but is usually around 0.33p.

Importantly, you can pay with ANY combination of cash and points. If you have 80% of the points for a free night, you can use those and pay 20% of the cash price on top – or vice versa.

However – and this is important – the number of points charged per night at each hotel is capped. This means, for example, that you will never pay more than 120,000 points – and usually 95,000 points – for a standard room at the top Conrad or Waldorf Astoria hotels irrespective of the cash rate. The Waldorf Astoria Maldives has a cap of 150,000 points on some days.

The cap is important because it means that you still receive ‘outsize’ value on redemptions in major cities on peak dates.

One problem with no longer having published reward charts showing the hotel points price caps is that Hilton can, and does, increase the capped cost of a hotel with no notice.

Elite members receive the 5th night free on standard room redemptions.

You don’t pay ‘resort fees’. An underappreciated benefit of Hilton Honors points redemptions is that any resort fees, often charged by US and Caribbean hotels, are not applied. This can lead to substantial nightly savings.

Hilton has also ‘Premium Room’ redemptions. In general, you should ignore these. They usually involve Hilton effectively buying your room for you from the hotel, at a fixed exchange rate of around 0.25p per Hilton point. This is poor.

Hilton Auctions allows you to redeem your points for concert and event tickets.  There have been some impressive UK events offered via this platform, including recent ‘Secret Socials’ concerts at London hotels and Formula 1 events with McLaren. Hilton has a new partnership with Chelsea football club which will open up redemption opportunities.

How does Hilton Honors work?

Do Hilton Honors points expire?

Points expire after 24 months of no activity on the account – see the scheme rules here. This is generous by industry standards. Pre-covid it was only 12 months but it has now been permanently increased.

You could reset the counter by transferring some Amex Membership Rewards points across or buying 1,000 points. Use a tool like Award Wallet to keep track of expiry dates.

I wrote a full article on how to stop your Hilton Honors points expiring.

Can you upgrade using Hilton Honors points?

You can book any room category you want with Hilton Honors and use whatever combination of cash and points you prefer.

However, these ‘Premium Room Rewards’ – which involves Hilton paying the hotel the full cash rate for your room and recharging you in points – give you a lower ‘pence per point’ return compared to ‘Standard Room Rewards’ which come from reward inventory.  Standard rewards are only available for entry-level room categories.

Are ‘cash and points’ redemptions available?

You can book any room category you want and use whatever combination of cash and points you prefer. This is will offer you a poorer ‘pence per point’ return than a standard redemption, however.

Can you convert Hilton Honors points into airline miles?

Hilton Honors points can be transferred to a large number of airlines including British Airways and Virgin Atlantic. The ratio is a pathetic 10:1, however (6.7:1 for Virgin Atlantic).

If you assume that 1 Hilton Honors point is worth 0.33p on average, then you would be sacrificing 3.3p of free hotel stays to gain 1 Avios. This is a poor deal given we that value an Avios at around 1p.

Can you earn Avios directly without collecting points?

No.

How does Hilton Honors work?

What are the Hilton Honors UK credit card partnerships?

Can you get elite status with a UK credit card?  Yes. American Express Platinum offers you free Hilton Gold for as long as you hold Platinum, whilst the invite-only Amex Centurion card gives Hilton Diamond status.  The official Hilton Honors Visa card was withdrawn in March 2018.

Is Hilton Honors an Amex Membership Rewards partner? Yes, at a 1:2 transfer rate.

Hilton Honors is also a Virgin Atlantic Flying Club partner – you can move Virgin Points to Hilton at the rate of 2 to 3, with a 10,000 miles minimum. As Virgin is a Tesco Clubcard partner, you can therefore convert Tesco Clubcard point to Hilton Honors by routing through Virgin Flying Club, although this is not hugely attractive.

Purchasing and transferring Hilton Honors points

You can buy Hilton Honors points for $10 per 1,000 via this link.  Regular sales offer bonuses of up to 100%.

It is easy to use up small quantities of points you may acquire as you can use as few as 5,000 points to get a cash discount on your next booking.

The ‘Points Pooling’ feature allows you to pass points from one person to another for free.  They do not need to share your address or surname. This is a very handy feature which allows you to hoover up points from friends and family members in your account, or to move points to the account of the person with highest status if booking a reward.

What is my personal opinion of Hilton Honors?

Part 2 of this article – click here – explains how Hilton Honors works and gives my personal opinion on the pros and cons of the programme.


How to earn Hilton Honors points and status from UK credit cards

How to earn Hilton Honors points and status from UK credit cards (June 2024)

There are various ways of earning Hilton Honors points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.

Do you know that holders of The Platinum Card from American Express receive FREE Hilton Honors Gold status for as long as they hold the card?  It also comes with Marriott Bonvoy Gold, Radisson Rewards Premium and MeliaRewards Gold status.  We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here and you can apply here.

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Did you know that the Virgin Atlantic credit cards are a great way of earning Hilton Honors points? Two Virgin Points can be converted into three Hilton Honors points. The Virgin Atlantic cards are the only Visa or Mastercard products in the UK which can indirectly earn Hilton Honors points and they come with generous sign-up bonuses. You can apply here.

You can also earn Hilton Honors points indirectly with:

and for small business owners:

The conversion rate from American Express to Hilton points is 1:2.

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which can be used to earn Hilton Honors points

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

Comments (58)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Tom says:

    “DoubleTree is well regarded despite technically being one rung below the main Hilton brand. ”

    Interesting that some DoubleTrees have an Executive Lounge (e.g. Angel, Cromwell Road, Tower Bridge), whilst many London Hiltons do not.

    • NorthernLass says:

      I stayed at the DT West End this week and it was much nicer than some Hiltons I have stayed in!

  • David S says:

    I know words like subjective and difficult might come to mind… but is it possible to create a brand comparison table eg what is the IHG , Marriott and Accor equivalent to each of the zillions of Hilton brands and visa versa. You would think that one exists out there somewhere

  • Robert says:

    I have said before, as a long time Hilton diamond I do not see a real benefit between gold and diamond.

    *Free breakfast is a good and diamond benefit.
    *Lounge access, when available, most lounges offer very limited choices.
    *Late checkout almost never after 2pm and anyone can get this since 3pm is the normal check in time.
    *Upgrades, are virtually non existant, hotels play the game by renaming room types and basically giving you an identical room, adding bathrobes and calling it executive or premium.
    *Lifetime diamond requires 10 years and 1000!! Nights. That last requirement is double from what Marriott requires

    • E says:

      “Lifetime diamond requires 10 years and 1000!! Nights. That last requirement is double from what Marriott requires”.

      No, it isn’t. Lifetime Platinum with Marriott is 600 nights. (And Lifetime Titanium when it was offered was 750 nights.)

    • Russell Gowers says:

      Couldn’t disagree more – lounge access is a huge bonus for me. Particularly on reward stays – if we get a hotel with a lounge we will have 1-2 drinks each before dinner, maybe some snacks as well. If we were in a bar we’d easily run up a £40 bill per night stay. Everywhere except London I also find that you get a substantial upgrade as a diamond member.

      YMMV though I guess.

      • Tom says:

        At the better lounges the food can be substantial enough to skip dinner. I recently had 5 nights at the Hllton Bankside, and only felt the need to dine in the restaurant once.

        Between that and the free breakfast (for two) I reckon I was saving £100 a day.

    • Sam says:

      The issue with Diamond is the devaluation of it. I blame them aspire credit cards which can give anyone in the US Diamond status for a relatively small fee when you consider the other perks offered with the card, ie the ridiculous 200,000 sign up bonus.

      There needs to be a level above which actually recognises status earned exclusively from paid stays at Hilton properties – probably never gonna happen though.

      • Tom says:

        The HS Hilton Aspire card does not have that small a fee. It just went up to $550 a year!

        • Sam says:

          Look at all the other benefits that come with it. A free reward night + $400 Hilton resort credit to name a couple. That makes it a relatively small fee to me!

          • Tom says:

            Using those credits is a hassle though due to the way they are structured. And I am not a resort kind of guy.

            The free night is valuable, although can only be booked by phone, which is annoying.

            Given that you get free breakfast with Gold, the only Diamond perks worth anything to me are the free night and the lounge access, although that latter requires me to stay at a pricier property anyway.

  • Adam says:

    One hotel that drives me mad is Biltmore Mayfair LXR – no availability for standard room on points one year ahead. The lowest category they sell is deluxe, which classified as premium redemption.

  • Louise K says:

    Can anyone advise the best Hilton property at SFO? Tks

    • John says:

      Don’t bother with Hilton in the US

      • Sam says:

        We’re in NY later in year and just booked a Hampton Inn. At least the breakfast is free.
        I cannot be bothered with this dining credit (instantly cancelled out by that urban destination tax). It seems Diamond benefits are virtually non-existent over there.
        That’s why I maintain they need a level up from these credit card diamond freebies and actually recognise people that continuously stay loyal to Hilton through paid stays (30 stays/60 nights a year).
        It’s no wonder Diamond is going down the pan.
        I have also never been offered a 200,000 point bonus for staying at xxx hotels by xxx for example. Only their usual meagre point promos.

  • RTA says:

    I did over 300 nights in hotels last year and have HH Diamond, Hyatt Globalist, Marriott Titanium and IHG Diamond and can categorically say no from my experience!

    Granted my experience has been mainly US based but I have received perhaps only one room upgrade and a couple of basically high floor upgrades. Late checkout is rarely beyond 1 or 2pm. Hilton points are increasingly worthless, I was looking at some hotels in Japan and was lucky to get 0.4 cents (not pence) per point.

    Meanwhile as Globalist I’ve had room upgrades in almost every hotel I’ve stayed, a category 7 stay in NYC in a room that was $900 a night for nothing, a category 4 stay in NYC in a room that was $350 a night for nothing and was upgraded to a suite that was going for $1100 a night at the time. The free breakfasts have generally been $25-35 a time (over a two week stay that’s quite a saving!) and at the NYC hotel was $70. Hilton will give me $15-18 credit a day (which doesn’t even cover breakfast these days) and even less in HGI. Yipee! I know the deal is better outside of US.

    The aforementioned Japan trip I just booked a hotel going for $500 a night at 2.5 cents per point. Sadly Hyatt’s footprint is smaller than Hilton.

    Moving on to Marriott I’ve had a few upgrades but they are hit and miss and their breakfast offering varies a lot between hotels. A Westin I’ve stayed in has had excellent breakfast for free and occasionally I get a suite but others I’ve had nothing. Lounges with all chains are diminishing, especially US side.

    IHG I’ve had a couple of suite upgrades, at HI Express of all places, but nothing anywhere else. I’ve only recently become diamond so we’ll see on some upcoming trips in London and Boston how much difference that makes. There can occasionally be some good spots with IHG points and even Marriott once in a while, but Hilton have some outrageous redemptions lately, Hyatt still largely stick to a reward chart and some of the higher category hotels you can do very well. If I wanted to burn more points I found one hotel doing $1600/nt rooms in Tokyo for 33k points/nt almost 5c/pt value

    • Tom says:

      HH points are only worth 0.4 or 0.5 cents anyway. That is how they can offer up to 180,000 HH points with a credit card. Sounds great but just gets you 2 nights at a decent London property.

      Hyatt points are worth more like 2 cents each, but harder to earn of course.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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