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Don’t dive into miles and points things without understanding. Lesson learned (but will need to be relearned again and again).
I had little experience with Hilton HHonors prior to experimenting with a ‘2-browser trick’ app for the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card. I got the cards specifically for 2 weekend wife harmony trips. It was a massive battle to get the second set of certs.
Time to use them and I ran into the issue I had noticed on various blogs but never fully digested: Hilton certs require that Standard Room Awards be available. The most desirable hotels require more than the house detective to locate a Standard Room in the building.
Valentine’s weekend I am taking my wife to London because she loves the city and Delta low award availability is wide open, though the taxes are a pain.
I mistakenly encouraged her to pick from Hilton hotels in London saying to look for ones with available rooms. Oops. Every one she picked has no Standard Room Awards this weekend or many subsequent weekends. Instead I could have London Hilton on Park Lane for 203,436 points/night. “You will need to purchase 115,589 points for $2,667.67 ”
The hotels with Standard Rooms look quite generic and often happen to be within earshot of an airport or train station. If I am going to burn the certs it is not going to be on a room that looks exactly like a small version of a US room.
View from the Wing recently argued against the Club CarlsonSM Premier Rewards Visa Signature® Card, despite the awesome benefit of the free last night on award redemptions of 2+ days, because he feels the footprint is limited and not so desirable (note: that post’s link is not working, it may have been deleted). My international experience has been quite the opposite of his primarily US view. I have had quite a few business stays the past year in Radisson properties, in Central America and the Middle East in particular, often finding them to be the best 4-star value with original design. When I stay in chain hotels, which is only on business trips and award redemptions, I want some local feeling, which is often lacking in other US-based chains.
I ditched Hilton and tried Club Carlson, with a wealth of Radisson Blu choices this weekend for 50,000 or 44,000 points/night, only a couple did not have award rooms available. I have not seen any of them yet, but from this list, many look really interesting. My wife’s top 2 choices were both available. I click, click, click to book and the 50,000 discount is immediately processed. 25,000 points for a weekend in London at a funky 4-star in the heart of the action. With the 85,000 sign-up bonus from the Visa card, that is 2 nights at its top properties with 35,000 to spare for a lower award weekend, or striking distance to another high-end stay. Works for me.
Now I’ve got to figure out how to use those Hilton certs before they expire.
Disclaimer: I receive a referral fee for the Citi card but not the Club Carlson card.