How to get a hotel room upgrade

Our top tips for getting an upgrade at your next hotel stay.

Getting a hotel room upgrade could be easier than you think. Image credit: jacoblund/iStock
Getting a hotel room upgrade could be easier than you think. Image credit: jacoblund/iStock

If you travel frequently for business or leisure, you know that not all hotel rooms are created alike. Not only do the sizes and locations of rooms vary, but more deluxe rooms generally offer more guest amenities and perks.

For the most comfortable stay possible, it’s a good idea to try to get a hotel room upgrade. Fortunately, this isn’t nearly as difficult as you might think.

Ten tips for getting a hotel room upgrade

If you’ve been wondering how to get a hotel upgrade for your next business or holiday trip, we’re happy to share a few of our favorite tips.

Ask nicely

You wouldn’t think it would be this easy, but frequently you can get a free upgrade simply by asking for it, especially if you are a regular guest at a particular hotel or hotel chain. The hotel doesn’t lose anything by upgrading you if the higher-priced room is going to sit empty that night. Plus, by offering you an upgrade, they’ll gain a happy customer. It’s a win-win! Of course, you’ll want to be discreet about your upgrade request. The hotel won’t be able to upgrade all of the guests in line behind you.

Let the hotel know if you’re celebrating a special occasion

Don’t be shy about sharing your reason for visiting the hotel if that reason includes celebrating a milestone birthday, your anniversary, or your wedding. The front desk agent is likely to give you a hotel upgrade if there is a better room available. You might even get a suite.

Enjoy all the benefits that come with a room upgrade. Image credit: borchee/iStock
Enjoy all the benefits that come with a room upgrade. Image credit: borchee/iStock

Join a hotel loyalty program

Loyalty pays off for frequent hotel guests that join one or more hotel loyalty program. Some of these programs even offer automatic upgrades. For instance, Hyatt’s Gold Passport program offers its diamond members four free upgrades during a calendar year and the Starwood Preferred Guest Program (for Sheraton, Westin, W Hotels and a few smaller hotel chain guests) offers members a free upgrade to the best available room at check-in, including suites. Other programs allow you to use accumulated points to “buy” a room upgrade.

Don’t be afraid to speak up

While we would never suggest complaining just to get an upgrade, we do see the value in not keeping quiet if you encounter a genuine problem during your hotel stay. If your hot water isn’t working or if the air conditioning isn’t operating properly, don’t just suffer in silence. Tell the agent at the front desk about your situation. It’s likely he or she will put you in another, better room. If they don’t have any other rooms available, they will probably send someone to fix the problem quickly and give you a certificate for an upgrade on your next stay.

Choose a newly-opened hotel

Newer hotels may be more likely to offer you a free hotel upgrade than more established properties. That’s because they are still trying to build their customer base and wanting to impress new customers with their property’s amenities.

Check-in at the right time

What time you check into a hotel can also affect your odds of getting an upgrade. Check-in right on time and there may not be many rooms cleaned and available, which limits your chance of an upgrade. Check-in during the rush hour – usually between 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. – and the front desk staff will be too busy to take the extra time necessary to change your room assignment.

Check-in after 8:00 p.m. and all of the extra rooms may be taken. In our experience, we’ve found 4:45 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. to be the ideal time for the right combination of clean rooms and unhurried front desk staff. Booking a convenient and reliable Blacklane car service to get you from the airport to your hotel on time.

Stay during the off-peak season

You’ll have a greater chance of getting an upgrade if you travel during the slow season. A hotel will likely have more rooms at its disposal and the staff won’t be as stressed. For business hotels, the slow times are likely to be the weekends. For warm weather resort hotels, the slow time is likely to be during the summer season.

Get to know the hotel staff

It’s just human nature. We’re all more likely to do something nice for someone we know than for a total stranger. That same principle works at hotel check-in desk. Stay at the same hotel frequently, become a familiar face at check-in, leave reviews on sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp! and take a little extra time to be friendly to the staff and you’ll be surprised at how many times you’ll get upgraded, even without asking.

Check out your credit card offers

If you own a credit card, it's worth checking to see if it is associated with any hotel deals. Image credit: Kenishirotie/iStock
If you own a credit card, it’s worth checking to see if it is associated with any hotel offers. Image credit: Kenishirotie/iStock

Some credit card programs offer complimentary upgrades at certain hotels. This is particularly true of hotel-branded credit cards and the higher-level American Express cards. Make sure to read those inserts that come with your monthly bill. They may just contain some useful hotel offers.

Book a short stay

A one or two-night stay is also more likely to earn you an upgrade than a longer stay. That’s because the hotel can’t be sure they won’t need that upgraded room for a full-tariff customer more than a couple of days in advance. Fortunately, the average business trip lasts between two and three days.

Getting a hotel room upgrade doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult. For best results, simply make sure to ask (nicely), join the hotel’s loyalty program and get to know the hotel staff. You’ll be surprised at how often you’ll be upgraded.