One thing I come across a fair bit from readers is that people enjoy seeing real-life examples of where they can use their points rather than just being shown the theory.
To be honest, I also enjoy seeing other people’s creative uses of points – reading that sort of thing tends to get my brain in gear and helps me to drum up other possibilities.
With that in mind and Valentine’s Day fast approaching, I thought I would take a look at some of the best hotels in London that you can redeem hotel points for a free stay.
As you can see the cheapest Hilton Honors member rate is £280, or you can book a free night using 80,000 Hilton points.
How to earn Hilton points:
Here a couple of options, aside from actually staying at hotels within the Hilton chain of course:
- Converting Membership Rewards points. The transfer ratio is as follows: 1 Membership Rewards point = 2 Hilton Honors points.
- Taking out the free Hilton Honors Platinum Visa (reviewed here).
You search for availability at this hotel and other Hilton properties using the Hilton website.
This is perhaps the pick of the bunch.
Prepaid cash rates start at £472, but if you don’t like making non-refundable bookings, you’re looking at upwards of £524 for a base-level room.
Alternatively, you can redeem 60,000 Marriott Rewards points for a free stay.
How to earn Marriott points
Here are a number of methods you could utilise to build a balance with Marriott:
- Currently, one of the best ways to earn Marriott Rewards points in the UK is by transferring Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) points. The transfer ratio is as follows: 1 SPG point = 3 Marriott Rewards points. That means a free night at this hotel would cost 20,000 SPG points.
- Taking out the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card (reviewed here) – and converting those points to Marriott. The bonus on this card is therefore effectively worth 30,000 Marriott points.
- Converting some Membership Rewards points to Starwood and then onto Marriott as above. (You do lose some value here as the Membership Rewards-Starwood transfer ration is only 2:1)
- Making use of promotions such Extra Points Sundays – I was able to earn more than 10,000 free points with minimal effort over the last few months.
You can view points availability at this hotel and other Marriott properties via the Marriott website.
As you can see from the screenshots above, paid rates for non-refundable bookings start £236 per night, with bookings offering free cancellation costing £295.
Or, you could choose to make a flexible and cancellable points reservation using just 45,000 IHG points. I say “just” because (following a rather sly devaluation) many top-end InterContinental properties such as IC Paris Le Grand or IC Hong Kong now require 70,000 IHG points for a free night.
When measured against that, 45,000 points seems pretty excellent value.
How to earn IHG points
Here are a couple of options:
- Taking out the IHG Premium MasterCard (reviewed in full here).
- Making clever use of promotions such IHG Accelerate – explained here.
- Converting Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles – more info here.
- Buying unlimited amounts of points for less than 0.45p using this trick.
You can view points availability at this hotel and other UK IHG properties using the IHG website here.
As you can see, the cheapest (non-refundable) rate available is £273. This rises to £299 if you would want a flexible rate. Alternatively, you can redeem 20,000 Starpoints for a free night.
To be honest, unless you have a very considerable Starpoints balance, I wouldn’t necessarily be redeeming points at those prices. Personally, I would look for that bit more value from my Starpoints given that they are quite tricky to earn. But that’s just my personal opinion.
How to earn Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) points
Here are a number of methods you could utilise to build a balance with SPG:
- Taking out the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card (reviewed here) – the current sign-up bonus is 10,000 SPG points.
- Converting Membership Rewards points to Starwood.
- Transferring Marriott Rewards points. The transfer ratio is as follows: 3 Marriott Rewards points = 1 SPG point.
You can view points availability at this hotel and other UK Starwood properties using the Starwood website here.
As you can see prepaid and non-refundable cash rates start at £240 for a one-night stay. There is, however, points availability for that night, with the option of redeeming 70,000 Club Carlson points for a free night – which of course is fully flexible and cancellable should your plans change.
How to earn Club Carlson points
One of the easiest ways to collect Club Carlson points in the UK is via American Express Membership Rewards (MR) points.
The transfer ratio is as follows:
1 Membership Rewards point = 3 Club Carlson points
That means a free night at this hotel will cost you approximately 23,000 Membership Rewards points.
If you did choose to redeem your Membership Rewards points that way, even the £240 prepaid rate in this example would give you over 1p of value per Membership Rewards point – which is rather good.
You can search for availability at this hotel and other Club Carlson properties via their website here.
Complimentary benefits at top UK hotels
If you’re looking for something a bit more upscale, and don’t mind shelling out cash, take a look at this Luxury Locations – UK Edition feature from a few months back.
Includes details of guaranteed extra perks such as complimentary breakfast, free WiFi and upgrades where available, at hotels including the Four Seasons Hampshire, Shangri-La The Shard and Stoke Park.
There is no doubt that the very best time to use hotel points is when cash rates are sky high. Given that Valentine’s Day falls midweek this year, hotel prices are not quite as high as they sometimes can be. Nevertheless, top London hotels are never cheap.
If you’ve just come back from your Christmas holiday and don’t fancy the prospect of paying £250 for a hotel room, using points can be a great way around that.