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Reader Adam left the following comment on the Ask Lucky page of the blog:
I had a HORRIBLE experience at the new Hilton Garden Inn Oceanside in VA Beach this past weekend. The funny part is that the Hurricane weather was the least of any issues! The breakfast was horrible. We waited over 90 minutes to be seated and served, and the food was disgusting. The lady who checked us automatically signed us up for the points vs. breakfast (we are GOLD), so i had to go and fix that before breakfast even started. The night before the hotel restaurant was on an hour long wait (due to being understaffed, as was breakfast). Room service made up the room and did a horrible job, including leaving beach sand all over the entry way. We checked out less than 24 hours later on Friday morning and I demanded all my points back (180K). Waste of a July 4th weekend.
What’s your opinion of Hilton brand compared to SPG, Hyatt, etc for stays in the US? I realize that there aren’t as many SPG and Hyatt’s but this was not a good view.
I’ve stayed in nice HGI’s before but I wonder if it’s really still worth achieving $40K in spend to get diamond status on Amex Surpass… versus focusing on SPG???
Ouch, sounds like a pretty rough experience. For what it’s worth I don’t think that’s representative of all Hilton Garden Inn properties — I’ve certainly stayed at some nice ones with good service, so much like all hotel chains, every property is different.
My general feelings about Hilton
For me, Hilton has four major selling points:
- They have hotels almost everywhere, with over 4,000 properties worldwide — that’s more than Hyatt and Starwood combined
- They have a good range of hotel brands, from limited service properties to full service properties (though I wish they had a “true” luxury brand, like Ritz-Carlton or Park Hyatt
- It’s so easy to attain mid-tier status with them if you have the ability to open credit cards in the US, since both the Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Reserve Card and American Express Hilton HHonors Surpass Card offer Gold status for as long as you have the card
- Hilton arguably has one of the most valuable mid-tier elite status level, as it offers breakfast and internet, which I consider to be the two most valuable hotel elite benefits
I’m rarely thrilled about staying at Hiltons. My primary chains are Hyatt and Starwood, so when I’m looking up hotel options, I’ll always research those brands first. If they don’t have properties in the city I’m looking at or the rates are too high, I then look at Hiltons.
Conrad Koh Samui, one of the few awesome Hilton family properties I’ve stayed at
I find the Hilton brand to be really convenient since in many cities they have more properties than any other hotel chains. I have pretty low expectations when I stay at Hiltons, and with that in mind, am rarely disappointed.
I’m currently HHonors Diamond with Hilton (through spending $40,000 per year on the Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Reserve Card), and aside from my first stay, can’t really say I’ve noticed a difference between it and Gold status.
But the simple fact that you can get useful mid-tier status with a hotel chain that has properties almost everyone so easily is a selling point for Hilton.
What about Hyatt and Starwood?
As I said above, they’re my primary hotel chains, and I think they complement one another nicely. But I think I’d struggle being loyal to just one, given their limited footprint in many cities.
Starwood Luxury Collection Hotel Des Indes
Now, you can quite easily attain entry level status with either chain, but unlike with Hilton, that won’t get you free breakfast or club lounge access.
If you want “real” benefits from these stays, you’d have to put in 25 stays or 50 nights with either chain. Admittedly Hyatt does offer a generous fast track to Diamond promotion, so if you want to go for top tier status with a great program, that’s the easiest way to do so. Starwood also offers a Platinum challenge, though it’s not nearly as generous.
I don’t love Hilton, but if I were a leisure traveler that doesn’t “naturally” put in over 25 stays or 50 nights per year, I’d probably still stick with them simply because of the benefits I can get from those stays. Otherwise I’d consider being loyal to Hyatt or Starwood, and filling in gaps in stays using Hilton Gold status.
But unless you do a lot of credit card spend, I don’t generally find it worthwhile to go for Hilton Diamond status, as there are very few differences between it and Gold.