Is This The Secret To Hilton Diamond Suite Upgrades?

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While I’m primarily loyal to Hyatt Gold Passport and Starwood Preferred Guest, I’ve actually been fairly impressed by Hilton this year. They’ve really stepped up their game on the promotion front, especially when it comes to all properties participating. Hilton is now even matching all the way to HHonors Diamond status, following the lead of Hyatt.

HHonors Gold vs. Diamond status

I’ve been either Hilton HHonors Gold or Diamond for years. Hilton sure makes it easy to earn status with them through credit cards:

$40,000 of credit card spend for top tier hotel status isn’t half bad. Even when earning it that way, though, I pondered if there was any value in HHonors Diamond status.

I just didn’t see much differentiation between Gold and Diamond status. The one suite upgrade I got was on my first ever stay as a Diamond member, at the Hilton Budapest.

Hilton-Budapest-Suite
My only suite upgrade at the Hilton Budapest

Hilton HHonors Diamond suite upgrades

While Hyatt offers Diamond members four confirmed suite upgrades per year (each of which can be used to confirm a suite upgrade at the time of booking for up to seven nights) and Starwood offers unlimited complimentary suite upgrades based on availability (plus 10 Suite Night Awards if you qualify with 50 nights), Hilton doesn’t guarantee any sort of suite upgrades, even based on availability.

Instead Hilton changed the terms of the HHonors program in 2012 to give hotels the latitude to offer suite upgrades. At the time they changed the terms to say the following (bolding mine):

Complimentary room upgrades for Gold and Diamond HHonors members may include the next-best available room from the room type booked. Upgrades may also be rooms with desirable views, corner rooms, rooms on high floors, rooms with special amenities, or rooms on Executive Floors, as identified by each property. Room upgrades, for Diamond members only, may also include suites.

To me saying “room upgrades may include suites” is different than saying “room upgrades include suites based on availability.” The former is simply giving hotels the discretion to offer suite upgrades if they feel like it, while the latter is a promise based on availability.

I had asked in the past about how best to approach Diamond suite upgrades with Hilton, though even with a bit of effort I never had much luck.

Hilton-Frankfurt-1
No suite upgrades for me as a Hilton Diamond member!

Does a reader have the answer?

Only a very small percentage of blog readers read the comments section, and an even smaller percentage comment. Perhaps the blog’s most prolific commenter is DCS, who is a Hilton fanboy extraordinaire.

Every time I say Hyatt offers four confirmed suite upgrade awards he corrects me to say that Hilton offers unlimited suite upgrades (to him there’s no difference between a suite upgrade confirmed at the time of booking and one at check-in based on availability and at the discretion of the hotel).

Every time I say Hyatt and Starwood offer guaranteed 4PM check-out, he says Hilton offers the same, since he has never had a problem with late check-out.

So I like to joke around with DCS, but I do think there’s something we can learn from him. He claims he received suite upgrades on 12 of 12 Hilton stays last year, and also received suite upgrades on 11 of 13 Hilton stays this year. He has posted pictures of all his suite upgrades online, and I have no reason to believe he’s lying.

So I asked him how he scores a suite upgrade on almost every Hilton stay. Here’s his answer:

Now for your query about how to frame the suite upgrade requests. Each situation is, of course, unique and different and must be “read” carefully. My goal is always to get a property to check, in good faith and not just for show, whether any suites are available. So, when I am told that as a valued Diamond member I have been upgraded to a nice room on the executive floor, I would smile and say that I had really hoped to be considered for a complimentary Diamond suite upgrade because there seemed to be quite a bit of availability when last I checked. At this point if the person checking me in has managerial privileges s/he would say: “Let me check…” Someone with no managerial privileges would contact the manager, who may respond by asking the agent to see what is available. If the search turns up something, I would be upgraded. Sometimes, I would be told that there was no immediate availability but if I was willing to wait for a day or two a suite would become available. This is usually a sign that the search for availability was genuine. Since my stays tend to be long, I have exercised the option to wait for a suite on a couple of occasions (it is how I wound up in an Executive Suite for 7 nights on a 9-night stay at Hilton Singapore last year).

If I sense some reluctance, I would generally come out and say why a suite a upgrade is so important to me, especially on lengthy stays – I am an academic [I am a Very Serious Person] who does a lot work on the road, and since this is going to be my “home” for the next, e.g., 6 nights it would really be great to have room to work.

If a property is fully booked, I would provide them with a rationale for upgrading me to a suite: it would free a more affordable standard room for someone else to book. It works well because I believe that is why I was automatically upgraded at Hilton Phuket, or at Hilton Melbourne or at HHV as a HH Gold. Each property was packed and in high demand so top elites likely got upgraded to free more affordable rooms. You just need to nudge them into doing something that they were probably already considering…

Bottom line: the above is just a sampling but each situation is unique. What is certain is that you will miss 100% of the shots that you do not take. Do not expect to be automatically upgraded to a suite very many times because I suspect that the unspoken/unwritten policy is that suite upgrades should not be offered unless explicitly requested by a Diamond member.

Just as important is that one must be good-natured about it all. Establishing a good rapport from the outset may, in fact, be the most important factor…

“Pushy” won’t work. I ought to know because, after all, I have a perfect suite upgrade record. 😉

What do I make of this advice?

We can sit here and laugh at the prospect of getting suite upgrades as a Hilton Diamond, as I have for a long time. But I do believe DCS is being honest, and maybe we can all learn something from him.

At Starwood front office associates are used to being asked about suite upgrades, since it’s a published Platinum benefit. Meanwhile I doubt there are many people as persistent as DCS when it comes to suite upgrades at Hiltons. Clearly being polite but firm (and indicating that one is a Very Serious Person) is the key to suite upgrades with Hilton.

If I didn’t love Hyatt and Starwood as much, I’d almost give this a try.

Hilton-Manchester-Deansgate-26
Hilton Manchester Deansgate executive club

What do you guys think?

I know I’m not alone in having a terrible upgrade record back when I was a Hilton Diamond. But I was also largely too sheepish to outright ask for a suite upgrade. Do any Hilton Diamond members use the same method outlined above? And if not, will you give it a try, given the above reported success?

I’m curious to hear if this works for others as well.

About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

More articles by lucky »

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Comments

  1. Why can’t you just write objectively on this topic? Every time you mention DCS you get SUPER passive aggressive.

  2. As a diamond member at Hilton I have found the best approach is to send the hotel a friendly email a week or two before an upcoming stay at a property where it actually matters to me to get a potential suite upgrade. I do a lot of work travel where I may have 1 night stays or sometimes 2 night stays and I honestly don’t care one bit about having a suite on those stays. As long as I am given the benefit of lounge or restaurant breakfast and if needed a late check out, that is good enough for me. But on longer stays I welcome a suite, so I’ll simply write a nice email explaining that it is my first time at the property (or a returning trip because I chose the hotel for xyz) and as a diamond member I was really looking forward to the possibility of a suite upgrade and would they please be able to check availability for me during my stay? I don’t keep records, but I’ve had several suite upgrades over the years – not 100%, but more than 50%.

    The most recent one that worked was a nice suite upgrade at the Conrad Macao where I used 40,000 points for one night. My companion and I were offered a 3 room suite with a gorgeous view and of course full lounge benefits which included afternoon tea 3-5 and open lounge with food and liquor 5:30-8 I believe. I had emailed ahead of time mentioning a special trip for me and my companion etc…

  3. @Matt – +1
    As someone who has worked in hotels, DCS is the type of guest that every Front Desk Agent can’t stand, unless he is slipping some sort of compensation to the agent.

  4. @ David — I *am* writing objectively. I’m actually highlighting what he says and saying there is some merit to it.

  5. @patrick

    A client who is outwardly friendly towards front line staff and stays for long periods is the type of customer you can’t stand, just because they ask for an upgrade to a better room? Having worked the front line at hotels for many years, I can tell you, unequivocally, that you’re full of garbage. That type of client is far from someone that the staff can’t stand, and I feel bad for any hotel that you used to work for. Especially given your insinuation that you’ll only be helpful if people bribed you.

  6. @Lucky — I am flattered! Also, thank you for a more even-handed preamble than usual when posting about HHonors, and recognizing that the program has noticeably stepped up their game, a development that I attribute to the visionary leadership their current CEO: Christopher J Nassetta, who credits (see: Hilton’s recent Form 10-K filings with the SEC), returning loyal (HHonors) customers for directly contributing about 50% to the company’s bottom line, explaining his clear determination to strengthen the program…

    Lastly, thanks for this: “I believe DCS is being honest, and maybe we can all learn something from him” because it is absolutely true. The proof is in the pudding. You can quibble about the wording (an upgrade “can be” rather than “is”) but anyone who understands the Hilton system knows that most of their properties are owned by franchisees who are given a great deal of latitude in deciding how to implement certain aspects of the HHonors program [one thing that Nassetta has clearly put his foot down on is that no properties are allowed to opt out of promos, precisely because of his belief that HHonors is greatly responsible to the company’s renewed financial health).

    Anyway, since the HH Diamonds suite upgrade perk became official I have reported my successes in a public forum that was started by someone for just that purpose. People can be skeptical if they wish but a picture is worth a 1000 words…so go ahead and take a look. I am sure you’ll be convinced.

    2012-2013: http://milepoint.com/forums/threads/diamond-suite-upgrade-reports.67743/#post-2027579
    2013-2014: https://milepoint.com/forums/threads/diamond-suite-upgrade-reports.67743/page-2#post-2513107

    2014-2015: 11 of 13 suite upgrades cleared to date (3 more award stays to go before the end of the year) — full report coming soon in a forum near you!

    Good luck and G’day!

  7. @ Matt and patrick

    I don’t really think its begging when its a published benefit of status that you can be upgraded to a suite as a Diamond member at the hotel’s discretion. True, the hotel doesn’t have to upgrade him, but Hilton corporate policy allows them to if they have the availability and it wouldn’t disrupt any paid bookings. Its not like he’s coming in with no status having booked the lowest level room on a super saver Priceline booking asking for a complimentary suite upgrade. He’s merely asking if the hotel to use its discretion to extend a benefit to him that Hilton allows them to extend.

  8. @patrick — Well, you are wrong. I practically now own Conrad Hong Kong, Hilton Singapore, and, to a lesser extent, Hilton Beijing Wangfujing, because of how many times I have stayed there and the great rapport that I have developed with nearly everyone. I have not been denied a suite upgrade at Conrad Hong Kong after some 8-9 stays in 3 years. The last three upgrades there were offered without my having to ask, and I suspect that I will not need to ask when stop there again for 3 nights in about 3 weeks.

    Unless you have concrete evidence, it is better to just shut up rather than to open your mouth and let everyone know how stupid you are…

    @C Diddy — Thank you.

  9. My best tactic is to show up at 6:15 a.m during the busiest week of the year, looking rather forlorn and pathetic after a 12 TPAC flight. Worked wonders for me at the Conrad Tokyo.

    Eric

  10. @Matt – +1
    If they had wanted to give him a suite, they would have done so from the beginning.

    I seems a bit tasteless to beg in tandem with the whole “DYKWIA, I’m a DIAMOND” play, but I suppose everyone has a different threshold for embarrassment. If a suite upgrade really is that important for a specific stay, Matt S seems to have reached a reasonable compromise.

  11. Actually, I think this Hilton Diamond is accurate and a good example of how and why I do so well with my own SPG Platinum suite upgrades! Those who don’t ask won’t receive…and most people are somewhat passive aggressive in my experience, preferring not to confront an issue that bothers them (e.g. not getting a suite upgrade or benefit, etc., at the time) and rather complaining about the perceived slight or issue only after the fact. Those who are willing to “confront” in a polite but firm and reasonable manner are those most likely to get more of what they want in my experience. That is likely just as true for Hilton as it is for Hyatt and Starwood, and even Marriott, to be honest.

    I also think a lot of people complain about not getting suite upgrades for all hotel groups, not realizing that different types of hotels have different numbers of suites. The more luxury a hotel, the more likely there is a higher proportion of suites to begin with. Those staying in regular business hotels or select service hotels will always have a smaller chance of a suite upgrade because there are fewer suites available, if any. Those staying in luxury hotels which cost a lot more often have far more suites available…and the fact that they’re more expensive to begin with make their suites even more expensive and likely to be available. Again, that usually is true across brands.

  12. @ C Diddy – I respectively disagree with your comment and if you can’t tell what kind of person/guest DCS is from his comment to me, then that’s fine. If a guest is friendly, great, give them a better room, completely agree. It is when guests become pushy that it irritates people and that is how it came across to me and others.

  13. and one last thing, those demanding/rude guests (not saying you DCS so relax) are going to get what they want 99% of the time as the majority of employees don’t want to deal with it and it is easier to just give something to someone instead of arguing. Unfortunately, the nice guy doesn’t win very often and this trend really causes bad and awarding behavior.

  14. Cross program top tier experience:

    My Suite upgrade rate is heavily stacked in favour of SPG by a huge margin (over 90%). Stay pattern is short 1-2 night stays predominantly but over 150 nights this year itself.

    I’ve found much less success with suite upgrades (closer to half the time, or more frequently when you’re a return repeat guest) in Hilton (upgrades at discretion just can’t compete with upgrades on availability with SPG)
    Marriott come in at number 3
    Hyatt at number 4 (80 nights in 2015)
    Accor only ever seems to do one category

    Problem is people muddy the issue a lot and prevent any sort of constructive advice by talking in general terms such as “never been upgraded” “always been upgraded”.

    The chain that *always* upgrades pro-actively is actually Hyatt which is only a lowly no.4 if I talk about suite upgrades or meaningful upgrades that actually feel like upgrades. That’s what I think people mean when they say Hyatt is most consistent. However, the strong implementation of Hyatt’s policy merely matches the weak implementation of SPG (and Hilton’s) stronger policy. Hyatt will have that club room ready to go without you having to ask, however so will SPG and Hilton, what you have to remind both about is the suite. And a Club room is often exactly the same type of room as the base room but with lounge access (which you would get as a top tier anyway even if you were in a base room)

    There are other nuances. Hyatt will not cross the suite barrier unless you are a return repeat guest and they want to make an exception (So if you book the highest non suite room, they will leave you in it since the program merely states best non-suite room upgrade) whereas Hilton/Marriott will cross the suite barrier for you and do the “one level upgrade” if you’re already in the highest category. SPG of course “assures” the suite based on availability. The problem is SPG assures it, not the hotel, so you have to sometimes remind the hotel but it is pretty much the only program that’s backing your right to a suite with its T&C.

    At Hilton, if they still don’t give you one after politely asking once you’re out of luck (I refuse to press the matter more than asking once politely). At SPG, if its available, it should be yours.

    Marriott is a lot like Hilton. At Hyatt, I ask extra nicely and usually don’t receive it unless I have special privileges at the hotel (Then I’m 100% on suites but that’s not because of HGP, that’s special arrangements and not a function of the program)

    While I have never begged or thrown a tantrum, I find myself always having to remind new hotels of the upgrade benefit, a one off reminder of their own availability always seems to do the trick at SPG at least so I choose to stick by them since they do multi level room upgrades (usually to full suites) most consistently and painlessly for me.

  15. I have an example for one of DCS points – if a property is almost sold out of its lesser rooms it would be willing to upgrade any elite with a much nicer room so to free up their inventory. Personally had this at a Residence Inn at El Seguindo in June – at check in we were given a 2 bedrooms versus the Studio booked with the e-Cert. At the time we did not realize how full the hotel was until we returned that evening and noticed the parking lot was full to the gill. The following morning at the breakfast area, even the vast high top communal long tables were fully occupied. Turn out this location is frequented by many government employees and contractors plus business people plus tourists families. It had one of the higher pay rates than other Marriott airport hotels despite this one is a few miles out and do not provide shuttle service (but free parking). By giving us the 2-bedroom the hotel freed up our basic room which produced revenue as the 2-bedroom rate was almost $3001

    The check in time at a fully booked hotel also could make a difference.

    Another friend at Cape Town checked in Radisson Blu Waterfront on 2 x 2 award nights in the mid morning. Hotel was full because there was a fortnight art festival in Cape Town but a customer just checked out a 2 bedroom suite on top floor – so the hotel gave that room to my friend. While a week earlier when we checked in at around 3pm, same fully booked hotel and they had to search up and down then finally gave us a basic room but at a corner with one side of window overlooking the small marina instead of the regular basic room with only one side of window overlooking the parking lot. The take away is, if a hotel is fully booked, check in as early as possible.

  16. I spend a decent amount of time at Hiltons, but my upgrade ratio sucks. I don’t usually care, but I will say my last visit was really unpleasant. I have an upcoming stay, though, where a suite upgrade would be really amazing. So I might have to try this strategy or the one another commenter mentioned.

  17. @Lucky sez: “Meanwhile I doubt there are many people as persistent as DCS when it comes to suite upgrades at Hiltons.”

    That makes it sound like a lot of work, which is why many who complain about not getting upgrades at Hilton properties don’t try and thus get nothing, but it really isn’t much work at all. When being checked in, I am invariably told that “As our valued Diamond member, we have upgraded you to a nice room on the exec floor or a room with a harbor view”. That’s always the cue for me to make my pitch for a suite upgrade, and it is usually like idle chatter… There is no sweat or stress at all, and being a HH Diamond already indicates that I stay at Hilton hotels quite a bit (also implying loyal a customer) and that I have quite likely made similar pitches for suite upgrades before, so there is usually a bona fide effort by most property to see if they could upgrade me. My experience is a bit spottier in the US, but in Asia, my favorite travel destination, things have been consistently great.

    If one must try too hard then chances are one won’t get the upgrade. Just make the pitch and stand back and let them do their thing, but accept the outcome whatever it is. The only time I was truly persistent was at Hilton Tokyo in 2012 (because I was irked that the manager had misinterpreted the upgrades rule that you quoted above), but I ended up not getting the upgrade… 🙂

  18. @Dave asks: “Does Hilton treat paid stays different than award stays with regard to upgrades to suites?”

    That is one unique feature of HHonors: elite perks are independent of the type of booking. As far as individual properties are concerned award stays and revenue stays are indistinguishable, so that the HH Diamond suite upgrade perk applies to either, if it is deemed ‘eligible’ (meaning a stay not booked through opaque or third-party channels).

    About 50% of my suite upgrades have been on “pure” (i.e., points-only) award stays…

  19. @Vineet sez: “Hilton (upgrades at discretion just can’t compete with upgrades on availability with SPG)”

    Let’s get one more thing straight. According to the 2015 HHonors T&C: “Diamond HHonors guests will receive upgrades to preferred rooms, based on AVAILABILITY at the time of check-in”

    What is at the discretion of properties is what they choose to call a suite or a “premium” room, but that is pretty much the same thing across the board, is it not?…

  20. Not sure why anyone thinks DCS is being pushy. Simply asking for a suite is being pushy? I guess I must be pushy then…

  21. I’ve been Hilton Gold for 3 years, and just hit Diamond for the first time last month. In Australia and Asia as a Gold member I got suites around 70% of my stays, and as Diamond 3/3 since getting that new status.
    Hotels are notoriously less generous in the US for suite upgrades at Hilton but internationally I find them fantastic. I was lucky enough to get the Hyatt Status Match and am using it for the first time next week and looking forward to see if they compare to my beloved Hilton…

    Im with DCS as a HH Loyalist

  22. @ Jack — Thanks for sharing your experience! Out of curiosity, are you typically requesting upgrades, or being offered them proactively? If you’re requesting them, how do you go about doing so?

  23. @ Lucky
    Probably around 50/50 I’d say.. Most Hiltons process their elite upgrades ahead of check in, so this will appear in your online booking the night before or morning of check in. If no upgrade appears, or it’s not all that great, I know I need to ask at check in.. Usually just something like “Are there by any chance some Diamond upgrades available tonight”.

    If its a hotel I know well, I know what room type to request and this has never been denied, but more often than not, they have been proactively offered by the hotel. I even had a check in agent last week notice the upgrade in the system and say something along the lines of “Well thats not good enough, let me see what else I have” Turned out the only thing left was the Top Level suite… Which I got without even asking a word.

  24. @DCS – How do you normally earn HHonors points for so many award stays each year? We stayed at the Conrads in Macau and HKG as only a Gold and it has spoiled us and we’d love to return to those and other Conrads.

  25. I just received the Diamond status today through the match with my IHG status. This thread was timely because I have a stay coming up in about a week at a Hilton resort and I plan to ask. Thanks.

  26. Hey guys,

    I’m new to Hilton and have a question about their upgrade policy.
    For example if I book a junior suite at the Waldorf Berlin, would I be upgraded to the tower suite which is the next level suite/room (guessing its available) or are upgrades limited, for example that they can only be upgraded to a maximum room type (which may be the standard suite)?

    Thanks for Germany

  27. The August update to the Hilton HHonors T&C revised the wording on Diamond upgrades to suites, but the intent appears to be pretty much as it was beforehand.

    “At Waldorf Astoria® Hotels & Resorts, Conrad® Hotels & Resorts, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Curio – A Collection by Hilton, and DoubleTree by Hilton™ properties, Diamond HHonors guests will receive upgrades to preferred rooms, based on availability at the time of check-in (excludes Napua Tower at Grand Wailea and Imperial Floor at Rome Cavalieri). Upgrades for Diamond HHonors guests may include the next-best available room from the room type booked. Upgrades may also be rooms with desirable views, corner rooms, rooms on high floors, rooms with special amenities, rooms on Executive Floors, or suites, as identified by each property. Upgrades exclude executive suites, villas and specialty accommodations (which may include, but not limited to, “Vista” and “Villa” accommodation types), subject to the discretion of the hotel.

  28. I’m HH Diamond and Marriott Platinum. In my experience it really depends on the hotel and who you get at checkin. I rarely push too hard if it’s not offered. Some admittedly non-aspirational properties like the HGI across the street from the new Apple flying saucer campus in Cupertino seem to go out of their way to upgrade Diamonds to better suites. Same with Hilton Union Square in San Francisco. In London I’ve had good luck at Hilton Paddington. And if you ever have to go to Vicksburg MS there is a really good Hampton Inn 🙂 which treats diamonds like royalty. I never have had to ask at any of these. But Hilton San Francisco Financial District , nothing. Rarely even executive floor. I actually care more about fast Internet and good/free breakfast and lounge food until I go on my Marriott Courtyard diet sonectine.

  29. @DCS and @lucky. Use this technique when you visit Manila Conrad next year. On your trip to the wonderful beaches of the Philippines. Notice how I saw when. LOL
    Bit seriously, check it out.

  30. I have just stayed at the gigantic Hilton Foshan this past weekend with Diamond booked on points (it was wonderful.) At first, the agent said the room was not available yet; then she said one room has just opened up. When asked whether a suite upgrade would be available for Diamonds, she told me I had already been upgraded. It sounded as though the entire time she was only looking for availability in suites.I ended up in a beautiful suite at the end of the hall way on executive floor.

    I wonder how long this would last though. I overheard staff in the lounge talking about Diamonds without many stays (like myself), and the manager was telling them about this “status matching” game.

  31. @Ken — I travel all year for business (scientific conferences) as an Ivy League medical university professor, either as an invited speaker or attending a conference of interest, which I select to be as far away as possible and always flying with United/*A and staying at Hilton properties. Scientific conferences are typically a week long so my stays tend to be quite long (often I would tack on a few personal days before or after the conference if the location is especially exotic). As a HH Diamond who is set up to maximize my earning of points from every stay (at least 32HH/$) and who is always aware of promos that Hilton runs and have been truly lucrative in 2015, I have (a) requalified for Diamond with as few as 12 stays on base points (i.e. on spend, which only HH allows, in addition to qualifying based on the # of nights or stays as in every other program) and (b) have always raked in at least 700K HH points every year from the long stays, except this year when I will earn over 1M HH points thanks to the promos. So, I rake in the points all year from my business-related (reimbursable) travel and then I do a single Big-Time redemption at the end of the year [my Annual Year-end Asian Escapade ™], the “anatomy” of one of which you can see here:
    https://milepoint.com/forums/threads/2014-year-end-asian-escapade-or-the-anatomy-of-a-big-time-redemption.109108/

    I hope that answered your question.

    @MNLFREAK — “Manila Conrad” [should it not be “Conrad Manila”?] must be new because I was in Manila the past 2 years and stayed at Hyatt Regency Manila Hotel & Casino — which is no longer there now — precisely because Hilton had no properties in Manila…

    @Kevin — @Lucky made it sound as if Hilton’s T&C were wishy-washy about their commitment to offering suite upgrades, but I think that the broad wording is much better because it allows properties a lot of latitude to reward their best customers:
    “Upgrades for Diamond HHonors guests may include the next-best available room from the room type booked. Upgrades may also be rooms with desirable views, corner rooms, rooms on high floors, rooms with special amenities, rooms on Executive Floors, or suites, as identified by each property. ”

    So, if you book a junior suite, you could make a legit claim to be upgraded to a full suite because that’s the “next-best available room from the room type booked”. One could make the claim all the way up to the Presidential Suite if one books a suite just below it! If I were you, I would make a case — good-naturedly, of course — for an upgrade to the “next-best available room from the room type” you booked 😉

    G’day!

  32. I don’t like having to turn into a beggar. This is the reason why I don’t care about Hilton or becoming elite with them.

  33. I am a Hilton Diamond, but I don’t try to let my trips be made or ruined whether or not I get a suite. I don’t visit a location to use a hotel suite. I have had some nice suites and some rooms that were rather small, but I don’t let it ruin my experience. The one time I was traveling with six people in multiple rooms and got a massive suite at the Palmer House in Chicago and that was actually very memorable. Or the suite at the Roosevelt in New Orleans, that had more TV’s than people in the room, very nice.

    When traveling on personal travel I have asked for upgrades like DCS describes and I think have been rewarded fairly. As a diamond member, I value the lounge access (which I’ll always get), the better rooms (not necessarily upgraded), late check-out (rarely get 4pm, but 1pm is common), free breakfast if no lounge, and the points. I sometimes wish I could exchange the free breakfast for a coupon for another meal, but I understand the reasoning.

    I don’t think hotels do a good job of advertising their suites. If I knew the suites had double vanity bathrooms, I might be more excited about getting a suite. If I knew the only way to get a top floor room with the best view was a suite, then I might be more interested. I don’t want a room with more square footage just for the room.

  34. @Anonymous. But I bet you beg for as many status matches as possible and other freebies with as little true spending as possible.

  35. “@Vineet sez: “Hilton (upgrades at discretion just can’t compete with upgrades on availability with SPG)”

    Let’s get one more thing straight. According to the 2015 HHonors T&C: “Diamond HHonors guests will receive upgrades to preferred rooms, based on AVAILABILITY at the time of check-in”

    What is at the discretion of properties is what they choose to call a suite or a “premium” room, but that is pretty much the same thing across the board, is it not?…”

    I should have clarified to suites. Hilton’s wording assures an upgrade based on availability but not that the upgrade will be a suite. That is upto hotel discretion.

    SPG is more firm, its wording includes suites (subject to availability) and removes discretion of hotel as a factor. It could be the last remaining (standard) suite, if SPG had their way, the hotel would have to give it to you.

    While properties can game the room type with base/club/view rooms. I cannot see how the suite barrier can be fudged. SPG is clear on what they define as a suite and properties with junior suites usually offer both junior suites and a standard suite in the Plat upgrade pool.

    So a suite and premium room isn’t the same thing and SPG doesn’t allow hotel’s discretion with this nomenclature. A room with a premium view (Say of the Eiffel tower) is very much an acceptable upgrade that meets the T&C of the Hilton program, but if a junior suite (may not be different from a premium room) or a standard suite (definitely different from a premium room) is available above it, then such an upgrade fails to meet SPG’s standards.

    The implementation maybe that both initially assign you the Eiffel View room but when you gently ask them if a suite is possible:

    1) Hilton can say sir we have already upgraded you to one of our best rooms and at this moment we do not have any suites available for upgrades. That is that.

    2) SPG can’t say that, if they have anything upto a standard suite available, then by definition it is a suite available for upgrade. If you pull it up on the app as bookable, its a problem for the hotel. If you Tweet SPG about it, they will often contact the hotel and get you upgraded and offered a full explanation (something similar to what Ben experienced at St Regis Abu Dhabi back when the property did infact upgrade him to a suite, but not the best one possible). If that was a Hilton, he wouldn’t have gotten the better suite. But SPG made good on its program promise (which sometimes the properties don’t without nudging, neither do Hilton properties, especially in the US).

    Bottom line is SPG has your back more than HHonours does when pitted against a reluctant Starwood or Hilton property.

  36. @Vineet — You are trying too hard to find differences between SPG’s and HHonors’ complimentary suite upgrades when there are not any in practical terms because the name of the game is availability. You have done very well with SPG upgrades and I can argue that I have done just as well with HHonors’ upgrade. All that says is that we each have developed the acumen to “read” our respective programs very well.

    For my pattern of travel and stays, SPG would be too expensive so I have not invested much in that program. However, based on what you have stated here and elsewhere, I strongly suspect that I would to very well in clearing complimentary SPG suite upgrades by simply fine-tuning the approach that has worked so well for me at Hilton. Whether SPG or HHonors is better in this case is essentially a wash since we both are doing quite well. There is no argument to be made or had when it comes to complimentary upgrades. Individual skills in clearing them trumps all else…

  37. Hey DCS and Lucky,
    Do I get more chances of being upgraded to a suite if I initially book a Deluxe room instead of a Standard? Or does this not apply…
    In other words, It doesn’t matter what room I initially book, if there is suite available they “should” upgrade me?

    Thanks

  38. Either people are being extremely pushy for suite upgrades or the hotels are having set policies. Have now stayed in the same hotel for 3 months. 4 days a week. Yes I do get upgrade to the executive floor if a Delux room is not booked. But a suite, Never!

  39. The best statement in this article is “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

    I always ask for upgrades, and many times they just come in the form of room location, floor or view vs actual suites. But if that’s all they have, that’s all they have. I think I will try some of DCS’s tactics and see if I have more success getting suites. IMO you earned that Diamond status. Throw your weight around a bit. Be respectful and friendly while doing so and people are going to be willing to help you out.

    I also want to mention that I have been a Gold for a couple years, but finally just reached Diamond so I haven’t had chance to see if there are any differences.But even as a Gold I have been upgraded as far up as a presidential suite (which was insanely awesome).

  40. My question is the same as several others. When booking a Hilton room, is there a strategic approach for which room type to go for, with an upgrade in mind? According to T&C, you only get upgraded one room type. So should you book a room one level below the suite, or is the cheapest room ok?

  41. Lucky – for a short while in 2014, Hilton had open access to their hospitality manual that clearly specified that upgrades were to be the best available room, including suites.

    Since reading DCS’ comments, I’ve also had great success at suite upgrades – every time there has been a suite available, I’ve been upgraded. Some times I have to ask and that usually gets front desk manager involved. But once that happens, it’s been a graceful and no hassle experience – didn’t have to beg – just simply ask. Compared to my Hyatt Diamond experience, Hilton Diamond has been far better. Plus I have significantly more properties to choose from than Hyatts small footprint.

  42. @Greg – just book lowest award rate room. You’ll be upgraded to executive level room anyway so bump to a suite (if available – I check online just prior to check-in) isn’t a huge jump. Better success internationally, especially Asia/Australia. Since it’s based on availability, you can’t expect success during peak periods.

  43. @MSer or @DCS,

    I have an upcoming stay at the Doubletree in Cape Town. It is to celebrate our 10 year anniversary and have asked (via email) for the manager to consider an upgrade to the Presidential Suite (best room in the hotel) as I am a Diamond Member and there looks to be plenty of availability (low season).

    I got an email back saying that I would be upgraded to the next level up from the base room but not to a suite. They go on to say that I could pay for an upgrade to avoid disappointment.

    Any suggestion on what to do? Reply by email and try to push for a suite or try asking on check-in?

  44. @llcooljayce
    I can imagine the property’s reaction when they received your email.
    You flashed your status and then ask for their top-suite.
    No program promises top-suite upgrades for their elites.
    They at most offer the standard / junior suites but subjected to availability.
    Most programs specifically excludes executive / special / premium suites in the terms.
    My advise is to check if a suite upgrade (without specifying the type) is possible at check-in.

  45. Wanted to state for the record. As a HH gold member going on my second year with about 10 stays a year in various locations, I have never once received an upgrade. Not sure diamond would do me any better. Have an Amex surpass. Considering another chain or ditching corps for VRBO / Airbnb. Better experiences.

  46. @Sean – Have you ever actually asked for an upgrade? The squeaky wheel get the oil 😉

  47. As a Hilton Gold and an IHG Platinum member, I have much better success getting an upgrade on IHG. In the next few months I will be hitting IHG Spire and Diamond on Hilton. All earned with stays.

    I have noticed that I always get upgraded at certain locations, and never at others. It feels like it is less about corporate policy and more about that particular location policy. I never ask for an upgrade.

    With that being said I am a 24 year old female traveling alone with many short stays. I stay 2 nights at a hotel on average. They want to get me in and get me out.

  48. Lucky / DCS –

    I used DCS’ words exactly on my last two Hilton check ins and got upgraded both times. I just ask if I could be up for consideration for a complimentary Diamond suite upgrade and both times the agent checked (got mgr approval if needed) and voila!

    Thanks for the tip!

  49. i`ve never not received a suite upgrade at non us hotels.
    sometimes i have to find a fault in the room i admit,

    eg hilton old town prague doesn`t have baths in standard suites so after 3rd time of asking got the govenor suite (best room in hotel) with a bath as had a year old baby.
    our worse upgrades ever received are adjoining rooms, again sometimes on the 2nd time of going to reception.

    received presidential suites on numerous occassions.

    i always stand grumpily and ask if a suite is available and when told no at check in, i remind them i`ve seen one online 5 minutes ago (i check just before i get out of the car) that really throws them..

    my suite/adjoining room sucess is 100 percent over the last 5 years as diamond, admittedly the worse case scenario has taken 3 trips to reception at different times of the day.

    i stay 70 nights a year at hiltons and i`ve had to speak with the mod numerous times, twice i`ve had to walk from the hotel with agreed refund and always have a back up of ihg booked on reward with 4pm cancellation policy and check in at to hilton at midday.

    normally with the walk threat a suite appears ( and holding a young child screaming obviously assists )

    i`m not ashamed either.

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