Review: Hilton Zurich Airport

Introduction: A Rare First Class Opportunity
Review: Air Tahiti Nui Business Class A340 Los Angeles To Paris
Review: Hilton Zurich Airport
Review: New Swiss First Class Lounge Zurich Airport
Review: Swiss First Class 777 Zurich To Los Angeles


On this trip I had just one night in Zurich. While I love Zurich as a city, I was trying to be realistic, and knew I wouldn’t have time to do a whole lot of sightseeing while there. I was just getting over a nasty cold, I knew I wouldn’t get a very good night of sleep on the flight over, and I knew I wanted to go to Zurich Airport at the crack of dawn in order to be able to review the excellent Swiss first class lounge.

So I decided that the most practical option was booking the Hilton Zurich Airport, which is a short shuttle ride from the airport. My rate for the one night stay was ~$164, which isn’t especially cheap, though for that I’d earn 13,000+ points, thanks to the great promotions Hilton HHonors is running at the moment.

After my flight from Los Angeles to Paris on Air Tahiti Nui, and then my Swiss connection from Paris to Zurich, I found myself in the arrivals hall of Zurich Airport. I followed the signage in the direction of the train station, and then followed the signage towards the shuttle center.

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Zurich Airport

The shuttle to and from the Hilton operates with the following schedule:

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Hilton Zurich Airport shuttle schedule

As you can see, the shuttle is complimentary to the hotel, while it costs 5CHF (~$5) from the hotel to the airport. There was a convenient screen outside showing the schedules for the various shuttle buses.

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Zurich Airport hotel shuttles

Many airport shuttles run from the hotel on a set schedule and pick up from the airport sporadically, so it’s nice that the Hilton has an exact schedule, so you can wait inside until your shuttle departs. Based on the screen with shuttle service information it also seems like the Hilton is among the only hotels that only offers the shuttle for free in one direction.

The Hilton’s shuttle was a decent size, and sure enough departed exactly on time. The ride to the hotel took only about five minutes, though we made a brief stop at Apart-Hotel by Hilton, which seems to be an extended stay property.

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Hilton Zurich Airport shuttle

The exterior of the Hilton is rather depressing. The hotel is built into the side of a hill, so on the side of the hotel you enter, you’ll only see three floors, while the hotel actually has six floors.

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Hilton Zurich Airport exterior

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Hilton Zurich Airport exterior

Once inside the lobby I found the reception desk immediately to the right.

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Hilton Zurich Airport lobby

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Hilton Zurich Airport lobby

The first thing that stood out to me was that there was a singer with a microphone standing immediately across from the front desk, maybe 30 feet away. I assume the entertainment was intended for the adjacent restaurant, though I felt bad for the front desk associates, since they had to yell to communicate with guests checking in.

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Hilton Zurich Airport lobby

The check-in process was quick, and I was informed that I had been upgraded to an executive level room with lounge access on account of my Diamond status. The associate also explained that I could have breakfast in the restaurant if I preferred, though my plan was to leave the hotel before breakfast even opened in the morning.

With keys in hand I headed to the elevator, located right across from reception. Due to the hotel being built into a hill, the lobby is on the fourth floor, so I had to take the elevator up only two floors, to the sixth floor executive level.

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Hilton Zurich Airport elevators

I don’t know why, but I had assumed this hotel was recently renovated. The hallways, however, were extremely dated. The neutral walls combined with those green panels next to the doors just don’t do it for me.

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Hilton Zurich Airport hallway

I was assigned room 608, which was the fourth room on the left.

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Hilton Zurich Airport room exterior

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Hilton Zurich Airport floorplan

The room was nicer than the hallway, fortunately, with a closet on the right and the bathroom on the left.

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Hilton Zurich Airport executive room entryway

The room was a fair size, as you can see below.

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Hilton Zurich Airport executive room

The bed was quite comfortable, at least by Hilton standards (I find Hiltons to have among the worst mattresses out there, personally).

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Hilton Zurich Airport executive room

In the corner of the room was a stylish (at least in relation to the rest of the room) chair with an ottoman, as well as two bottles of water and some chocolate.

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Hilton Zurich Airport executive room sitting area

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Hilton Zurich Airport bottled water & chocolate

Near the chair was the window, which overlooked some nearby streets. I’m a sucker for an airport view, though sadly I didn’t have one from this room.

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Hilton Zurich Airport view

On the other side of the room was a long table, which acted as a desk, TV stand, and dresser. I appreciated that they had a semi legitimate office chair, though I wish they had international outlets at the desk. It always surprises me when airport hotels don’t have international outlets.

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Hilton Zurich Airport executive room desk & TV

Back near the entrance was the Nespresso coffeemaker, which I wasn’t expecting at a mediocre airport Hilton.

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Hilton Zurich Airport executive room coffee machine

Below that was the minibar.

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Hilton Zurich Airport executive room minibar

The bathroom was back near the entrance, which was small and sort of felt like it belonged in a hospital. It featured a sink, toilet, and shower/tub combo.

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Hilton Zurich Airport bathroom

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Hilton Zurich Airport toilet

While these types of showers are pretty common in Europe, I’m not a fan of the setup. I’d much rather have a walk-in shower. I’ve nearly slipped several times when using this type of shower. Furthermore, in this particular one, there was nowhere to place the showerhead more than six feet up, so I had to hold it to wash my hair, etc.

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Hilton Zurich Airport shower

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Hilton Zurich Airport shower

As is the norm at Hilton properties, toiletries were Peter Thomas Roth branded.

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Hilton Zurich Airport toiletries

As far as the complimentary in-room wifi goes, the speeds were decent, though the connection kept resetting, which was annoying.

As a Diamond member I had access to the executive lounge, located across from reception on the lobby level. There was no key required to enter. For that matter, I was never asked for my room number, so it seems like just about anyone could use it (though perhaps that’s not how it usually works?).

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Hilton Zurich Airport executive lounge

The Hilton Zurich Airport club lounge has the following hours:

  • Open from 6:30AM until 10PM
  • Breakfast from 6:30AM until 10:30AM (11AM on weekends)
  • Cakes and pastries from 3PM until 5PM
  • Happy hour from 6:30PM until 8:30PM

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Hilton Zurich Airport executive lounge hours

The executive lounge was a fairly nice space. The first two thirds of the lounge consisted of tables, while the back third of the lounge had more comfortable leather lounging chairs.

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Hilton Zurich Airport executive lounge

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Hilton Zurich Airport executive lounge

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Hilton Zurich Airport executive lounge

Near the entrance was a chair with a PC.

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Hilton Zurich Airport executive lounge computer

The buffet setup was on the right side of the lounge.

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Hilton Zurich Airport executive lounge buffet

I first visited the lounge at around noon, and was fairly impressed by the daytime snacks they had available. There were chips, nuts, and a few kinds of sweets.

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Hilton Zurich Airport executive lounge snacks

There were also croissants and pastries.

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Hilton Zurich Airport executive lounge snacks

Then there were olives and cheese.

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Hilton Zurich Airport executive lounge snacks

While the lounge had the typical soft drinks and coffee machine, there was also a fridge with some “special” drinks, like yogurt and coffee drinks.

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Hilton Zurich Airport executive lounge drinks

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Hilton Zurich Airport executive lounge coffee

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Hilton Zurich Airport executive lounge drinks

My sleep schedule was horrible for my one night in Zurich, as is the norm for me lately. I fell asleep shortly after noon, and then woke up at 7PM, at which point I headed to the club lounge to check out the spread there.

The evening club spread wasn’t impressive — it just consisted of the below finger sandwiches, cheese plates, and veggies.

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Hilton Zurich Airport executive lounge evening snacks

Then there was sliced bread, as well as two types of greasy hot options (egg rolls and some type of cheese balls).

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Hilton Zurich Airport executive lounge evening snacks

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Hilton Zurich Airport executive lounge evening snacks

There was also a selection of self serve liquor, though the quality wasn’t very good.

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Hilton Zurich Airport executive lounge evening drinks

The lounge wasn’t very full, though best I could tell most of the people in the lounge were airline employees. For that matter, I got the sense that just about everyone staying at this hotel worked for an airline. At least two Gulf carriers put up their crews here, as well as at least three Asian carriers (that’s based on the people I saw in the lobby in uniform, so I’m sure there were even more).

My original plan was to go back to sleep after returning from the club lounge, but then jetlag happened, unfortunately. At around 10PM I got hungry (given that the club lounge spread wasn’t especially filling), so I ordered Thai vegetable curry. This is Switzerland, so the below cost 32CHF (~$32) — the dish cost 24CHF, and then there was an 8CHF tray charge. That pricing is in line with what I’d expect for Switzerland, though I thought the portion was tiny.

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Hilton Zurich Airport room service

I ended up working through the night, and then took the 5AM shuttle to the airport, since I figured I might as well head to the Swiss first class lounge so I could review it before it got busy. The shuttle back to the airport cost 5CHF, so I paid that to the front desk, and then they gave me a ticket for the shuttle.

Hilton Zurich Airport bottom line

This hotel did the trick for what I needed. It’s near Zurich Airport, and as a Diamond member I feel I got a decent value, especially with all the promotions that Hilton is running at the moment. That being said, I had slightly higher hopes for the hotel — while the rooms were nicely renovated, a lot of the public areas were in need of a refresh.

I can’t imagine I’d do a similar trip again, as I’d try to stay a bit longer and make a point of going into the city. However, if you’re just looking for a place to stay near Zurich Airport, the Hilton is a decent option.

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Comments

  1. Hilton is still using that Paul Thomas stuff as toiletries? Can’t stand washing my bod named after a porn star. Wish they’d go back to Apple & Crabtree—-much better.

  2. Lucky,
    dont you feel renting a hotel room is wasted money if you do not actually get to sleep?
    When having an overnight connection, I always aim to keep the connection long enough so I can get a decent nights’ sleep. Does not always work (for schedule or, indeed, jetlag reasons) – but if I end up getting little or no sleep, I am always pissed off for having wasted 1xx USD 🙂

  3. Hi Ben: I’m surprised you didn’t stay at the Radisson Blu Hotel, which is actually attached to the airport–no shuttle needed–and sounds much nicer. The cost is about the same.

  4. You did not get a suite upgrade as a Diamond member!? Diamond status gets all members suite upgrades 100 percent of the time at every Hilton hotel out there, that is why it is better than Hyatt.
    So you must be lying. 😉

  5. @Joe — You heard it backwards. It is the HGP DSU that’s the “guaranteed” suite upgrade, not those awful complimentary suite upgrades that Hilton offers and no one clears, except for that liar who claims to clear them all the time.

    Speaking of which, this is how one plays the game with a “full deck”. I was to check in at Hilton Chicago today for a 5-night stay. On the way to the city from ORD, i fired up the HH app to see whether any suites were available for booking at this hotel. Both junior and full suites were available. Then, since I was searching for hotels in Chicago, anyone, I decided to see how much more I would’ve paid I had instead booked the stay at the brand new Conrad that JUST opened in Windy City. That’s when I saw it and knew that one way or another I would wind up in a suite. The cost for a FULL suite at the Conrad for 5 nights would be the same as the cost of my 5-night stay in a standard King room at the Hilton, EVEN if they charged me for one night for cancelling!!! I went through the motion of booking the Conrad stay and it looked like I could book it. So, I hatched my plan. Before I was even checked in at the Hilton, I would ask for an upgrade to a FULL suite and tell them why: it made no sense for me to accept anything less when I could cancel the standard King, rebook a FULL suite at the Conrad, be charged a cancellation fee and still pay for the Conrad Suite the same as for a Hilton King. I executed the plan, they offered me a Junior then a “speciality” suite and I said, no. I was told a full suite would be available after 10pm, so, out to just be courteous because by now I was truly itching to try the new Conrad, I said they could put me in a temporary room and then at after 10pm they could move me to a full suite. Of course, there would be no one around that late to clean up the suite, so they said it would not work. I was talking to a manager who was called to the scene, so I told her that I had no choice but to cancel and book the full suite at the Conrad, and here is the best part: she said I could do that and they would even wave the late cancellation fee!!!

    I am writing this from the new Conrad lobby bar, while my CORNER suite (an upgrade from the one l’d booked!) Is being readied for me to move in.

    So, @Joe, you can try to be funny but you actually come out sounding clownish, when stuff like I just recounted keeps happening.

    Time to move into my CORNER SUITE on a very high floor at the Conrad Chicago!!!

    G’day!

  6. A few comments and corrections to your nit-picking, given that I stay there regulary.
    Howcome you expect an airport view if the runway threshold is 0.9miles away? You can still nicely what landings in early morning and departures during the day from rwy 34/16.
    Never had an issue with the wifi either in-room or at the bar / restaurant.
    You are better off going downstairs to the bar which offers better choices and doesn’t impose surcharges.

  7. Hi Ben

    Stayed here several times, the rooms down the hall and in the lower level are actually nicer and seem like them have been renovated recently. I just booked the Hilton again today for a stay on the 9th. I used cash and points and booked for 16K points and 61 CHF the rate was 147 for the special Hilton weekend. I was torn if I should earn or spend. Since i have over 900K points i chose to spend the points knowing I will earn some back anyway with the Hilton card. I paid last which was only a week ago. Someone mentioned the radisson blue, unless you book in advance it is more expensive although I would like to try it sometime. I was sold on the Radisson after staying there at the Manchester airport.

  8. I’ve stayed there a few times, for the same reason to catch an early flight. We were upgraded one time to the high end suite, very nice room!
    Lounge is nice, great breakfast buffet in the restaurant.

  9. @DCS —
    Curious which Hilton you burned. I’m a HH Gold member who gets upgraded to suites all the time using the same trick. Reason why I ask is the Hilton/Magnificent Mile is offering its presidential suite for $359/night on certain weekends! So I had planned on booking the Suite/Conference Room for $207 and ask for an upgrade to the Prez Suite if available. If the Hilton you burned is the one on the Magnificent Mile, I can take that into consideration. Also, great choice on staying at the Conrad. I stayed at the NYC one near One World Trade Center a few weeks ago and now it’s my go-to hotel. Hope you’re having fun in Chicago!

  10. @Andre — “Burn” is too strong a word because the situation was not contentious at all. They fully understood where I was coming from and did what they could, knowing that it would be tough to match the deal at Conrad if they could not offer me a full suite. The Hilton in question is Chicago Hilton on Michigan Ave. Interestingly, I just found out that the Conrad has been open for just 9 days. That’s how new it is, likely accounting for the relatively inexpensive suites. The Corner Suite I was putting into is just gorgeous!

    As for requesting an upgrade to the Prez Suite as HH Gold, I believe that is a bit of a pipe dream. Prez suites are excluded from upgrades, even for Diamonds. Right now the world’s largest medical conference is happening here, so the rates are ridiculously high.

    BTW, @Lucky, the notion that Hilton mattresses suck is yet another mindless complaint. What do you expect if all you do is stay at airport Hilton hotels?!!! They are not at all representative of Hilton beds.

  11. Dear Hilton Corporate – you shouldn’t have too difficult a time finding out this clown’s real identity, he is precisely the type of “customer” you should blackball from your loyalty program.

  12. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Nespresso in a Hilton in Switzerland. It’s like the Swiss Keuerig.

  13. When we stayed at this hotel in June 2015, they were checking room numbers in the executive club. (and there was no singer in the lobby!)

    Mileage may vary.

  14. Re the Suite upgrade policy: I’ve been Diamond for many years (based on both stays and nights, for those interested) and get less and less suite upgrades. This year, I didn’t get any, so far. During a conversation with another guest in the Exec Lounge, I’ve been told that it depends on average spending. I’m probably about mid-range (usually staying at full service Hiltons and Doubletree, but hardly ever at Conrad and never at WA, also hardly at Hampton/HG). The other guest was usually staying at Conrad/WA, so I guess his average spending level was higher than mine.

    Any thoughts?

  15. @Andy – the #1 way to guarantee yourself a suite is to apparently 1) scout out inventory at a different HH property from the one you have booked, 2) call HH hotel #1 (after cancellation time has passed) to demand a suite in their property otherwise you will cancel and move to HH property #2, 3) get offered a “better” room at property #1 that’s good but not 100% to your liking, 4) raise a fit and ask to talk to the manager, 5) get offered that desirable suite but since it’s not until late at night (and now you’re having a mini-tantrum), 6) then cancel that (post-cancellation) reservation and book at HH property #2 to get said suite.

    Check your ethics at the door, be a total a-hole to hotel employees everywhere when don’t get your way, reneg on a property that has probably been good to you in the past…and that suite is yours!!!

    (yes, and these people somehow find employment, all the more shocking)

  16. @Andy — I believe that it is generally true that high-end properties (Conrad, WA) do are better at doing status recognition than lower end hotels, and that is true for other chains as well. It might have something to do with the fact that high-end properties are pricier, but it also means that they need to deliver for costing more, and most do. I am more likely to be upgraded at Conrad or W=A without asking than at DoubleTree or Hilton.

    However, I am not at all certain that one’s average spending has anything to do with getting COMPLIMENTARY suite upgrades. Hilton does not maintain a record of your spend that’s consulted whenever you check in. Of course, if you book a “premium” room that’s just below a suite — and is pricey — you are likely to be upgraded to a suite because that’s the only thing that they can offer you and be able to say that they upgraded you as a top elite. Otherwise, most of the time you’ll need to ask. If you do not, especially in the US or the West, chances are you will never get an upgrade, and that is your loss because I believe that the implicit policy, especially in the US and the West, is that suite upgrades should not be offered proactively.

    The bottom line is that anyone who does not make a pitch for a suite upgrade when one is not proactively offered is not making the most of their top elite status. This needs not be contentious and, in fact, it should not be. Just good-naturedly ask because anyone checking you in would know that what you are requesting is within the T&C and not at all out of bounds…

    Just remember that you’ll miss 100% of the shots that you never take 😉

    G’day!

  17. Thanks UA-NYC and DCS for your responses/advise.

    I very rarely travel to the US, most of my stays are in Europe, followed by Latin America, Asia, Australia and only then North America, in this order. Therefore, in many places I have only one HH property to choose from (e.g. Zurich is such a case). So you’d have to threaten to move to another chain …

    Of course, I always ask, but they usually tell that their suites are all taken or, in particular in Asia, that their suites are smoking rooms and I had to choose between a smoking suite or a non-smoking room …

  18. @Andy — It has been implied that it is “unethical” to exercise one’s right as a consumer to change one’s mind at the last moment and go with a product other than the that one was initially considering.

    Well, ONLY someone who is truly and totally unhinged would see an “ethical” issue in something that happens almost every second of every day, and will happen billions of times during this holiday season: consumers changing their minds about one product because something better came along or for any reason, and enjoying the protection of US laws! Moreover, had I known that the Conrad was offering a better deal than Hilton Chicago, I could have cancelled and rebooked exactly as I ultimately did, up to 12 hours before check-in, and done so WITH the blessing of Hilton’s own cancellation policy. The ONLY difference between that and what actually happened was that because I cancelled at check-in there should have been a cancellation fee, which I was WILLING to pay, but, in deference to my loyalty, the hotel manager decided to waive!!!

    One is NEVER locked into a deal as a consumer. Last night, I checked my upcoming award stay at Hilton Shanghai and noticed that the suite I’d booked on points because it was very cheap for a “premium” award, got 2500 points cheaper since I booked it 4 weeks ago. So, of course, I cancelled and rebooked, and I can keep doing that until check-in! That’s called playing the game with a “full deck.”

    Like I said, one has to be truly unhinged to see an “ethical” issue with a consumer exercising his or her right to get acquire, cancel, swap, trade in for a different product, anything that one purchases but has not yet consumed.

    G’day from my CORNER SUITE at the Conrad!

  19. Getting out of a reservation at one property to get a better room at a different property for the same price = perfectly in bounds.

    Strong arming a property to give you a better room, having them comply multiple times and keep doing better, only to then reneg on them and go elsewhere = makes you a complete a$$hat, hopefully now with a black mark on your file at the Hilton Chicago

  20. An absolutely, truly sad commentary that betrays nothing but envy at others’ successes.

    Can anyone be more stupid or tone-deaf, pushing and living on conjectures and suppositions of “strong arming” people, without offering a shred of evidence, when anyone with an ounce of grey matter between the ears would realize that such an approach would be precisely the wrong thing to do?

    Due to lack of evidence that there is an intelligent life form here, I am done. It must really be wonderful to be so completey free of the “ravages” of intelligence.

    Next thread!

  21. Staying in a dump like this to save 30 minute commute in the am seems just utterly insane……..isn’t there a Ritz Carlton in town? Why would anyone want to travel if they had to stay in a Hilton? After their degrading bloodbath of their program I only stay in Waldorf’s using their points……….NEVER a paid stay EVER again……

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