Hotel award booking for 3 in London. Marriott to the rescue.

My wife, once again, is headed to London for work.  And, once again, my son and I are going with her.  We love London, so this a great excuse to return.  The problem is that in the eyes of all hotels everywhere, our son is now an adult.  And that makes booking an award for a single room in Europe difficult.

In the parts of London where we wanted to stay, most of the hotel programs I checked had no award nights available for 3 adults.  Or, they offered big rooms for outlandishly high award prices (I’m looking at you Hilton).  Luckily for me, Marriott provided a great solution.  With Marriott, rather than charging more points for an upgraded room, they charge a co-pay amount.  Plenty of great hotels were available in London for 3 adults.  Most of the co-pays ranged from 80 to 170  GBP per night, but the Park Lane location wanted 500 GBP per night (yeah, not gonna happen).

 

The upgrades at both St. Ermine’s (100 GBP) and St. Pancras (170 GBP) were to junior suites.  We’ve stayed at the St. Pancras hotel before, and loved it, but we didn’t previously stay in their elegant Chambers section.  The junior suites are in the Chambers section and so include access to the Chambers Club (which we would get anyway thanks to my Platinum status), and a butler.  Partly because we wanted to experience this opulence and partly due to its better location for our needs, we decided to go with St. Pancras.

St. Pancras junior suite. Photo borrowed from Marriott website.

By the time you read this, we’ll have already been here a few days.  I wrote this post last week, before heading out.  Now.. Any suggestions for what we should do with that butler service?

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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  1. […] My wife, son, and I recently returned from a four night stay at the Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht hotel.  It was great.  It’s a great hotel in a fantastic location.  We had to book two rooms for our stay.  Regular rooms only accommodate two people and there were no regular suites available that could be booked with points or with upgrade instruments.  And the suites that were available were far more expensive than two regular rooms.  This may be the only area in which I wish Hyatt would follow Marriott’s lead and allow booking rooms with points plus a cash copay to cover room upgrades (see:Hotel award booking for 3 in London. Marriott to the rescue.) […]

Comments

  1. So if your wife is going for work? Arent they picking up her hotel room charge? Or are you getting a 2nd room?

  2. The chain hotels are a real PITA overseas if you have more than 2 “adults.” I have a couple of college-aged children who sometimes travel with my wife and I, and it’s almost always a hassle if you want to use your loyalty points and put 3 adults in a room. The hefty surcharge for a third adult in the room often makes it absurd to use your points. The strategies I’ve used to counter this problem are varied. First, I’ve lied, saying an 18 year old was 17. This has enabled me to book a Hilton for 3 with no surcharge at all. Second, I’ve booked premium rooms that allow a third person at no additional charge. Third, I’ve booked at Choice Hotels, which generally don’t charge extra for award reservations for 3 (if a room is available). Fourth, I’ve booked 2 rooms, but usually only when I have 4 people (it seems dumb to have 2 rooms for 3 people). Fifth, I’ve found the occasional chain hotel that doesn’t charge extra for a third adult (like some Holiday Inn Expresses). Sixth, I’ve emailed the chain hotels to see if I could get a “deal” on my third person (about half the time they say “yes,” often waiving all fees for being an elite member of their loyalty program) Seventh, I’ve saved my points and paid to stay at independent hotels, using other deals — like the current save $40 off an $80+ hotel at booking.com. Independent hotels, and airbnb’s, are much more accommodating than chain hotels on having a third person.

  3. This is a great tidbit for those of us who want to travel to Europe but want the share a room. It’s actually frustrating that most (it seems) euro hotels either won’t/can’t fit 3-4 people or as a you noted they allow that in the luxery suites that cost out at thousands per night. AirB&B enabled us to work around that challenge in our family vacation to Scotland last year and I am currently looking for a Paris/France hotel points solution for the same problem this next year. Wish me luck.

  4. Wow–such a timely article for my crew of 3 (me, wife and 16 yr old). We fly out of Houston next Sunday, July 16 to Manchester on Singapore Air (business class–no SA Suites on this flight). We will be in Europe 2 weeks. I have a Category 7 Marriott certificate we’d like to use in London for the 1st leg of our trip. But after talking with the Platinum Elite representative I became very disappointed at the extra charge on top of our certificate. I understand a charge to upgrade from category 7 to 8 or 9—but I didnt realize until reading this article that perhaps they are also throwing in the charge for the 3rd person. Wife and I have stayed at St Pancras before and I like that location but man—it sure is pricey. We are also thinking about just hopping on a train straight out of Manchester down to Barcelona. Any ideas out there?

    • A train from Manchester to Barcelona?! I’m sure you could string together some train routes, but why? Vueling flies a super cheap direct flight. Even this close in, for Sun 7/17 departure it’s 50 euros per person (note that it’s a low cost airline, so extra fees for everything).

    • Well I hadn’t booked anything until just now after reading this article. I went ahead and booked St Ermins and upgraded to a Jr Suite for 150 GBP/night. The Jr Suite has a hide-a bed. I didn’t tell them we have 3 people. Greg/all, if you have any thoughts on having some fun in London with a similar 3 person group (our son is 16) for 7 nights beginning July 17th–please let me know! I think we will train it down to Barcelona and use another 7 night Marriott certificate for the 2nd part of our trip.

      • There are so many good things to do I don’t know where to start…
        Book the Ferryman play now (it’s in very high demand and awesome)

        Same for Harry Potter studio tour (prob sold out though)

        For first time in London do a Westminster tour, Churchill bunker museum, London tower, British Museum

        I could list a dozen more…

    • You’d think so but St Pancras cheats the rules by calling it a club rather than a lounge. I do get in as Platinum though.

      Having been here a few days I think the up charge for the Chamber’s is well worth it even though I’d get club access either way

  5. Good to know, but does Marriott offer some kind of bed type guarantee (two queen beds versus 1 king bed) for elites? I’ve looked at this before, and the option is still “one king bed or two queen beds” when booking for three adults, which is annoying.

  6. For your butler service question: Many, many years ago I had a butler at the Regent Hotel in Hong Kong. He drew a bath and sewed a button back on a shirt. Enjoy your trip!

  7. We have a family of 7, so always run into this when traveling. If they have only one-bed rooms, we book 3x rooms with 2x people/room. (If it’s a two-bed situation, we’ll do 2x rooms if they’re expensive.) We’ve never had any trouble with this setup. I suppose it helps that there are seven of us: I’m checking in all three rooms while the other six sit in lobby. Most check-in agents aren’t going to count up to 7 and object! 2 vs. 3 might run you into trouble more quickly than 6 vs. 7. But even in 2 vs. 3 situations (which I’ve also often done), I’ve never had a single objection. For the most parts, hotel front desk agents just don’t care. I’ve even ordered roll-away beds in 3/2 situations with a single bed in the room. No problem.

    I know some chains restrict it to 2x adults on awards and some do not, but I couldn’t even tell you which is which. I just list everyone if they allow me and don’t if they don’t. I know I recently booked a Marriott with 5x adults in the room on award, so maybe it’s on a hotel-level basis?

    • Sometimes saying nothing about your extra guest is a good strategy, but it can also backfire. Generally, if the bedding is sufficient, saying nothing is fine (as often as not, it’s just a mistake on the part of the chain hotel to not list the maximum room occupancy correctly). For example, if you know the room has two queens, saying nothing is fine. Also, when there are no extra amenities included — like breakfast where they’re going to give you a voucher for each person — saying nothing can often work.

      That said, saying nothing is also risky, and can lead to unpleasant situations. Like you might think there’d be some place for your kid to sleep, but sometimes there’s only the floor (which is why if you’ve got a young child with you, you might want to bring a compact inflatable bed). And, occasionally, the front desk clerk can be a stickler. I’ll never forget checking in to a small hotel in Switzerland with a reservation I made with one of the online travel agencies. The hotel’s child policy was listed incorrectly on the site, such that one of my kid’s was one year too old to be free (he wanted to see our passports). Even though it wasn’t my fault, the clerk insisted on charging me extra for the child. In front of my family, I then had to bargain him down to a reasonable price.

  8. Just a couple days ago, I was trying to book the Boscolo Autograph Collection in Venice. I have 2 adults and a 6 year old child. I thought I read that children stay free in existing bedding, but the charge was for points plus a supplement (around $70 I think) for a regular room. Is it correct to include the supplement for a 6 year old? Or maybe it’s just this hotel? I am Marriott gold, FWIW. Thanks.

    • Contact the hotel directly and ask.

      They might waive it, but the charge is probably “real.” You’ve run into the “classic” travelling–overseas-with-a-child-in-a-chain-hotel problem. The fees seem completely disproportionate to the circumstances.

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