Hotel Status – Hilton HHonors

hhonors

Hilton HHonors is the loyalty programme for the Hilton chain, which includes such brands as Conrad, Waldorf Astoria, Hilton, Doubletree, Embassy Suites, Hampton Inn, etc. If you aren’t familiar with the programme, you can look around their website.

Achieving Elite Status

Hilton HHonors has three levels of status : Silver, Gold and Diamond. To achieve Silver status, you need to have 4 stays or 10 nights in a calendar year. Gold status requires 20 stays, 40 nights or 75,000 HHonors base points earned. Diamond status requires 30 stays, 60 nights, or 120,000 HHonors base points earned. These nights don’t even need to be paid – award nights count for status purposes.

There are a few shortcuts available. You can occasionally find promotional offers, where Gold status can be obtained with 4 stays in a 90-day period. I wrote about one such offer (now dead) awhile ago. There are also a number of Hilton HHonors credit cards worldwide that offer status, sometimes conditional on a minimum annual spend – the list is available here.

Published Benefits of Elite Status

Silver members receive:

  • 15% bonus HHonors points
  • 5th night free on reward bookings
  • late check-out, subject to availability of course
  • 2 bottles of water

Gold members receive:

  • 25% bonus HHonors points
  • free breakfast at Conrad, Hilton and Doubletree hotels (or, if you prefer, 1,000 bonus HHonors points in lieu of breakfast)
  • free internet
  • free upgrades to a “preferred” room
  • 5th night free on reward bookings
  • late check-out
  • 2 bottles of water

Diamond members receive:

  • 50% bonus HHonors points
  • free breakfast at Conrad, Hilton and Doubletree hotels
  • guaranteed access to Executive Lounge
  • free internet
  • free upgrades to a “preferred” room
  • Bonus HHonors points – ranging from 100-2,000 depending on brand
  • 5th night free on reward bookings
  • late check-out
  • 2 bottles of water

Unpublished Benefits / The Inside Scoop

Status Matching – Hilton HHonors do not do straight status matches. They do have a challenge program for their Diamond level if you hold top tier status with a competing hotel scheme, but you will need to show activity in that competing scheme. The challenge may involve giving you Gold status for the duration of your challenge, and will involve staying a certain number of nights – usually 21 – over a 90 day period.

Chances of a Room Upgrade – The official HHonors line is that 1-category upgrades are what hotels MUST provide (if available). However, there are lots of reports of even more attractive room upgrades for both Golds and Diamonds. As usual, nothing is guaranteed, particularly in North American hotels which might have a high number of elite status guests. But in general, it seems that quite a high percentage of HHonors hotels will upgrade elite members when possible.

Comparison with Other Chains – The general consensus is that HHonors Gold is the BEST mid-level elite status thanks to free breakfast, free internet, and the occasional upgrade. (although, to be fair, other chains mid-level status is far easier to obtain than HHonors 20 stays) With such a high standard for Gold, the additional benefits from Diamond don’t seem all that substantial, although the guaranteed lounge access is also highly popular. Hilton HHonors provides most, if not all, of the benefits that frequent travellers seek from elite status, and in that regard it compares quite favourably with the competition.

When Paying Yourself – Is Aiming for Status Worth It?

If you have a Topcashback.co.uk account, you will receive 5-5.5% cashback on Hilton stays. (in theory this is 2% for US hotels, except all of my US stays have also tracked at 5%…) Interestingly, Topcashback will only pay out Hilton cashback in the form of Tesco clubcard points – 100 clubcard points converts to 240 Avios or 250 Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles. (more with conversion bonuses) So, Hilton stays can get you substantial value refunded if you use both Topcashback and Tesco…

Given that, it’s very tempting to aim for elite status, particularly if you live near a reasonably cheap Hilton for a mattress run or two and can take advantage of the bonus airline mile promotions such as the ones currently running with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club and Iberia Plus. (the other option is to get Gold from a credit card)

The bonus points aren’t really worth much, but free breakfast and free internet are certainly valuable. Upgrades are also nice. And something that is frequently overlooked is the 5th night free benefit – although the higher end properties have become ridiculously expensive with the recent devaluation, some of the more modest properties can be quite good value if you can book a 5 or 10 night stay to get the full 20% discount.

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