hilton

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Hotel Review: The Drake (Hilton), Chicago

This past week, I ventured up to Chicago to see Hamilton and hang out with some old college buddies.

I booked 5 nights at The Drake hotel Chicago, located on the Magnificent Mile/Michigan Avenue, with Hilton points. The 5th night was free on this award booking, so I paid 200,000 Hilton points (50,000 X 4) for the entire stay.

the drake hotel chicago

My eventual room would’ve cost $1,400+ out of pocket

Because I’m Diamond with Hilton, I got an upgrade to a King Bed on the Executive Floor. Similar room rates to when I stayed say this would’ve been ~$1,404 in cash. But I didn’t have to pay taxes on the award booking, which are over 17% per night (!!!).

That means my Hilton points were worth .07 cents each – and more when you count the free breakfast and free food in the evenings. That’s a good rate for Hilton points!

I took a Lyft from Midway after flying on Southwest from Dallas-Love Field. Traffic was backed up, but I made it to The Drake in about 30 minutes.

Arrival and check-in

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Citi Offering Instant Upgrades for Hilton Visa, but No Bonus

This morning, I got an email from Citi with an offer to upgrade my no annual fee Citi Hilton Visa to a Citi Hilton Reserve with a $95 annual fee.

The email subject was, “Upgrading your card means enhanced benefits.” I was excited because I’ve never seen an offer from Citi like this. So I was hoping to score some bonus Hilton points in the process. But, all you get with this offer is “One Weekend Night Certificate Opportunity and Gold Status.”

upgrade citi hilton visa

Ya know, nah

Thanks but no thanks. This isn’t a good deal with no bonus points involved. But I’m glad Citi is trying new things.

I also don’t know if they’re sending out targeted offers with this card or others, so it’s worth checking your email and junk folder to see if anything is in there.

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Honest Review: Citi Hilton Visa 75,000 Point Offer

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It’s no secret I’m a Hilton fanboy. I lurve them because they make earning points a breeze. And they actually give you a healthy amount of points for staying at their hotels, unlike Hyatt and Starwood (!).

Are Hilton points inflated? Hell yeah. But so are the earning rates.

Entrance to the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Honolulu

I loved using my Hilton points at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Honolulu last month

I’ve found good deals with Hilton points, and not because I looked a long time. They’re out there – as with any type of hotel points.

I love the 5th night free perk on award stays when you have any type of status.

And 75,000 Hilton points can be worth over $1,000, as we’ve seen before.

At a bare minimum, there’s no reason why you can’t get $400+ of value from 75,000 Hilton points. Considering the card has no annual fee (and is therefore free to keep), that’s a great deal – and a decent sign-up bonus.

The short

A handy little card with a decent sign-up bonus, if you have a Hilton stay in mind.

The long

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Hotel Review: Hilton Hawaiian Village, Honolulu

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After months of anticipation, the day finally came to travel to Hawaii. I was a Nervous Nelly because of a line of thunderstorms moving through Dallas (where I was) and onward to Memphis (where the fam was).

Thoughts of missed connections, rebookings, and sitting in an airport instead of in Hawaii came to mind. But thankfully, it all came together without a hitch.

I flew over with my Mom, stepdad, and Jay. And my little brother met us at HNL.

Entrance to the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Honolulu

Entrance to the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Honolulu

We took an Uber to the Hilton Hawaiian Village, about ~20 minutes away. Really, couldn’t have gone more smoothly.

Arrival and check-in

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Hilton Makes More Award Rooms Available for Diamond Elite Members

I made a glancing comment on my Booking Hawaii: Part 3 post:

There were technically no award nights available, but I love the soft perk of Hilton giving Diamond guests enhanced award availability.

(Yasss, quoted myself!)

Which prompted some discussion in the comments. Drew asked for more detail. And Brandon reported getting more award space at a lower rate.

Aye verily, I was able to book an award stay when no award rooms were “technically” available:

hilton diamond

Boom

Hilton also has the room rate as “confidential.” Fancy!

This is, as far as I know, an unpublished benefit of the Hilton HHonors program.

They go on to say:

asd

How Hilton describes this perk

If you’re Diamond with Hilton, this could come in handy more often than you think.

Is this actually useful?

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Hotel Review: Homewood Suites Albuquerque Uptown

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I was in ABQ this past weekend checking out some potential investment properties.

I’m not sure I found a good mix of price, appreciation, rental demand, and location – but maybe I’m being too picky. It’s a whole other thing I’m thinking through now.

To set the stage for this heady trip, I booked 2 nights at the Homewood Suites by Hilton Albuquerque Uptown (and booked the flights and car rental, all within 10 minutes).

Breakfast area at the Homewood Suites Albuquerque Uptown

Breakfast area at the Homewood Suites Albuquerque Uptown

It was so good to remember the serenity of the high desert. The days were gorgeous. And the skies there are incomparable. I love seeing mountains in the distance. I’ll take mountains over sea any day.

After landing, I immediately drove to the East Mountains to meet the real estate agent. And checked in to the hotel around 8pm that night.

Arrival and check-in

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Booking Hawaii: Part 3 – Hilton Hawaiian Village and Tending Reservations

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I’ll go ahead and tell you the moral of this story: tend to your reservations.

After booking 4 flights to Honolulu, then adding my little brother into the mix, the final piece of the puzzle was to book the hotel rooms.

Step 1: The paid stay

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Just Booked a Trip for Next Weekend in 10 Minutes (Instant Transfers Save the Day!)

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I’ll never forget the thrill and uncertainty of booking my first award ticket. I thought I’d show up to the airport and be turned away for not paying (or something like that). Can a flight really cost ~$11 when you book with… points?

That was a few years ago. But there’s still something so novel about booking award trips. Some of them are planned in advance, like my upcoming trip to Hawaii. And some are aspirational or in the future, like the Brussels Airlines flights I booked with Etihad miles.

Mmm, love the high desert

Love the high desert!

Long story short, I needed to spend a couple of days in New Mexico to get some work done there. Looking at my upcoming weekends:

  • Next one was open
  • After that, Austin for work
  • Labor Day weekend – nothing available with points
  • Hawaii

4 weekends = a month of plans. I started poking around and realized, holy crap, I’m gonna book this trip for next weekend!

Finding flights

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Hilton Auctions: Another Way to Use Your Hilton Points

Peeps on Reddit posted about using Hilton points for “experiences” like:

  • Concerts
  • Sporting events
  • Food events
  • Culture events

It’s very similar to SPG Moments both in theory and application.

Use your Hilton points for lots of experiences via their online auction platform

Use your Hilton points for lots of experiences via their online auction platform

There are lots of events on there. They’re not extremely overpriced and might be appealing to some.

I wouldn’t say like, sign-up for a Hilton card to bid on these. But if you are flush with Hilton points, it could be worth a look to see if anything strikes your fancy.

What’s on Hilton Auctions?

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Targeted Citi Hilton Visa Promo for 7,500 Points (Stack It to ~44 Hilton Points per Dollar)

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I noticed an offer in my Citi account – it can totally be a good one if you were targeted, and have paid Hilton stays coming up.

sad

Earn 10X Hilton points on up to $750 – total of 7,500 Hilton points

When you enroll and spend $750 at Hilton hotels through July 31st, 2016, you’ll get 7,500 bonus Hilton points AKA 10 extra points per dollar.

That’s a good deal if you A) have this card and B) have paid Hilton stays coming up.

You can also stack the heck out of this!

Combine promos to get a boatload of Hilton points

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Hotel Review: Hilton Tokyo Shinjuku

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To start, I wanna say, I loved this hotel! The location, ambiance, and staff were all wonderful. Getting out at the Shinjuku station and walking to the Hilton Tokyo with the lit-up neon lights is an experience I’ll never forget.

Hilton Tokyo review

Entrance of the Hilton Tokyo

But first things first.

Landing at NRT

I’ll do a review of the flight over soon.

I was nervous about flying into NRT because it’s a solid 90 minutes from Tokyo no matter which method you choose to get to the city: train, bus, or taxi.

We landed around 5pm, so I figured the train was best to avoid rush hour traffic. The airport is incredibly well-signed. But once you get to the trains, you’re bombarded with a zillion options and routes. I looked at the JR lines, the Tokyo metro, and rapid transit to another station.

To sort through it all, we entered the options into the individual machines until we found the best routing and price. All told, it took 15 minutes to price out 3 or 4 train tickets. We paid a little more to get there a little faster. From NRT, the faster you go, the more it’ll cost. But even the most expensive ticket was only ~$40.

Arrival and check-in

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7 Hilton Hotels Where 120,000 Hilton Points Are Worth $700+

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You know, I think I’ll come right out and say it: I’m turning into a Hilton fanboy.

Words I thought I’d never utter (or type) have come true, almost by default.

The other major chains, Marriott and IHG, aren’t palatable for me. Some peeps love Marriott, and I can kinda see why through my Hilton-colored glasses: free breakfast, they’re everywhere, and their points are easy to redeem (once you have enough of them, same as Hilton).

All I really want

All I really want – is that so much?

Embedded in there is my raison d’etre: FREE BREAKFAST. That’s the reason why IHG can never win my heart through my stomach.

The smaller chains, Hyatt and Starwood, are great. But when Hyatt snubbed me Diamond status, Hilton gave it to me. Looking back, it was an incredibly smart marketing trick. Because look at me now, a fanboy.

As for Starwood, there’s no use gunning for status with them at this point. Unless you like Marriott. I picked up both SPG cards recently, and I might give them a few paid stays, but the SPG program will be torn end to end starting next year.

Which leaves Hilton by default. The first to devalue, Hilton became the pariah of hotel points.

But I’ve been finding them useful anyway: they’re incredibly easy to earn. I get suite upgrades with some frequency. And I love their Executive Lounges and free breakfast.

Yeah, yeah… the point is?

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