Home Tips and Tricks How To Get A Hotel Room Upgrade 100% Of The Time

How To Get A Hotel Room Upgrade 100% Of The Time

by joeheg

Over the years, I’ve developed a system to get an upgraded room at hotels every time. It’s so easy that I’m hesitant to share it with you. But I figure that as our readers, you deserve it.

To get an upgraded room every time all you have to do is….pay for it. 😉

What, were you expecting some magic system? Maybe a code word or secret handshake that only internet bloggers know about? Well yeah, that would be pretty cool. And don’t get me wrong; according to the internet, there are a million different ways for you to score an upgraded room. Here’s a list of some of the most commonly shared “secrets”:

Get there early. Get there late. Email the hotel. Call the hotel. Send a message on Twitter. Be extra nice when you arrive. Look the part of a business traveler. Look like you’ve just had a hard travel day. Drop a hint that it’s a special occasion (even if it’s not).  Pass the desk clerk a $20 with your ID (this one is usually reserved for Vegas hotels but can work anywhere). You could always be “that guy” and blatantly say that you want one of their good rooms, not the one they give to people who don’t know any better.

Know what? I bet that every one of these tricks has worked for someone at some time. I mean, even I’ve occasionally scored an upgraded room for free, usually when I don’t need one. I typically don’t need a better room than what I’ve booked. I’m sure I’ve even sometimes gotten an upgraded room and didn’t know it. Maybe I’ve gotten a larger “executive” room or a room on a higher floor. If the hotel staff didn’t mention it, I wouldn’t even notice.

One time I remember being told how I was provided an upgraded room, and it was underwhelming, to say the least. This was our executive room they made a huge deal out of upgrading us into:

Holiday Inn London Mayfair Room

I know. WOW! How lucky we were. I can’t begin to tell you how excited we were when we opened up the door and thought, “Yeah, this is a Holiday Inn room.”

So how can you get an upgraded room?

All kidding aside, the only way to be sure to get an upgraded room is by my foolproof method above. If you really need that larger room, you’ll need to book it. Hotels are getting smarter all the time and they don’t just hold those nicer rooms for people who ask politely for them. If they can sell the room, you better believe that’s what they’ll do. However, I’ve found that you may be able to save some money if getting an upgrade is more of a want than a need.

  • Some hotels will send emails out to guests weeks to days before your arrival. They may include an offer to “buy” an upgrade if there is one available. If you accept this offer, you agree to pay the extra if a room in the higher class is available, but the upgrade is not guaranteed. This was how I scored an upgrade at the Park Hyatt in Washington D.C. Wouldn’t you want this bathroom for an extra $30 a night?

Park Hyatt Bathroom

  • You might also receive a direct email from the hotel offering an upgrade for a set price. Accepting this offer is a guarantee of an upgraded room for the agreed price.
  • I’ve occasionally had success in getting upgrades by emailing the hotel a few days before arrival. At that time, they’re pretty sure of how busy they’ll be for your dates and may be willing to upgrade you for a small fee.
  • The World of Hyatt program lets you book a club room or a suite with points or pay for a room and use points to upgrade to a suite. That’s what we’re doing on our upcoming trip to Kauai.
  • The last chance is when checking in. I used this method to get an upgrade at the Hilton Grand Vacation Club in Las Vegas.  I was hoping to score a free upgrade, but I was willing to pay for the upgrade to a one-bedroom suite.


I’ve spent much of my life trying to get upgrades without having any status (to speak of) with hotels because I don’t have loyalty to any particular chain. If you, unfortunately, have to spend many nights a year in a hotel and have top-level status, then you might be higher on the list to get an upgrade than I am. However, you need to remember that hotels would much rather sell an upgrade for a few dollars than give one to you for free, no matter how many nights a year you stay with them. And that’s even if you’re a Diamond guest and are guaranteed the best available suite (for your giraffe and helicopter). <– Please note, the video link is NSFW.

If you’re lucky enough to be able to get free suite upgrades that can be confirmed in advance, then do that if you need the bigger room. I redeemed our Marriott upgrades during our stay at the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel London.

Final Thoughts

I’m sorry to say that I don’t have the secret to getting a free upgraded hotel room. I never promised that. I just said I had a way to get an upgraded room 100% of the time. Even that’s a lie because there might not be any better rooms available if the hotel is booked up. If you need that suite, then you better make sure it’s confirmed when you make your reservation and don’t depend on the hotel to give it to you for free when you check-in.

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