Update – replaced Hampton Inn Mexico City (which went up to 20k/night) with DoubleTree Melaka, which is bookable on points now.
My favorite use of hotel points is for low category, high value redemptions. You tend to get close to 1 cent per point or better value – even for Hilton points. Many are in Asia, but they also scatter throughout the continents. For higher category hotels, I prefer to use free night certificates. It’s all about strategic use of your currencies. Today’s picks for Hilton is the first in the series. In subsequent posts, I will cover the same for IHG, SPG, Marriott, etc.
Generally, the hotels on this list meet the 2 criteria I care about:
- Be a good value (cents per point), well above the average value of the program. For Hilton, I shoot for a minimum of 0.75 CPP.
- Be in an interesting location (the region or the neighborhood) and/or have outstanding facility. Location generally takes precedence, though sometimes the facility is so good that it’s worth going for the “pampering” (this applies more to upscale hotels, but I leave that criteria here to cover all the bases).
Keep in mind – many hotels on the list are in low-cost markets. So yes, the hotel is a great use of points, but alternatively you often can get a nice local accommodation – less luxurious but with more character – for a very good price. It just depends on what you prefer.
I want to cite Travel is Free as a source of inspiration; for example, back in 2014 he made a map of cat 1 and 2 Hiltons (no longer up to date). With that, let’s get right to it (in no particular order).
My Top 10
#1 – Hilton Sibiu, Romania (10k). Old Town Sibiu is a charming piece of history in Transylvania, Romania’s famous region of castles and mountains (and vampires). This 5-star hotel remains the #1 rated in Sibiu on TripAdvisor. The location is not the best – about 6km from Old Town, but only ~$5 taxi ride. According to the Flyertalk thread on this hotel, upgrades are still fairly generous, and you can hear lions roar in the nearby zoo. Transylvania is high on my list and I have my eye on this hotel for a relaxing stay after a few days of exploration. Typical cost in high season: $100.
#2 – DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Melaka, Malaysia (5k). Brand new hotel, opened Dec 2017. Location is 2.5km from old town, with local eateries in the vicinity. Melaka (Malacca) is known for its history and food. I’m excited to have a “category 1” option there.
#3 – Hampton Inn Fall River/Westport, MA (10k). The hotel itself is nothing to write home about – a typical old Hampton Inn. However, Fall River (1hr from Boston) is an absolute mecca for Portuguese cuisine (it has the highest % of Portuguese and Azorean immigrants in US). There are at least 10 Portuguese restaurants in this small town, with bakeries to match. The food is out of this world and extremely cheap (it’s a working class town). Newport, RI is 35 minutes by car, western Cape Cod an hour.
#4 – DoubleTree Penang, Malaysia (10k). Brand new hotel opening in Jan 2018. Penang is the food capital of Malaysia, with George Town described as how Hong Kong was like 30 years ago (not sure how accurate that is judging by the mass tourism).
#5 – DoubleTree Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (10k). Rightfully gets a lot of mention as a sweet redemption. Billed as a 5-star hotel (I’d say more like 4 stars by US standards), the restaurant breakfast buffet (free for Gold and Diamond) is one of the very best and biggest that I’ve tasted, encompassing a large selection of Malay, Indian, Chinese, and Western dishes. Petronas Towers are 10 minutes by foot. The executive lounge also serves hors d’oeuvre in the evening. I once stayed here for 5 days eating nothing but the free hotel breakfast and “dinner”. I wouldn’t recommend doing that (KL is one of the best food cities in the world), but it’s possible (as I proved ;)).
#6 – Hampton Inn Medellin, Colombia (10k). Medellin has a reputation as an ideal expat city – good weather, affordable, and friendly. Hotel is located in El Pablado (there’s also a Four Points), an upscale and safe neighborhood.
#7 – Hampton Krakow, Poland (10k). Another backpacker hotspot. 10min to Historic District by taxi ($8) or by tram (?). Good value, though personally I may want a hostel (private room possible) for socializing.
#8 – Hilton Garden Inn Singapore Serangoon (20k). Singapore has virtually zero good-valued low-category hotel redemption (many upscale ones, but not great value IMO), and this is the first one I would consider. ADR is ~$150 USD after tax for dates I checked, a good value for Hilton points. Location is in Little India, served by the subway station of the same name. IMO, it’s a decent and convenient enough location. I’d stay here for sure on points.
#9 – DoubleTree Queenstown, New Zealand (30k). Queenstown is definitely a destination during the northern hemisphere winter (which is summer in the southern hemisphere). Rates are $250-300 on random Dec/Jan dates I search, making the redemption a high value (I didn’t check other options in the area though). Located away from the center, 10 minutes by boat. I would love to relax here after hiking the nearby Milford Track.
#10 – Hilton Garden Inn Hanoi, Vietnam (10k). I like Hanoi quite a bit. Old Quarter is the place to party, while this hotel has a quieter location (French Quarter, I believe). I loved our visits to Sa Pa and other villages in that area. Vietnam is definitely one of my favorite countries.
- DoubleTree Sighisoara – Cavaler, Romania (5k) – another good option in Transylvania.
- Hilton Salalah Resort, Oman – looks promising but not sure how good it is (need more research).
- DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Aqaba, Jordan (10k) – Town looks pretty boring (hence not on the main list) but only 1hr from Wadi Rum.
- Hampton Inn Farmington, NM (10k) – So much to do around Farmington, high on my domestic list.
In a nutshell
Have been been to any of these hotels? Others you want to highlight?