Update 3 – replaced Hilton Sibiu (went up to 20k), Hampton Inn Medellin (now 20k), and DoubleTree Queenstown (now 40k) with Hilton Garden Inn Bali Airport, DoubleTree Agra, and Hilton Garden Inn Hanoi. Also got rid of some devaluated honorable mentions.
Update 2 – replaced DoubleTree Melaka (which went up to 10k) and Hampton Inn Fall River (went up to 20k) with DoubleTree Sighisoara and Hampton Inn Farmington. Added 10k option in Vienna.
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. 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. Although Hilton seems determined to exterminate these sweet spots with their multiple rounds of no-notice devaluations, a few still exist as shown here.
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). Also see Loyalty Traveler‘s comprehensive list of 10k hotels and 5k hotels (as of Sep 2018).
With that, let’s get right to it (in no particular order).
My Top 10
#1 – DoubleTree Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (10k). A well known sweet spot. 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 best and biggest that I’ve tasted, encompassing a massive 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 ;)).
#2 – Hilton Garden Inn Vienna South, Austria (10k). Great value in one of the perennial “best quality of life” cities that’s also famous for its classical music and coffee culture. For detailed instructions on public transportation between hotel and the historic center, see this TripAdvisor post. (thanks to reader JohnnieD)
#3 – DoubleTree Agra, India (10k). Some rooms have distant view of Taj Mahal. No lounge.
#4 – Hampton Inn Farmington, New Mexico (10k). I recently visited the Farmington area and loved the nature and history. This is a nice new hotel with spacious rooms, an incredible bargain by US standards. Stay tuned for a trip report.
5. Hilton Garden Inn Bali Ngurah Rai Airport, Indonesia (5k). Most people rightfully use it as an airport hotel, but it’s such a good deal that some use it as a base for exploring Bali. It has a nice pool and grounds, and it offers free shuttle to nearby Kuta and of course airport. The road reportedly gets congested, so you could be stuck in traffic for going anywhere.
#6 – DoubleTree Sighisoara – Cavaler, Romania (10k) – I recently stayed here. The location is impeccable – 5 minutes walk to the base of the citadel. The hotel itself is less impressive: mediocre service, barebones breakfast, no AC upstairs in 2-story room (same size as standard room), and loud music until 2am. For the 5k I paid, it’s hard to complain, but it’s 10k now.
#7 – DoubleTree Penang, Malaysia (10k). Brand new hotel opened 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). Unfortunately this hotel is far from George Town with not much in the vicinity.
#8 – 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 for socializing.
#9 – 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.
10. Hilton Garden Inn Hanoi, Vietnam (10k). Located in French Quarter part of town.
- DoubleTree Bratislava (thanks reader sven)
- Tons of 5k properties in Turkey. See Loyalty Lobby link above.
In a nutshell
Have been been to any of these hotels? Others you want to highlight?