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However, I very much think it is a mutually beneficial relationship. While I do end up staying at the Hilton a lot more as a result, that is due to the superb benefits I get as a result of the Gold status. Bear in mind this is a mid tier status, too.
This article is basically a run through of why I love Hilton HHonors Gold so much, demonstrating the applied benefits at every stage of the Hilton hotel experience. Plus, to avoid it being simply a “look what I’ve got and you haven’t” boast, I’ve linked a free instant upgrade to Hilton Gold at the end of the article.
Bear in mind that I have now been Hilton Gold for over 5 years, and I have never qualified the “proper” way (i.e. via the standard number of room stays). Accordingly, you should see it as an entirely obtainable status: you just need to be alert to the opportunities to bag it when you can, with the fast-track below being a very good example.
Why I love Hilton HHonors Gold when booking
There are a number of reasons I love Hilton HHonors Gold when booking, as follows:
1) Partner stays free.
I am using a little bit of poetic licence here, as actually this is a little-known benefit available to all HHonors members. In short, as your partner stays free, you only need to book for 1 adult. You will often find that this leads to a cheaper room, particularly when you add kids to the booking. I will always book a room for 1 adult and 2 kids, and then my wife will turn up (along with our two kids) on the back of the partner stays free benefit.
2) Free breakfast
Quite simply the best mid-tier hotel loyalty perk out there, in my view. Booked a room on the cheapest imaginable rate, without a prayer of breakfast being included? Not a problem, your Hilton HHonors Gold status guarantees you a free breakfast. Specifically, it’s a “continental breakfast” (a term which is not defined), but I have very rarely been prevented from using the standard buffet breakfast to its maximum potential. On the (very) rare occasions I have, it is because I have been asked to go to breakfast in the executive lounge, and the flip side of this, of course, is you then have to be given lounge access!
3) The anticipated room upgrade
Having stated the room will be for 1 adult only (on the back of my HHonors status), I then book the cheapest imaginable room in the Hilton in question. If the description said “guaranteed bin view”, I would book it. I do this because I am 99% certain that this is not the room that I will be put in, because of my HHonors Gold status.
4) The immediately confirmed room upgrade
It takes a little bit out of the fun of turning up and being upgraded, of course, but what I have found Hilton will often do of late is, as soon as my booking is made, offer me an instant, free room upgrade. You simply tick the box for the upgraded room (which will specifically be stated as being at a cost of $/€/£0) and there’s your confirmation.
5) 5th night free on award bookings
HHonors Gold (Silver and Diamond too) will receive every 5th night free when they redeem their Hilton HHonors points for stays of 5 nights or more.
Why I love HHonors Gold when staying
Understandably, this is the big one.
1) Getting silly with the upgrade
I have already talked about the fact that, on a number of occasions, you know that you already have an upgrade because of an email received seconds after booking. However, even where this does not happen I would say that on 95% of occasions, and bear in mind I am a regular Hilton user, I have received an upgrade at check-in.
It doesn’t stop there, either. These upgrades can sometimes get almost embarrassingly generous. We have been upgraded from the cheapest available room to family suites on occasion, while executive room upgrades come more or less as standard.
2) Executive lounge access
I never book executive rooms at Hilton, and yet I stay in them 90% of the time. The simply reason for that is my Hilton Gold status. As noted above, the upgrades I receive will invariably put me on an executive floor (with executive lounge access) in any event. Where I am not granted an executive room, a simple request for lounge access if it is not offered (which it often is), will generally be agreed to.
3) late check out
Late check out until 3, 4 or even 5pm has always been a simple matter of a phone call away. A great perk when you have kids and getting anything done on time is basically impossible.
4) The little touches
It’s always nice to be made to feel a bit special. Whether it’s a free bottle of wine, some chocolates or a bowl of fruit, it’s lovely to turn up to a room after a long flight and find a little extra something for nothing. That said, a handwritten welcome note from the manager? Come on, you’re not
Why I love HHonors Gold after my stay
Well, aside from the warm glow of a great value stay in which you’ve often been treated like Saudi royalty, there’s the not insignificant matter of a 25% bonus on the base Hilton HHonors points you earn (with “base” points being the number of points you earn without factoring bonus points promotions).
What about Diamond status?
Well obviously HHonors Diamond members are entitled to all of the above, and more.
However, getting Hilton Diamond status is very difficult. Unless you status-match, there are no obvious short cuts, and (1) 30 stays in a calendar year, or (2) 60 nights in a calendar year, or (3) 120,000 HHonors base points in a calendar year is a tough threshold.
The general consensus is that unless you receive it organically, the extra effort you have to go to to seal Diamond status over Hilton HHonors Gold status is not worth the additional benefits. Indeed I recently status-matched to Diamond (from my beloved Gold), and have to say that the added benefits are not particularly noticeable. The guaranteed lounge access is probably the major one, but I invariably got lounge access with Gold anyway.
So where’s that Hilton HHonors Gold fast track link?
This link will give you instant HHonors Gold status until 31 August 2016, plus a fast track to Gold status until March 2018 (you need to make 4 stays before 31 August). Technically you need to be an Accenture employee, but this is not enforced. However, if that makes you uncomfortable, this link will give you the Hilton HHonors Gold fast-track challenge alone.
Yes – Hilton is also status-matching to Silver, Gold and Diamond. You can find out all the details here.
Please note that this is my take on Hilton HHonors Gold status, based on my (extensive) personal experience. However, a number of the perks stated above are entirely discretionary. With that in mind, it never does you any disservice to be courteous to the check-in staff. For the guaranteed benefits of Hilton HHonors Gold, see the Hilton official guide, here.