How to Stay at Hilton Hotels FREE for ~3 Months… (Actually, They Might Even Pay You…)

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Ok, this post is a bit of fun rather than something I’m suggesting would be hugely practical for most readers, but with a bit of deal stacking, it is technically possible to stay at Hilton hotels free until the end of April!


Yeah, stacking Hilton promotions can be great.

Before going any further, I’m going to make make a few assumptions in order to keep the maths relatively straightforward in this post – adjusting those assumptions to your own particular circumstances shouldn’t be too tricky, but if you get confused with anything just let me know in the comments!

Assumption 1: You have Hilton Honors Diamond status. Even if you don’t to begin with, you could do very quickly thanks to the ongoing status match/challenge.

Assumption 2: You will be staying with a partner/friend.

Assumption 3: You already have a decent amount of Hilton Points to get you started.

Stay at Hilton hotels free until 30th April 2018

As I mentioned, there are a number of different elements involved here that you need to stack together – let’s look at them separately before putting everything together.

Element 1 – Hilton ‘Points Unlimited’ promotion

The current Hilton Honors promotion offers the following bonus until the end of April:

For each stay, members earn 2,000 bonus Points. Members receive an additional 10,000 Point bonus for their fifth stay. In other words…

  • Stay 1 – 2,000 bonus Points
  • Stay 2 – 2,000 bonus Points
  • Stay 5 – 12,000 bonus Points
  • Stay 6 – 2,000 bonus Points
  • Stay 10 – 12,000 bonus Points
  • etc. etc. with no upper limit

Basically, you will earn 20,000 bonus Points for every 5 stays you make.

Note that these have to be separate stays – you don’t get the bonus per night. That’s why (unless you don’t mind switching hotels and can find 2 suitable options close to each other) you really need a travelling partner to do this with, so you can make alternate one 1-night bookings. For example, you book Monday night on your account, your companion books the Tuesday night on their account, you book Wednesday on your account, etc.

I’ve done this sort of thing quite a bit in the past and the hotels have always been happy to let us keep the same room for the duration – what is absolutely essential though is that you do ‘check out’ in terms of the paperwork (sign the bill) each day, in order to complete the stay and begin a new stay. Hotel staff may think they are being helpful by suggesting they merge the reservations – don’t let them do this!!!

Element 2 – award stays count

As is usually the case with Hilton Honors promotions, you will earn the bonus Points from the promotion even when you pay for your stay using Points. If you want to be safe, make sure you charge a cheap drink/snack to your room each day in order to ensure the bonus gets triggered, but all the data points I’ve seen so far suggest it isn’t actually necessary this time.

Element 3 – Milestone bonuses

As part of the most recent changes to status benefits, Hilton Honors is introducing ‘Milestone bonuses‘. Members receive:

  • 10,000 point bonus when reaching your 40th night.
  • An additional 10,000 bonus points every 10 nights after that, with no cap.
  • Another 30,000 points bonus at 60 nights (I’m unsure whether you get the recurring 10,000 for nights 50-60 on top of the 30,000)

Although the changes aren’t being brought in until April, stays completed in 2018 before April do still count towards these targets.

Element 4 – MyWay bonus Points

Diamond members receive 1,000 bonus Honors Points as a welcome gift for each stay at Conrad, Curio, Hilton, Doubletree, Waldorf Astoria, Canopy and Tapestry brand hotels. You can also choose between 250-1,000 Points at other brands like Hampton and Hilton Garden Inn, instead of picking a free drink/snack etc.

Element 5 – Category 1 hotels

Hilton Honors officially got rid of ‘Categories’ a while ago, but the old Category 1 hotels used to require just 5,000 Hilton Honors Points per night, and even though they are no longer called Category 1s, they still only require 5,000 Points.

The Hilton Salalah Resort in Oman is just 5,000 Points per night!

Putting it all together…

Let’s use the Hilton Salalah Resort in Oman, where each 1-night stay requires 5,000 Points, as our example.

For every 5 stays you receive 20,000 Points from the ‘Points Unlimited’ promo. Given that booking 5 1-night stays would require 25,000 Points,  in net terms your cost would be down to 5,000 Points for every 5 stays.

But then we need to add on the 1,000 Points per stay Diamond ‘MyWay’ benefit, which means you would actually have used 25,000 Points and received 25,000 back – making the 5 stays effectively free!

If you’re willing to give me a bit of ‘artistic license’, we can potentially do even better, thanks to the Milestone bonuses. There are only 76 days left before the ‘Points Unlimited’ promotion ends (at time of writing), so if you were alternating stays between 2 accounts you could only book a maximum of 38 night per account that would benefit from that, and you’d need there to be 120 days in order to hit 60 nights on both accounts to maximise the Milestone bonuses.

Let’s assume though that Hilton will offer another promotion like Points Unlimited at some point later this year (they might well do); or that you found 2 Category 1 hotels near each other that you could swap between each day, allowing you to book all the stays on 1 account, and therefore hit 60 nights easily. Your 60 stays would therefore earn you an additional 50,000-60,000 bonus Points (depending on whether you get the 10,000 on top of the 30,000 for nights 50-60).

Given that just through Points Unlimited and the MyWay bonus Points your stays would be free, once you add in the Milestone bonuses, Hilton Honors would effectively be paying you 50,000 -60,000 Points to stay with them for 60 days!

Bottom line

I’ve taken things to (slightly absurd) extremes here, but you really could stay at Hilton hotels free, or for just a handful of Points even if you don’t have elite status.

An Honors member without status could book 5 stays at Category 1 hotels for 25,000 Points and receive 20,000 back from the Points Unlimited programme. If there’s only 1 Category 1 hotel you’re interested in (and to be fair, they are hard to find these days), have your travelling companion book alternate nights on their account, and you can have a 10 night stay for just 10,000 Points in total!

Anyone fancy living at Hiltons for a while?


  1. Pangolin says

    Hilton Salalah in Oman doesn’t have any solid availability until late March, until then availability is very patchy with at least one day each week (even for 1 night bookings) booked out. There’s basically nothing at all for the first two weeks of March. The longest you could possibly stay there between now and April is 4 days, and the other two blocks of time are only 2 days and 3 days long respectively.

    Not exactly sure where you’d go when they turf you out, as there’s nothing else there. Maybe take an adventure trip across the nearby border with Yemen?

    The inventory doesn’t really open up until April, by which point few people are heading to the Gulf.

    Having said that, the idea of minting it by exploiting lucrative promos against low category hotels is a sound one. In the early phase of 2017 when they had the 5K PER STAY bonus, they were basically paying you to stay at the cheaper places.

    • Joe Deeney says

      There’s a Cat 3 Crowne Plaza and a Cat 2 Marriott down the road (according to awardmapper anyway) 🙂 , but yeah I definitely take the point – as I say, I wasn’t seriously suggesting that we should all move to Oman for months. The idea was more to use an extreme example to demonstrate what is theoretically possible in order to draw attention to what might make more sense for a 5 or 10 night trip.

      The promo last year was a cracker – ALMOST made me consider genuinely living at Hiltons for a while.

      • Izzy says

        Joe, can I ask – have you been to the Salalah Hilton hotel? It’s a nice hotel and definitely worth 5,000 points. For a night or two. But three months in Salalah?! No chance!! Also – the Salalah hotel has nice photos. And it is a nice hotel with great staff. But it is basically in a a square parking lot far to the north of Salalah close to the port. And it is nowhere near as impressive as the impressions the photos give! If you haven’t been, you could get also try a Salalah to Alexandria flight with Qatar (maybe using Avios points?) and then try out some of the low redemption hotels in Alexandria too. One of those is in the middle of a shopping centre. The beach front one is nice. But again, only for a few days. Alexendria is pretty filthy in general.

        • Joe Deeney says

          Hi izzy,

          Not yet! – but I’d love to visit Oman sometime this year and will certainly pop down if that trip happens.

          You’re absolutely right of course – I’m not seriously suggesting people go and live there for 3 months (and as other comments have pointed out, it’s impossible to find a long block of time with award space available, during the relevant promo dates, anyway). The idea was more to put together an artificially extreme example to draw attention to what can be a very useful set of promos for people who might fancy a couple of 5 day breaks to places that have Category 1-2 hotels.

          Thanks for the Alexandria tip! – Not somewhere I’d really considered before and plenty of cheap Points redemptions for hotels.

  2. Craig Sowerby says

    There are 2-3, maybe 4 hotels in Istanbul at 5K per night. Not central of course, but you could easily hotel hop to your heart’s content without annoying the front desk staff quite so much.

  3. Michael Jennings says

    There are three 5,000 point properties in Querétaro in Mexico, too. There were four, but the Doubletree I stayed in last year seems to have gone up to 10,000, alas.

  4. James says

    You couldn’t stay at the Hilton Salalah for 5 consecutive nights for just 5k though as consecutive nights count as one stay don’t they ?

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