Why a £100 Hotel Stay Should Never Cost You That Much – Part One

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Billions of dollars (or pounds if you prefer) are spent each year on marketing by the big Online Travel Agencies – Expedia and Priceline – in their various disguises. One of the key messages hammered into consumers is the ease with which one can book a hotel via Hotels.com, Trivago, etc. But if you actually book a £100 hotel room as promoted… your net spend is going to be… £100 (and the OTA is going to enjoy a substantial commission).

If you always book your hotel rooms on an IPhone/android app, you’re probably not a regular reader of InsideFlyer and you certainly aren’t much of a “travel hacker – because anybody who stays at a major hotel chain can easily reduce that £100 up-front cost, if they are willing to make a bit of an effort.  Here’s how to do it at three of the largest hotel chains – Marriott, Hilton and IHG…

Part One – What Everybody Can Do


If you follow a bookmark or Google search directly to a hotel website, you are wasting money! Your first port of call should always be a cashback website.  Topcashback and Quidco are the largest cashback websites in the United Kingdom. With a bit more effort, you can use US-based cashback websites that might provide a higher rebate at any given moment.  And finally… you can also use the shopping portals provided by major airlines. Again, you are hopefully familiar with Avios.com and the Virgin Atlantic Shops Away portal.

Cashback rates can vary quite substantially, but here is my experience:

  • Marriott Bonvoy
    • Topcashback / Quidco will usually pay between 6 and 9%
    • As I’ve written previously, you can receive up to 20% (as miles) via the AAdvantage shopping portal during a frequent, but short-lived, promotion
  • Hilton Honors
    • As a member of Hilton Honors (Silver and above), the cashback websites will pay a maximum of 1%
    • On Avios.com / Shops Away, you can regularly receive 6% in the form of miles
  • IHG Rewards Club
    • You can usually receive 6% cashback, with regular promotions raising this to as high as 15%
    • “Milesback” is almost always less lucrative than cashback with IHG, especially since cash in the bank is far more flexible than miles

Base Points

Unless your hotel stays are so sporadic that any points earned will expire unused, you will also receive substantial value from the points you will earn from your paid hotel stay. As it happens, all three hotel chains offer 10 points per dollar spent, although some points are worth more than others. Click here to read why I think Marriott points are worth more than the others

It’s also worth highlighting that point earnings are calculated based on the pre-tax room rate in US dollars. When travelling in the United States, this is simple. When travelling elsewhere, you will often find yourself earning fewer points than you might expect – due to currency conversion and taxes hidden in the room rate.  As a result, I estimate that your £100 room rate would work out to $110 + taxes.

Adding It Together

When you subtract your simple rebates from your headline £100, you can end up with shockingly different outcomes, as this chart shows…

As you can see, a simple £100 Marriott stay could end up costing you as little as £73 – simply by setting an AAdvantage shopping portal alert to tell you when the “milesback”rate has jumped to 10 miles per dollar.

With Hilton Honors, on the other hand, you might end up with a net cost nearer to £95, especially if Avios.com doesn’t pay out your expected miles this decade.

What Else?

The major hotel chains regularly offer promotions to their loyalty programme members. However the relative value of each promotion is impossible to generalise for the purposes of this analysis. But anybody interested in maximising their potential rebate from a hotel stay is going to be keenly aware of the promotions on offer, and make their hotel choices accordingly.

In my experience, this is what can reasonably be expected from these three hotel chains:

  • Hilton Honors
    • Few, if any, gaps between promotions. Double points (sometimes triple) is the most frequent Hilton promotion
  • IHG Rewards Club
    • Some gaps between promos. (often no summertime promo for Europeans)  Potentially very lucrative if one is given a personalised, “gamified” promotion to play around with
  • Marriott Bonvoy
    • More gaps, but too soon to tell what promotional policy Marriott intends to pursue


By booking a Marriott hotel stay at the right time for the right nights, one can easily reduce a £100 hotel stay to a <£70 net cost. Book the wrong Hilton stay and that £100 might end up as £90-95.

Or you could just spend £100 with Captain Obvious…

In Part Two, I’ll add the benefits for more frequent guests, and those who really enjoy travel hacking…


  1. Ian Perry says

    “With Hilton Honors, on the other hand, you might end up with a net cost nearer to £95, especially if Avios.com doesn’t pay out your expected miles this decade.”

    I actually received Avios last week from a Hilton stay just over 100 days since checkout – without even needing to follow up with Avios estore. Of course, I also have some due, approaching 200 days since checkout!

    When advertised as 8 Avios/£ my Hilton stays are coming through at around 6.8/£ and when shown as 6/£ it’s more like 4.8. Not that I completely distrust the eStore, but I do keep a spreadsheet to track these transactions.🤓

  2. Beppo says

    Not sure if you are going to cover that in PART TWO but… some good savings are possible outside of hotel chains too.
    Hotels Rewards is not bad with basically a 10% + cashback rate (normally 2-3%) for each booking.

  3. Bob says

    I’d argue you could go even further than that. Looking at my spreadsheet for this quarter so far [as IHG Spire] I’ve done:

    1x night Holiday Inn Ariel
    2x nights Met Leeds
    1x night Crowne Plaza Manchester
    2x nights Holiday Inn Warsaw
    2x nights Holiday Inn Warsaw

    My cost for those nights has been £470. TCB return is about £25. But the total points haul is just over 135,000 [including nearly 25,000 qualifying points], plus a free night courtesy of the Met Leeds stays. I’d value the total numbers as being: spend about £500 on 8 nights, get back an additional 8 nights in 10k-15k Holiday Inns, plus a 70k night somewhere. I also did 2x nights at the Moxy Katowice and Warsaw [cost £50 each] yielding another £200 night in London somewhere.

    • Bob says

      To add to the above, I meant get back an additional 8 nights at 15k-20k Holiday Inns. 135k is 13 nights at 10k, 9 nights at 15k, 6 nights at 20k etc. Also: all of the above bookings with the exception of Leeds Met were higher priced refundable bookings – which allow the option of buying Q points – which I did, and which is how I got to nearly 25k of Q points in 6 nights.

      • Joe Deeney says

        Aye – I still base the majority of my hotel stays (when paying with cash rather than points) around which programme is offering the best promo at the time/overall value. If you have enough flexibility, the returns can still be extremely good – even though we see less of the truly great promotions these days.

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