Amidst the Hilton Devaluation Carnage, a Potential Sweetspot has Emerged…

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A few weeks ago I wrote about a number of Hilton Honors hotels costing far more points than they previously did – without any announcement being made. Since then, a lively Flyertalk thread has been pointing out the dozens of hotels that have increased in price… overnight… without warning!

I’ve made this point before but I’ll repeat it yet again. If companies want to earn the loyalty of their customer base, they need to avoid these no-notice devaluations. Members who stay with a hotel chain expect to earn points that they can spend on free nights. But if they don’t know how many points they will need, then what is the point of earning points in the first place?

That said, this post isn’t intended as yet another rant against Hilton Honors’ no-award-chart policy of “we’ll charge you as many points as we feel like”. But instead, I wanted to point out how to react when faced with the disappearance of one’s favourite sweetspots… by finding another!

The Hilton Honors Points Explorer

Although some bloggers have valiantly tried to put together lists of “low category” Hilton Honors hotels, I prefer to go to the source – the Points Explorer – you can reach it by clicking here.

The Points Explorer isn’t updated that frequently, and often gives silly results.  Pretend they might… but the Hilton Paris Opera is never going to be available for 20,000 points per night…

But if you order the results from low points to high, you can find those hotels that cost relatively few points. Unless you are a geography master, or have a great deal of patience or interest in getting off the beaten path, you will probably struggle whilst scrolling through hotels located in places in China, Turkey, Mexico that you cannot imagine ever visiting.

The Doubletree Penang, Malaysia

As I was scrolling through the list however, I stumbled across the Doubletree hotel in Penang, Malaysia. Apparently this hotel became a Doubletree in 2018, which is possibly why I wasn’t previously aware of it.

I’ve never been to Penang, but I understand that the UNESCO World Heritage Site of George Town is worth a wander around. In addition, Qatar Airways offers a direct flight from Doha, meaning that you can likely find an interesting Business Class fare and earn yourself 560 Tier Points.


But for those readers for whom earning and spending points is a priority, the main attraction of this hotel (besides its waterfront location) is this…

For 10,000 points per night – or 40,000 points for a five-night stay – this would be a perfect way to tag on a cheap, yet good quality, beach holiday to a trip around Southeast Asia.

There doesn’t appear to be an Executive Lounge, but you can easily receive free breakfast by undertaking one of the simple Gold or Diamond fast tracks or status matches on regular offer.


I’ve already spent most of my Hilton Honors points, but hopefully I can earn another 40,000 points before this sweetspot is enhanced away overnight…

What do you think about Hilton’s award policies? Have you been caught out by the recent devaluation? Let us know in the comments section…


  1. Crafty says

    It’s in the middle of nowhere. I did a mattress run and scouted it out ahead of a potential 5 night family stay, which would have been in addition to our stays in Georgetown and Batu Ferringhi. We decided not to bother and went on to Melaka instead – which was excellent.

  2. David S says

    Hilton Devaluation- Bad
    Penang- Excellent. Definitely worth a trip, particularly if we ever get a Qatar airways sale again.
    Doubletree Penang- apart from beach, not much to it since it is a fair way out of Georgetown.
    Although Grab is pretty cheap to get anywhere on the island.

  3. Chris says

    I don’t see why Hilton’s policy is any less of a disincentive to accumulate points than the changes to United Airlines’ Mileage Plus. A number of airlines already practice dynamic award pricing, for example KL/AF’s Flying Blue which can throw up strange anomalies. A business class trip in Asia Pacific may require fewer miles than a short hop in economy in Europe. The worst part is, you don’t know before you try. Thus, there is no point diligently building up miles for a planned trip. Likewise if you need to extend an award trip, you could be in trouble. In the days of fixed award charts, it was hard hunting for award availability. But if you have no way of knowing what the award will cost, undertaking a long-haul award trip is risky. If the number of miles needed to return on a different date doubles (which is quite possible, I’ve checked), and you don’t have enough miles, you could find yourself buying a new one-way home which may cost you as much as buying a round-trip fare with money in the first place. I’m a United Million Miler and I also used Flying Blue a lot, but ever since the advent of dynamic award pricing I’ve stopped worrying about earning miles or staying loyal to any one airline. Instead I’ve gone back to simply looking for the cheapest fare, or buying r/t business fares originating in countries I travel to regularly which are often much cheaper. Dynamic award pricing works for people with time on their hands who don’t much care when or where they go. Same with Hilton points. To pick up on your example, not many people would travel thousands of miles somewhere they don’t necessarily want to go to stay in an out-of-the-way hotel just because the number of Hilton points needed hasn’t increased. Therein lies insanity! Better to forget earning points and stay in the lowest-priced, best hotel at your preferred destination which will almost certainly not be a Hilton. I used to be a true mileage obsessive, taking insane trips between continents just to earn miles, but I wonder if the glory days of miles and points are over. I also wonder how this helps airlines and hotel chains anxious for loyalty?

    • Craig Sowerby says

      Some excellent points, although for many years now I’ve been convinced that the best values are to be found on the hotel side of the loyalty game. And my personal experience has me completely convinced that “stay in the lowest-priced, best hotel at your preferred destination” is a waste of money in the sense that you’ll only ever get what you pay for. But for other people it works just fine.

      • Pangolin says

        “And my personal experience has me completely convinced that “stay in the lowest-priced, best hotel at your preferred destination” is a waste of money in the sense that you’ll only ever get what you pay for.”

        That’s similar to my take, and I guess quite a few of us who play this loyalty game, yet I’m never able to get this point across to friends/colleagues in a way that hits home. They mostly just think I’m nuts for not automatically picking the value deal on or whatever’s available on Airbnb. Business travellers don’t need any convincing of this approach, however.

        Maybe you should consider writing an article that backs your statement up with real-life examples. Might be useful ammo for me!

        • Craig Sowerby says

          I did make an effort awhile back by comparing the potential “rebates” at IHG, Hilton and Marriott. I was rather surprised to see Marriott well ahead, although the “miles back” deals seem to have dried up.

          I’ll have a think and see whether I can find a different approach, as I think it’s an interesting topic.

  4. Chris says

    My post was mainly about dynamic award pricing and the frustration of saving points or miles without knowing how much your desired award will finally cost you. As to hotels, isn’t it mostly a matter of who is paying? If I’m on expenses, yes, of course it’s worth earning points which divert some of the cost to me. It gives me something I wouldn’t otherwise have. Couldn’t agree more. But when I’m on my own tab, on holiday for example, the cash savings I can negotiate with an independent hotel seem to outweigh the value of the points I’d earn by paying the advertised rate at a chain hotel. For example, I currently have enough Hilton points for quite a large number of nights in places I have no reason to visit. But they only give me about a week at my fave Hiltons. Granted, it’s not an easy sum but in that scenario I think I do better by negotiating low rates at nice hotels and paying my way throughout.

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