#CheckingIn: Hotel Hacks

Another week, another lobby. There’s nothing to quite equal waking up in a set of cold, downy sheets, in a foreign new land, only a blackout curtain away from magic and mayhem.  Hotels are a godsend for travel-savvy go-getters, business honchos, and weekend splurgers alike.  And despite that no two staffs and staple layouts are the same, you don’t need to know blueprints to discover a whole hotel.  All you need is a room phone, a complimentary bathrobe, and a key knowledge of some tried and true hotel hacks that will have you in tip-top shape for your next stay.  Here’s what you need to know:

Credit bonuses are a shoe-in for free nights

I would like to thank hotels and credit cards across the globe for having a very special bond.  Capitalize on the point systems, and you’ll wake up in an overhanging seaside villa fit for royals.  The best list we’ve scouted is here from Wisebread.  And while Marriott scrapes #1 for business and family affairs alike, the best budget nab (if you’re cruising the US, Europe, Mexico, or Caribbean anytime soon) is the Choice Privileges program by Choice Hotels.  You can really rig the hotel world and snag some shiny places in the process.

Shoot an Email to the GM

A friend once pressed me to gussy up to the general manager of a Marriott via email several weeks prior to our stay.  So, I shot him a quick message about the services, price matched a smidge with a local hotel (eek!), and diplomatically sought out an upgrade.  Not only did I add a friend to my travels, but we snagged a top floor king corner room and some room service credit.  By simply drawing out a quick email, we were gifted by a courteous staff with food on the house and a view that couldn’t be matched. Gah!

Go long

Imagine the effort it takes in turning over a room every other night.  The stress, the cleanup, the prep.  Hotels love a long runner, so if you can, nabbing a few extra nights and bargaining out a better deal sounds like a win-win for hotel staff and resident alike. Plus, staff is more likely to move hell and high water for someone who’s stretching their days away at the pool.  Etch out a lengthy vacation.  You deserve it.

Slip a $20

Don’t be afraid if you’ve watched Chandler Bing epicly fail to deliver the correct bribe during an episode of Friends.  This age-old trick is a slick yes, and it works marvelously. In the words of Skyscanner writer Elizabeth Houck, “I’ve literally done this dozens of times and only once was I not upgraded. At check-in, you always provide ID and a credit card. I simply pull out a $20 bill, fold it, and place it under my cupped hand at the counter; reception always notices.” Bribe away, young traversers.  May the odds be ever in your favor.

Nab the free stuff

We’ve surmised a quick list of things you’ve probably asked for as well as things you didn’t know existed in the storage rooms of hotel buildings. Should you ever fail to pack your phone charger or couldn’t quite pocket your yoga mat (because who does?), odds are, your hotel has a closet full of spares.

  1. Better pillows (whether you like soft or extra firm, select your preference for sleeping well)
  2. Chargers, cables, and adapters (because, for first-time travelers, it’s easy to forgo the reality that no two nation’s power outlets are created equal)
  3. Yoga mats
  4. A mini fridge (in hotel vernacular, they’re called “medical fridges,” which is what you’ll need to call it when you place your request with the front desk)
  5. Toothpaste and toothbrushes
  6. Nail polish remover (although I pray your mani-pedi make it through the vacay)
  7. Plastic baggies
  8. Workout classes (request a schedule upon check-in)
  9. Free use of the spa (such as the steam room, sauna, and gym)
  10. GoPro rentals (at select Marriotts and Hiltons, totally worth a request)
  11. Special events held at the hotel, where you get full free entry and can experience local culture at its best.

While not every hotel is chomping to keep an endless supply of hair crimpers, there is a secret world of invisible hotel hacks, all swirling at our fingertips. Aim for these bigs, stock up on free goods, and soak in every poolside margarita that comes your way.

Enjoy the sun, and (hopefully) some high thread count sheets.