Family Friendly Hotels: Hilton

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I’ve received a few comments and emails recently urging me to do some posts on what it is is like for families to stay in various hotel chains on points.  The biggest issue is often maximum occupancy limits.  While my own family is currently just a family of three (and will remain at three for the foreseeable future), I know that many families have at least two, if not more children.  Free or reduced-price rooms are all well and good if you need one room for one to two adults, but what happens when you are trying to use miles and points for a large family?  While this isn’t an issue I have yet had any personal experience with, I am happy to do a little research and open up the discussion, so that those who do have experience with this can help share ideas for families who are facing this dilemma.  If you are new to thinking about this whole issue, here is an article from a parent of four young children that I think captures the problem (and possible solution) perfectly.

I think the easiest way to tackle this issue would be to do it chain by chain.  However, some of the issues around occupancy are not chain specific, rather they are location or property specific.  Either way, to combine it all into one or two posts would be overwhelming, so I am going to start by just looking at Hilton.  I selected Hilton because they have one of the very best family friendly hotels out there, so it seemed like a logical place to start.

As I will do for all of the various brands that I look at, I did searches for hotels within that family of hotels in various cities all over the world with different occupancy levels to see what would happen to availability.  I will also point out some basic elite benefits, and examine how that translates to family travelers.  Since this is a new series of posts, I am also open to hearing any suggestions you might have for additional topics you would like to see covered as the series progresses.

Hilton Family of Hotels:

There are many hotel brands within the Hilton family, but the two that are the most family friendly, especially in terms of occupancy, are Homewood Suites and the Grand Champion of Family Friendliness (according to me), Embassy Suites.  If you have a large family and you aren’t familiar with Embassy Suites, I highly recommend that you rectify that situation immediately.  As their name implies, all of their rooms are two-room suites.  These two-room suites are meant to be used by people for sleeping, so the couch folds out into a bed.  They also offer a free full cooked-to-order breakfast for all guests and a nightly manager’s reception that offers free snacks and drinks – both alcohol and non-alcoholic.  The only problem with Embassy Suites for many families is that they located in more cities around the world.

In doing some searches as research for this post, I found that you can have two adults and up to four children (0-17) registered and still get the standard points rate for a room at the Embassy Suites that I searched.  Six people for the standard points level is virtually unheard of in the miles and points world.  I presume it is because you can put two people in each of the double beds in the bedroom and then two more on the pull-out couch.  I actually found the same results for HomeWood Suites.  Their two double beds suite was bookable for the standard rate on points even with two adults and four children.  Homewood Suites are designed as extended-stay hotels and include (small) full kitchens that advertize having full-sized refrigerators.  They also provide hot, full breakfast daily plus evening dinner and drinks on Monday – Thursday evenings.

Elite Benefits:

Elite benefits are something that has become more important to me over time.  Especially with hotel chains, there are often ways to get at least mid-tier elite status without living your life on the road.  So, don’t discount hotel elite status just because you only take a couple of trips per year.  I’m going to focus on two elite status levels within Hilton as they can both be obtained without spending any nights at Hilton to qualify.

Gold status

The first, and best overall deal by far, is Hilton Gold status.  It normally is achieved when you have 16 qualifying stays, 36 qualifying nights or 60,000 base points earned during any calendar year at Hilton Hotels.  Gold status benefits vary some depending on the type of Hilton property, but in general it gives you 25% additional points, upgrades to “preferred rooms” (including potentially the executive floor/lounge), free internet, and continental breakfast for two.  At hotels such as Embassy Suites, where breakfast is already included, you get your choice of two snack items (Cokes, waters, candy bars, fruits, etc) or 500 additional HHonors points.  At Homewood Suites you get water, cookies, and 250 additional points.

The easiest way to get HHonors Gold status for many folks is to simply have the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card.  Not only do you get two free weekend nights to use as a sign-up bonus (though they do technically state double occupancy), but you get Hilton Gold status for as long as you hold the card.  If you have stays a few times a year at Hilton properties, that is a very good investment for the $95 annual fee.  Even though the Gold breakfast technically is just for two persons in the room, having the parents eat breakfast free makes it much easier to be able to afford the kid’s meals for the little ones.

Diamond status

If you want top tier status with Hilton, you can also get it without spending tons of nights in Hilton hotels annually.  Diamond status normally is attained by having 28 qualifying stays, 60 qualifying nights or 100,000 base points earned during any calendar year.  However, you can get Diamond status by spending $40,000 in a calendar year on the Citi HHonors Reserve Card or the Amex HHonors Surpass card (that card also provides Gold status for free for the first year, but requires $20K in spending for Gold status in subsequent years).  Diamond members enjoy a 50% points bonus plus many of the same benefits as Gold members.  Some key differences between Gold and Diamond are guaranteed executive lounge access for Diamonds, where available, and the possibility of being upgraded to a suite.  Truthfully, unless you have the ability to just put a ton of spending on a credit card each year, I would not worry about shooting for Diamond.  Gold status really should do the trick for most families since having Diamond status still doesn’t guarantee suite access.

Room Occupancy:

I mentioned at the beginning of the post that Embassy Suites and Homewood Suites were typically the two best bets within the Hilton family if you are looking for larger rooms that are bookable for larger families.  However, it isn’t always possible (or even preferable) to only stay at those two brands, so here were my experiences looking at various Hilton family hotels in cities across the world for an October 1st reservation.

New York City

My observation was that most Hilton hotels in NYC stayed available on the standard points level up to two adults and two children in one room.  Once you went to two adults and three children, many of the hotels either were unavailable, or they only had suites or other non-standard rooms available for an increased number of points.   The one exception was the Hilton DoubleTree Suites- Times Square which had a suite with two double beds and a separate living room with pull-out couch available for the standard level of 50,000 points for up to two adults and four children.

Hong Kong

The Conrad Hong Kong shows no availability on points or cash once the occupancy of the room goes above two, but for what it’s worth Frommer’s states children under 18 can stay in the room for free with their parents, with a maximum of three per room.

Tokyo

The Hilton hotels in Tokyo seem to be available on points or dollars through two adults and one child.  However, if you have two adults and two children then your one option at the standard points level of 50,000 points was the Hilton Tokyo Bay Hotel (though it was for the Twin Hotel Guestroom which sounds very small to me).  This property’s website indicates that children six years old and over are treated as adults, but children under six can share existing bedding for free.  For what it is worth, the “Happy Magic Room” at that property looks awesome for kids, but it is not available at the standard points level.

London

Most of the Hilton hotels in London are only available at the standard points level up to two persons in the room.  There are several DoubleTree Hotels in London, but they also max out at an occupancy of two for the standard points level for their regular rooms.  One exception to this two person limit is the Hilton Metropole.  In the comments section it was pointed out that the Family Superior Room can be available at the standard points level.  My random searches have not found that room available as a standard room, but I did find the Triple Hilton Family Room available for 50,000 points per night when searching for two adults/one child.  I would personally prefer two queen beds to three twin beds for a family of three, but it could be a good option as a second room if you are looking for a room for the kiddos.

Orlando

Orlando is clearly a haven for family vacations, so it isn’t surprising that pretty much all of the Hilton hotels are available at the basic points level through a family of two adults and two children in one room.  If your family has more than three children, then you still have many options at the standard points level, including various Embassy Suites, Hampton Inn & Suites, and Homewood Suites.  If your family has two adults and four children, there are a few less options, but there are still multiple hotels available at the standard points redemption level.  One example is the Embassy Suites International Drive for 35,000 Hilton HHonors points per night for up to two adults and four children.

This exercise could go on and on, but the point is that there are hotels in the Hilton family that can be booked on points for families with multiple children.  There are more options in some cities than others.  In the event that you have more children than the stated maximum allowed on points or dollars for that room, you can contact the hotel directly to get more information and see if the children would be allowed for no additional charge.  I think that in some cases children up to a certain age probably are allowed even if  that information is not reflected on the website.  Your other option is to keep your mouth shut and try and not draw attention to yourselves.  I’m not advocating for or against this option, and it will probably work better in some parts of the world than others, but I have no doubt that it is a popular option for some families.

 

Disclosure:  I do receive a commission if you are approved for a credit card using my affiliate link.  The Citi Hilton Reserve card is one of my affiliate links, but the Amex Surpass card is just the best offer available for that card, and is not one of my links.  As always, thanks for your support.

 

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  1. This is a topic that hits very close to home for me. We are a family of 4 and travel a lot. For us, the hands-down winner is the Holiday Inn Express. This chain is consistently affordable, almost always sleeps 4, has a free breakfast, participates in the Priority Club PointsBreaks, and is available around the world. I challenge you to find a hotel chain that can match the Express for families of 4.

    One downside you will notice in almost all chains (including Express) is that rooms in Japan are very often limited to just 2 per room. Thankfully, this is not the case for Express in Europe, but let me tell you those rooms get pretty tight with two double (not queen!) beds. 🙂

    I look forward to the rest of your series—maybe I’ve overlooked something!

  2. Nice job of researching! We also find Hilton as the most family friendly for our family.

    You mentioned “The Hilton hotels in London are only available at the standard points level up to two persons in the room.” I have found that if you drill into the specific hotels in London, you can sometimes find award rooms for 2 adts plus kids. Last summer we stayed at the Hilton London Metropole for 40k points in a Family Superior Room. We declined the Executive Room upgrade since our booked room was larger so we received free WiFi and free breakfast for all 3 of us (me, hubby, and teen daughter.)

    Also, this summer, I was just about to book 2 rooms at the Hilton London Heathrow Terminal 4 to accommodate the 3 of us. But I decided to call Hilton Reservations here in the US and the rep found a room that would accommodate a child (under 18 yrs old)using a rollaway bed at the same 50k level. We were upgraded to an Executive Room which was a little small but worth it to be at the airport for an early departure.

    I look forward to your assessment of the other chain hotels concerning kids.

  3. @bluecat, thanks for sharing your experiences as a family of four! I will be including the HIE and the other IHG/Priority Club hotels in an upcoming post for sure. 😉
    @DL, thanks! That statement about London was based on searching for two adults plus one child. Toward the end of the post I said that you should contact the hotels specifically if you have more folks than it states is allowed as I bet there often are some exceptions to what is on the website. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if there are some, but it just isn’t prominently displayed on my random search. Thanks for sharing your experiences and reinforcing that is likely the case. 😉

  4. Planning a trip for next year to London and Paris for a family of 3 with hotel points and it can be frustrating. In some instances just having to suck it up and book two rooms as opposed to one.

    As DL mentioned, there are a FEW places in London where you may be able to find rooms that accommodate more than 2 for a standard points redemption rate (you do have to do some digging)…the Metropole is one of the them.

    There are rooms with 2 queen beds and such available, it’s just that they are part of the whole “premium room” scam with Hilton…so if you are willing to shell out sometimes as much as 150,000 points a night…you are all set.

    However, more often than not the STANDARD rooms only accommodate 2…and the beds are TWINS in a lot of cases.

    • @Dave, sounds like the Metropole is a real winner! When I search online that hotel still comes back with premium rooms for 2 adults/1 child – is this something you have only been able to book online? The Family Superior room is coming back at just shy of a billion points per night for me. However, on searching a different day the Triple Family Hilton room is just 50K points per night. I’m finding hit and miss availability, but glad to know there is at least some option!

  5. thanks for this timely post. I travel often for work, and occasionally take my wife and 2 kids (3 yo and 5 month old) with me. One such occasion will be in January to Orlando.
    My hope is to use my 2 free nights (from the Hyatt card) at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cyprus for our room. However, do you know if I can upgrade to a suite using points?
    Having traveled with the kids before, it is so much easier when my daughter can have her own room to sleep in.

    If you will be covering this is a later post on Hyatt, I apologize for jumping the gun, but this just seemed like the perfect time to ask my question.
    thanks

  6. Another Hilton option in the NYC area is the Doubletree suites in Jersey City. I was able to get a suite for 2 adults/3 kids last month for 30,000 points/night on a Gold member rate. Room had 2 doubles plus sofa. Not quite as family friendly as Embassy Suites (no breakfast buffet for the family, somewhat smaller room) but it is only a 5 minute walk to the PATH station. Also room had fridge and grocery is across the street, so in room breakfast is easy and inexpensive.

  7. I don’t worry about occupancy even with more than 2 people….just sneak em in after! In your case, I would just have your husband check-in first and have him text you the room number while you wait in the lobby/off-site location and just join him.

    I’ve had large parties in my suites for hilton and starwood hotels and it has never been a problem.. even done it with 4 people in European hotels where they are strict on the max 2 guest.

  8. For Hilton Diamond status, does spend on Hilton branded credit cards count towards the 100,000 point requirement? Some Amex cards get 6 points per $1 on gas, groceries, etc. Or, does it need to be earned in beds at hotels?

  9. When my husband and I travel alone, points and major hotel chains work great.

    When traveling with the three kids, we are very spoiled and will only stay in 2 bedroom timeshare units.

    We happen to own a timeshare (purchased on the resale market dirt cheap and with very reasonable annual fees) so we can use our own or exchange, but someone who doesn’t own can easily rent from an owner at a reasonable price. (In general, it is better to rent from someone than to own yourself.)

    For a week or two in Hawaii, the thought of being crammed in a regular hotel room or even an Embassy Suites type room is not a welcome one. We stayed in Hawaii for 2 weeks in luxurious, wonderful 2 bedroom, 2 bath, full kitchen units. (One Hilton, one Wyndham). It’s the way to go 🙂

    Anita

  10. My experience with other chains is that you can normally add you kids to the reservation later even though the online engine doesn’t allow you to. Just reserve the room with 2 adults first. Then call the central reservation line. If that fails, get the email for the hotel directly and email them. I’ve had success this way even when central reservation told me the hotel doesn’t allow addition of a kid due to fire code.

  11. I’ve considered a vacation in Hong Kong with my family of 4 and run into the issue of 3 max per room when searching for rooms. If a room has two beds that aren’t twin size, I don’t see what the problem is with having 4 occupants. Anyone have experience with this in Hong Kong?

  12. We just had a stay at the Conrad Hong Kong and can confirm that they give lounge privileges for Gold members. There were only 2 of us so can not answer the question about 4 occupants. However I would be surprised if that were the case as there were plenty of families in the lounge who had more than 1 young child with them.

  13. A good London option is the Holiday Inn Mayfair, which has huge (for London) rooms, often with 2 double beds. Superb location very near The Ritz and with a Sainsbury supermarket opposite. Being a Holiday Inn, it is also only 25k PC points per night despite costing $300 a night with VAT at least, and often much more. Rooms have not been redone in 20 years unless you get an upgrade to an Exec, but apart from that it is ok.

  14. To add to the above, my brother and his 2 kids have also used the Holiday Inn Camden Lock in London. Best thing here, apart from the relative newness of the hotel, is the fact that it is next to the heaving and crazy Camden Market. Not as central as Mayfair, though, and smaller rooms which are tight with 2 double beds.

  15. I think Residence Inn (Marriott group) is doing better job for bigger families because they have 2-bedroom suite (not just 2-room!). This summer we used our two free night coupon in Kingston, ON and Ottawa, and was upgraded to the 2br suite (thanks to our platinum status). Man, with a king bed in each bedroom and a queen pullout sofa, it easily fits 6 people!

  16. I think if you did a series on family friendly hotels in Europe (not just UK) it would be very well received. Europe is difficult for families to travel without spending an outrageous number of points.

  17. My husband and I have 2 sons, ages 5 and 8. We want to visit Europe next summer, probably England and France. I have not found any rooms with SPG or Hyatt that accommodate more than 2 people. I’ve found some Hilton’s and Marriott’s, mainly in the UK, with 2 double beds. Priority Club seems to have the most options. I couldn’t find any Italy hotel rooms available on points for more than 2 people. Prague and Budapest had a few options.

    I would also welcome a post on finding European hotel rooms for families on points!

  18. Yes, if you are price-conscious, it is VERY challenging to find family-friendly rooms in Europe. For instance, you usually have to upgrade your room (w/ more points) if you want to accommodate more than 2 people on an SPG award night. As other posters have noted, IHG seems to be the most open to bookings with more than 2 occupants. Like another up-thread poster, we’ve had good success w/ Holiday Inn Express. A great site for searching rooms w/ specific occupant requirements is booking.com (a Priceline-related site). Also, if you use the name-your-own-price feature of Priceline, the booking only guarantees you a room that will hold 2 people. While you may be willing to chance it in the U.S., European hotel rooms are much smaller, w/ stricter enforcement of max. occupancy rates. A good way around this is to use Hotwire, which allows you to specify up to 4 occupants for its discounted, “mystery” hotels.

  19. This is a timely topic for me. Me, my husband and my teenaged daughter want to take a trip to Moscow and St. Petersburg in March. There are no Hilton properties in St. Petersburg. There’s one Hilton property in Moscow. I was on the phone with a reservation agent and she said the entire hotel is only 2 people to a room. So, traveling overseas is tough.

  20. One thing I can add to my earlier post (post 1) about using HIE for Europe travel: HI Express works best for those families who travel by car. The reason is that many of these are off the highway and not central to the city. Of course, we have stayed in HIE in London, Paris and Rome too, but they usually require more transit time to get to the action spots. So that is something to consider too…

  21. I absolutely LOVE Homewood Suites. Any time my wife and I travel, we stay at a Homewood. We have food allergies, so the full kitchen comes in extremely handy; but we also just generally love the feel of the hotels. They’re a gem in the hotel industry.

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