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My family’s plan for next summer is to spend several weeks in Europe, primarily in London and Ireland. I think we are all ready for an adventure that is a little longer, and a bit different than our normal in-and-out method of travel. I was so happy to get our flights booked into London in British Airways First Class and out of Dublin in business class on Aer Lingus. We used British Airways Avios points for all of the flights, and I was pretty happy with how that process worked out. There are hefty fuel surcharges for flying on British Airways over the ocean, but the charges coming home on Aer Lingus were much more reasonable, and being able to book business class from Dublin – Boston for just 25,000 points per ticket is insane.
Once our dates were set, it was time to book hotels both in London and Dublin. We are planning to spend some time in Ireland at a cottage rental outside of Dublin for much of the trip, but there will be some point redemption opportunities during our time in those two major cities before heading to our non-hotel accommodations.
I have stayed in points-friendly hotels in London before including Andaz Liverpool (Hyatt), The Mayfair (Club Carlson), and the Sheraton Heathrow Hotel (Starwood). Hotels in London are often prohibitively expensive, especially for rooms rated for three people or more, so using points was essential to avoid spending a tremendous amount of money out-of-pocket.
The first issue was simply to find rooms for two adults and one child that were available for a reasonable number of points. This post addresses that issue somewhat, but I quickly narrowed our search to two main programs. The first was the suites and family rooms you can now book with Club Carlson points. The second was using a Hyatt Cash + Points reservation with a Hyatt Diamond Confirmed Suite upgrade to secure a suite at a Hyatt for a very reasonable cost. Both of these options have become available within the last year, so they are valuable newer tools to use in the search for family-friendly points accommodations in London (and beyond).
Booking Family Friendly Club Carlson Properties in London:
I was beyond thrilled when Club Carlson made larger family rooms and suites available on points, and often for a reasonable number of points (as opposed to um, a program that rhymes with Milton that sometimes charges a fortune for non-standard rooms on points). Two of the options in London to consider if you need a larger room on Club Carlson points are the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London that has a family studio room available for 62,500 points per night (last night free with the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature® Card) and the Plaza on the River London that has a full one-bedroom suite available for 87,500 points per night (again, last night free with the co-branded credit card).
The Plaza on the River option appeared nicer from the photos online, but the Park Plaza Westminister Bridge location allows two adults plus either one child over 12 on the sofa bed or two children under 12 on the sofa bed, and ultimately that was the best option currently available on points for our dates.
Pro Tip: Make sure to put the accurate number of adults/children in the Club Carlson search tool to ensure that all the family room options display.
Being able to get a room for three people in London for two nights for just 62,500 Club Carlson points + $0 in taxes is a steal, really. That last award night free benefit of the co-branded credit card is just so valuable if you are able to use it like we do. You could hop from one hotel to the next in two night intervals and save a ton of points and money thanks to the Club Carlson credit card.
Stacking Hyatt Opportunities for an Affordable Suite in London:
Since we have already stayed at the Andaz Liverpool, and didn’t love the base suite there in terms of a family stay, we wanted to try out the Hyatt Regency London – Churchill on this stay. I kept my fingers tightly crossed when direct messaging with Hyatt on Twitter to see if they had both cash + points availability and suite availability on our preferred dates. I was thrilled when both were available, so this means for a Diamond confirmed suite upgrade plus 12,500 points + 89.00 GBP per night we get a suite for our family at a great hotel in London. Diamond status will also give us access to the Regency Club for breakfasts and snacks, so we will save not just on accommodations, but on food costs as well.
The actual selling price for the suite on our dates is literally 800 GBP per night. For the currency impaired, that is approaching $1,300 USD per night. Of course we would never pay that amount, but still it is one of those times when you sit back and say “wow”, or perhaps more accurately, “holy $%$#@”, realizing how much lower your out of pocket cost is thanks to points.
Sometimes a suite is really just a luxury in terms of extra space. In London, it is often the difference between being able to all stay in one room or being required to book two rooms. The max number of people in the suite at the Churchill property is three, so this would not officially work for families larger than ours.
Of course you can use Hyatt Gold Passport points for the points portion of this type of reservation, or you can transfer Ultimate Reward points in at a 1:1 ratio from cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Ink Plus® Business Card. With the Ink Plus currently offering 70,000 points after meeting the $5k minimum spending requirement, you would have enough for the points portion for five nights via cash + points rates at the Hyatt Regency London – Churchill from just one sign-up bonus. In a very expensive city like London, that is huge.
Miles and points have played a tremendous role in the planning process for next summer’s trip to London and Ireland, and I am so grateful that our family has these tools to make otherwise unattainable trips happen. Up next is our hotel planning process for our time in Ireland, including looking at renting cottages!
Has your family used points to book stays in London and Europe? Have you been able to secure some suites or family rooms on points similar to what we did?
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.