Please note this site has financial relationships with American Express and this post may contain affiliate links. Read my Advertiser Disclosure policy here to learn more about my partners.
Once you get your feet wet a bit in the miles and points world, the next step is to diversify the types of points that you have as the opportunity arises. Over the years I have been able to ensure we have miles and points in lots of different programs so that we can usually get the award we want at the time we want…at least with some program.
When we decided to add Grandma to our family’s adventure to the United Kingdom at a pretty close-in date during the peak-est of peak travel times to Scotland last month, this diversification of points and our ability to get the award we wanted was really put to the test.
My family of four had a suite we booked way in advance at the Radisson Blu Edinburgh Royal Mile, and we were able to get Grandma a standard room at that property for our first of three nights in Edinburgh. See reviews for the Radisson Blu and the rest of the trip at the end of this post. However, after that first night, standard rooms on points were sold out and the cash rates for non-standard rooms were over $500+ per night. Similarly, there was no award availability using SPG points or any of the other usual suspects anywhere remotely near where we wanted to be. Cash rates at any hotel that looked even halfway decent were also easily $400 – $500 per night. This was early August, festival season, the beginning of the Military Tattoo and truly a very peak time to be in Edinburgh.
However, these was award availability via the Choice Privileges program. I had purchased Choice points via the annual Daily Getaways sale a few times before, so I had some points I could utilize for this trip. This particular available hotel was available not at a standard Choice property, but was one of their Ascend Hotel Collection properties called The Howard.
The Howard is a small property with just 19 unique rooms. Their website speaks of five star service, complimentary beverage service, and butlers drawing your bath and unpacking, and more… And this is available using Choice Hotel points?
I didn’t think my mom would make use of a butler-drawn-bath (and I was right), but I thought she would probably appreciate a quiet retreat of her own after time with my crazy crew. I booked an award stay at The Howard in Edinburgh for 35,000 Choice Hotel points and crossed my fingers that it would turn out to be a good decision even though it was a different hotel in a different part of town than we were staying.
On our second afternoon in Edinburgh we made the 15-20 minute walk from the Radisson Blu Royal Mile to The Howard. With luggage or little kids I think this should probably be a cab ride instead of a walk, but if you aren’t in a rush, it is actually a pretty nice stroll. It would also be walkable from the train station if you are traveling light. If not, plan for a roughly five minute cab ride.
As you get closer to The Howard, the neighborhood gets much quieter and more lined with art stores, parks, and antique shops than the hustle and bustle of the Royal Mile.
The staff at the Howard was very lovely and helpful with getting us checked in, answering questions, setting up a cab to the airport, etc. Since this is a small property, there isn’t a check-in line, but rather a small office with a table and chairs where you complete the check-in process. After we were checked in, there was indeed a ‘butler’ who escorted us up to my mom’s room to get her settled, though we did not make any further use of the butler services on her short stay.
The room we booked was a junior suite as it was available for the standard 35,000 points per night rate as were several other room types. It was rated for two people, but could sleep three if an extra bed is requested. Children 12 and under can sleep in the existing bedding for no additional charge at this property. However, it was just my mom on this trip so no extra beds were required.
The king bed in the bedroom portion of the junior suite was in its own alcove.
Baby S got hard to work reviewing the quality of the bed, which she decided was acceptable for Grandma.
The living portion of the junior suite had a couch, coffee table, small desk, and TV.
The bathroom was actually pretty large with a full bathtub, separate shower, and more. Really, for a European bathroom it was outright huge, though still with limited useable counter space.
I didn’t sleep at this property myself, but I was impressed overall by what Choice Privileges points got us on a very, very peak night in Edinburgh in August. This was not some cookie cutter small room at an unmemorable property, but instead it was a true junior suite that had real character.
As you can probably surmise from the pictures, this was not the newest or fanciest property around, but it was well maintained, comfortable, and pretty charming. It was as if you were staying in your Grandmother’s extra bedroom…assuming your Grandmother lived in a very nice part of Edinburgh and had butlers at the ready.
My mom had no complaints about the stay, and I think both of us would happily return to that property on a future trip to Edinburgh under a similar set of variables. You are more removed from the Royal Mile and its attractions, but that can actually be a really good thing if you want to sleep with a little more peace and quiet than you will probably find on the Royal Mile.
Here are some other posts from our recent family UK trip…
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.