What tips or tricks can you use to get "upgraded"/better hotel rooms?

In the above, related, link user jpatokal wrote:

First of all, it's important to understand that there are "upgrades" and then there are upgrades. A slightly larger room or a room facing the park instead of the parking lot is a small upgrade and these are often handed out like candy, but putting you in an executive floor room with lounge access, buffet breakfast and complimentary minibar involves real additional cost to the hotel, and these "real" upgrades will be harder to score.

Recently, staying in a single hotel, we experienced different upgrades at different times - all seeming quite relatively arbitrary. When we asked why/how we were upgraded, staff told us:

"no reason"

but it can't be that random, can it?

  • Under what circumstances are hotel room upgrades given out?
  • 3
    Think of a reason. At least one person at one hotel somewhere in the world once got an upgrade for that reason...
    – Gagravarr
    Aug 22, 2015 at 8:34

1 Answer 1


Upgrades are handed out for two broad reasons: either the hotel has to, or the hotel wants to.

Like airlines, hotels overbook: a hotel with 100 rooms will accept (say) 110 bookings, and expect that 10 people don't show up. (For example, my employer's corporate booking rate at a large chain lets you cancel bookings for free until 6 PM on the day of arrival. Do people use this? You betcha.) And since hotels have different types of rooms, each in finite quantities, they'll also accept (say) 55 bookings for their 50 Standard rooms and 55 bookings for their 50 Deluxe rooms. Guess what happens when you're guest #51 to check in for a Standard room? Oops, no rooms left, but the hotel has to put you somewhere: congratulations, you just got an upgrade.

As an additional complication, while you book an airline seat for a single flight, hotel rooms can be booked for any number of nights. So you may get upgraded even if the rooms aren't full right now, because that may avoid a situation a few days down the line.

The second reason is that hotels want to upgrade their best guests. For example, if you're a Starwood Preferred Guest Platinum member (meaning you spend at least 50 nights/year in their hotels), you'll get a free upgrade to the best available room on check-in, up to and including suites. The "on check-in" condition makes this essentially free for the hotel, as they'll only bump you up when they have rooms to spare, but it's obviously a nice perk for the guest. Most major chains have similar plans, eg. Marriott Gold/Platinum get automatic access to the Club lounge and thus often get bumped up to the Club floor as well.

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