Running since February 2000, TripAdvisor is well known for comparing prices from 200+ booking sites to help you find the lowest price on the right hotel for you. However, they also tout themselves as the world’s largest travel site, with over 500 million unbiased traveler reviews of hotels, flights, restaurants, vacation rentals, and things to do. But can you trust all those reviews? Read on…
I needed a room for a single night in West Palm Beach after going to see a concert at the Coral Sky Amphitheater, an open air facility on the grounds of the South Florida Fairgrounds. My requirements for the stay were that it needed to be close to the concert, inexpensive for a single night stay, and clean and safe enough for me to want to stay there.
I did some searches and several hotels fit the bill. After some back and forth reading reviews, I decided to go with this one:
We needed a hotel in New York for a quick weekend trip. We were only staying two nights and wouldn’t be in the room much. We’d also be heading out of our normal area to visit Peter Luger Steak House in Brooklyn. With a seemingly endless number of possibilities, my focus narrowed when I saw an AMEX Offer for $40 back when spending $200 on a Marriott branded hotel. I looked for a hotel which would cost just over $200 per night and I found one.
Finding a hotel in Ft. Lauderdale is so frustrating for me. It only takes us about three hours to drive there so we’ll sometimes plan a quick getaway weekend. It’s just far enough away that driving there and back for the day is a pain (especially if we stay late for something), but it’s still close enough to home that we don’t want to spend a bunch of money for a hotel room for one night.
All of the hotels near downtown charge extraordinarily high rates and some of them even charge an additional resort fee as well as mandatory valet parking. I learned this when a free night at a Hilton ended up costing me over $65.
As this was going to be a truly quick trip, I had a few main requirements. The room would preferably be free and relatively close to Ft. Lauderdale. After looking with IHG, Hilton, Marriott and Hyatt there were no good options to redeem points. Even the base hotels were costing a tremendous amount of points in relation to the cash price. Since it looked like I was going to need to pay for the room, I focused on Hilton since Sharon needed a stay to keep her account active. I found a decently priced hotel and booked it for the night, and figured out a way to get it for free, while I was at it.
For our trip to London, choosing a hotel was one of the easiest things I had to do. Knowing that we were staying for five nights, I immediately started to think about hotels where I could get a free night. The Citi Prestige gives the fourth night free on paid stays but I didn’t want to pay for a hotel this trip. Hilton offers the fifth night free on award stays for anyone with Silver status and above, but I didn’t have enough Hilton points for a long stay in London. If you have the IHG Premier credit card, you get the fourth night free on award stays but we still have the older Select version of the IHG card so that wasn’t an option either.
The other program that offers a fifth night free on award stays is Marriott Bonvoy. We had plenty of Marriott points and I’m trying to burn them in a smart way before the first points devaluation (already past) and the future implementation of Off Peak and Peak pricing.
Once I narrowed my focus to Marriott, there was one hotel on our list of places we really wanted to stay.