Hotel Hacking: How I got Suite Upgrades 4 out of 5 times I booked

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Hotel Hacking: How I got Suite Upgrades 4 out of 5 times I booked

Everyone loves free stuff. We all work hard for our money and try to spend responsibly when we are traveling right? Because that is the case, its nice to be rewarded

This little article on hotel hacking is a behind the scenes guide to how I was able to pay for regular rooms and get upgraded to suites about four out of every five times that I booked. I have not found a system that works as easily and consistently as this method.

Royalty-Free Stock Video at Pond5


The Setup

I travel a lot, and during those travels I spend the majority of my money paying for hotel rooms; however, being a freelancer, and unlike the typical ‘business traveler’, I do not have a company credit card or an expense account to cover the costs. I pay for it all out of my pocket.

Aside from traveling a lot, I do not do lots of booking ahead. I prefer to travel with an open schedule, meaning, sometimes I do not know exactly how many days I am going to spend somewhere until I actually get there. This is also an important factor, thought it is OK if you already know when you will be arriving and when you have to leave. The important part is to wait until the last minute.

The Gamble

I put the PRO in procrastination when it comes to booking hotel rooms. There have been many occasions where I book a hotel room only minutes before I show up at the reception desk.

The important part here is that I always book using a third party app or website like agoda. Kayak is another service that I like to use and it helps me find the best deals, but take note that kayak is just a search engine that scours all the other booking sites and compares the prices, you cannot actually book through kayak.

When searching for hotel rooms within these third party apps, I look for one message in particular, and this is the key to the whole thing. When you see one marked as “last room left” that is a room that you should target.


Now that you have found a last room available in a hotel that you like, but before you actually book, you should do a little bit of research on the hotel to make sure that they have nicer rooms available, preferably the expensive suites.

Once you have confirmed that they do in fact have MUCH nicer rooms than the one you are paying for, go ahead and book.

Two key things are happening here.

  1. You are paying in full, ahead of time.
  2. You are booking based on the online inventory of the third party app, not the minute to minute inventory of the hotel itself.

That’s it for now. Go ahead and show up at the hotel. They will almost never be expecting you, so have your confirmation ready to present to them.


About 80% of the time (4 out of 5) the third party apps inventory is wrong, or the room was rented hours ago and it hasn’t updated on the apps database yet. Either way, you’ve paid, you’re owed a room.

The hotel CANT turn you down now, specially because you’ve paid through a third party so they have no control over refunds. Also, they do not want to ruin their relationship with the booking agent by requesting a cancellation, nor do they want to throw you out on the street. Instead they offer you a nicer room than what you paid for, to account for, ahem… their mistake.


Here is the moment of truth, and where your previous research comes into play. They cant give you a lower cost room, because you booked the cheapest one already (they wouldn’t anyway) and they are not going to downgrade your bed size (for example from a queen to a double or a single) so they have to give you something nicer, and more expensive. If you’ve researched and picked correctly, it will hopefully be a suite. It will at the very least, be a larger room.

There you go! That is all there is to it. I have been upgraded to much nicer, and more expensive multi-room suites about 4 out 5 bookings that I paid for. Most of them were multi-day bookings too, so the gift keeps on giving.


Bonus tip: If you have a flexible travel schedule like me and really enjoyed the room, it is always smart to ask the front desk (anytime before your checkout) if you can extend your stay. They cant always keep you in that room, or at the same price, but it is worth asking if you plan to stay!


Gear, General, NCR