Now that I had my flight reserved, step two in my London Olympics planning was finding a reasonable hotel rate. I decided I wanted to limit my search to Central London and I was open to either using points or finding a great last minute non-refundable rate. I limited my search to Hilton, Marriott, Radisson, and Starwood properties, as I have the most amount of points with them and elite status. I began with Radisson, expecting to use my 2012 / 2011 Big Night Giveaway (and sister promotion) points for at least four free nights at one of their properties. Here’s what I found:
The May Fair, a 5 star boutique hotel, was available for 50,000 points per night for the entire length of my stay, a great deal considering it was pricing at ?450 GBP or $705 USD a night. Considering I earned most of my Radisson promotion points by spending $99 USD per night, this was not a bad deal. I checked reviews for all three hotels on TripAdvisor and the May Fair definitely had the most positive feedback. However, the Radisson Blu Portman had an interesting comment about readers emailing the hotel to see if better rates were available than those quoted online. I did as such and was promptly emailed back with a non-refundable deposit due rate of ?120 GBP per night ($188 USD) inclusive of taxes, internet, and breakfast for a queen size standard room. This is even better than their Cash & Points rate of 15k points and ?137.40 per night. I decided that if I was going to stay at a Radisson I’d save my points for a more aspirational stay / location and take advantage of the ?120 GBP rate that I was offered.
When searching for availability for the entire trip absolutely nothing was displayed on SPG’s website:
However, when breaking out my stay day by day, the W and Park Lane properties were available, though at quite the cost. The cheapest rate was ?269 ($421.59 USD) or 16,000 points per night. Although SPG is my favorite chain, I quickly decided that I would not be staying with Starwood during the Olympics. The hotel airports were tempting, though I really wanted to stay in Central London.
Hilton has a ton of properties in London and several of them were reasonably priced with normal cancellation policies, allowing you to cancel the room until day of check-in. However, when cross-referenced with reviews on TripAdvisor, it seemed that the cheaper properties were also some of the oldest and least “Hilton like”.
The higher rated properties were priced higher and required more points (lots more points – those rates are per night):
The Radisson, which was rated just a little bit better than the Hilton properties, was still the best purchase (Radisson Blu Portman) and redemption option (May Fair). I wasn’t willing to redeem 50k Hilton points for an OK property pricing at ?140, though I would consider redeeming 50k Gold Points for a top rated 5 star boutique property.
One interesting note during my Hilton research, I came across Hilton promotion code PR13CB which gives you some greatly discounted rates. I was able to get the Hilton Paddington down from over ?280 per night to ?129 per night, in-line with the Radisson rate for a hotel directly connected to London Paddington Station. As per the forums, the code is a corporate benefit not tied to any specific employer, however the rate is not eligibile for any points promotions. I would have seriously considered booking at this rate (especially as a Hilton Diamond member), though it was only available for part of my trip.
Quick elimination – the Marriott properties in London were extremely expensive and I wasn’t willing to redeem 40k points per night (category 8).
So I’m currently on day three of my Radisson Blu Portman stay and I’m happy with my selection. I’ll have a full trip report next week but some quick notes:
- I arrived early on Sunday at 11am and was given a upgraded superior room on the top floor by 12pm (the elevator only goes to the second highest floor…more on that later). While I waited I was invited to sit for the free breakfast – they make a very good egg white omelet.
- The room is more than comfortable, though it lacks the typical Radisson Blu bedding, modern furnishing, etc. It’s spacious and has a great view overlooking the London Eye and much of Central London. Turn-down service every night includes water and chocolate.
- The location is fantastic for the Olympic venues and is just a short walk to the Marble Arch or Bond Street Undergrounds. The Finland and Norway Olympic Associations are also staying at the hotel.
Stay tuned for the next post on how I was able to obtain affordable Olympic tickets for the Athletics, Sync Swimming, Volleyball, and USA Basketball events.