Boston hotel rates have been my most recent challenge for travel planning. Boston is similar to New York and San Francisco, where any hotel is pricey and reward night rates are near the top of any hotel chain’s reward chart for using points.
These are the kinds of cities where your choice is to pay up for high hotel rates, redeem big numbers of points, expand your search to opaque bidding sites like Priceline and Hotwire, go social and try Airbnb, or stay in the suburbs.
Other options are check for Cash and Points type rates, extended stay discounts and special rate offers with the big chains to reduce the nightly rate.
In this post I show how Starwood Hotel’s Birth Year Rate is one of the best deals I can find for Boston. The best feature of Starwood’s Birth Year rate is the possibility of booking suites at substantial discounts.
Here is what I found when checking SPG Cash & Points rates and then SPG Birth Year rates for Boston.
Cash & Points
Starwood Preferred Guest is the original Cash & Points hotel rate among the hotel chains. Now, most hotel chains have that option for hotel reservations.
Two reasons why cash and points rate are not a good option for Boston.
- Capacity Controls – SPG does not offer any of their seven Boston hotels for Cash & Points rates during my dates. Cash & Points rates are not always an option with hotel chains like Hilton, Hyatt and Starwood.
- SPG Cash & Points are still high priced for high category hotels. Boston has two category-6 hotels and four category-5 hotels. The nightly rate at a SPG category 5 hotel is $110 + 6,000 points. This makes two nights $220 + 12,000 points.
I like to get more than $25 per 1,000 points when I redeem Starpoints. While $110 per night is a decent out-of-pocket expense, I look at the 12,000 points as $300 value. This means booking two nights at a category 5 hotel on cash & points is like paying $520 to me. That would be a discount on the actual room rate for July dates, but I don’t think spending 12,000 Starpoints for two nights in Boston + $250 in cash (after taxes) is a good use of my points.
Boston is a discretionary trip for me. I decided to hang out in Boston four days without my wife and I don’t want to blow a lot of hotel points for a low value hotel stay on a discretionary trip. I prefer to save points for trips where can be in a good hotel together.
Starwood Pay Your Birth Year
Starwood Hotels Pay Your Birth Year is a special rate offer that has been around for several years at participating hotels in USA and Canada. The deal is you pay a first night rate at a rate that is typically higher than best flexible rate for the dates. Then, you pay the rate equal to your birth year for the second and third night. If you were born in 1970, then you pay $70 for the second and third night.
Some hotels allow only 2-night stays and some allow 3-night stays on the Birth Year rate.
Some hotels add $100 per night to the birth year.
There are only three Starwood Hotels in Boston participating in the Starwood Birth Year Rate offer.
- Sheraton Boston (SPG 5 at 12,000 points)
- The Liberty, Luxury Collection (SPG 6 at 20,000 points)
- Four Points Boston Logan Airport (SPG 4 at 10,000 points)
Boston does not have the $100 per night surcharge at any of these hotels.
All three Boston hotels restrict Birth Year rate to arrivals Thursday through Saturday.
Sheraton Boston Hotel
Regular rates for 3-night stay July 2015 = $341 per night Flexible Rate ($390 after tax). The prepaid, nonrefundable rate starts at $347 per night after tax.
- Prepaid, nonrefundable = $1,041 for 3-night stay.
- best flexible rate = $1,170 for 3-night stay.
Those are like honeymoon, special event type hotel rates. This is an urban business hotel in Boston in July, not a Hawaiian beach resort.
Pay Your Birth Year Rate at Sheraton Boston (for me $60 for 1960)
- $381 first night
- $60 second night
- $60 third night
- $573.65 for 3-night stay ($501 + 14.45% tax)
- $191.22 nightly room rate.
- Cancellation policy is no penalty if canceled by 6:00pm day before arrival date.
Starwood Birth Year cuts $500+ off a 3-night stay, even if you are only 25 years old. For me, this rate drops the lowest nightly room rate for Boston Sheraton hotel from $347 per night prepaid, nonrefundable rate to $191 per night with the option to cancel the hotel stay reservation without penalty up to 6pm day before arrival date.
Higher category room is best feature of Starwood Birth Year Rate
The best feature of Starwood Birth Year rate is availability for higher category rooms, even suites. Pay the asking price for the first night in a suite and then get second and third night for your birth year rate.
Sheraton Boston has their suites blocked out for Birth Year rates on the dates I checked. Highest category room is Deluxe at $401 first night. This is a good upgrade at only $20 over the traditional room rate of $381. Second and third nights are still $60 + tax per night. Regular rate is $361 for this room type.
No Birth Year Rate availability for The Liberty Boston for any dates I could find between now and July 2015.
Starwood Birth Year rate is a great deal at the Sheraton Boston in July with a 50% rate reduction. Still, $191 per night is too high a room rate for me.
Element Lexington hotel is SPG category 4 at 10,000 points per night. This Starwood hotel in the historical city of Lexington, Massachusetts in the Boston burbs gives an example of upgrade room choice using Birth Year rate.
Birth Year First Night Rates at Element Lexington for three night stay in July.
- Studio Suite $184 (11.7% tax for rate $205.90 after tax)
- One Bedroom Suite $244 ($272.92 after tax)
- Executive Suite $284 ($317.60 after tax)
Element Hotels are a residential style room, so all units have cooking facilities. That is a nice feature since I prefer to cook my own food to dining out.
Total rate for three nights based on my $60 Birth Year rate:
- Studio Suite Birth Year rate = $340 or $113.33 per night .
- One Bedroom Suite Birth Year rate = $407 or $135.67 per night.
- Executive Suite Birth Year rate = $452 or $150.67 per night.
Prepaid rates at the Element Lexington are the lowest rates found for these same dates through a standard hotel search.
- Studio Suite prepaid rate = $526 or $175.33 per night.
- One bedroom suite prepaid rate = $708 or $236 per night.
- Executive Suite prepaid rate = $828 or $276 per night.
Birth Year rate at Element Lexington is a great deal and certainly an affordable rate at $113.33 per night after tax. That falls within my $100 per night room rate range I strive for when traveling.
Looks like I’ll be in my Element for this Boston trip.
As I said, this is a discretionary trip for me to Boston. The best deal I have found so far is to get on a bus at Boston Logan Airport and be in the woods of Lebanon, New Hampshire in three hours. That is a $60 round trip ticket.
Starwood’s Element Hanover-Lebanon Hotel in Lebanon, New Hampshire provides complimentary breakfast, a kitchen and a quiet outdoors getaway for a couple of days at SPG category 2 weekend rates of 3,000 points per night. That is a cheaper deal than Element Lexington Birth Year rate for me. As I recall from a past trip, Dartmouth College can be a fun place to hang around.