This is a follow-up to my article Why I value hotel points at lowest rate I can buy points (June 17, 2019). In my previous piece I shared links to the lowest prices I have seen hotel points in 8 different chain loyalty programs sold for during the past year. This article shows the practical hotel stay planning strategy for how I use my hotel points value estimates to actually decide which hotel is potentially the best value hotel for a reward stay in Rome.
I chose Rome to illustrate my hotel booking planning strategies since it is a city I visited last year and there are dozens of hotels across the major chains with points based loyalty programs.
This analysis of Rome room rates and points rates does not consider current promotions. I will cover promotion considerations when I write up hotels I actually booked for summer and where I considered additional hotel loyalty program benefits and promotional value in choosing hotels for my trip.
The chart above shows my estimate of hotel points value compared to The Points Guy estimates for June 2019. They are similar estimates, however, my values are really not estimates. These are the price points members could have purchased points in each of these programs during the past year. Most of the hotel currency price points listed for these programs in the Loyalty Traveler column were available to buy in the past 8 weeks.
Choice Privileges is a range from $5.00 to $7.50 simply because I find Choice Privileges points so valuable that I will pay $7.50 per 1,000 points using PointsPlusCash reward bookings once my $5.00 per 1,000 points stash runs out. I purchased about 250,000 Choice Privileges points during the past month through Daily Getaways and KidsFirstAuction sales. I have redeemed 86,000 points for summer travel to pay for about $1,250 in rooms on 7 nights. My cost was $5.12 per 1,000 points or $440 to buy 86,000 points. My room nights cost about $73 on average. More on my actual travel bookings will come in a follow-up post and will be even better detailed in trip report hotel reviews next month.
Choice Privileges points are the only hotel currency I buy heavily. In general, most hotel loyalty programs offer limited hotel reward night bargains and I only buy most hotel points when I have specific hotels in mind for redeeming points. Choice Privileges has been consistently the best hotel loyalty program to retain value in points over the past five years. I keep finding great hotel rate savings deals every year with Choice Privileges points.
Rome Monday July 22
To show how I use my hotel points value estimates in practice I looked at hotels in 7 chains for Rome. Wyndham Rewards does not have any properties in Rome.
I looked at 41 hotels across Rome in Best Western, Choice, Hilton, Hyatt, IHG, Marriott and Radisson.
I excluded most hotels that are outside the center of Rome.
Hilton Honors shows no savings on room rates using points. I was Hilton Diamond elite for years and I once had a reward reservation at Waldorf-Astoria Rome for 6 nights at 125,000 points. This hotel would be 340,000 points for 5 nights in 2019. Ended up canceling that reservation for 6 nights in favor of Amsterdam Hilton. Kelley did not want to go to Rome. Now that she went there last year she found she actually enjoyed Rome. We are looking at going back to Italy next December.
If I was elite and loyal to Hilton I would consider HGI Claridge at $142, particularly if I could expect some additional elite member benefits on the stay like breakfast and/or a room upgrade.
IHG Rewards Club
Hotel Indigo Rome St. George is cheaper using points, but at 50,000 points I would be reluctant to splurge on a $250 in points cost for a room night.
I seriously considered booking Crowne Plaza Rome St. Peter’s on points last summer and determined it was located too far out of city center.
This chart shows what I find is typical for Marriott Bonvoy — high reward rates and the lack of opportunities to buy cheap points. Only one of 12 hotels shows any rate discount using points for Le Meridien Visconti Rome. The location looks good for that hotel and I would definitely be interested in that property using a free credit card night.
The three cheapest Marriott brand hotels are not in the city center. I am not familiar with those parts of Rome and I would research the properties more and check transportation options before booking a room.
Marriott has seven other high-end properties, but points rates are high. I am not interested in spending over $200 per night for a hotel without a huge rebate involved. My most expensive room last year was at Marriott Copenhagen for $170 including breakfast in January 2018. I earned a free night I used for Marriott Sopot Resort, Poland in summer 2018 when rates there were about $350.
World of Hyatt
World of Hyatt shows 3 of 7 hotels offer rate discounts when using points. But at 30,000 points per night, about $510 in points value, those hotels are priced way out of my range. Hyatt is for people who have the ability to earn loads of points through credit cards or stay a lot at Hyatt brand hotels to capitalize on big points earning promotion bonuses.
I stayed with Hyatt for several years and held Diamond elite membership. I dropped them about five years ago as I found fewer and fewer good deals through Hyatt for my travels.
There are many more hotels in the Hyatt chain than ten years ago and their recent partnership with Small Luxury Hotels of the World shows great added value for World of Hyatt members who want a hotel in Rome.
Hyatt reward rates at the high end are double what they were ten years ago for a large number of hotels. And my ability to earn points with Hyatt is greatly reduced from lucrative promotion opportunities offered ten years ago. Hyatt gears their promotions to big spenders and lots of nights.
Hyatt priced me out of their program.
2 hotels with Radisson Rewards and they are amazingly priced the same paying cash or using points when valued at $3.50 per 1,000 points. No real deals there.
I have cleaned out nearly all the points in my Radisson Rewards account for three nights this summer at 28,000 points per night to save about $430.
I got amazing value out of this program over the past decade. I do not find much value with Radisson Rewards points anymore and redeemed most of my points in early 2018 for hotel stays last summer.
Choice Privileges and Best Western Rewards both have 3 hotels where points rooms price lower than room rates. The reason I discuss both of these chains together is the potential for higher category rooms available for points other than the basic low rate standard room common to most hotel chains for members who do not have elite status.
I highlighted Clarion Collection Hotel Principessa Isabella in yellow on my chart as an example of a great value hotel using points where the chart difference showing $18 saved by using points is only part of the story.
Clarion Collection Hotel Principessa Isabella offers a $143 Double Bed room for 25,000 points or a Family Room with 2 single beds and a double bed for 25,000 points ($125 in points). The Family Room rate is $280 per night. Breakfast is included too.
This hotel is also in a good part of Rome I am familiar with as a tourist who walked around that area of the city last summer. TripAdvisor ranks the hotel at #350 of 1,288 hotels. Not great, but not bad. This is a hotel I would take time to read reviews and look for photos of a Family Room.
This hotel is my leading contender for a booking in Rome with this analysis.
Comfort Hotel Bolivar only has standard rooms for points. This hotel ranks #297 of 1,288 on TripAdvisor.
Quality Hotel Nova Domus is cheap at $63, but does not get good reviews. Hotel ranks 1,085 of 1,288 on TripAdvisor.
Quality Rouge et Noir is far from city center and ranks #1,167 of 1,288 on TripAdvisor. That kind of ranking knocks this hotel out of consideration for me.
Best Western Rewards
Best Western Hotel Artdeco is where we stayed last summer at 20,000 points per night when my analysis showed that hotel as the best deal. I am not sure why Clarion Collection Principessa Isabella did not come out on top. I may not have had enough points or it could have been unavailable.
Hotel Artdeco shows $118 as low room rate, but I can book a King bed Comfort Room using 20,000 points with a room rate at $153.
Best Western Premier Collection Hotel Canada has a Deluxe Room ($177) available for 32,000 points ($176).
Best Western Hotel Astrid is one I would consider at $80 per night. The location is not as central as I would like, but it is near the River Tiber. Best Western Rewards is offering a $20 travel card for one stay this summer.
Clarion Collection Hotel Principessa Isabella is the hotel that looks like the best points deal to me at 25,000 points for a Family Room with breakfast included for a room priced at $280.
Best Western Astrid looks good for a paid $80 room night with the potential to pick up a $20 travel card for the stay.
Le Meridien Visconti Rome would be in my sights using a credit card free night good for hotels up to 35,000 points.
Hilton, Hyatt, IHG and Radisson Rewards do not look like good options for me in Rome on this date. I can get better value from my points in other cities.
Final thoughts on these comparisons is elite status, promotions, and availability of points in different accounts are all factors to consider when choosing between using points for stays or paying cash.
Airbnb is another option. I generally only look to Airbnb when I can’t find a good hotel deal with chains. I like having 24-hour desk staff at a hotel to turn to when I need assistance.
Another major consideration is bookings made using points are generally flexible and can be cancelled without penalty up to a day or few days before arrival, whatever is standard for flexible paid rates. Most of the posted rates shown in the table are advance purchase nonrefundable rates.
When I make comparisons of room rates to reward rates, I generally compare the flexible rate to the points rate for a real value of the reward night. I only book advance purchase rates when it is a terrific deal. I have 4 advance purchase rates booked for my summer 2019 nights. Each of the nonrefundable hotel nights I booked was more than 30% below flexible rates. I also booked five flexible rate paid nights and more than a dozen nights using points in Choice Privileges, IHG Rewards Club, Marriott Bonvoy and Radisson Rewards.