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Overview of June 2022-May 2023 four trips to 13 cities in Europe

a stone castle with people walking around

I returned last week from my fourth trip to Europe since June 2022. Since Kelley retired last June we have taken four 3-week trips to Europe. 

In Europe we stayed in 9 countries, 14 cities and 22 different hotels. We also stayed in New York City for one night at Crowne Plaza HY36 Midtown Manhattan HY36 on an overnight layover at EWR enroute to Milan in February 2023.

Trip 1 Outsized Value of IHG points on my 24 nights trip to Europe

  1. Lisbon, Portugal (11 nights – 5 hotels: Holiday Inn Express Liberdade Lisbon; Holiday Inn Express Plaza Saldanha; Holiday Inn Lisbon; Holiday Inn Continental; Memmo Principe Lisbon, Design Hotel (Marriott).
  2. Thessaloniki, Greece (7 nights – 2 hotels: Hyatt Regency Thessaloniki; Holiday Inn Thessaloniki).
  3. Madrid, Spain (2 nights – 2 hotels: Crowne Plaza Madrid Airport; Hotel Indigo Princesa Madrid).

Trip 2  Poland Trip Report Overview IHG Milestones and Star Alliance Gold Progress

  1. Gdansk, Poland (8 nights – Holiday Inn Gdansk).
  2. Krakow, Poland (10 nights – Holiday Inn Krakow; Hotel Indigo Old Town Krakow).
  3. Sopot, Poland (1 night – MGallery Hotel Rezydent Sopot)

Trip 3  Milan-Venice-Amsterdam-Oslo winter 2023 trip overview

  1. Milan, Italy (1 night – Hotel Indigo Milan Corso Montforte).
  2. Venice, Italy (8 nights – Hotel Aquarius Venice, Choice Ascend Collection – junior suite and suite)
  3. Amsterdam, Netherlands (8 Nights – Crowne Plaza Amsterdam South, Kimpton DeWitt Amsterdam)
  4. Oslo, Norway (3 nights – The Thief Oslo, Nordic Choice Ascend Collection; Clarion Hotel Oslo Airport)

Trip 4 Value of Choice Privileges points in Europe and Aegean Miles+Bonus Star Alliance Gold renewed

  1. Oslo, Norway (3 nights – The Thief Oslo, Nordic Choice Ascend Collection)
  2. Rhodes, Greece (3 nights – Rodos Park, Small Luxury Hotels using Hyatt points.)
  3. Prague, Czechia (6 nights – Clarion Prague Old Town – suites)
  4. Liberec, Czechia (3 nights – Clarion Zlaty Lev ‘Golden Lion’ – suite)
  5. Tallinn, Estonia (5 nights – Hestia Barons Hotel – junior suite)

I still have 13 hotel reviews waiting to be written from these four trips. 

Nearly all these hotel nights were IHG and Choice properties. Hyatt points covered 4 nights in Thessaloniki and Rhodes, Greece. Marriott free night certificate covered one night in Lisbon. We stayed at Hestia Barons Hotel in Old Town Tallinn, Estonia, booked for $149 per night through Hestia Hotel Group has 10 hotels in Estonia and Latvia. 

I have had the same philosophy regarding hotels for the past 15 years of writing Loyalty Traveler. I want the best hotel I can find in a location without spending more than $100 per hotel night.

My stay last week at Hestia Barons Hotel in Tallinn, Estonia cost $149 per night. That is the highest I have paid for a hotel in the past 15 years that I can recall, without getting a significant rebate in loyalty points. The hotel deal balance was 9 nights in suites in Prague and Liberec, Czechia only cost me $42 per night for the 8,000 points per night stays in suites.

a person sleeping on a chair
Kelley sleeping on the 80 square meter patio terrace of Suite 602 Clarion Prague Old Town.


Star Alliance Gold Requalification for me, and Kelley also earned Star Alliance Gold with Aegean Miles+Bonus

Last month Kelley and I flew from Oslo, Norway to Athens, then Rhodes, Greece with Aegean Airlines. After three wonderful days staying at Rodos Park Hotel we flew Aegean Airlines back to Athens, then Prague. These four Aegean flight segments qualified us for Aegean Miles+Bonus Gold elite with commensurate Star Alliance Gold elite status. 

The value of Star Alliance Gold elite is free checked bags on Star Alliance flights and Star Alliance lounge privileges, even in the U.S.A. Kelley having her own Star Alliance Gold elite status saved us $100 on a checked bag from Tallinn back to SFO.

We earned sufficient Aegean Miles+Bonus elite tier miles with three Basic Economy United round trip tickets SFO-GDN $450 round trip (Dec 2022) and OSL-SFO $370 round trip (Feb-Apr 2023) and the OSL-ATH-RHO-ATH-PRG tickets costing about $230 (April 2023). Our SFO-EWR-MXP (Feb 2023)/TLL-ZRH-SFO (May 2023) cost about $525. 

I have Star Alliance Gold through September 2024 and Kelley’s Gold elite goes through April 2024. 

a sign on a wall
Star Alliance Lounge Paris visit on SFO-CDG-OSL United-SAS flights.


Since getting home a week ago I have planned two more trips to Europe for next autumn and winter that will extend our Star Alliance Gold status to 2025. I have no plans to visit Europe this summer. The heat waves have been too uncomfortable for us every summer since 2015. I look outside my window at the gray fog of Monterey as I write this and think how the ocean’s AC will keep us comfortably at home for the next few months.

Although, my one travel plan disappointment is a scheme I worked out last month to pick up Hyatt Globalist with the Bilt promotion by staying 20 nights at Alua Resorts in Tenerife and the Balearic Islands in May and June. Rooms were priced under $60 per night.

I just don’t see Hyatt Globalist being that useful a status for us in the coming year since I already have IHG Diamond elite for 2023 and lounge privileges at IHG hotels through 2024.

I envision 2024 as the time for us to take advantage of an InterContinental Hotels life. 

My average nightly acceptable rate will likely increase to $125 to accommodate an InterContinental life.

a stone castle with people walking in front of it
Old Town Rhodes, Greece




  • Christian May 18, 2023

    Great to read your posts again. I went on a guy’s trip last month that included Krakow largely because of what you wrote, so thanks and please keep up the good work.

  • Ric Garrido May 19, 2023

    Krakow is still one of Kelley’s top three destinations in Europe,along with Amsterdam and London. Krakow is my favorite of those three cities because it is so much more affordable. Amsterdam and London mean mostly grocery store meals, whereas Krakow is the city where we have dined out frequently. Pubs are great there too.

    The Old Town of Krakow is one of the great city centers for just hanging out shopping, drinking and eating. We have always found something happening in our ten or so stays since 2016.

    ( has more than 20 articles on hotels, restaurants and places to visit in Krakow.) Which reminds me that I also have an article to write about my visits to Hyatt Place Krakow and AC Hotel by Marriott Krakow. I dropped by and photographed these two hotels by the city football stadium back in December 2022.

    What blew me away after our first visit to Krakow, besides the low beer prices, was learning how ignorant I was to the vast history of the Polish kingdom that held a powerful position in Eastern Europe for nearly 400 years from the late 1300s. By the early 1600s the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth kingdom ruled territory from current day Lithuania and Latvia, Belarus and much of Ukraine and Estonia and part of western Russia. By the late 1700s the Commonwealth was eliminated by the stronger powers of Russia, Prussia and Austria (Habsburg Monarchy).

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