- Getting the suite experience can be possible even if you’re staying in a standard hotel room.
- Business Insider asked frequent travellers and experts for the things they always do to ensure they have the most comfortable stay possible and receive the best service.
- Their advice includes things like always arriving at your hotel on time, or requesting the room with the sofa bed.
Flying first class and staying in penthouse suites is every traveller’s dream, but for those on a regular budget, it’s hardly a reality.
But just like there are things you can do to make economy feel like first class, there are also ways you can make staying in a standard hotel room feel like a luxurious suite experience.
Business Insider asked a range of travel experts for the things they always do when they’re booking or arriving at a hotel in order to make their stay as seamless and comfortable as possible — and get the absolute best service.
Here are 10 ways to make a standard hotel room feel like a suite, according to travel experts.
1. Tell the hotel what time you’ll be arriving — and stick to it
This is what 20-year-old aviation expert Alex Macheras always does, and he said: “It means they often a better prepared for my arrival, including if it’s early morning — with a ready-made tea/coffee — or perhaps late at night, by ensuring check in is very fast so that I can head straight to sleep.”
2. Take tips from past travellers
“I use ‘Room Tips’ on TripAdvisor to note down the most popular room numbers being mentioned,” Macheras said. “Not all standard rooms are created equally, some are superior to others despite being the same category room. More often than not, rooms at the end of the corridor are slightly larger.”
3. Always tell the hotel if it’s a special occasion
If you’re celebrating a birthday or anniversary, be sure to let the hotel know. “The front desk team will note it down, and help you celebrate in one way or another,” Macheras said. “Every time I’m travelling to celebrate something, there is often cake, fruit platters, or Champagne in my room, upon my arrival to the hotel.”
4. Ask for a deal or an upgrade
“Try to actually get a suite — if you arrive late, especially at an independent hotel, you might be able to buy a cheap upgrade if the hotel knows by that point that no one is going to book one for cash,” said Rob Burgess, founder of air miles blog Head for Points. “This works better on shorter stays, as the longer you are staying the more risk the hotel takes by giving you a better room for a discount.”
5. Get rid of hotel literature
“All of those brochures, leaflets, and stand-up cards on the desk, TV, side table etc. — put them in a drawer,” Burgess said. “They kill the homely feel.”
5. Ask for anything missing from your room
“Ask for extras that are 99% of the time free and included in the room, but may not physically be in the room,” Macheras said. This can include a robe, slippers, or softer/firmer pillows.
6. Take the room with a sofa bed
“Many hotels advertise an extra sofabed in some rooms, often for the same price as a room with just a bed,” Burgess said. “Take the room with a sofabed, even if you’re not bringing a child. This guarantees that you will get the biggest standard room available, as they are the ones where the sofabeds get put.”
7. Bring luxury with you
“I always travel with some mini travel candles, of either Cire Trudon or Diptyque, to have at hand as good smells and candlelight make everything prettier,” said Emma Day, the celebrity makeup artist who spends most of her time travelling.
“I also always take This Works Pillow Spray as I’m often a bad sleeper and this is really soothing and seems to help. Also, I always take a rather old lilac cashmere Brora throw, which is not only quite luxurious looking but doubles up as a blanket if the heating is not amazing or there aren’t extra blankets. It’s so comforting!”
8. Make use of hotel loyalty programmes…
Even if it’s your first time at the chain, you should register with the hotel’s loyalty programme, according to Macheras, “so the front desk team are aware you have an interest to return, and therefore ensure they ‘wow’ you first time…which often means a room upgrade.”
9. …and credit cards
“Many chain hotels give out elite status with credit cards,” said Burgess, who suggested looking into the following cards:
- American Express Platinum in the UK, which gives all cardholders Starwood Preferred Guest (Sheraton, Westin, W, etc.) Gold, Hilton Honors Gold, Club Carlson (Radisson, Park Inn) Gold, Melia Rewards Gold, and Shangri-La Jade status.
- IHG Rewards Club MasterCard, which is free, gives you IHG Rewards Club Gold status, valid at Holiday Inn, HI Express, Crowne Plaza, Indigo, InterContinental, etc.
- IHG Rewards Club Premium MasterCard (which comes at a £99 ($132) fee) gives you IHG Rewards Club Platinum status.
- Hilton Honors Platinum Visa (also free) gives you Hilton Honors Silver status and upgrades you to Gold if you spend £10,000 in a calendar year.
- Starwood Preferred Guest American Express (free again) gives you SPG Preferred Plus status for free and upgrades you to Gold if you spend £15,000 in a calendar year.
“Whilst you are never guaranteed an upgrade, having status with that particular chain will give you some benefits, will put you at the top of the list for upgrades, and will give you more clout if you do want to try to get an upgrade via cash or complaining,” Burgess said.
10. If in doubt, find something to complain about
“I was, in my youth, a bit of an over-complainer because it was actually successful,” Burgess said. “If you end up changing rooms, you are usually given a better one as compensation. Even not liking the view counts. Do this as soon as you check in as, once you’ve unpacked, it becomes a bit of a chore.”