Jaguars in London: 5-Star Stays for Free

Jaguars in London: 5-Star Stays for Free


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Image courtesy: Hyatt Hotels

Jaguars In London: Step by Step

Introduction: A Football Game Taught Me How to Travel for Pennies
Part 1: Getting There
Part 2: 5-Star Stays for Free
Part 3: “But Can I Do It?”
Part 4: Game-Planning
Part 5: Pulling the Trigger

Presidential Possibilities

A few months ago, Vice President Joe Biden got in trouble for running up a $585,000 hotel tab on a trip to London. I’ll be staying at the same hotel for a grand total of $0 this October. Given, I don’t need an extra hundred rooms for an entourage, but free’s free. How could this be, you ask? Welcome to Part 2.

At this point, I’d found a way to lower my airfare cost from $1,077 to $197.20, shifting my trip very rapidly from dream status towards reality. While I remained willing to stay wherever might be most affordable in order to make the trip work, I was naturally curious whether a hotel bargain equivalent to that I’d found for airfare might exist.

Following the same strategy as with the flight, I went from award chart to award chart, trying to determine if any program stood out. While the number of points necessary to redeem for middle-level properties was fairly similar from chain to chain, I quickly saw that there was a premium in effect for London. Even the more basic properties, like Courtyard for Marriott or Doubletree for Hilton, were rated several categories higher than they would be if they were located elsewhere.

The number of points required for redemption seemed awfully prohibitive, given that perfectly serviceable rooms could be had cheaply. The Best Western Palm Hotel, was listed at just $118/night at the time, and seemed like a perfectly nice 3-star property. I began to think there just wasn’t as much to be gained on accommodations as there was on airfare.

Then I found Hyatt.

The Vendome and The Churchill

I saw a series of articles over at Million Mile Secrets describing the author’s stay at the Hyatt Paris Vendome.

I was floored to discover that they’d been able to take advantage of a Two Free Nights credit given to new holders of the Chase Hyatt Visa. I would’ve thought that such a premier property would surely be listed as ineligible in the fine print for such an offer, but no: the credit is truly good for two nights at any Hyatt property in the world.

Looking across the Channel, I wondered if another 5-star Hyatt property might be located in London. I was pleased to discover there were two centrally located, premium properties: Andaz, Hyatt’s modern boutique concept, and Hyatt Regency London: The Churchill. I checked the cash rates around the time of the game and was agape at what I found. These rooms were more than $700 per night!

Image courtesy: Hyatt Hotels

The Churchill was the hotel Joe Biden and his staff stayed at recently. It’s considered to be one of London’s finest, and is home to one of the city’s best afternoon teas.

Two nights was a great start, but it wasn’t likely I’d travel all that way and stay only two nights, so I wasn’t yet sold on the idea. I started learning more about Hyatt’s award program, Gold Passport, so I could better understand how many points additional nights would take and how one might come across those points.

Finding the Points

[quote_right]It takes 45,000 points to stay at the finest Marriotts and 50,000 for the finest Hiltons, but only 22,000 for the best Hyatts.[/quote_right]Hyatt’s award chart has a serious advantage over that of competing brands like Marriott and Hilton. It costs 45,000 points to stay at the finest Marriott properties and 50,000 for the finest Hiltons, but only 22,000 points for the very best Hyatt has to offer. That includes properties like The Churchill and Vendome. Better yet, unlike with airfare, there aren’t any taxes or fees on award nights at these properties, so free really means free.

22,000 points per night seemed like a vaguely achievable goal for an extra night or two, but even earning 2 points per dollar on restaurants and airline tickets with the Hyatt Visa, my level of spending simply didn’t come close to what would be necessary to earn enough points in time. I didn’t stay in hotels very often, so the 3 points per dollar on Hyatt stays and the ability to earn additional points on the stays themselves didn’t make reaching 22,000 or more very likely, either.

The key, then, had to be in finding a way to transfer points or miles from another program into Hyatt Gold Passport. I kept digging and soon discovered Ultimate Rewards and its 1:1 point transfers to Hyatt among others.

With a 40,000 points signup bonus after earning at least a point per dollar meeting the $3,000 minimum spend requirement on Chase Sapphire Preferred, it appeared that earning the 44,000 points needed for two (more) nights in the best Hyatt properties was doable.

At this point, my head was spinning. The prospect of enjoying such fantastic accommodations on top of a flight that cost less than $200 roundtrip seemed too good to be true. It also seemed potentially hazardous. Nothing’s ever truly free, after all, and I needed to know a lot more about the credit implications of all this before moving forward. The answers I found were surprising, to say the least.

Check back tomorrow for Part 3!

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About PointsAway
Casey Ayers is a consultant and entrepreneur with a passion for travel. After amassing enough miles and points to travel anywhere in the world for almost free in less than six months, he developed PointsAway as a way to help others make travel dreams big and small come true.
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