Club level upgrades


David Whitley finds that upgrading hotel rooms is sometimes worth it 

If there’s one thing that hotels like, it is tempting their guests into parting with more money. Stay at one, and chances are you’ll be presented with many opportunities to spend more cash. Sometimes this is via the tour desk, sometimes it’s in the restaurant and occasionally it’s in a god-awful souvenir shop for simpletons who like walking around with hotel-branded merchandise.

An increasingly common wheeze, however, is to offer an upgrade to a Club Level room. It’s not always called that, of course – hotels tend to have all manner of silly names for it. But the concept is generally similar – you pay a bit more to stay in a room on a special club (or executive) level and some extra benefits.

Those benefits vary dramatically. Usually there will be an exclusive lounge/ breakfast area and the views from your room will be better as it’s on a higher floor. The rooms may be larger, the upgrade may include free internet access, you might get fluffy robes and you might get a free newspaper in the morning.

It’s often hard to tell what you will get, however, because hotels are terrible at spelling it out on their websites. It’s as if just knowing you’re in a special club is enough, without giving any details of what that special club involves.

Most of the time, the upgrade is clearly not worth it. If you’re just using your hotel room to sleep in, then splashing out the extra cash is going to be pointless – you’ll not be there long enough to appreciate the benefits. Similarly, if the upgrade price is huge, you’d be daft to take the offer up.

However, sometimes it can be worth the investment – particularly if you’re sharing a room and you’ve no particular desire to explore the city that night.

Those benefits, you see, often include little snacks throughout the day. Go there in the early evening, and you can usually stack up a dinner’s worth. More importantly, the soft drinks and bottled water are usually free all day long – stick a few in your bag to get you through the day in the morning, have a couple more when you get back in. Then there are usually a couple of hours with ‘complimentary cocktails’. Roughly translated, that means free booze between 5.30pm and 7.30pm or something similar. There’s a certain brinkmanship to how many you feel you can order or pour yourself within the boundaries of reasonable etiquette, but it seems socially acceptable to get three or four down the hatch.

There comes a price point, therefore, when it’s well worth it. For example, in April, my wife and I were in Kuala Lumpur. We stayed at the Hotel Istana for the last night, and felt like a quiet night chilling out before the flight the next day. We’d booked a £57 normal room, but enquired how much a Club Room would be. An extra £17. That, we figured, was just about worth it when the free soft drinks, food and couple of hours of early evening boozing was factored in between two of us.

It’s not going to be worth doing every night, of course. But every now and then, it’s worth checking at reception what an upgrade would cost. And, crucially, what benefits that upgrade may include.

Check out your hotel before you go here - and do try us for rates; we can surprise...