Don't be shy! Asking nicely at the front desk will take you far. Photo: Getty Images

We think... • March 2015

There’s a technique to getting a hotel upgrade

Smiling, tipping, honeymooning: there’s a knack to getting a better room says the travel editor of Cosmopolitan magazine, Amanda Statham

When you work in the travel industry there are some things you’re always asked: “Where can I go for sunshine in the winter?”; “Where can I go that’s good for less than £500?” and “How can I get an upgrade?”. The answer to the first two questions is easy: Morocco. The third is more complicated.

The first thing to remember is that if you don’t ask, you don’t get. Brits are bad at requesting things directly, but it’s far better to ask discreetly at check-in if there’s anything available – rather than grumbling to yourself later in a room the size of a postage stamp. When you make your request, be as specific as possible, such as asking for a sea view or corner suite, rather than vaguely begging for ‘a nicer room’.

Another obvious but crucial point is to try to check in as late (after 6pm) as possible so the hotel will have a better idea about which rooms are still available. Shorter stays (one-night) are more likely to result in a positive response to an upgrade, because the hotel knows it can resell the room again the next day.

And then there’s how you ask. Being polite and smiling still gets you a very long way in most places, particularly hotels, where staff are constantly meeting and greeting a stream of tired, stressed travellers. Don’t demand it, request it. Do mention if it’s a special occasion – birthday, anniversary, work promotion – but remember, lots of other guests will be spending a night there for a celebration, so it’s not always a green light to getting a better room.


If you’re on honeymoon, you’re in luck

Some hotels, particularly in the Caribbean and Indian Ocean, have a policy to upgrade honeymooners automatically if a room’s available, so always mention if you’re newlyweds. In fact, tell everyone at every stage of the booking process, from flights to hotel check-in, as you really can get some great extras, such as better seats, Champagne, chocolates and rose petals in your bathtub.

The power of social media is not to be underestimated. If you tweet, post a message saying how much you’re looking forward to visiting the hotel and include its Twitter handle; ditto ‘like’ and follow the hotel on Facebook, because little things such as this can make a difference when you arrive.

Finally, a less positive way to achieve a room upgrade is by complaining, such as if you’re genuinely unhappy with the bedroom you’ve been allocated. Shower not working properly? Stains on the furnishings? The sound of traffic outside when you need shut-eye for an important meeting the next morning? All acceptable reasons to ask for a change of room, and preferably a better one because of the inconvenience caused.

This article has been tagged Opinion, Travel Tips