Stay Here, Not There: Using Your Hyatt Free Night Certificate in The US
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
Maximizing value on your trips is one of the key points of the award traveler's goals, and one of the best ways to do this is by strategically using the annual free night certificates offered by multiple credit cards. While the annual fees range on these cards, the World of Hyatt Credit Card is one of the absolute best — offering a free night at any Category 1-4 hotel on a card that only costs $95 per year. Considering you can usually redeem your night at hotels that cost upwards of $200+/night, the card is a no-brainer for many travelers out there.
We've already written about how to best maximize your certificate, but choosing the right hotel can be a bit intimidating, especially in large cities with multiple options. We've checked out five large cities in the US with a handful of Hyatt choices, and today we'll compare and contrast what's available in these areas to make sure you get the best use out of your free night.
Before diving into the cities, let's quickly review the World of Hyatt Credit Card and its various perks. If you don't currently have the card in your wallet, now's a great time to add it, as it's offering a sign-up bonus of up to 60,000 points. You'll earn 30,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening. Plus, up to 30,000 more bonus points by earning 2x bonus points total on purchases that normally earn 1x bonus point, on up to $15,000 in the first six months of account opening. If you earn the whole bonus, the haul is worth $1,020 based on TPG's most recent valuations.
Aside from that bonus, the card offers 4x points at Hyatt properties plus 2x points on local transit and commuting, restaurants, airline tickets purchased directly with the airline, and fitness and gym club memberships. You'll enjoy automatic Discoverist status and get five elite credit nights each year — plus have the opportunity to earn 2 more for every $5,000 you spend on the card in a calendar year.
For more details, check out our full review of the Hyatt card.
There are a multitude of Hyatt hotels available in Washington and the surrounding areas, with some twenty-odd options across the program's various brands. However, there are only three properties sitting at the Category 4 level: Hyatt Place Washington DC/White House, Grand Hyatt Washington and Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill. Right away, we can eliminate the Hyatt Regency — as it's neither the best nor does it offer the same perks as the other two hotels. So, we're left with just the other two.
Grand Hyatt Washington: For the Discerning Traveler
One step below a Park Hyatt, the Grand Hyatt is a luxury hotel designed for business travelers. Placed in big cities around the world, these properties offer a higher-end experience, which can be reflected painfully in their respective price tags:
At this rate, you're getting phenomenal value out of your certificate; and even paying points at 15,000 points/night (the standard rate for a Category 4 hotel), you're still getting 2.4 cents per point of value. This is a solid redemption, as TPG values Hyatt points at 1.7 cents apiece.
Even better, as a holder of the World of Hyatt Credit Card, you receive automatic Discoverist status, which means that resort fees or destination charges are waived on award stays. The end result? The destination fee indicated above doesn't apply when redeeming your certificate, but you'll still enjoy the $10 daily food and beverage credit, free of charge:
Unfortunately, though this is an upscale property, the rooms are small — just 351 square feet. You'll also need to book either a king or two doubles- no queen beds here:
Hyatt Place Washington DC/White House: For Families
Though it may not sound as romantic, booking a stay at the Hyatt Place can be a much better option for larger parties traveling together. Why? Well, for starters, Hyatt Place is the only brand within Hyatt's portfolio that offers free breakfast to everyone that books directly — not just Globalist elites:
This includes stays booked using a Hyatt card free night award, so even though the cash rate itself is lower than the Grand Hyatt on many dates ...
... you'll also need to take into account the cost of breakfast for each person. This will run you $20+/person at the Grand Hyatt but is included free of charge here.
The rooms themselves are also larger, offering two queen beds and a sofa bed:
All told, this is a much better option for larger groups, though both properties represent an excellent value and use of your free night certificate.
Just this year, Hyatt dropped a pair of Hyatt properties in San Diego from Category 5 to 4, opening them up to use with the annual free night certificate. San Diego is a notoriously expensive city, and both of these hotels are located downtown with excellent reviews. So what's the difference?
Andaz San Diego: For a Boutique Experience
The Andaz San Diego, with 159 rooms across just six stories, is a world away from the competition in the area. It's situated in the highly-desirable Gaslamp district and features a load of amenities, from a fire pit to a nightclub, ensuring that there's always something going on.
Strangely, it often costs quite a bit less than the Manchester Grand Hyatt, though that doesn't stop it from charging yet another infamous "Destination Fee" for guests.
At least this fee includes free beer and wine tasting and a Hyatt-branded tote bag:
As mentioned previously, this fee is waived on award bookings, so you can enjoy your free night in peace. And for pet owners, hotel pet fees can constitute a significant amount on a the bill, so having this charge waived can be a pretty big deal.
Rooms here are small — as befits a hotel in the city center — at just 380 square feet. They feature either a king/queen bed or two doubles:
The main draws for this property are its excellent location and killer rooftop. At a rate of 15,000 points/night (in lieu of your free night certificate), you're getting 2.2 cents per point in value on the above date, making this a solid redemption spot.
Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego: For a Resort in the Middle of a City
The second largest hotel in California, the Manchester Grand Hyatt boasts over 1,600 rooms spread across two towers and forty floors. In short, it's massive. Though the hotel is not far from the Andaz, it's situated closer to the waterfront, which means that many of its rooms boast spectacular bay views:
Unfortunately, its size can make it feel convention hotel-like, though in some ways this is a boon. The hotel maintains two separate pools — one for families and one for adults — so everyone is kept happy. It also has a full-service spa and Camp Hyatt activities (such as field trips to nearby Seaworld) available seasonally. In short, it's basically a resort in the middle of the city.
And if you're looking for value for your certificate or points, the property has you covered, as all-in paid rates can easily approach $500/night.
I would also expect that Hyatt elites have a higher chance of upgrades as there are so many rooms in the hotel — though it's too bad confirmed suite upgrades don't work with these certificates.
Home to a plethora of Ivy League Universities, Boston is one of the oldest cities in America. It's chock-full of history, and it doesn't hurt that its airport acts a key hub for US-Europe connections and has an expanding international footprint as well. Take time out of your layover to check out one of these properties.
Hyatt Regency Boston Harbor: For Planespotters
I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that some of our loyal readers here at TPG just might be AvGeeks. In that case, the Hyatt Regency is a phenomenal location in which to indulge your hobby. Situated just across the harbor from downtown Boston and right next door to the airport, high level rooms give you an unimpeded view of the runaway and flight traffic, though you'll need to pay extra for this view if you're redeeming a free night.
If planes aren't your thing, simply flip over to the opposite side for stunning views of the city:
The hotel also offers a water taxi that takes you straight across the harbor and into the city, which, in addition to being convenient, is also really cool.
Rates vary dramatically between high and low season (something to do with the frigid weather, I'd imagine), so make sure you book when rates are up to maximize your redemption.
Hyatt Regency Cambridge, Overlooking Boston: For Parents (or Fenway Fans)
Ok, so perhaps not everyone's child is going to head off to MIT, Harvard or Boston University for college, but this hotel has a phenomenal location regardless. Technically in Cambridge rather than Boston, it sits on the Charles River and overlooks the city skyline. It's located right across the river from Fenway Park too, so on Red Sox game days, you won't have to bother with pesky parking (and the exorbitant fees).
The hotel is nearly twice the size of the Hyatt Regency Boston Harbor, which gives you better access for award availability and also means that the builders felt it was worth creating a stunning indoor pool:
Rooms are the smallest we've seen — covering a cozy 325 square feet — and you'd need to select between a room with one king bed or two double beds when you redeem your free night award.
The hotel falls victim to the same seasonal rates noted above, so make sure you're checking prices and booking accordingly to make the most of your certificate.
San Francisco is one of those outrageously expensive cities that makes it easy to get a high redemption value in terms of cents per point. The problem is, though, that the award rates of these hotels tend to be equally astronomical, banishing those travelers looking for moderately-priced stays to areas outside the city. Fortunately for us, however, Hyatt acquired Two Roads Hospitality in late 2018, which opened up several new options in the city at shockingly affordable rates.
Hotel Del Sol: For City-Center Sightseeing
Probably the hotel I'm most excited about on this list is the Hotel Del Sol, a family-friendly hotel situated in the Marina district of the city. Originally a 50's-era motor lodge, it's been completely renovated and turned into a boutique hotel exploding with color.
It's funky and cool, and best of all, it's located near everything the city has to offer. At just a mile from Fisherman's Wharf and two from Union Square, all the biggest tourist sites are within walking distance.
You can even get two double beds with your award night, so you and three of your closest friends can snuggle together in the 275-square-foot room:
In keeping with San Francisco's insane pricing, the rooms here can range up to or even higher than $600/night, which is frankly absurd. However, at a 15,000-point redemption cost, you're getting 4.6 cents per point — or making an excellent use of your World of Hyatt certificate.
Waterfront Hotel: For a Little Elbow Room
All right, so this hotel isn't technically in San Francisco, but it's just across the bay, 10 miles from downtown and an easy 30-minute commute to trek in. This is another of the Two Roads Hospitality hotels, a Joie de Vivre property situated right on the water.
The major benefit to this property is that its double rooms feature queen sized beds, not a common feature in San Francisco hotels, where space is typically at a premium.
The hotel itself is also gorgeous and located right near Jack London Square, making it an ideal location from which to explore both cities.
If you thought being located in Oakland was going to mean this hotel was cheap, well ... you're out of luck:
Though it's certainly not the eye-watering $700 fare of the Hotel Del Sol, redeeming your $95 World of Hyatt hotel certificate for $428 should be considered a smashing success.
One of Hyatt's largest footprints is here in the Windy City, with a ridiculous thirty hotels in and around the metropolis — and seven of them fall into Category 4. You're spoiled for choice here, but here are my top two.
Thompson Chicago: For Old-School Cool
I'm going to say this photo really speaks for itself. You can practically smell the leather-bound books and cigar smoke.
It's easy to imagine yourself here with a cocktail, sitting back and drinking in the ambiance.
Aside from the meticulous decoration, the hotel itself is located in the Gold Coast neighborhood and overlooks Lake Michigan. While rates aren't astronomical, it's still a relatively pricey proposition.
At $330, you're redeeming 15,000 points for a value of 2.2 cents per point, which is well worth it. Just don't forget to bring your fedora.
Hyatt Place Chicago/Downtown-The Loop: For a Mid-Winter Swim
The second Hyatt Place to make the list, this one beats out other Category 4 hotels in Chicago due to its central location, free breakfast and heated indoor pool. If you're visiting in the winter and find that the Windy City has turned into the Windy-Snowy-Sleet-y City, you'll have somewhere warm to retreat.
Rooms here are much the same as other Hyatt Place hotels — spacious and well-furnished, if a little cookie-cutter.
The cost of the hotel is relatively high, as you'd expect from a hotel with such a central location:
All told, this is definitely a solid option for larger parties and people who like to eat for free (so essentially everyone).
There are so many options to choose from when it comes to redeeming your free night certificate, both in the US and around the world, that it can get a little overwhelming trying to make a decision. These hotels represent the crème de la crème of Category 4 hotels in major cities, focusing on giving you the best experience and the best bang for your ($95) buck.
All photos courtesy of Hyatt.