We tested Hilton confirmed upgrades — here's what you need to know
Earlier this month, Hilton announced confirmed upgrades for Gold and Diamond Elites. This new benefit notifies these elites of their upgrade 72 hours before a planned hotel arrival, and the traveler can pick their desired room in advance in the Hilton app.
If it works in practice, this is huge news for Hilton's elite members. Instead of waiting for an upgrade at arrival and ending up in whatever room is assigned to you, elites can walk into the hotel knowing what to expect. It's also an industry first for the hotel world as other chains do not yet offer confirmed upgrades unless using upgrade certificates.
This upgrade system is slowly rolling out across all Hilton properties, but Hilton confirmed to TPG that a handful of hotels in its portfolio have already launched confirmed upgrades. In true TPG fashion, we tested confirmed upgrades at two of these properties (without informing Hilton that staffers had booked) and documented the experience from start to finish.
Here's what we found and what to expect when you check in to a Hilton with confirmed upgrades.
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The Hilton confirmed upgrade process
The Hilton confirmed upgrade process is remarkably simple — and there's very little to do on your end.
All stays booked more than 72-hours in advance are eligible for confirmed upgrades at participating hotels. Unfortunately, last-minute hotel stays are excluded from this program, as are a handful of brands:
- Embassy Suites
- Hilton Garden Inn
- Hampton by Hilton
- Tru by Hilton
- Homewood Suites by Hilton
- Home2 Suites by Hilton
- Hilton Grand Vacations
Your upgrade will process automatically. Once confirmed, you will receive an email that confirms your upgrade. This email also notes that you can select your upgraded room in the Hilton app when it's time to check-in online. This is generally 36-hours prior to arrival.
Your next Hilton stay may not have confirmed upgrades yet since the relatively new process is still rolling out over the coming weeks.
Related: The award traveler’s guide to Hilton Honors
Testing Hilton confirmed upgrades
Two of the hotels that currently offer Hilton confirmed upgrades are in Florida: the Hilton Miami Airport Blue Lagoon and Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace. We sent a Florida-based staffer with Hilton Diamond status to each property. Both staffers received advanced upgrades — here's a look at their experience throughout the mobile check-in and room selection process.
Hilton Miami Airport Blue Lagoon
Juan Ruiz, Credit Cards Editor
As a top-tier Hilton Diamond member conferred by my Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, I was ecstatic when Hilton announced that eligible Gold and Diamond Hilton Honors elite members would receive complimentary early upgrades (if available) 72 hours before arrival. The information for the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
I was skeptical at first, so I booked a standard room with two queens for one night at the Hilton Miami International Airport Blue Lagoon. Exactly 72 hours prior to check-in, I was notified via email and in the Hilton app, that I earned a complimentary upgrade to a balcony room with two queen beds.
When I arrived at the property to check-in, the friendly front desk agent then upgraded me to a Junior Suite with a king bed and a spacious sitting area. Best of all, my suite had direct runway views for plane spotting at Miami International Airport.
Overall, the upgrade process was effortless. It was nice to know that I already had an upgrade prior to arrival. But it got better than initially advertised in the app and the double upgrade was a welcome surprise at check-in.
Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace Disney Springs
Nick Ewen, Senior Editor
I reserved a short, one-night stay at the Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace to test the upgrade process. I booked a AAA rate in a standard room, which this property defined as a "resort view" room, and the total cost (including the resort fee) was $279.84.
On Nov. 5, at 4:06 p.m. — almost exactly 72 hours before the property's official check-in time — I received an email notifying me that I had been upgraded. The note was identical to Juan's above, and when I logged into my account on the Hilton Honors' website, I was told that I had been upgraded to ... a room with a view of Disney Springs.
Upon further research, I found that this room (using the same AAA rate) was selling for a total price $306.56. In other words, this confirmed upgrade was technically "worth" $26.72.
I checked in using the Hilton Honors app shortly after 6:30 p.m. The app confirmed that I had been upgraded, and it pre-assigned me room 2621. I did check to see what other options were available, but all of the other rooms with a view of Disney Spring were on lower floors.
I requested a digital key, but when I arrived at the hotel roughly 20 minutes later, it still wasn't ready.
As a result, I waited at the front desk, and after a few minutes, I was helped by a friendly agent. He confirmed my Diamond status and handed me a packet of information about the hotel plus two complimentary water bottles and a note with details on the new on-property credit for food and beverage.
My room was spacious, but the interior appeared to be identical to the standard room.
The only exception was the view. Instead of the resort property, the balcony overlooked Disney Springs — though it was still a fair distance away.
All told, it was nice to get this notification ahead of time, though this particular upgrade wasn't anything special — especially when compared with my Marriott reservation the next day, where I applied Suite Night Awards and was upgraded to a massive, one-bedroom suite five days before arrival.
Related: 6 tips to get the hotel room upgrades you deserve
It's great to see Hilton lead the charge in making room upgrades easier for elite members. Knowing that you'll walk into an upgraded room before arrival is a great perk, and being able to select your room is a major benefit for those who want to be on a higher floor or closer to the elevator. It takes a lot of the guesswork out of travel — something important for those frequently on the road.
Better yet, our reporters found Hilton's confirmed upgrade experience to be simple and straightforward. It's an exciting trend and one that we hope other industry giants like Hyatt and Marriott implement in their own programs going forward.
Feature photo by Stella Shon/The Points Guy