We tried Hilton, Hyatt and Marriott’s work-from-hotel programs — these are the pros and cons
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I needed quiet. Desperately.
Between virtual kindergarten lessons, my wife’s conference calls and construction in the apartment above us, I’d had it.
The idea of working from a hotel room never really appealed to me before. On past business trips, I had tried to find a comfy spot in the lobby, lounge or by the pool to squeeze in my work. But now, a few hours alone in a hotel room seemed like heaven.
Hilton, Hyatt and Marriott have all unveiled programs during the pandemic where they rent out unused hotel rooms for the workday. (There are also long-term stay programs for folks looking to relocate to hotels for a week or more.) The concept is the same for each chain, but each has its own unique quirks that I’ll walk you through.
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Bookings were easy to make in each of the three chains. Hilton and Marriott both had set up sites where you only needed one date since this was just a daytime stay. Hyatt required check-in and check-out dates, which seemed very odd — and a bit confusing — since it was just a few hours in the room.
Hilton: Rooms need to be booked through the WorkSpaces website.
Hyatt: Office for a Day rooms can be booked through the special site or by entering the special offer code “OFFICE” on Hyatt’s website or mobile app.
Marriott: All bookings need to be made through the Day Pass website.
Warning: These rates weren’t always the cheapest.
For instance, the Hyatt House New York/Chelsea was offering an overnight stay for members that was $2 cheaper than the office rate. Sure, the office rate guaranteed a 7 a.m. check-in, but given how low occupancy rates are these days, I’m pretty confident the hotel wouldn’t have turned me away at 9 a.m. I only saw two other guests during my stay.
I did search other Hyatt properties outside New York City and did find cases where the office rate was cheaper than the nightly one. So, it pays to shop around.
Similarly, with Hilton, my Workspaces rate was $81, plus tax, at the Millennium Hilton New York Downtown. The nightly rate was more when I booked the room a day prior. However, the morning of my stay, I noticed that bookings for that night had dropped to $76, plus tax.
The other strange thing was that my Hilton Workspaces reservation said official check-in wasn’t until 10 a.m. That was peculiar when the working world — pandemic or not — tends to start earlier. Regardless, I was able to check-in at 8:30 a.m. and bet I could have done the same if I was booked on an overnight stay.
To test out the check-in time theory, my colleague Laura Motta and I both stayed at the AC Hotel by Marriott New York Downtown. I was on a Day Pass and she had a normal booking with a 4 p.m. check-in. But when she called early that morning and arrived at 8 a.m., there was no issue checking in early.
In most cases, the booking showed up in my loyalty account almost immediately. The one exception was the first of my two Marriott stays.
Having the booking there meant I was going to get my points and maybe even an upgrade — more on that in a minute.
Points and Elite Status
For each stay, I earned my normal points off the base rate plus any elite bonus and welcome amenity.
At most Marriott properties, members earn 10 points per dollar spent on eligible hotel charges. At the New York Marriott Marquis, my base rate of $109 earned me 1,090 points. As a Titanium Elite member, I get an additional 75% bonus, so 818 points — plus 1,000 bonus points as my welcome amenity. In total, I got 2,908 Bonvoy points, which TPG currently values at $23.26.
The World of Hyatt program gives members 5 points per dollar spent at most properties. So my $99 base rate earned me 495 points plus a 30% bonus — or 149 extra points — as a Globalist member. Through a promotion that ended Feb. 28, I also earned an extra 990 points. Those 1,634 points are worth $27.78, according to our valuations.
The most-lucrative stay, however, was my Hilton one. My base rate was $81, earning 810 points. Then I got 810 extra points as a Diamond elite member and 1,000 points for my welcome amenity. There was another 2,000 points for the “Points Unlimited” promotion, which gives 2,000 bonus points for each stay and an additional 5,000 bonus points every five nights, But it gets even better. Hilton has another promotion giving members 10,000 bonus points after their first WorkSpaces stay at participating properties.
For those who aren’t following along with a calculator, that one stay netted me 14,620 Hilton Honors points, which TPG values at $87.72. (Given that most of my points came from the promotions, I might have actually profited by doing one of the $57 WorkSpaces rates I saw at another hotel.)
None of that includes the points I earned via my credit cards.
In all three cases, it was the card that I used at check-in that was ultimately charged. And each time, it properly coded as the hotel chain, earning me bonuses with my cobranded cards. (And yes, I have one for each chain.) So at each respective chain, I earned 4 points per dollar on my World of Hyatt Credit Card, 6 points per dollar on my Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card and at the Hilton, I earned 14 points per dollar on my Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card.
Hilton and Hyatt both clearly state that each chain’s day rates will qualify for elite-night credit. And they did without any problems.
Marriott, on the other hand, explicitly states when booking: “Day Pass does not qualify for Elite Night Credits or select Elite Benefits depending on property.” However, in both of my stays, I did get credit.
Finally, I earned an extra 2.5% back on my Hilton stay by first going through Rakuten. That’s $2.03, or 203 American Express Membership Rewards, my preferred option through the shopping portal. Rakuten does also include a rebate on Marriott bookings, but it can’t be used here since all of its Day Pass rates can only be had via the Day Pass website.
For each chain, I picked hotels where there was a decent shot of an upgrade, given my top-tier status in each program.
I booked the cheapest possible room and crossed my fingers.
Marriott ended up being the most generous, in my limited experience. At the AC Hotel, I was given a corner room and at the Marriott Marquis, I was upgraded to a one-bedroom suite on the 38th floor overlooking Times Square.
I wasn’t expecting anything as grand at the Hyatt House New York/Chelsea, but I did choose the hotel specifically because they have a number of studio and one-bedroom suites and Hyatt has traditionally treated Globalist members very well. The hotel was empty, but there was no upgrade.
Finally, I had great hopes for the Millennium Hilton New York Downtown. Sure, it was unlikely that I would get a two-bedroom suite, but a corner room with a great view was a high likelihood given the floorplan and my Diamond status. No such luck. I did end up 49 stories up in the air but otherwise had a very standard room.
The front desk staff didn’t really understand the promos created by their parent companies. Everything they’ve ever been trained to do revolved around people spending the night. So this was a bit foreign. The apps and websites for Hyatt and Marriott seemed confused too. Only Hilton had the stay show up properly in the app for “0 nights.”
Each hotel was supposed to offer bottles of water as part of the package. But in each case, I had to ask about it. At the Hyatt House, they didn’t have any, but I was directed — after asking — to the lobby market to take one for free. The only exception was the Marriott Marquis that had prepared bags behind the front desk with water and snacks for day guests.
All of the hotel desks were fine, though some of the office chairs were well past their prime and didn’t adjust to the proper height. That might be OK for an hour or two of work during a normal business trip but something to watch up for during a day-long stint at a hotel.
Finally, as somebody who used to collect hotel pens (you know I’m not the only one, right?), I was disappointed to see that none of the four hotel rooms I used as my office had pads or pens.
Working from a hotel has taken on a new appeal for those of us living in cramped apartments. It was never enjoyable before, but the pandemic has changed how we think about many things in life.
Each chain has its own unique quirks to its program, but they are generally the same concept. Given low occupancy rates, a nightly stay might actually be a better value.
I wouldn’t encourage doing this as an elite-status mattress run. However, the Hilton bonus for the first stay is substantially large enough that some people might be able to profit off it with a cheap enough rate and low taxes.
Honestly, I was just happy to have a different view and a bit of quiet.
Featured image by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy
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