Wednesday, 5 February 2020

'Free' London trip

I said it before and I will say it again: loyalty programs' points often show higher inflation than the German Papiermark in the Weimar republic. I just lost a considerable part of the spending power of my Aegean miles, and while the pace of collecting Hilton Honor points has accelerated considering the number of stays there, it seems they quickly get worthless because of the new dynamic pricing system Hilton uses for its redemption rates.

However, there is a small but noticeable loophole in the system. There are still 'standard room rewards' that are priced at the original redemption categories. Enter the possibility of getting a room in an expensive hotel. I once stayed at the Trafalgar St. James at a ridiculously low rate of 99 GBP because the MGallery Victory House hotel offered all its rooms (including suites) at that rate and then appeared not to be open in time to honour the reservation.

My wife and I thus got rebooked to the St. James as 'vips', which got us a 50 square meter suite in the heart of London, one of the greatest travel hacks I ever used (thanks to the kind folks of Anyway, how to get back into this fantastic hotel? The cash rates in July are around 450 GBP, an amount I never paid for a hotel room. But the lowest points rate is 70,000. And my balance showed that number. No suite this time, unfortunately.

A single flight from London City Airport to Rotterdam would set me back 135 GBP, but I used 4,500 Avios per person plus 22,50 in fees per person to book that flight. Then I booked a cash fare from Amsterdam to London Heathrow for 53 euro on British Airways. If you ever fly to Heathrow, book your connecting train early. You can book a single to Paddington station for only 5,50 GBP if you're early enough. At a cash total of 160 euro for 2 persons, plus 9,000 Avios and 70,000 HH points this represents a 800 euro theoretical saving.

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