Most ‘how to get upgraded’ stories are filled with half-truths, falsehoods, and urban legends. That’s especially true for airlines, but it’s also true for hotels, too.
If you have elite status with a hotel chain, you may be upgraded automatically, or you might receive an upgrade by asking if one is available. Sometimes hotels are overbooked and they have to upgrade someone, as well, so asking even without status can’t hurt. Or just be nice. Make small talk with the check-in agent. And ask whether a [certain type of room] might be available.
Some guests contact the hotel ahead of time and play the special occasion card. That sometimes does work, in a way it doesn’t generally with an airline. And in Las Vegas (and sometimes elsewhere) the $20 trick, slipping some cash at the desk, can make all the difference. A $100 tip at check-in at Bellagio once yielded a suite there with five bathrooms.
But here’s something that works, more often than not, that anyone can do: if you’re disappointed by the room you receive, once you’ve seen it, let the front desk know. Express your disappointment at something concrete – whether it’s the cleanliness of the room, or the view, or some combination of actors – and ask the front desk if they could do better for you.
[H]otels want to make sure their guests are comfortable and happy, so if your first impression of your room is lackluster or you notice something wrong upon check-in, go down and let them know before you unpack. The front desk staff is likely to go the extra mile to give you something that elevates your experience.
I wrote about using this technique successfully at the Park Hyatt Sydney.
A hotel might be sold out, in which case they may not be able to move you. If your complaint is about cleanliness, you might get another of the same room type or you might receive something better as an apology. But if you’ve been disappointed, and go through the hassle of moving, a hotel will often be willing to upgrade you to a better room. Something to keep in mind.