We are able to make this trip to London, which is our second trip to Europe this year, because we are using Starpoints for our entire hotel stay (hotel = completely free). From time to time I look at hotels on SPG and dream about traveling. I happened to look at the London hotels and noticed that one, the Park Lane Hotel, was only 12k Starpoints per night, which seemed like a steal! Ryan took a look and confirmed the great location, and we began to look into the trip a little more to see if we could actually afford it.
Since our hotel was chosen for us based on affordability, I skipped the part of the planning process where I read reviews. Well, after returning from Portugal and Spain, where we stayed at two Starwood properties, I decided to start looking up some information about the Park Lane. I started on flyertalk, which I love to read because everyone there travels like crazy and is honest about the hotels they stay in and the airlines they fly. Of course, I can’t usually relate because most are flying business or first class and have hundreds of thousands of hotel points, but it’s still fun to read.
In this case, I found myself horrified by the negative reviews of the hotel. In some cases, travelers actually changed hotels mid-stay (and often moved to the much-nicer Le Méridien Piccadilly). The reviews caution future travelers against staying at the Park Lane Hotel with it’s dated and noisy rooms, but mention that an upgrade to an Executive Room (the ones that were actually renovated recently) can be worth the low cost of the hotel. Also, there are some reviews that were positive; it’s just that the negative reviews overpowered the positive ones.
So here I am, imagining that the room will look something like this (pictures taken from the SPG website):
But after looking through the traveler photos on Trip Advisor, I’m worried we might get stuck with one of the small, dated, noisy rooms, with an old hair dryer, a makeshift A/C unit (luckily we’ll be there in November!), paint peeling off of the walls, and dirt left in the shower.
At this point, we are not changing our hotel. Some of the positive reviews mentioned upgrades at the Park Lane – either because they have status with SPG and received the upgrade for free upon arrival or they were sent a deal before the stay where they could secure an upgrade by paying a certain amount. We are SPG Gold, but so far that has meant little to us in Europe (no upgrade in Barcelona or Madrid), so I am not too confident that an upgrade will happen in London. And since we’re SPG Gold, I don’t want to pay for an upgrade when, if available, we should be offered one for free. Even if an upgrade is only £30 per night, it adds up to £210, which is over $300. And we’re staying here for free. That’s the whole point – it’s 100% free, no taxes, fees, or anything.
With about a week and a half until we get to London, the best I can hope for is that our room will be fine. We plan to spend most of our time away from the hotel, so a less-than-perfect room will definitely be acceptable. That being said, we will be staying at the Park Lane Hotel for 7 nights, so I expect a clean and comfortable room, with a working hair dryer! I can’t see myself demanding a new room, but I also don’t want to give in and settle for a room we are not comfortable in.
There’s not much to do now but wait and see what the hotel and room are like when we arrive. I’m hoping for the best!