Few months ago, I wrote a post on booking vacation rentals in Europe. In it, I mentioned that if you only stay 1 night, hotel rooms will probably be your only option. Hence this post.
We’ll have to spend 1 night in Dublin and 1 night in Warsaw due to flights’ schedule. Since I have a good stash of hotel points in IHG as well as SPG programs, naturally, that’s where I looked to first.
There are several IHG hotels in the area. One hotel by the airport costs 25,000 points, fits 4 in one room, and includes breakfast. However, I will not be using my IHG points for this city. Why not?
I have never been to Dublin and want to make the most of my short stay. The flight back to USA doesn’t leave till 2PM the next day, so there is some time for exploring. If I’m staying somewhere for such a short time, I want to soak in the local atmosphere. A cookie cutter airport Holiday Inn Express just doesn’t seem like an ideal choice for that.
My attention turned to SPG program. The only available option was Westin Dublin at a cost of 16,000 SPG points. I value that amount at $240, a lot of money, but hotel goes for $400 per night during summer months.
It would only let me put 3 people on the reservation, and we have 4. I’ve contacted Westin manager through email, and he said they could possibly make an exception, depending on my kids’ ages. However, it would cost me 45 extra euros (55 dollars).
Did I mention that there is no breakfast included? Are you adding up all the costs so far? Guess what, I was prepared to book it. I liked it. It’s centrally located, and the property is very classy, with old-style elegance. I may be sassy and unclassy, but I do enjoy the finer things in life. Points are meant to be used, or so I kept telling myself.
Still, I really agonized over this redemption. Add 4,000 SPG points, and I could get a total of 25,000 miles, since you get a bonus 5,000 miles on each 20,000 mile transfer. Alas, my hopes were dashed when the manager replied via email and said that we would need 2 rooms after all. I liked the property, but not enough to blow 32,000 SPG points and get no breakfast.
And the search continues. I looked all over the place, checked out some central options recommended by Rick Steves, and nothing felt right. It was either too expensive or too dingy. And then I found the one.
Introducing Fitzpatrick Castle hotel It’s located in the south of Dublin, and you follow a beautiful coastline when driving up to it (according to the website). So, basically, we are skipping central Dublin altogether, and instead getting ourselves a semi-fancy castle experience. I am a quirky kind of gal, ain’t I? Spending my wedding anniversary in a cheap PointBreaks hotel, but then insisting on having a castle experience with small kids who probably couldn’t care less.
Since my mom will be meeting us, we will need 2 rooms for our crew. The only option in IHG program that would make sense is Intercontinental Warsaw The cost is 35,000 points or $165, not a spectacular value. However, the place is near train station, which would work well for us. I wouldn’t redeem my points here, but could potentially use my IHG certificates that I got from “Into the nights” promo.
Another possible option was Bristol Warsaw It costs 10,000 SPG points but looks spectacular. While researching it, I saw that retail rate is $320 per night. So it seemed like a very good deal on points. Sure, 20,000 SPG points is a lot, but we are getting $640 worth of rooms. Except… when checking different websites, I found a discount rate of $140 per night.
And a funny thing happened: The hotel immediately lost its appeal. How come? Shouldn’t I be happy to pay $140 for a room where I was prepared to spend 10,000 SPG points that I value at $150? Nothing changed. The rooms looked exactly the same, the reviews were great, but I didn’t want it anymore.
And so it goes with inflated value of miles and points. The rack rate isn’t what you should go by. That hotel or flight is only worth as much as you would pay for it with good ol’ cash.
The big twist
Everything was set, but then came Black Monday promo from Orbitz where you could take $100 off your hotel bill, even for 1-night bookings. I wrote about the offer in my blog but to be honest, I thought it was a gimmick. Nope, it was for realz, y’all!
The castle hotel ended up being $96 per night instead of $260. Unfortunately, the rate doesn’t include breakfast, but for $164, we’ll walk to a nearby village or eat granola bars.
We also ended up booking a hotel in Warsaw (2 rooms, since we’ll have my mom with us). I just looked at the map and picked one near the train station without looking at reviews. The clock was ticking and the promo wasn’t going to last since they have only allowed a certain amount of rooms for this deal. Well, lo an behold, it’s top rated Warsaw hotel on Trip Advisor! Apparently, it used to house a Soviet embassy. Oh, the irony.
As you can see, it’s a pretty darn good deal. No hotel points redemption can ever come close, not even IHG PointBreaks program. And that’s how things go in this hobby. You plan and you plan, and sometimes you end up doing something totally different because an amazing deal comes along.
Readers, did anyone get in on this promo? What did you book?
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Leana is the owner and founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.