News, Culture & Society

How to get free treats or upgrades at your next hotel stay

Proof there IS such a thing as a free lunch: How to get hotel treats and upgrades on the house

  • Holiday Hero Neil Simpson reveals how to get the best deals on hotel stays 
  • He suggests finding a deal on a comparison site but booking directly with hotel
  • Don’t trust sites’ ‘one room left’ messages as they can be misleading 

Every week our Holiday Hero Neil Simpson takes an in-depth look at a brilliant holiday topic, doing all the legwork so you don’t have to. 

This week, he reveals how to get free treats or hotel room upgrades.

Want to get the best deal on your next hotel stay? 

This week, our Holiday Hero reveals how to get the best deal on your next hotel stay

Don’t expect the seemingly independent internet comparison sites to compete too hard to find it, especially as Expedia,, Travelocity, Trivago and Ebookers are all now part of the same giant company. 

Don’t trust their ‘one room left’ messages either: they’ve been attacked as misleading by the Competition and Markets Authority.

Instead, use comparison sites to find the perfect hotel, then see what you get if you cut out the commission-hungry middle-man and book direct. Here are some of the best deals at home and abroad.

Treat yourself to tea

The afternoon tea at the lavish Fawsley Hall Hotel in Northumberland

The afternoon tea at the lavish Fawsley Hall Hotel in Northumberland

Fancy a free afternoon tea amid the Tudor splendour of a country mansion where Henry VIII and Elizabeth I stayed? Then book direct with the Hand Picked Hotels group and sign up to its Privilege Rewards scheme. 

Spend £280 on your stay and you’ll have enough points for afternoon tea at what is now the lavish Fawsley Hall Hotel in Northumberland, or in any of the group’s 18 other historic hotels and spas around the country. 

Lower room rates for members, free stays, bottles of champagne and other perks are also on offer. Visit

Leave room for the pud

You normally need deep pockets to enjoy a lavish lunch or dinner in the heart of London’s Mayfair, just minutes from Buckingham Palace. 

But book direct with the Dukes Hotel and you’re rewarded with £30 off your bill at GBR, the hotel’s Great British Restaurant. 

That easily covers the cost of coffees and some indulgent desserts – favourite puddings include Yorkshire rhubarb sorbet with homemade shortbread, and Eton mess. Visit

Raise a glass in Lisbon

What’s better than checking into a boutique hotel in one of Europe’s most popular capital cities? Being given a lower ‘friends’ room rate (a 10 per cent discount) and a free glass of sangria as you do so. 

Those are the first parts of the reward package for booking direct at Lisbon’s AlmaLusa hotel. You’re also first in line for room upgrades, have 10 per cent knocked off your bill at the hotel’s restaurant, get a late check-out time and a farewell gift from a local scent and soap-maker. See

Marvel at Miami

Get a cabana at Nobu in Miami by booking directly with the hotel

Get a cabana at Nobu in Miami by booking directly with the hotel 

Soak up the glamour in Miami Beach by choosing a huge, ocean-front room at Nobu. Book direct and you can enjoy extras such as a free cabana by the pool, plus choose from a light-hearted rewards menu that offers discounts on ‘Treasure hunt’ adventures or ‘Insta-tours’ of the city’s art district. Go to

Make a bright start to the day

Go direct to book three or more nights at celeb-magnet The Mulia in Bali and you get daily breakfast for two included (exotic fruits, eggs and plenty of pastries) plus your choice of a free lunch or dinner at chic restaurant Table8. On the afternoon of your choice you can also enjoy a free ‘dessert buffet’. Visit 

FINALLY: Check the ‘Hotels’ section of websites such as for updates on special ‘book direct’ deals with chains including Marriott and Radisson.