I suppose it’s what I do these days.  Twenty nights in hotels to book and I’ve managed to get a quarter of them free.  Well, four of the freebies involved paying local sales tax because that’s how Hotels.com work.  The fifth from Hilton completely free, thanks to the obscene price they charged me in Boston generating lots of points.

All my hotels for the imminent South West USA trip are booked.

There is an art to redeeming with Hotels.com.  You receive a cash value under the guise of a free night.  If you set this against a cheaper room you loose any surplus.  In other words an £80 voucher is only worth £60 against a £60 room.  No change.  Voucher gone.

Against a more expensive room you lose the Topcashback and free night qualification that you’d have otherwise generated paying cash.  If your £80 voucher pays for an £80 room, it doesn’t matter.  Free is free.  But if you set it against a £200 room and you pay £120 cash, there’s no £7.20 Topcashback and there’s no £12 in value from one tenth of a free night accrued.

So I’ve played a careful balancing game to optimise my freebies and get slightly bigger rewards on the bits I’ve paid cash for.   Around £100 from Topcashback earned.  Another 1.5 free nights accrued replacing the four freebies I spent.  Avios accrued where I’ve paid by American Express.  And, alas, a big bill.  Despite my freebies the triple whammy of inflation, exchange rate and buying close to arrival has strangled me a little on the rooms I’ve had to pay for.

A lot of the cheaper chains are fully booked or simply no longer cheap.  One night I’ve hooked a stationery RV for half the price of a local hotel.  Another night I’m driving an extra twenty miles for a £50 saving.  But at the end I’ve splashed out on three nights in Vegas.  Relaxation being the key prior to departure.  Can you relax in Vegas?

The Mysteries of Mono Lake