Hilton “second guest stays free” – how and why you should use it

It is a little-known fact that all Hilton HHonors members (join for free, here) benefit from Hilton’s “second guest stays free” offer.

hilton partner stays free

This used to be called “spouse stays free”, but was changed in the interests of all-inclusivity. In short, it means you only need to specify one adult as staying in the room when you are booking, and pay the according rate. You can then stay with two adults.

So what? Well let’s have a look at the resultant savings in practice, first using the Hilton Malta as an example:

Taking the night of Friday 14 November, if I book the cheapest room for 1 person, it will cost me €108 (a great rate, for the record):

hilton partner stays free

However, if I book the same room with two adults, it will cost €16 more:

hilton partner stays free

As you can see, simply by being a (free to join) HHonors member, you save yourself €16 a night on this one random example. Feel free to have a look at your chosen hotel yourself – savings can often be substantially more on the same room.

What about with kids?

The position gets even more interesting where you have kids. Policies vary by hotel, but I have found that up to two children under 12 will always stay free in Hilton hotels when they are sharing a room with an adult, and this will usually apply to kids up to the age of 17.

So, when booking a room for my wife and two kids (the latter are both under 5), I will simply book a room for 1 adult and 2 children, and get charged the single adult rate, with nothing more for the boys. My (unannounced) wife will then stay on the “second guest stays free” policy. I have done this successfully on many, many occasions at Hilton hotels and have never had any problem.

But let’s see how it works from a booking perspective, and why the 1 adult + 2 children booking (as opposed to the 2 adults + 2 children booking) is often a very good idea.

Again, taking the example of the Hilton Malta on Friday 14 November. If I book the cheapest room for 1 adult and 2 children, the rate remains at €108 per night:


However, if I book for 2 adults and 2 children, there’s no availability:


No availability, because the available rooms won’t fit 2 adults and 2 children, I hear you say. Well the truth is we will simply ask for two cots for the boys, and we’re fine (or we’ll get upgraded for free, and we’re even better…). In other examples, you will often find twin queen beds in rooms (see below), which can easily accommodate 2 adults and 2 reasonably sized children.

As another example, with 2 adults + 2 children availability, the cheapest room at the Hilton Jumeirah Dubai with 1 adult + 2 kids is 1700 AED:


However, if I book as 2 adults and 2 children, the cheapest room I am offered is the Family Suite, at 2422 AED:


Now I fully appreciate you are getting a family suite rather than 2 queen beds here, but the point is that you will often find that:

  • the prices cheaper for the same room where you use “second guest stays free”; AND
  • you will be offered a greater variety of perfectly manageable, cheaper rooms if you use “second guest stays free” and stay with 2 kids

There’s an obvious warning here. Be sure that the room you book will work for 2 adults and 2 children! I’m a Hilton HHonors Gold member with very small kids, and so 90% of the time get an upgrade to a bigger room in any event, but where we don’t it’s simply a case of 2 cots in the room for our youngsters and we have no problems at all.

In the Jumeirah example above, clearly you’re unlikely to have any problem with 2 x queen beds for 2 adults and 2 young children, and if you put one of the children in a cot, you’re home and dry. If you have a 16 and 17 year old, or your toddlers are morbidly obese, it may be a different story.

As an example, I have just booked a 1 adult + 2 children Hilton room for under €200 a night, with the intention of using the “second guest stays free” benefit. The room has two queen beds, and we will also put a cot in there, so the 2 adults and 2 toddler family will fit in just fine. If I had booked this by stating on the booking that 2 adults and 2 children would be staying in the room, the cheapest available room was €389.

Of course, if you did turn up with your partner, having booked a 1 adult and 2 children room, and it was simply too small, you may well be able to argue that Hilton need to re-accomodate you on the basis of your booking clearly including 2 children, and you now invoking the “second guest stays free” benefit. I will always make sure the room I booked will work, but some may be willing to take this chance. The worst case scenario is that your offspring sleeps in the hallway, which I’d argue is character-building…

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    1. Absolutely. When I’m with the family it helps that I’ve got two small kids with irresistible smiles, but I’d easily put my upgrade success at 90% with business trips too, where I’m alone (and my smile is very resistible).

      This is mainly Europe-based (although I’ve had recent success in Sydney), perhaps you’ve had less success in the US or further afield?

  1. Actually the upgrade rate in Europe is close to 100% (I’m also HHonors Gold). The problem is that this does not always mean an upgrade to the Executive Floor.

    1. I largely agree, although if ever I (as a Gold) am upgraded but not to an Executive room, I always ask for lounge access and am always (I repeat: always) granted it.

  2. How about free breakfast for Golds and Diamonds? T/C stays it’s free for member and one registered guest. If you book a room with 1 adult and your wife as an unregistered guest. Does she get the free breakfast?? Some hotels give you the number of vouchers according to the number of people when you book.

    1. Never had any issue with the free breakfast for both of us. While my wife is also a Gold member, I’ve never even had to make this point. Clearly I am just speaking from personal experience here, but whenever vouchers are dished out, we get given the extra vouchers when she is announced.

      This makes sense. While the wife is initially unregistered, she becomes registered on arrival under the “second guest stays free” promo.

      As you note, per the terms and conditions, you are entitled to “a complimentary continental breakfast for you and up to one additional guest registered to the same room each day of your stay”. The kids are then allowed to eat for free anyway.

      As a related aside, while strictly speaking your entitlement is a “continental breakfast”, I invariably find that, under the “free breakfast” entitlement, you are allowed to use the main, unlimited breakfast buffet.

  3. I find my upgrade rate in Europe to be virtually assured as Diamond and over 90% as Gold. In the USA, very different story. As the European hotels generally have lounges, and better ones, and better breakfast spreads, it works well for me.

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