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