I happen to have a bunch of pending free hotel stays. Some free stays are the result credit card benefits, others might be promotional benefits or even prize winnings, and others might be compensation for a prior stay that had a problem.
For me, accumulating free stays such as this can be exciting and very useful, but it can also be a burden that gnaws at me and fills me with anxiety, especially when those free nights have a deadline that is quickly approaching. Oh, the pressure… it is such an awful feeling to let those valuable benefits expire unused.
In particular, I had a pending free night from my IHG credit card issued by Chase. This is a good card because for the $49 annual fee, you get Platinum IHG status and a free night at any IHG hotel each year. But to be of value, one really needs to take advantage of that free night, right? (That is also my issue with airline credit cards that have free or reduced-rate companion tickets as their bonus). Well, for the past year, I’ve had that free night waiting for me at any IHG hotel, expiring September 8th. I kept waiting for the perfect stay to cash in this free stay. I didn’t want to use it on basic Holiday Inn stays, especially ones that were less than $100. And then, there were various promotions, where I needed a paid stay in order to reap benefits. Also, the location of some of my travels, such as Kauai, just didn’t have any IHG properties. The time passed and the expiration date loomed closer and closer. Does this sound familiar?
Finally, I decided on a night in my own city, at the nicest IHG hotel in New York City, the Intercontinental Times Square. Living in New York City, I’m not a big fan of the Times Square area, but thought it might be fun for a night. So, on Friday, after work, Won’t Run and I met at the hotel. He gets out of work earlier than I do, so he checked in first. I arrived a few minutes later. He had already made himself at home!
Aww, he brought me flowers.
We were given an upgraded corner room. It was smaller than what I’m used to, but I recognize this is NYC and real estate is at a premium. The room was actually quite lovely and nicely decorated with all the right touches, and we were very comfortable there, my only gripe being that the room had somewhat of a musty smell.
I loved the bathroom. It was sleek but user-friendly. Two walls were tiled in glass subway tiles, and the room had comfy towels that were not typical hotel white, but were dark grey blue. The shower was double the size of most showers, the size of a bathtub. I actually would love to redecorate my own bathroom to look like this!
We bopped around Times Square as tourists in our own city for the night. We went to a crowded dive bar, Rudy’s, where they give you free hot dogs with your drinks, then to a Japanese happy hour where we shared a small bottle of sake and a calamari appetizer, then to an Italian restaurant where we shared a small pizza. We returned to our hotel room to find a bottle of champagne and chocolate covered strawberries waiting for us! Sweet!
At some point in the evening, we turned to one another and admitted that, although we didn’t know why, we enjoyed staying nights or weekends at hotels, even if close to home — as we’ve been frequently taking staycations, mainly at Hyatt Hotels in my quest to retain Diamond membership.
The bed was so comfortable, that when I woke up at 7 am to go run a race in Central Park, Won’t Run just slept and slept, and was still sleeping when I returned two hours later!
After a few tries, we figured out how to use the Keurig coffee machine (I don’t usually use hotel coffee machines unless they are Keurig or Nespresso machines). We went for a stroll around Times Square. We were too late for the daily lottery of seats at Book of Mormon, and, although tempted, decided against purchasing Standing Room Only seats. So, we wandered a bit further, and then returned and checked out.
We both agreed that we had a nice evening, and that we liked the hotel and would gladly return. We laughed and said we really need to do this more often.