Hilton Diamond Status Match / Shortcut Results – How’d It Go?
Here are my results for the Hilton Diamond status match / shortcut I previously outlined. Now that I qualified for Hilton Diamond status next year, how’d I do? Was it worth it? Here’s a look at how it played out and some unexpected elements along the way.
Hilton Diamond Status Match / Shortcut Recap
In case you just scrolled by last time, here’s a recap from my previous article about this shortcut:
- Open only to Hilton Honors members who have never done a status match
- Request status match from other loyalty programs you have elite status with
- Stay 18 nights within 90 days to get Diamond (top tier) status with Hilton
- Must pay cash (not points bookings)
- From October to December 2020, nights count double
- Just stay 9 nights at any Hilton properties
As I mentioned previously, this isn’t for everyone. First, if you’re not going to stay at any Hilton properties next year, don’t go for status. Second, you can probably get Diamond status cheaper by having the Aspire Card from American Express. For the $450 annual fee, you get top-tier status automatically, among other benefits.
Why I Did This
Since I have the maximum number of cards with American Express right now, this Hilton Diamond status match / shortcut came at the right time. I had stays planned where Hilton hotels would be the only show in town. Additionally, we had an upcoming stay where we could book a Hilton property so cheaply that using points didn’t make sense. We planned to pay cash for that place anyway. Basically, I would need minimal effort.
Or so I thought.
The Details of Earning Hilton Diamond Status
I needed 9 paid nights. Originally, my plan was this:
- 4 nights Mexico City – The Hampton Inn & Suites costs $49/night for a basic room. Not worth using points, and it puts us right where we want to be in the city.
- 3 nights Cappadocia – The DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Avanos – Cappadocia is the only points program hotel near Goreme, where we wanted to go to take a hot air balloon ride.
- 2 nights Zanzibar – The DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Zanzibar – Stone Town could round out the 1 week we wanted to spend in Zanzibar, since we didn’t have enough free night certs for a full week at the Park Hyatt.
Changes Along The Way
We ran into some forced changes along the way:
- Cappadocia – The DoubleTree decided to close for remodeling. We were told that they had basically 0 bookings for a while, so they closed to do remodeling when they didn’t think staying open was “worth it” right now.
- Zanzibar – Due to a COVID outbreak among the staff, the DoubleTree closed “until further notice”.
These forced us to adjust our plans.
- 4 nights Ethiopia – To make up for the Cappadocia booking, we changed our stay in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from the Hyatt Regency to the Hilton. This was the most expensive property in my plan for the shortcut to Hilton Diamond status via status match and promotions.
- 3 nights Mexico City – We wanted to add more time in Playa del Carmen to visit both the Thompson and the Andaz, so we cut a night off of Mexico City, now that we still had the 9 necessary nights elsewhere.
- 2 nights Zanzibar – I booked a “mattress run” for a cheap hotel in Florida while visiting my parents for Thanksgiving. The night before check-in, the Zanzibar hotel emailed to say they would reopen mid-December. They could honor our stay after all. I canceled the mattress run and re-booked Zanzibar.
Evaluating The Hotels
How were the hotels? Was it worth it? Did we enjoy the hotels, or did we just stay there to earn the status? Here are my thoughts on where we stayed.
Hampton Inn & Suites – Centro Historico – Mexico City
We loved this hotel. The staff were super friendly. Due to COVID restrictions, the restaurant is closed. Breakfast is via room service. Each night, you fill out a form and give it to the front desk indicating your selections and what time you want to receive the meal.
The building is fantastic. It’s 400+ years old and definitely has one of the coolest atriums of the hotels I’ve stayed at. The location is perfect, right near the main tourist sites in the historic old city.
At $49/night with free breakfast, it was a steal. We would’ve stayed here whether or not I was working on this shortcut + status match to Hilton Diamond status. I already had gold status, so we received an upgrade to a corner room suite, which was nice.
Hilton Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
I would never stay here again. That’s the blunt truth. The only way to describe the staff here is “bad”. I’ve never said that about a hotel, but honesty is necessary.
We stayed here 4 nights. On day 2, they called us a bit after noon to ask why we hadn’t checked out yet. What? We’re staying 3 more days!
We ordered delivery from a restaurant one day. When the food came, the hotel said no one in that name is staying here and sent the driver away. We had to pay a 2nd delivery charge to the driver.
When we got that food, it didn’t have silverware. We called room service twice to ask for forks, which never came. After an hour, we gave up and ate with our hands. Eating fried rice from a Chinese restaurant with your hands isn’t fun!
The night before check-out, I went to settle our bill and wanted to offload my cash. They didn’t want to accept it, because I didn’t have a receipt from an exchange booth. “I didn’t exchange, it was from an ATM withdrawal at the ATM here in your lobby!” They demanded receipts, and I had to walk the employee to the ATM to show him the message that the receipt printer doesn’t work. They demanded screen shots from my bank account to accept my cash. What, do you think I printed this cash in my room or something?
Additionally, the taxes were huge. There was not only 15% daily tax on the room but also a 10% daily tax on “services”. They told me this covers the service at breakfast (free), giving you towels at the pool (we never used it), etc.
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Zanzibar – Stone Town – Tanzania
We really liked this hotel and would stay there again. The staff were super friendly and really helpful. The room was comfortable, and the location is great. It’s within walking distance to anything you want to do in Stone Town, Zanzibar.
To apologize for the previous cancellation email, they gave us free dinner every night and 20% off food/drink charged to our room. Additionally, breakfast is free, so we just needed lunch every day here. They responded easily to emails before our arrival to book an airport transfer, and staff were great throughout our 2 nights.
How much did this cost me? We had several Amex Offers that we took advantage of by using different cards. All of these were on my wife’s Blue Business Plus Card, which I’m on as an authorized user.
- $125.93 – Mexico City – We had an offer of “spend $175, get $50 back” from American Express. With 19% in various taxes, our bill was $174.93, so I added a bottle of water to hit the $175 to trigger the credit.
- $442.32 – Addis Ababa – We both had offers for “spend $250, get $60 back” from Amex. We made 2 reservations of 2 nights each and paid for those separately to maximize the credits. With taxes and fees, each bill was over $250 and triggered the credit.
- $284 – Zanzibar – My wife had an offer for “spend $225, get $60 back”.
- $852.25 total
Essentially, I spent $400 more than the annual fee of the Hilton Aspire Card. We got 9 nights of hotels out of it and also earned points, rather than using points. Since several of these options fell into our laps (need the 2 nights in Zanzibar, cheap rate I’d pay cash for anyway in Mexico City), the opportunity cost was worth it for us.
The biggest cost was the 4 nights in Addis Ababa, and we also didn’t like it. If I did this again, knowing what I know now, I’d avoid that hotel and try to make a different plan for somewhere cheaper & better. With the hotel we wanted in Cappadocia closing, we were forced to re-plan with short notice.
Was my Hilton Diamond status match / shortcut approach worth it? For me, it was. It’s because of what I see happening in 2021, assuming we are able to travel more. The perks and room guarantees will help us with travel we hope to do in 2021. If the Olympics happen, status might be necessary for snagging in-demand rooms during a peak tourist event. Also a plus: with their rollover nights and reduced requirements for 2021, I’m already off to a great start for Diamond status in 2022. Bottom line: I’d do it again, but I’d definitely make some changes.
Did anyone else do the shortcut to Hilton Diamond status via the shortcut? How’d it work out for you?