Hotel hopping in Europe: look before you leap.

We just finished seven nights in Paris, where we stayed at three different hotels and changed properties every two days. While we very much enjoyed our time in this gorgeous city, hotel hopping here (especially with kids!) was not something I would recommend lightly.

When we each travel solo, both Josh and I are fine with bouncing from one hotel to another each night in order to earn the maximum number of points for each trip, or stay credits towards status or a current promo.

Sometimes it’s not super fun (okay, it’s never really fun at all), but it’s usually totally worth it (except for when it’s not at all). The point is that we’re no strangers to the process. We know what’s involved. So we decided to do it in Paris, because our stay would be completely free that way.

And a free stay in Paris is just one of those things that it’s hard to refuse. 🙂

view from promenade plantee

It was more of a pain than we expected.

The amount of work involved to pack up four people in very cramped quarters is no joke. We packed light at the outset of our trip, but we have (ahem) acquired some additional baggage along the way. (It was mostly because of the amazing shopping in Japan: Muji, GU, Tokyu Hands and Uniqlo…it’s all your fault).

Each time we packed up, it took over an hour, sometimes more if various family members were having meltdowns or other issues. Then it took another good hour to schlep to the next location, especially since we took the metro instead of a cab.

Paris metro cite

So by the time we were rolling again, it would be – at best – late morning. Sometimes it would almost be lunchtime. We definitely lost valuable daylight hours doing all of our moving around.

I would do it again.

Even though it was a total pain in the butt, I would do the same thing again. I would just have a better plan. I think next time I would organize our luggage better, and have:

  • One suitcase for ALL of the (sort of) clean clothes
  • A suitcase for all of the dirty clothes
  • Another suitcase for toiletries and other necessities
  • Another suitcase for stuff that we weren’t currently using (cough, Muji).

That way, we wouldn’t have to constantly rifle through all of our suitcases to find one missing item, sort through clothes to find clean-enough outfits, and move things from one place to the next, constantly.

It was worth it because it was free.

There’s no way we could have afforded all of these hotel stays if we had to pay with cash! Because of the very strict occupancy rules (and very small spaces) in Europe and Asia, as a family of four, we needed two rooms at each of these hotels.

First we stayed two nights at the Radisson Blu Le Metropolitan. This cost us 50,000 Club Carlson points each, for a total of 100,000 points: this was possible because each of us has a Club Carlson Visa, so we were able to take advantage of the “buy one, get one free” award night feature that is a benefit of having the card. (Note that the award rates have increased for this property: each award night is now 70,000 points, so if we booked the same stay today, we would each pay 70,000 points, for a total of 140,000 points).

view from radisson blu tour eiffel

We spent the following two nights at the Radisson Blu Champs Elysees, for another 50,000 Club Carlson points apiece.

champs elysees

Then we bookmarked our Radisson spree with another two-night stay at Le Metropolitan.

(Tip: you can easily transfer Club Carlson points between family accounts by calling in. We were able to fine-tune each of our balances that way, so we didn’t have to mess around with topping off account by buying points, etc…which was nice).

We finished our time in Paris with a one-night stay at the Park Hyatt Paris Vendome. (Two rooms, which cost us 30,000 Hyatt points each).

park hyatt light fixture

So the grand points total for our seven night/fourteen room stay in Paris was:

  • 300,000 Club Carlson points
  • 60,000 Hyatt points
  • ZERO DOLLARS

…which was VERY nice.

Have you hotel hopped on vacation in Europe? How did it go for you?

Comments

  1. Kendra, since you and your husband each have a Club Carlson cc, why did you only stay 2 nights at each Radisson? Seems like it would be possible to have four consecutive nights if you booked one night plus one free from your account and then the same from his account.

    • Points Pixie says:

      Mary – We had to move every two nights because we needed two rooms at each hotel each night (since there are four of us). If it had only been the two of us, we could have stayed four nights at each hotel (2 on his card, then 2 on my card). Slightly confusing, I know!

  2. *free* is a deal that is hard to refuse!

  3. I noticed that you picked up your Park Hyatt Tokyo award stays at pre-devaluation rates. I guess Park Hyatt Vendome planning came too late in the game for that?

  4. Packing cubes, one color for each family member, will change (for the better) your travels. Especially when changing hotels. Really.

  5. I totally feel your pain! I made some terrible packing choices in my youth and paid the price while traveling in/around Paris. Then recently on a trip to SE Asia we encountered the same thing. Too many bags, too many family members taking too much time to move from one hotel to the other. Next time I’ll try your idea of one bag of “clean” and another bag of “dirty” or the idea of packing cubes.

    One of my main frustrations was having to pack, re-pack and then search everywhere for each item that I needed after we got to the new destination. Traveling around the beach area it seemed like we were constantly searching for the bug spray, sunscreen, sunglasses and camera because we would change from the scenario of packing to “travel” (i.e. hop a cab or train to another city or hotel) vs. the “daypack” scenario (i.e. all of the above plus maps, guidebooks, money, cell phones, etc. in a bag we could take to the beach). It got to be completely frustrating and almost took the fun out of every new city we arrived in.

    If anyone has any suggestions on how to make that work out better, I’d love to hear them before our next family trip!

    Loving all the posts Kendra : )
    R

    • There is only my husband and I so it may not work for you, but we definitely start out with two suitcases of clean clothes, one for each of us. But after our dirty laundry bag starts to fill up (and why wouldn’t you separate dirty clothes from clean) we then have one suitcase for dirty laundry and one for what clean stuff we have left. At least you are down to only pawing through one suitcase and leaving the other in the hotel room closet.

      Sunglasses, maps and daily needs would be in a small carry on case.

    • Points Pixie says:

      Robin – EXACTLY!! You know exactly what I am talking about!!!!!

  6. I see you experienced the joy of carrying luggage on the Metro….PITA! Did I not warn you?!

  7. I am heading on a trip soon and I am trying to travel with carry on only, albeit I would be allowed 2 pieces of carry on, I will have a normal carry on and a large duffel. Will see what happens.

  8. I just returned from Paris where my 11 year old niece and I had 5 days in 2 hotels. sadly due to the Paris Air Show no hotel awards were available so I found lovely boutique properties and paid cash. While we could have used the metro, I opted for a taxi as we moved from the 5th to the 11th – it was 14 euro. The one hotel, Hotel Atmospheres has family rooms so you wouldnt need two rooms in future if you opt for a no points stay. Since I did a BA companion J award to Paris and back from London and Starwood for London stay, I was ok to pay cash in Paris. My niece in her first international trip was a star with one bag and the hotel hop

  9. I separate the dirty clothes into a laundry bag and do laundry as I go. I travel with good quality cotton and quick dry clothing that can be washed in the sink at night and a couple dryclean only dress outfits for nice dinners/shows. If there’s laundry at the hotel (rare) I do it when they’re sleeping. Sometimes I bring really old t-shirts to sleep in and throw those away as I go along then I have room to add if I buy things. When traveling with kids or alone and moving around I pack the night before. I keep all the everyday items: water bottles, camera, kleenex etc. in our backpacks. I would skip public transit with bags and kids. To me it’s too much along with the moving. Although I totally get it cost wise. I do all this carry on only. I hate wasting that half hour to hour waiting for luggage on both ends.

    • Points Pixie says:

      CCORD – Do you do luggage consulting? 😉 Seriously, it sounds like you’ve got it down to a science!

  10. Marilyn B says:

    Over the years of traveling to Europe, I have refined my packing to where we can now finally go carryon only. However, our trips range from 7-11 days, not so long as yours and it’s only my husband and me. I keep a master packing list that I’ve tweaked over the years and pretty much have it down to a science now. On our last trip to Brussels & Amsterdam, I decided not to totally unpack the bags even though we were in one hotel for 6 nights. I just shifted dirty items into separate packing cubes and then into one suitcase. I used some plastic bags to separate clean from dirty in the 2nd suitcase as we neared the end of our journey.

    The biggest issue for us right now with carryons (each have one rollaboard and personal small duffel type tote) is that my husband has a knee problem – at home he wears an expensive, bulky brace for walking, but doesn’t want to travel with it for fear of losing it / leaving it somewhere or breaking it in transit (not comfortable to wear on a plane or train for hours). Without it, his knee absolutely aches for days from walking long distances pulling his bags, like the length of the airport for our connecting flight in Frankfurt which also entailed a flight of stairs carrying the carryons or the mile over cobbles to our hotel in Amsterdam. Ended up using taxis after that. Worth it to have husband who is able to walk!

    Going to Hawaii in December, and just might take one checked bag. Somehow, going to the beach always seems to involve more stuff than the fall in Europe……..

  11. One thing we tried successfully in Europe for short stays when traveling between cities was to store luggage at at the airport or train station. We did this in Barcelona and it made hotel hopping delightful. Just look up luggage storage for the airport or train station you will travel in and out of. In Barcelona it was only 2.50 € /day and it allowed us to bring a super small bag between hotels. It can often save big bucks allowing you to go from a taxi to transit or even walking.

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