2019 in review: Living in hotels for 8 consecutive months and what’s next

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It all started as an experiment. Earlier this year, I learnt how to find rates that trigger Best Rate Guarantee (BRG) 25% discount on almost any Marriott/Hilton hotels. I managed to combine some of my BRG stays with my Citibank Prestige Mastercard 4th Night Free (4NF) benefit. This guarantees a minimum of 25% off any hotels and combining both benefits would give me a saving of about 45%! And this is before taking into account the money I save daily by having free breakfast, executive lounge benefits and also the occasional points bonuses with Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors. The idea was to do it without breaking the bank. I wanted to find out how cheap living in hotels can be. The journey began on 1 April 2019.

I have a wedding photography business in Singapore. This means that I will need to be back at least every couple of months for shoots and meetings. That took away the possibility of being away for an extended period of time. I am still finding a window of opportunity to spend a couple of months in South America!

2019 travel statistics

I am currently in Hilton Petaling Jaya till 2 January 2020. I’m not sure how that will count towards my total, so, I’ll just include the nights spent in 2019.

Flights taken: 43
Flights in premium cabins: 9
Nights in Hilton Honors hotels: 180
Nights in Marriott Bonvoy hotels: 80
Nights in Airbnb: 36
Nights in non-chain hotels: 10
Countries visited: 9


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Best and worst

Best
Flight: JFK-HKG on Cathay Pacific First Class through the northern lights
Hotel: Conrad Koh Samui
Airport lounge: Cathay Pacific The Pier First Class Lounge Hong Kong
City: Kyoto, Japan
Decision: Spending weeks experimenting with hotel BRG methods

Worst
Flight: None
Hotel: Putrajaya Marriott Hotel
Airport lounge: Singapore Airlines Silverkris First Class Lounge Hong Kong
City: Patong, Phuket, Thailand
Decision: Taking a 9-hours National Express bus from London to Glasgow

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Pros & Cons of living in hotels

Pros

  • Complimentary daily breakfast.

  • Complimentary use of Executive Lounge (if any).

  • Someone to clean my room every day.

  • Late check-out up to 4 p.m. makes transiting between hotels very easy as I never had to wait for my room to be ready.

  • Easily request a change of room when I am unhappy with just about anything (something I can’t get with Airbnb).

  • Room upgrades on every stay. Some worth 5-10 times more than what I paid for.

  • Very quick points accumulation that can be used for future stays.

  • No utilities, internet or cable TV bills to worry about.

  • No home maintenance to worry about.

  • No need for a gym membership.

  • Constantly changing environment means there is always something in the near future to be excited about.

  • Trips are more relaxed. No feeling the need to rush everywhere to make the most of your once-yearly vacation.

  • Popular 4-day destinations like Phuket, Koh Samui, Bali, Kobe, Kyoto and Edinburgh can afford to be a couple of weeks long and end up really showing their characters in a different way.

  • Ability to avoid travelling/transiting during expensive peak periods (weekends, public holidays).

  • Flexible travelling makes it easier to find availability for premium seats on award flights.

Cons

  • Frequent packing and unpacking is tiring.

  • Constant moving around can disrupt productivity.

  • Using meal delivery service for lunch and dinner every single day and having to collect the food at the lobby each time.

  • Dining at the hotel’s restaurant can be very expensive in the long run.

  • Trips are less exciting as compared to once-yearly vacations.

  • No splurging as compared to once-yearly vacations.

Essential Gadgets

Workstation

  1. CPU & Graphics: Intel NUC8i7HVK with Radeon RX Vega M

  2. Monitor: Samsung 24-inch HD LED LS24F350

  3. Keyboard & Mouse: Designer Bluetooth Desktop

  4. Speaker: Mi Pocket Speaker 2

  5. Laptop: Microsoft Surface Pro

Others

  1. Google Chromecast 2

  2. Bose QuietComfort 35 II Headphones

  3. Airline Earphones Adapter

What’s next in 2020?

I told myself that I will stop this nomadic life when I get bored of it. As tired as I am from all the moving around, I can’t imagine myself settling down somewhere anytime soon. I’m gonna keep on going for a few more months, at least. Maybe make it to one year?

I am booked on Singapore Airlines Premium Economy to Istanbul (for 25.9k Krisflyer miles with Spontaneous Escapes) in January and will be moving around Europe for a couple of months. Most of my inter-Europe flights cost only around $45 including luggage. What a time to be alive, right? Besides Istanbul, I am looking to visit cities that are new to me like Malta, Luxembourg, Bratislava, Vienna, Madrid and Lisbon.

I am also booked on the following premium seats in the coming months:

  • Singapore Airlines Business Class 2006

  • Singapore Airlines Business Class 2017

  • Singapore Airlines Business Class 2013

  • Singapore Airlines First Class Suite 2017


Singapore Airlines Business Class 2017

Singapore Airlines Business Class 2017


Singapore Airlines First Class Suite 2017

Singapore Airlines First Class Suite 2017

And closely monitoring availability on these premium seats:

  • All Nippon Airways Business Class The Room

  • Qatar Airways Business Class Qsuite


All Nippon Airways Business Class The Room

All Nippon Airways Business Class The Room


Qatar Airways Business Class Qsuite

Qatar Airways Business Class Qsuite

So excited to review all of them, so, stay tuned! Here’s to an amazing year of happy travels.

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2 thoughts on “2019 in review: Living in hotels for 8 consecutive months and what’s next”

    • Hi AJ, unfortunately not. I will not post strategies in finding BRG rates in order to protect them. However, I do post my successful BRG claims (that can be easily replicated) via Instagram @suitesmile. 🙂

      Reply

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