Maybe I should get a life, but I went to every website of the top 500 hotels according to Travel and Leisure’s Top 500 Hotels of 2015 list. I’ve done this every year, but this is the first time I’ve been so thorough.
In this post I’m going to list all points options for every one of 160+ points hotels of the top 500. And I’ll go ahead and list all the hotels on the list for each rewards program.
If you have points or free nights with a hotel chain, which chain has the most of the Top 500 Hotels to redeem with:
Choice Points = 42 Top Hotels
Shocked as I am?
I should start by clarifying that there are no Choice Hotels that are T&L Top 500 Hotels. None. Instead, Choice Rewards has a partnership with the Preferred Hotel Group which allows you to redeem points for their luxury hotels.
Still, isn’t it amazing that one of the most neglected hotel rewards programs by aspirational travelers has some of the best redemptions for nice hotels?
And I should also explain that the Preferred Hotel Group doesn’t actually own hotels but it is made up of independent hotels.
Award prices range from 30,000 points to 60,000 points a night. Although, do note that a couple of the properties I didn’t see the points price for. They show up on the preferred hotel group booking, but didn’t show up when I was searching for Choice points. Like Dromoland Castle, what’s the deal?
The best way I know for earning points I explained on this post about Choice Hotel redemptions, is via Amtrak. If you have the Amtrak card (or Amtrak status) you can transfer 25,000 Amtrak points into 75,000 Choice points per calendar year. Since Chase transfers to Amtrak 1:1, it’s basically transferring Chase to Choice 1:3 if you have the Amtrak card.
Warning: Please check out award availability and if the Preferred Hotel is even participating here.
The hotels on the list:
- Enchantment Resort and Mii Amo Spa, Sedona
- Montage Beverly Hills
- Carneros Inn, Napa
- Ojai Valley Inn & Spa
- Montage Laguna Beach
- Grand Del Mar, San Diego
- Cavallo Point—The Lodge at the Golden Gate
- The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs
- The Sebastian Vail
- Sandpearl Resort, Clearwater
- Seagate Hotel & Spa, Delray Beach
- Marco Beach Ocean Resort, Naples
- Hammock Beach Resort, Palm Coast
- Ko’a Kea Hotel & Resort, Kauai
- The Brown Hotel, Louisville
- Windsor Court Hotel, New Orleans
- Inn by the Sea, Porland
- Boston Harbor Hotel at Rowes Wharf, Boston
- XV Beacon, Boston
- Wequassett Resort and Golf Club, Chatham
- Townsend Hotel, Birgmingham
- The Sagamore Resort, Bolton Landing
- Inn at Palmetto Bluff, a Montage Resort
- Hermitage Hotel, Nashville
- Montage Deer Valley, Park City
- Sundance Mountain Resort
- Woodstock Inn & Resort
- Keswick Hall, Charlottesville
- Tides Inn, Irvington
- Willows Lodge, Woodinville
- The Jefferson, Washington, D.C
- Pfister Hotel, Milwaukee
- Hotel Terra, Jackson Hole
- Hotel Grand Pacific, Victoria
- Dromoland Castle, Ireland
- The Fitzwilliam Hotel Dublin, Ireland
- Castello di Casole, a Timbers Resort, Italy
- Hotel Schweizerhof Luzern, Switzerland
- The Stafford London, UK
- Cambridge Beaches Resort & Spa, Bermuda
- Peter Island Resort & Spa, BVI
- Cap Maison, St. Lucia
Marriott Points = 50 Hotels (17 Marriott + 33 Ritz Carlton)
34 of the top 500 hotels were Ritz Carlton hotels, which can be redeemed with Marriott Rewards points. However, non Ritz Carlton hotels like JW Marriotts, and hotels in the Autograph Collection, are a lot cheaper.
If you count Ritz Carlton as part of Marriott, it makes Marriott the Chain with the most hotels on the Top 500 list.
The Marriott credit card has been known to have a 70,000 point signup bonus, and the Ritz Carlton card has off and on had a 140,000 point bonus (with a near $400 fee). Chase Ultimate Rewards points also transfers to Marriott but I would never make that transfer, personally.
Here are the top hotels:
- The Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel & Spa
- JW Marriott Marquis Miami
- Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club
- Bohemian Hotel Savannah Riverfront
- Raphael Hotel, Kansas City
- Wentworth by the Sea, New Castle NJ
- Grand Bohemian Hotel Asheville
- Myrtle Beach Marriott Resort & Spa at Grande Dunes
- JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa
- The Shelbourne Dublin, a Renaissance Hotel
- Powerscourt Hotel
- Renaissance Barcelona Fira Hotel
- CasaMagna Marriott Cancún Resort
- JW Marriott Mexico City
- JW Marriott Hotel Lima
- JW Marriott Hotel Shanghai at Tomorrow Square
- JW Marriott Bangkok
- Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain
- Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel
- Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay
- Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco
- Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe
- Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch
- Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island
- Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale
- Ritz-Carlton, Key Biscayne
- Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples
- Ritz-Carlton, Naples
- Ritz-Carlton, Atlanta
- Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation
- Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua
- Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis
- Ritz-Carlton New York, Battery Park
- Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park
- Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte
- Ritz-Carlton, Dallas
- Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City
- Ritz-Carlton, Georgetown
- Ritz-Carlton, Washington, D.C.
- Ritz-Carlton, Toronto
- Ritz-Carlton, Montreal
- Ritz-Carlton, Vienna
- Ritz-Carlton, Istanbul
- Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman
- Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve
- Ritz-Carlton, Santiago
- Ritz-Carlton, Cancún
- Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong
- The Portman Ritz-Carlton, Shanghai
- Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore
SPG Points = 25 Hotels
SPG is definitely known for having luxurious properties, however their earnings are a bit slow. SPG actually has the slowest earnings of all the best hotel rewards programs. The best way is via the SPG credit card, which is Amex and therefore you can only get the card bonus once. However, a lot of people use the SPG card as their daily spender since SPG points are so rare and so valuable.
Here are the top SPG hotels:
- The Phoenician, a Luxury Collection Resort
- St. Regis San Francisco
- St. Regis Aspen Resort
- St. Regis Atlanta
- Royal Hawaiian, A Luxury Collection Resort
- St. Regis Princeville Resort
- St. Regis New York
- St. Regis Houston
- St. Regis Deer Valley
- Hotel Goldener Hirsch, a Luxury Collection Hotel
- Hotel Imperial, a Luxury Collection Hotel
- Le Bristol, Paris
- Hotel Grande Bretagne, a Luxury Collection Hotel
- King George Palace
- Le Méridien Budapest
- St. Regis Florence
- Gritti Palace, a Luxury Collection Hotel
- Hotel Maria Cristina, a Luxury Collection Hotel
- Hotel Alfonso XIII, a Luxury Collection Resort
- St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort
- W Retreat & Spa, Vieques Island
- The Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort Villas & Spa
- St. Regis Punta Mita Resort
- Westin Beijing Financial Street
- The Westin Bund Center Shanghai
Hyatt Points = 14 Hotels
Who isn’t in love with Hyatt? Not only do they have such nice properties but there are a number of amazing hotel redemptions, with award nights ranging from 5,000 points to 30,000 points a night.
Even hotels on this list can be had with a category 1-4 cert you get every year you pay the annual fee for the Hyatt Visa (PH Saigon and Siem Reap). But then again, you could also pay 15,000 points.
And not only is there a Hyatt card you can get two free nights with, but you can transfer 1:1 from Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
Top Hyatt hotels:
- Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Spa at Gainey Ranch
- Park Hyatt Aviara Resort
- Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort & Spa
- Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa
- Park Hyatt Chicago
- Le Palais de la Mediterranée
- Park Hyatt Milan
- Palacio Duhau – Park Hyatt Buenos Aires
- Park Hyatt Siem Reap
- Grand Hyatt Tokyo
- Grand Hyatt Singapore
- Park Hyatt Saigon
- Park Hyatt Sydney
and 1 M-Life Redemption:
- ARIA, Las Vegas
IHG Points = 7 Hotels (plus 3 to Kimpton)
IHG has its 5 star brand, InterContinental Hotels, although many of the ones I’ve seen on the list have been demoted. I remember seeing the IC Budapest being on the list, as well as Paris and Madrid. We’ve been to the IC Budapest and Paris Le Grand and there are no complaints… but I can certainly understand them being demoted.
The IC’s in Atlanta, DC and Sydney seem to be the only hotels in capital cities this year. But the properties on French Polynesia are also doing well for the brand. See our infographic on Overwater Bungalows on Points. I can’t imagine using my points for the properties in Vegas though…
Earning points with IHG is easy. Their credit card gives bonuses between 60,000 and 80,000 points, plus a free night every year. Plus, you can transfer from Chase. But lately I’ve been earning most of my IHG points from promotions like the latest Set Your Sights IHG promo.
Hotels on the list:
- InterContinental Buckhead Atlanta
- The Palazzo
- The Venetian
- Willard InterContinental
- InterContinental Sydney
- InterContinental Resort & Thalasso Spa
- InterContinental Moorea Resort & Spa
Plus 3 Kimpton hotels:
- EPIC, Miami – A Kimpton Hotel
- The Grand Hotel, Minneapolis
- Hotel Monaco Salt Lake City
Hilton Points = 8 Hotels
Recently I did a post that shows 15 different credit cards that earn Hilton HHonors points. That includes a lot of ways to earn Hilton points. Everything from transferring from Virgin Atlantic to American Express.
But of course Hilton has their own credit cards, and in fact I explain the differences between the 4 Hilton cards in the same post. But one of them gives two free weekend nights at any hotel.
Hilton hotels on the list:
- The Boulders, A Waldorf Astoria Resort
- Grand Wailea, a Waldorf Astoria Resort
- Waldorf Astoria Chicago
- The Roosevelt Hotel, New Orleans
- Waldorf Astoria, Park City
- Trianon Palace Versailles, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel
- Hilton Los Cabos Beach & Golf Resort
- Hilton Beijing Wangfujing
Fairmont = 12 Hotels
For whatever reason Fairmont is less talked about than other chains but just like Hyatt its credit card gives two free nights anywhere, and they have nearly the same number of hotels in the Top 500 list.
The top Fairmont hotels:
- Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui
- Fairmont Copley Plaza, Boston
- The Fairmont Olympic Hotel, Seattle
- Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
- Fairmont Pacific Rim, Vancouver
- Fairmont Waterfront, Vancouver
- Fairmont Chateau Whistler
- The Savoy, UK
- Raffles Hotel Le Royal, Cambodia
- Fairmont Mara Safari Club, Kenya
- Fairmont the Norfolk, Kenya
- Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club, Kenya
Update: Only “Fairmont” hotels are covered by the free nights from the card. Raffles and Swissotels are not included.
Accor Points = 3 Hotels
I’ve never even had a single Accor point, but they do have a rewards program. So if you do have Accor points for whatever reason, I thought I’d include their 3 top hotels.
Top Accor hotels:
- Sofitel Washington D.C. Lafayette Square
- Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf & Spa Resort, Cambodia
- Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi, Vietnam
Other Interesting Facts
|Four Seasons||Mandarin Oriental||Rosewood||Peninsula||TAJ||Shangri-LA||Keminski||Trump|
The single brand with the most hotels on the list again this year is the Four Seasons. Unfortunately, I’ve never stayed in a Four Seasons hotel as they have no rewards program or way to earn free nights (that I know of).
Still, I wanted to include the other chains that were commonly among the top hotels for the other hotel junkies out there. Not surprising to see Mandarin Oriental, Peninsula, and others on the list.
I find it incredibly impressive that one third of the Top 500 hotels in the world can be gotten for free with free nights or points earned from credit cards or promotions. It’s a good time to be a points collector.
But let me leave with two tips for free nights at these luxury hotels:
1) Free night certs are the way to go. The 50,000 points signup bonus with Marriott won’t get you a single free night at the best Ritz Carlton. But you can sign up and get two free nights with the Hyatt visa, the Fairmont card, the Hilton reserve, or the IHG card annual night.
2) Choice is the most under rated program and you should consider the Amtrak card. See more about Best use of Choice points for details. Via this strategy you could get some of the top hotels on this list for a little more than 10,000 Chase points. What a deal.
Either way, there’s no shortage of ways to get free nights at nice hotels.