In general, I plan my vacations well in advance to optimize my options to create free travel (see my system). My trip to Montreal was different. At the last minute, I decided to spend one night there after my camping trip to the Adirondacks. Still, I wanted to have my hotel for free. My best option was to use Barclay Arrival Plus credit card. I had points accumulated there so I could simply pay for my hotel and then erase the charge, but I wanted to maximize my points. To do so, I used Barclay rewards boost center that I accessed through my online account. Under travel category, I found hotels.com and linked to its site. I made my reservation how I would usually do but just for linking from Barclay, I earned 4 additional points per dollar, versus 2 per dollar if used my card in an ordinary way. The reason I was specifically looking for hotel.com is because it offers a perk that many travelers are not aware of. For every 10 nights reserved during the year, you get one free. Its value is equal to the average rate of the 10 nights you collected. Montreal reservation was going to be my eighth night.
Since I intended to spend only one night in the city, I concentrated my search on location. It had to be in a center of the old town. I did not want to waste my time driving. Of course I was also looking for good price; points or not, this is still my money. My choice was Embassy Suites by Hilton Montreal, practically next door to Montreal’s major attraction – Notre-Dame Basilica.
After two nights I spent camping, I was eager to check in. From the outside, the hotel looked nice but nothing out of ordinary. Parking was easy, right at the hotel at $25 per night (I charged it to my room to be categorized as travel to be able to erase it with my Barclay points). With parking my hotel bill was $130.00. For the location and good cooked to order breakfast, it was a good deal.
I liked what I saw, when I entered my room. I had a kitchenette, living room, bedroom, and huge bathroom with a soaking tub and a shower. Strangely, all cabinets in the kitchen were empty. Suites are usually targeting business travelers who need a comfortable place for their extended stay. That includes cooking if they desire. I called the front desk and asked about it. The answer was simple – you need to place an order for the kitchen to come with silverware, glasses, plates etc. I do not see how moving things in and out and paying people to do so would be more economical than keeping kitchens stocked.
To my surprise, I received two coupons for free drinks at the hotel’s bar. Two drinks per person per day! That was first for me! After a long shower, I was ready for sightseeing, but first I grabbed my coupons to attend a happy hour. The bar is rather small and crowded but I managed to get a seat and even had a nice conversation with a bartender. I had a perfect evening in the old town Montreal. Next day after a good breakfast at the hotel, I checked out and spent my remaining time in the city in Montreal Botanical Garden, one of the largest and most beautiful gardens in the world.