I have done this when travelling to London, and have never found it to be an issue as a platinum to get an upgrade, including at Grosvenor House and County Hall. It has even been good during high season and during holidays, so if you do the prepaid, call the hotel manager in advance and they should take care of you since you indicate you are a platinum.
I have only paid in advance a week or so before my date and have saved enough to make it worth it. Because of price changes, I would hesitate to do so too far in advance. One can protect themselves from price increases by reserving in advance and can take advantage of price drops.
I'll hold off on booking for now. Perhaps I'll book the normal rate just so I can lock that in for the time being.
I was trying to use only points, but I'm staying in Paris and Rome too all on points, so I had no points left over for Berlin. It's only two nights out of 2.5 weeks, so I think I can swallow paying for that
I've done it twice but only because the discounts were very, very significant (and I knew my plans were not changing). I prefer the flexibility to cancel or modify--especially if the discount is not that much.
It seems though that more Marriott brand hotels are offering 14-day and 21-day pre-purchase discounts.
For local bookings (UK) I don't book in advance. I like the flexibility of being able to cancel right up to the last minute. Therefore if the weather is bad and we decide not to travel, no cost for cancelling.
But if we are travelling overseas, I have booked up some hotels in advance if the discount is significant and I have all the plans organised and know exactly what we will be doing.
Really just depends on what price you are prepared to lock in. I do prefer having the flexibility of not prepaying though.
I think the otherposters have good ideas and offer real value bases usggestions. The key here is: how fixed are your travel dates. Flexibility is good, but it implies the cost of an option; that is, you can never know if the hotel books up and not only are prepaid rates gone, but so are any reasonable 14 to 28 day out rates. If a rate that offers no hassle cancellations is only marginally better in terms of cost, then it may be really advantageous to book that higher rate to preserve flexibility. It all boils down, at least in my view, to how much are you willing to pay at a future date if rates rise? That is, what is the difference between the prepay rate and the no hassle cancellation rate? Once you figure out your tolerance for the differential (or optional value), you can make the appropriate booking decision (prepay or not). As an example, during the summer of 2012, Marriott was running prepay rates for the Christmas season all over Europe. I was able to secure a room at the Marriott County Hall in London for GBP165 (pre VAT) and the no hassle cancellation rate at the same time was GBP220 (pre VAT). I take my family to the UK every year at that time, so this was a no brainer, and I called the Hotel Service manager in November and asked (her name is Teddi Medly, a truly shining example of a great hotel manager) if I could get an upgrade as I was with my family. We did get an upgrade, had a suite with 2 bedrooms, overlooking the Thames and the London Eye. So, in a nutshell, it all worked out for us. Good luck with your travels
Thank you for your wonderful insight! My travel dates are fixed already, but I've been driving myself crazy with those scenarios. What if the price decreases after I prepay? What is the price increases and they stop offering the prepaid rate or that rate goes up as well? The current difference between the standard rate and the prepaid rate is about $45 at today's exchange rate, which isn't huge, but isn't small either. No matter which way I look at it, though, it's a gamble... Especially so far out from my travel date.
I didn't realise it was 10 months away. I personally have never prepaid that far in advance. I would book up non cancellable rate now if I was content to pay that amount. Then just keep an eye on it over the coming months & if it reduces book the new rate. Then much closer to the time see if the non cancellable rate is still being offered & perhaps go for that if willing to pay upfront. Paying in advance can be a good way of spreading your costs particularly if your staying in a few hotels on an extended trip.
Thanks for the update sg1974! At what point do you normally decide whether or not to prepay?
I'd decide to prepay less than 3 months in advance. You have exchange rates to factor into the equation as well. If you booked this far in advance you are putting all your eggs in one basket in terms of the rate and the exchange rate.
Check different dates for the hotel and get an idea of what seems to be the lowest price they charge.
As i said before it is always a risk one way or the other, but as long as you end up paying the rate you are happy to pay and have seen that it is at it's cheapest level or near that for the dates in question then that is all you can you do.