Planning to take family to London & Paris in Summer 2012 using Marriott points. Where should I stay and how early should I book? Looking online, it already looks impossible to book hotels for this summer.
In addition to Jerry's advice, do not forget that London hosts the Olympics in August 2012. Hotel rooms will be at a premium, if available at all, during much of June, July and August. Book as early as your Hotel of choice will permit. Whether or not Marriott points will be accepted durting this period is very much an open question, I believe. Paris is different, partly because to its considerable chagrin it will not be hosting the Olympics, and partly because many French people exit Paris during August. But the regular influx of tourist still makes it a crowded location. Again, book as early as you can.
In addition to these points, if you have time in your schedule, dont just focus on these two cities. They are both amazing in their own rights but travel inside the EU and UK is different than in the US. You can easily be in a different country within a few hours and get to experience an entirely different culture for a day or two. As mentioned with the Olympics in town, unless you are going for those events you might find London crowded and rooms difficult to get and possibly at full rack rates. There's a ton of things to do outside of London so do open your search to other areas inside the UK. One final tip, there's a place outside of London, easily accessible by train, Stansted UK. This is a more regional airport but if you want to save some money, Ryan Air is a carrier that can fly you most anywhere in Europe for pretty cheap rates. I guess you could call them the Southwest Airlines of the UK (no frills airline) but it could be cheaper than other ways if you plan to hop between areas.
As Jerry said.....book now. We enjoy the JW Marriott Grosvenor House because of the location and in Paris it just doesn't get any better than the Marriott CE. A marvelous, easy way from London to Paris is by taking the train thru the tunnel. Lots less hassle than the plane and it's unique to got thru the chunnel. Have a great trip!!
You are correct to start your search now. However, I do not believe you can reserve a room past next March. Start you search and in the next few months you will probably know the property and find your award available. We decided last week to take our grandkids (5,7,9) to London and Paris in June of this year. I booked the airline on the night of 31Mar2011 to grab the end of a fare sale. I expected to have limited choices with Marriott since I only have a two-week window and I need two rooms. However, I then booked two rooms (five nights) in London at the St Pancras. The property has just opened. I have not seen the property. However, the pictures and explanations seem to be a great fit. I have previously stayed at Marble Arch, County Hall and Park Lane Marriotts in London using awards. All stays were wonderful. However, I then found the Renaissance Chancery Court. This hotel occupies a fascinating building with a history. This was a fabulous stay. I have since stayed a second time. All properties are great. (If you need a pool for the kids, do not stay at the Chancery Court.) I have also booked five nights in Paris at the Rive Gauche for this June. I have seen this property from the outside and from within the lobby on a previous trip. I check every couple of days to see if other properties become available in Paris. I personally think the Marriott Champs Elysees is the one of greatest awards Marriott offers its members. Fifteen years ago, my wife, two teenage daughters, and I traveled to Europe for the first time. We were able to get two award rooms at this property. My wife and I have stayed a second time. Also, each of daughters spent their honeymoon at this property (with my points). I will seek to stay here whenever I have a chance. If you are flexible with dates and willing to try for reservations often, I bet you could go this year. Good luck with the reservations. You will love the properties.