Parc 55 San Francisco – a Hilton Hotel

Getting to the Parc 55

San Francisco is about 2 hours away from San Jose whether I took Caltrain directly from SJ -> SF or if I took a bus to Fremont to catch BART. The Parc 55 is immediately across the street from the Powell BART station so I elected to take BART.

Leaving the Powell BART station, most people turned right to go towards the escalators up to Market St. I turned left and saw the Parc 55 hotel calling for me to check-in to my room.

Getting to the street level was easy since I was able to take the stairs near the Parc 55, but someone who needed the escalator would have had to go to the opposite side nearer Market St than the hotel.

The Hotel

A quick crossing of the street led me to the driveway and drop off for valet parking, as well as the doorman and entrance to the hotel.

Driveway doorway of Parc 55

Walking through the ground floor lobby didn’t take long with the stairs just inside and the escalators on the opposite side of the stairs. I made my way past the stairs and onto the escalators to head up to the check-in desk.

Being a member of Hilton Honors, the Hilton rewards program, allows guests to check in and choose a room the day before their stay. I checked in and picked a room on the 12th floor before arriving, but I still headed to the check-in desk in case there were any upgrades since I have Diamond status.

As luck would have it, there were a couple rooms on floors 24, 25 and 27 and the person at the desk gave me a room on the 27th floor. I didn’t know what type of view this would have, but the view ended up being great.

View from the 27th floor of the Parc 55 San Francisco

After checking in, I headed to the elevators and found there were no up/down buttons. There was, instead, a number pad to punch in the desired floor. So I punched in “2” and “7” and the display told me which elevator and points in the direction of the elevator (A and to the left).

The Room

Reaching my room was easy, but opening the door posed another new obstacle. Every other hotel I’ve stayed in required the keycard to be slid into a slot for the magnetic strip to be read. This keycard, however, only needed to be placed against the reader to unlock the door.

Immediately inside the door to the left was the bathroom and to the right was the closet with mirrors on the sliding doors. Directly ahead were the beds, the desk, dresser, arm chairs, and the windows with the view from above.

2 Bed bedroom in Parc 55 San Francisco

My parents were staying with me so I reserved a room with two beds. They had not yet arrived, so I took some time to tour the room.

The desk was large enough to have my laptop and a textbook, if I had brought a textbook, set up for doing homework. Sitting in the chairs was a little weird because the arms were so tall. But the dresser and the TV on top were probably the most interesting things in the room.

A row of digital inputs and outputs were available on the side of the dresser for connecting a laptop or DVD player, or whatever you had. I forgot my HDMI chord in my room so I let myself down by having only my laptop screen to watch Netflix on. The end of the row near the wall had 4 wall adapters and each one was rotated 90 degrees around each other to prevent anything plugged in from getting in the way of another adapter.

TV inputs/outputs in the Parc 55 San Francisco hotel room

Moving on to the windows and the view, venting the room meant not opening the window. Instead, there were little vents at the bottom that lifted up or down.

Here is a clip of the vent opening.

Texts from the Desk?

A few hours after I checked in, and while I was away at dinner, I received a text from the hotel, probably the concierge desk, asking me how everything was in my room. That night and the next morning I received a few more texts, and I asked them a few questions. My most important question I asked them was if I could get a late check-out.

Being a member of the Hilton Honors program also gives you the option for checking out late. Normal check-out time is 11am and I was going to be cutting things close, and not have time for a shower, so I shot a quick text to the desk. Fortunately they extended my check-out time by another hour which gave me enough time to grab some breakfast, shower, and pack before heading down to the check-out desk.

Checking out was smooth, although there were numerous people so it took a few minutes. I paid for my valet, texted the valet to get the car ready, and then headed down the escalators to find my parents already at the car.

Overall experience

I enjoyed my stay. The building looked nice, the room was better than I expected, and the texts from the (concierge) desk was the final piece to convince me to pick the Parc 55 San Francisco if I ever need a hotel in San Francisco again.

Rewards Time

In my post about A (Hypothetical) Weekend in Seattle I go over the rewards earning structure of different hotel programs including Hilton. To keep recap, my American Express Hilton Honors card (with no annual fee) earns 7 points/$1 on Hilton transactions, and from being a member of Hilton Honors I get 10 points, Diamond I get an extra 5 points, and for earning Points + Points I get another 5 points on the room rate. This means the room rate of $220 earned me 20x points (4400 points), and my card earned 7x points on the final price of $256 + $71 for valet parking.

My total earnings from this one night stay with my parents earned me 4400 points for the room, 2289 points from my card, which comes to 6685 points total.

Looking at the breakdown on Hilton’s website, I’m seeing something a little different. I earned 2820 base points and 1410 for each of the Diamond and Points+Points bonuses. Plus, I earned 500 points for booking my stay with an American Express card, and I received a gift of 1000 bonus points as my Diamond benefit from the hotel (I chose points over a water bottle). This brings my actual total points earned to 9429 points.

In the A (Hypothetical) Weekend in Seattle, I mentioned the cheapest rooms available for each of the hotel programs is 5000 points, which means this one night stay was enough to earn a full night at a Tier 1 hotel, and almost 2 nights at a Tier 1 or 1 night at a Tier 2 hotel.

 

If you would like to use my referral link for the American Express Hilton Honors credit card, you will earn 80,000 Hilton Honors points after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months. This is more than enough for a typical 1 night stay at the Parc 55 San Francisco.

Using my link is voluntary and will help support me by me earning 20,000 Honors points which I can use towards another hotel review.

How to Use Citi ThankYou Points (TYP)

Citibank has several cards which earn their flexible reward points called ThankYou Points (TYP). I talked about these cards in my post about TYP earning cards which you can read here.

These points are similar to Ultimate Rewards points from Chase and Membership Rewards points from American Express by having multiple options for redemption.

TYP have a lot of uses: paying student loans or mortgages, redeeming for gift cards or statement credits for select expenses, transferring to airline and hotel partners, or redeeming the points through the TYP portal for flights based on cash prices.

For this post, I’ll focus on the redemptions giving each point a value of at least 1 cent. That is, 100 points = $1.00 or more.

The “better” methods:

  • Loan payments (might have devalued recently)
  • Gift cards
  • ThankYou Point travel portal
  • Transfer to Hotels or Airlines

Other uses for TYP:

  • Statement credit
  • Cash back (bad value)
  • Shop with TYP (bad value)
  • Shop with TYP at Amazon (bad value)

From the list of “Other Uses”, statement credits are the best option at a value of 0.75 cents per points (cpp) while cash back has a value of 0.5 cpp. These two redemptions are essentially the same (redeeming points for straight money) but different methods.

To give you an idea of what these values mean: 100 points can be redeemed for either $0.75 as a statement credit, or the same 100 points can be redeemed for $0.50 cash back (going directly into a bank account).

If you have a couple hundred points that you want to use up, redeeming those points for a statement credit could save you the money from a meal or two.

As for the “better” methods, loan payments and gift cards are exactly 1 cpp. Transferring points gives a value which varies on which airline or hotel you transfer to and what you’re booking with that hotel or airline.

Hilton seems to be the only hotel transfer partner where 1000 TYP convert into 1500 Hilton points.

Airline partners TYP can be transferred to included:

  • JetBlue
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Cathay Pacific (Asia Miles)
  • EVA Air
  • Etihad
  • Air France and KLM (Flying Blue)
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • Malaysia
  • Qantas
  • Qatar
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Thai Airways

Booking travel through the TYP portal gives either 1, 1.25, 1.33, or 1.6 cpp depending on which card you have, what you’re booking, and how long you’ve had your card.

TYP have the following values through the travel portal if you have:

  • Citi Prestige
    • 1.6 cents/point (cpp) for American Airline flights
    • 1.33 cpp for other airlines (1.25 cpp starting July 23, 2017)
    • 1 cpp for car rentals, hotels, and cruises
  • Citi Premier
    • 1.33 cpp for American Airlines flights
    • 1.25 cpp for all other airlines, car rentals, hotels, and cruises

The good redemptions tend to be either booking American Airline flights with the Citi Prestige before the end of July this year, flights on any airline with either card, or transferring points to other airlines where the cents/point value is strictly dependent on the flight booked.

However, this means you need large amounts of points except for short flights like from SFO to LAX or LAX to PHX. This is where many people might consider using their low balance of TYP for a statement credit against a meal they enjoyed.

A (Hypothetical) Weekend in Seattle

I want to visit Seattle for a variety of reasons, a small one being the chance to visit The Centurion Studio at the SEA airport on my flight out. Since I have Hyatt, IHG, and Hilton credit cards I wanted to find out which hotel I would earn the most points from.

All 3 hotels offer their lowest redemption at 5,000 points, but the number of hotels at the bottom tier and availability to book these rooms is where there is going to be a difference. Regardless, let me look at how many points I can earn during a weekend visit to Seattle.

First, I’ll look at Hilton.

Earning Hilton Points

Most Hilton properties earn 10 points/$ on room rates and other charges, Hampton Inn & Homewood Suites only earn those points on the room rate. I don’t expect to use the room phone or get room service so these exceptions don’t bother me.

10x points on the room rate, plus another 50% for being Diamond (15% for Silver, 25% Gold) brings me up to 15 points/$. Choosing to earn Points + Points gets another 5 points/$ on room rate bringing my total up to 20 points/$. Adding in my American Express Hilton HHonors card means my final points earning up to 27x + 1,000 bonus points (Silver is 23.5x, Gold is 24.5x) by choosing my welcome amenity as Points. I could book a 2x points package and increase this up to 37x, throw in a promotion or Hilton card with an annual fee and I could easily break 40 points/$.

There’s a Homewood Suites for $170/night, which means a 2 night stay would net me 10,180 HHonors points, enough for 2 nights at a Category 1 hotel or 1 night at a Category 2 hotel.

Hyatt Earnings

Hyatt stays earn 5 points/$ on the room rate.  Being Platinum from the Hyatt credit card gives me a bonus of 15%, and owning the credit card earns 3x points/$. This brings the total to 8.75 points/$ on the room rate.

Hyatt has either the Grand Hyatt or the Hyatt Place for $198/night bringing my points earned to 3465. This would be 1535 points shy of earning 1 night stay at the lowest category hotel from this weekend visit.

Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG)

Last but not least, IHG. Like Hilton, IHG stays earn 10x points and my status of Platinum from the IHG credit card gives me a 50% bonus for 15 points/$. The IHG credit card also earns 5x points at IHG properties bringing the total points earned to 20 points/$, just shy of the 27x points I would earn at Hilton.

Staying at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites would cost $147/night and I would end up earning 5880 points, enough for 1 night stay in a Points Break hotel stay.

Final Decision

Let me recap:

  • Hilton
    • 27 points/$ as Diamond with the no-annual fee Amex HHonors credit card
    • 10,180 HHonors points from 2 nights in the Homewood Suites
  • Hyatt
    • 8.75 points/$ w/ Platinum and Hyatt credit card
    • 3,465 Gold Passport points for 2 nights in a Grand Hyatt or Hyatt Place
  • IHG
    • 20 points/$ with Platinum and the IHG credit card
    • 5,880 IHG points from 2 nights at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites

IHG wins this time around because I am just shy of 90,000 IHG points so a trip to Seattle would get me up to and over 90,000 points. I have plans for using my IHG points, whereas I have no plans for my Hilton points in the near future which makes IHG points more valuable at this time.

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Alana – Waikiki Beach

Earlier this year, American Express was offering record high sign-up bonus offers for a variety of their cards, most notably to me were the Hilton HHonors cards. The fee-free Hilton HHonors card was offered with 75,000 HHonors points and the Hilton Surpass had a bonus of 100,000 HHonors points. Citi also had an offer for their fee-free Hilton HHonors Visa Signature card for 75,000 HHonors points. I decided to go with the free versions of these cards to keep long-term without having to pay an annual fee.

American Express and Citi HHonors credit cards

After meeting the minimum spend and buying some groceries I had 160,000 HHonors points at my disposal. United sent out an email for discounted flights to Hawaii around the time I finished the minimum spend so I decided I would go to Hawaii for the first time.

I looked for Hilton properties and the DoubleTree – Waikiki Beach was 40,000 points per night. The Citi HHonors Visa gave complimentary HHonors Silver so I received the 5th night of a reward stay free, making the DoubleTree 160,000 points for a 4 night or 5 night stay.  I elected for the longer stay because it increased the value of the points from about .78 up to .97 cents/point (cpp).

Upon arriving at the DoubleTree I was met by a tiered entrance:  first the driveway for cars, then the valet desk (no personal parking) with escalators leading to the lobby floor, then the front desk. I had already checked in because I was emailed with an option to check in and select a room a day before arriving.

The person at the front desk welcomed me to the hotel, the city, island and state, showed me a ground map of the area (TheBus map) and highlighted Waikiki beach. I got a welcome bag of 2 water bottles and a cookie (yummy) because of my status (Silver and up get an extra complimentary water bottle) and then made my way up to my room. I think it was peculiar that numbered floors started at Floor 5 even though the floors went LL, L, M, 5…

Welcome gift of 2 water bottles and a chocolate chip cookie

I was surprised by how big my room was (double queen) and quickly snapped photos then went out to my lanai to see the view. Once I got situated I explored the hotel and found the ceilings to be rather low, mostly about 6.5 feet with some sections being a little taller (tall people beware of sprinkler heads).

2 queen beds for a solo traveler
Panoramic view from my lanai

This property offered a digital key so I was able to use my phone (with Bluetooth enabled) to unlock my room door and access the fitness center (thanks to being at least Silver) and pool areas without needing my room card. Having a smartwatch meant Bluetooth was always enabled on my phone so I never had to worry about remembering to enable it when trying to open my room door.

I used my Platinum status with IHG (from the IHG Rewards Club credit card) to be matched to Hilton HHonors Diamond, which offered me free continental breakfast or a $9 personalized omelet (with access to the continental still). Despite being a continental breakfast, the selection was vast with several meats and cheeses, different dry cereals, oatmeal, various juices, coffee and tea, and some other food items. The omelet normally costs $25 but it really is only worth the $9 it cost me when I tried the omelet on my last morning in Hawaii.

As an incentive for guests to help the hotel be more ecologically friendly, DoubleTree allowestheir occupants to hang a placard from their doorknob to refuse room service. In return, guests receive a $10 voucher to the hotel restaurant & bar during dinner hours. I received a total of 3 of these vouchers for $30 total because there was a maximum of 3 consecutive nights and not available on day of departure.  The vouchers reduced my battered fish and french fry dinner with a cookie sundae to only $5 one night, and then a cookie sundae for free another night. I wanted to try the chocolate torte but both days they were out.

Battered fish and french fry meal
Cookie sundae

The hotel was booked to capacity each night I stayed so asking for a late a checkout was a reach but I was allowed to checkout at 1PM (12 noon is normal). This allowed me to have a more relaxed morning. Additionally, the valet desk offering free luggage storage after checking out meant I did not have to haul my suitcase and backpack around with me during my final afternoon. I was being picked up by SpeediShuttle around 6 PM so I did not want to sit around the hotel valet desk for 5 hours after check out.

To get an idea of the value of my Diamond (and comparing Gold) status from being matched I looked at comparable pricing for the same type of room at the same DoubleTree but for a 5 night stay this month (off-season for this hotel is Jan-June, Sept-Nov). I found the following rates:

  • Best Available Rate: $229/night ($217 for HHonors discount)
  • Bed and Breakfast: $242/night
  • Breakfast and WiFi: $252/night
  • Family Fun Package: $249/night (same as Breakfast and WiFi but $3 cheaper for the different name)

These prices put the value of Gold and Diamond at $13-25/night because of the complimentary continental breakfast. Diamond has an added $7-10/night for free premium WiFi compared to standard WiFi for the other HHonors levels. Since this DoubleTree has a 13.96% fee, these values increase to roughly $15/night and $25/night.

Overall, booking a Best Available Rate (with the HHonors discount) for the 5 night stay would have cost about $1550 making my redemption of HHonors points valued at 0.97 cents/point (cpp).  If you look at other bloggers and travel experts they’ll value HHonors points at around 0.5 cpp at most, so I nearly doubled the value of HHonors points with a stay in Hawaii.

 

You can apply for the Hilton HHonors credit card from American Express and earn 50,000 HHonors points after spending $750 in the first 3 months of owning the card if you apply from this link.