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My Best Hotel Upgrade Story: Every Business Traveler’s Secret Wish Come True

September 15th, 2016 /

When you’ve been traveling for business as many years as I have, you’re bound to have a story like this.

It’s the wee hours of Tuesday morning. My flight from LAX to Baltimore-Washington Airport has been delayed 4 hours. I knew I should have gotten up early and taken the morning flight, but I figured I’d get some extra sleep and catch the one departing at noon. So my already later-than-I’d-like landing time of 8pm is now midnight, and I still have a drive ahead of me.

As I leave the rental car parking lot, I check my phone to find out what hotel I’m staying at, and am pleasantly surprised that the company I’m meeting has put me up at the Four Seasons Baltimore. I groggily valet my car and stumble inside the front lobby. The woman at the counter is friendly, as Four Seasons staff tend to be. But as we’re finishing up our usual check-in business, I hear something that sends a dopamine rush through my body.

“Sir, it looks like we accidentally gave away your room.”

No, that wasn’t it.

“However, I am showing that we have a very premium room available, one that we normally reserve for VIP guests. It’s our Admiral Suite. Will that be all right?” Her eyes are smiling as she asks me the question.

“Uhh, it certainly is.”

As she hands me the key, I begin reviewing how many days I’m here. I’m thrilled to realize it’s a three night stay and not the typical overnight business trip.

My first impression of the room is the sound of classical music floating through a long hallway, which opens up into a dramatic living room with a two-sided fireplace. Through floor-to-ceiling windows, the glow of the Baltimore harbor mingles with the moon’s reflection off the water.


The Admiral Suite at the Four Seasons Hotel, Baltimore, in daylight. (Courtesy:

There is a kitchen off to the right with a full-sized Sub Zero fridge, a half-bath, and a pantry. On the counter is an elaborate charcuterie plate with all kinds of interesting cheeses. (Some of them are overly smelly for me though, so I decide to leave it alone for now.) The fridge itself is packed with Evian waters, sodas, juices, and champagne.


The Admiral Suite kitchen (Courtesy:

I decide to pour myself a glass of bubbly as I continue to explore the suite. On the other side of the fireplace is a formal dining room with a table that comfortably seats 8. There are all kinds of modern sculptures throughout the suite, which are not pictured in the photos but added quite a lot to the extravagance of the room.


The Admiral Suite dining room (Courtesy:

Next, I turn right and head into the bathroom, which is a large, all marble room with a cavernous shower stall, double sinks, and an imposing tub. There seem to be fresh flowers everywhere.

The Admiral Suite master bathroom (Courtesy:

The Admiral Suite master bathroom (Courtesy:

On the way to the bedroom, I peek into the closet, which could be a small bedroom by itself. “Why is my wife not here right now to see this?” I say to myself.

The bedroom itself is almost underwhelming compared to the rest of the suite. Apart from the ridiculous view and the 270 degree wrap-around balcony just outside, it’s simply a normal, 5 star hotel bedroom. I’ll take it though.

best hotel upgrade for business travelers

The Admiral Suite bedroom (Courtesy:

When I’m finished taking pictures and calling my wife to tell her about it, I begin making plans. Luckily, I have family and friends in the area. Some of us are supposed to get together at a local restaurant after my meeting the next day, but our dinner venue is about to change…

Entertaining at my unexpectedly posh suite made a 3-day business trip into a memorable vacation. I stayed up later than I should have hanging out on the balcony catching up with old friends. I ordered enough room service that I had to pay out of pocket for some of it because I had exceeded my per diem allocation. And even the quiet moments when I came back from a long meeting, tossed my suitcase onto the chair, and plopped down onto the couch somehow felt more special.

Although the hotel room is just one part of the business travel experience, an incredible upgrade like this one creates a deep, long-lasting experience. Hotels, at the end of the day, have the potential to be fun; they’re a place where you don’t have to clean up after yourself, food comes directly to you at the push of a button, and you can even jump on the bed if you want. Although I’m certainly a full-grown adult, when I get an amazing room upgrade, I feel just like Kevin McCallister in Home Alone.

Room upgrades are an expectation for the highest-level hotel loyalty and rewards club members. But they aren’t always possible, and are often minor enough that you don’t think too much about them (e.g. a Garden View Room might get upgraded to a Partial Water View Room). The best upgrades I’ve gotten have actually come from being a part of Jetlux Hotels, an independent loyalty program. Ultimately though, I think of them as a serendipitous event, the kind of thing that happens to you when you least expect it after a long airport delay in the middle of the night.

And when the ultimate room upgrade does come along, may your stay be long and your sense of adventure robust: life’s just a little bit better in a suite.

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