What is a mattress run and why should you know: the best, easy guide

Suite bedroom area at the Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles

Before you let your status expire with your favourite hotel loyalty program consider doing a mattress run. Most of us have probably heard of a mileage run. The savvy way to up your airline mileage when you need to get over an earnings hurdle.  The mattress run is it’s close relative on the ground.

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Pinterest graphic for mattress runs for beginners with a hotel room bed in the background

What is a mattress run?

When you book a hotel solely with the purpose of helping you reach a certain number of points or elite night credits you’re on a mattress run. Ultimately, a hotel stay just to earn.

For a “true” mattress run, in the strictest sense, many people don’t stay at the hotel for the night(s) booked. However, I’m a bona fide hotel junkie/enthusiast. I love the online search for a hotel. The signature smell oftentimes permeating the lobby, the amenities, how much I can accomplish in a well appointed hotel room. Of course if you’re okay with just popping into the hotel, checking in and taking off, more power to you. And you can do that!

Let your mattress run points get you to London's Marriott Hotel Park Lane, suite bedroom

How a mattress run works

You can either pay for the hotel stay or book with points. Many major hotel chains give elite night credit when you redeem points for an award stay. What is elite night credit? These are the nights you’ve stayed that count towards giving you status in a hotel loyalty program. For instance, Silver, Gold, Platinum, etc. So whether you book with points or cash, you get credit towards your status. This includes Marriott, Hilton, IHG, Wyndham and Hyatt to name a few.

Do you need to physically check in

Some of the major hotel chains mentioned above have applications that offer mobile check in. Hilton and Marriott offer this service to all loyalty program members. It is free to sign up with Hilton Honors and Marriott (SPG) Rewards, or as it is now called Marriott Bonvoy. Once logged in to your account on the app you can check-in from there. So no, you do not need to physically check in with Marriott or Hilton. This makes a mattress run without checking in a breeze with these 2 brands.

Hyatt and IHG may offer mobile check in depending on the property. Check if this is offered with the property you are interested in booking to make sure you can bypass the front desk completely.

Montreal Marriott Chateau Champlain lobby

Do you need to physically check out

Similar to check in, you can use the Hilton and Marriott mobile app to check out without physically going to the front desk. For Marriott Bonvoy, the option to use mobile check out will appear on the app as early as 8am on the day of departure for some hotels. Upon mobile check out the hotel bill will then be emailed to the email attached to the loyalty program. For Hyatt and IHG, again this would depend on the property.

Consequently, this opens up a lot of possibilities for mattress runs without checking in or out with Hilton and Marriott properties.

Mattress run destination goal Doubletree by Hilton hotel Zanzibar Stone Town, entryway to lobby

Why do a mattress run

A really good time to use a mattress run is at the end of the year when you only need a few more stays to keep elite status. This was my situation at the end of last year when I was 4 nights away from retaining Platinum Elite status with Marriott. For me, a perfect excuse to book a stress free staycation while getting one night closer to reaching my Marriott Bonvoy earnings goal. Coincidentally, I also had a trip to Florida planned for the very last 3 days of December. I used my Chase annual free night certificate and points for those nights. Practically without trying, this got me the rest of the way to elite status for 2019.

When elite status for one more year is that close with a program like Marriott Bonvoy, I estimate the benefits are worth keeping. That’s why I would start strategizing early how to meet the required nights for a program. As the end of the year approaches keep an eye on how many nights you need to renew your status. Before rebranding to Marriott Bonvoy, Marriott Rewards had been known to offer promotional incentives near the end of the year towards renewing status. For example, stay 2 more nights in the year to renew status when you may have needed to stay 7. I’ll keep you posted going forward of any similar incentives from Marriott.

InterContinental Paris Le Grand, a mattress run dream

Mattress runs can also help you reach a points goal if you need them for an upcoming trip for instance. This is especially true if there is a promotion running.

My mattress run strategy

A good strategy when doing a mattress run you are going to pay for is to look for one of the cheapest available hotels with the brand you need. This is especially so if you’re not planning on staying at the hotel. The hotel brand that I use the most often is Marriott. So, I would search for the cheapest Marriott hotels on their site. With Marriott, the cheapest hotels are generally their Select or Longer Stays hotels. For example, Towneplace Suites or Fairfield. However, very often you can find their Premium hotels at the same rate, if not cheaper, such as Renaissance, Delta, Sheraton, or even Marriott. Now that they have partnered with SPG Hotels (Starwood Preferred Guest) the options have really grown.

Keep your eyes peeled on your inbox for the Marriott Bonvoy Mega Bonus promotions. If there is a promotion where you can get a free night award for 2 nights stayed for example, a mattress run can be really worthwhile. In particular, if you can find a good deal on a Marriott near you. Consequently, that free night award earned would be good for a stay at a hotel of up to 35,000 points. That’s enough points for some of the higher end hotels with the Marriott Bonvoy program, especially when traveling internationally.

Sawgrass Marriott villa bedroom

Because I’m a travelista, I especially like when I can book a mattress run to coincide with a staycation and get myself some down time. I highly recommend adding this to your mattress run strategy if at all possible. After all, we are doing all this to keep elite status, so may as well get the most out if it where you can.

Kwafare conclusion

To maximize a mattress run calls for organization and planning. But with some diligence you can make your loyalty program work for you.  

Hi! I’m Rebecca. KwaFare is a play on the French expression quoi faire or what to do? Follow along with me as I share essential tips for various travel destinations and the best ways to get the most of your travel. I love to explore the world on points and I’m passionate about spreading smarter travel. Subscribe to my newsletter for valuable tips and reviews. When you know what to do you’re halfway there!


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