Why I sometimes pay for rooms I don’t even stay in, a.k.a. Mattress Running: Chasing Starwood Platinum Elite status.

As the end of the year comes, one of the things that is on every savvy traveler’s mind is elite status for the next year.  I had obtained Starwood Gold Elite status due to the number of stays I had plus the two stay credit I got from my SPG Business Amex, but was about 10 stays away from Platinum status.

Starwood Gold Status gives you after 10 stays or 25 nights:

  • Three Starpoints for every dollar spent
  • 4 PM Late Checkout which can be very useful
  • Upgraded room at check in when available
  • Choice of welcome gift of either bonus Starpoints, free internet access, or a free beveragestarwoodgold

Starwood Platinum Status additionally gives you after 25 stays or 50 nights:

  • Upgraded to best available room including suites
  • Free in room internet access.
  • Club floor access which can give you breakfast and afternoon snacks etc
  • Choice of a welcome gift of either bonus starpoints (2x as many as gold), continental breakfast, or local amenities (such as a local cheese plate or gift)starwoodplat

While the internet access and the free breakfast are definitely valuable (especially for a blogger like me), the real platinum benefit I wanted was the suite upgrades.  Paying for the cheapest room with cash and points and getting upgraded to a suite can be a huge value. Imagine getting this suite at the Le Meridien in Bangkok for $45 + 2800 starpoints.


Since I needed 10 more stays to hit Platinum, I wanted to see what the cheapest way to reach it was while at the same time combining some of the available promotions.  My three options to hit platinum were:

  1. Buy 10 cheap 1 night stays
  2. Buy 10 cash and point stays for $30+1600 starpoints each night
  3. A combination of the two.

I knew that with the Better by the Night promotion I could get

  • Double starpoints on one night paid stays
  • 500 bonus starpoints for booking using the iPhone app
  • 250 starpoints for checking in on foursquare.

There was also the Aeroplan promotion I wrote about for 5,000 Aeroplan miles for up to 5 stays.  I could get rooms locally that cost $79 on a AAA rate.  This gave me a per night cost of $79 and Starpoints of 237 (Base Gold 3x Rate) + 158 (Better by the Night promotion) + 500 (iPhone booking bonus) + 250 (Foursquare checkin) = 1145 Starpoints per night and 1000 Aeroplan miles per night for the first 5 nights.

I decided to do a combination of the two options and get 5 paid stays and 5 cash and points stays.  This would allow me to maximize the Aeroplan promotion and end up with Platinum status for a cost of $545 and 8000 starpoints.  But I will be getting 5725 Starpoints for the stays plus 5000 Aeroplan miles that are worth at least $100 when I redeem them. Considering that just one or two suite upgrades could cover this cost, it seemed like a no brainer to go for it.

Unfortunately since it was so close to the end of the year, I didn’t have a lot of travel planned where I could use the hotel rooms I needed. So I ended up doing what we call “Mattress Runs” for some of the stays.  A mattress run is when you go check into a hotel with no intention of staying there or you stay there just to get the status or points.

I was able to combine a few of the stays with some trips to see friends, but a fair amount of them were for hotel rooms I never even slept in!  But as you see above, it will be worth it for me next year when I get upgraded to suites for some of my trips for free! I know this is a concept that doesn’t make sense at first, but when you really start thinking ahead for the next year, it makes sense to consider it if you are close to the next status level.

As always if you have any questions, feel free to comment below and I will try to answer them

Author: John Butler

I live in Miami Beach but love travelling all over the world.