How Far in Advance Can You Book Hotel Reservations?

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How far out you can book a hotel? And does making reservations at the far side of the booking window provides any tangible benefit? Each hotel chain handles reservations differently, with the booking windows of major hotel chains ranging from 11 months through to a mammoth 3 years.

club-carlson-booking-window
Radisson Reward's revenue booking window opens up three years out from the current date, while free night awards can only be booked 270 days out.

We’re big fans of locking your accommodation plans in early. Award travel is often dependant on finding scarce award availability, and you’ll have much better luck piecing together an itinerary of award flights and hotels if you book at the outer reaches of the booking window.

Why Book Your Hotel in Advance?

When you’re battling to piece an itinerary together and juggling multiple rewards currencies, booking in advance provides the best possible chance of securing availability at the lowest award rate. Unlike revenue bookings, which tend to decrease in price as you get closer to your stay then spike at the last minute. Award prices either stay the same, or rise as the departure date approaches and ‘standard’ rooms book out. You can get lucky and snag a standard room in a busy location close in, but you run the risk of not getting the accommodation you want, or paying extra if there are no standard rooms available.

Booking hotels as the booking window open's provides certainty for your vacation plans. Even if you only keep the reservation until award space in a better hotel or suite availability opens up, many hotels will allow you to cancel an award at no cost as close as the night before your reservation. Remember, award cancellation policies are dictated by the hotel, not the chain, so check the cancellation policy of the hotel before making your reservation.

Hotel Award Booking Windows

Hotel Rewards ProgramBooking Window
Best Western349 Days
Radisson Rewards270 Days (Revenue - 1,095 days)
Hilton Honors365 Days
World of Hyatt394 Days
IHG Rewards Club350 Days
Marriott Rewards (Marriott, Ritz, SPG)352 Days
Le Club Accor404 Days

The booking window varies widely between chains. IHG and Marriott allow you to book a little under 12 months out, while Radisson Rewards offers a monster three years for revenue bookings, but just 270 days for free night awards. The average booking window tips the calendar at 12 months.

When to Book Hotels Well in Advance

While there are plenty of occasions you can book a week or a month out and land a good deal and wide-open availability. We think select circumstances warrant booking as far in advance as your planning allows. These include:

  • Ultra-popular destinations such as the over-water bungalows in the Maldives
  • High season in other busy destinations
  • Destinations with few chain hotels (fewer points options)
  • When traveling with kids or possibly grandparents
  • When attending weddings, sporting and music events, or cultural performances
  • Airport hotels for early morning or late evening arrival/departure
  • When booking promo or discount awards
  • If you need to use free night certificates before they expire

Final Thoughts

Planning your award stays well into the future is an excellent way of securing the best deals and guaranteeing that you have accommodation during peak season and other busy times. Most programs allow you to book your hotel stays up to 12 months out. That is a long way into the future to plan!

If we’ve missed any programs you wish to see included, please reach out in the comments, and we’ll do our best to get it added to the list.

Also, don't forget to check out our post on How Far in Advance Can You Book Airline Award Tickets.

How Far in Advance Can You Book Hotel Reservations?
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Comments

  • I’m booking a Club Carlson suite for New Years 2020 right now.

  • Several years ago, I booked the Hyatt Vancouver to beat the spring increase in Category/ points price to stay during the Fringe in September. Come mid-August, I knew I wouldn’t go, so I phoned to cancel. The rep. asked me if I wanted to re-schedule, saying, “We can book up to 13 months in advance.” So I said, “Same time next year.” When I later cancelled that, I got points back at the new higher points price–a 20K bonus!

  • Another reason to book early is a possible devaluation. When Hilton had their major devaluation in early 2013, I booked a hotel in Paris which might have been more than 12 months in advance.

    • That is a very good point re devaluation. It is unlikely a redemption will get cheaper, and even if it does you can always cancel and rebook.

  • Wow almost 1100 days in advance for Carlson hotels?
    That is insane.
    Very interesting post!

  • I’m not sure I can plan a year or more in advance anyways, but its sure something to keep in mind… the cancellation policy of the hotel. Many times I’ve been considering a hotel location, don’t book right away and when I return a few days later its gone; disappointing to say the least. I really dislike booking and cancelling but I might need to in order to not lose out.

  • That a long time to plan or book out. But for some places it seems necessary.

  • Helpful list for me to keep in mind when booking flight lodging. Thanks!

  • It is frustrating when you make a revenue booking in a hotel, only to find it gets cheaper. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to work out the best times to book the hotels I normally stay in. If I get a great deal it is more by luck than anything else!

  • Good info, thanks!

  • This is good information and it would be great if paired with the cancellation policy of each chain.
    I recently booked several award nights with IHG because they were a great price in points. I don’t think the price will go up, but when booking multiple rooms you do risk them being sold out.

  • I rarely do any serious trip prep until about a couple weeks before a trip! I’ve definitely booked rooms the day of. It gives me anxiety sometimes, but I can’t help it!

  • Wow. 1095 days!

  • Don’t forget about an occurrence such as the solar eclipse! Many places were sold out a year in advance.

  • Very helpful compilation and overview

  • I usually book well in advance but never more than one year.
    This because I prefer buying the flights before. Usually 11 months in advance if they are award flights for very requested routes and less for less requested routes or if I pay for the flights.

  • Excellent guide. Indeed since most points reservations can be cancelled, you should try to book whatever you think you might possibly need, to avoid being disappointed later.

    Of course you need to be organised to remember to cancel unwanted reservations!

  • Wow I did not even think to know how far out you are able to book awards for hotels. I’m still making assumptions on a lot of things with hotels, etc. using points. Is there a way to see what type of room each hotel will let you book with points? Or they allow every type of room and then it sells out?
    I know I’ve had issues finding a good size room with a sofa bed, so me, my husband and both kids (under 12) can be in one room.

  • As long as it can be cancelled without penalty, there is nothing to lose by nailing down reservations a long way in advance.

  • I already used miles for Oktoberfest 2018, this is my next booking for Munich, they fill up fast!

    • Good idea. Oktoberfest gets crazy busy. Points bookings are usually cancellable without penalty, so it makes a lot of sense.

  • Good to know. Thanks!

  • I book early and keep checking to see if rates drop. Have rebooked 2 nights before and received a better rate. I have to keep reminding myself that Marriott has gone to 48 hrs. for a no penalty cancellation. Hope the others don’t change to this.

  • Good to know

  • I would only book refundable rates that far in advance. On several occasions, I’ve been able to get a lower rate by watching the availability of the hotel for that week and re-pricing the room. I’ve saved anywhere from 10-25% doing this.

  • I can’t imagine booking three years in advance.

  • nice one. I have booked rooms a year in advance for special events, before the reservation system had jacked up prices. feels good to spend 15% of the posted rate!

  • Thank you!

  • Great article! One more to add: Best Western = 349 days in advance.

  • Accor Hotels = 404 days

  • great post! I had no idea I could book a room for the Japan olympics right now!:)

  • Thanks for the information. I have just started looking at fall 2018 and this really helps!

  • Jacqueline parsons says:

    That amount of notice is great for hitting card spends!

  • Booking 3 years in advance it what I call forward planning!

  • Could be a good idea to do this for hotels you knew are getting reflagged – ie the recently debranded Trump Toronto is reopening as a St Regis in 2019 – book now while rates are depressed, as they will likely be pitched higher once the renovation and the new branding is completed.

  • Thanks, useful info!

  • In 2013 (the time of the Great HH Devaluation) I was able to make a reservation 23 months in advance at the Conrad Maldives, by searching dates at the end of the schedule, and then changing the search, while selecting the “Flexible Dates” tick-box; I was able to just keep rolling the calendar forward to the high-season of 2015.  Exploring that path more recently, however, it appears that loophole appears has been closed.
     

  • I have to bookmark this for the next eclipse!

  • Very interesting. I agree that a good reason to book early is a possible devaluation.

  • Great topic! Hope there’s an article like this for flight booking, e.g. how far in advance to get the best fares. It’d be very useful too 🙂

    • The best time to purchase a fare is when your travel dates are committed. Airline pricing is so dynamic, saying that X Y or Z is the best time to purchase really doesn’t work. That said, in general, last-minute fares are higher than fares 30+ days in advance.

  • I do book hotel as soon as I know my trip sometime like 6 months early. But I do go back and check the price when the trip is getting closer. Sometimes the price drops.

  • I usually book hotels as far ahead as possible if I have my itinerary planned out, and then check back a few times in the months leading to the stay. I mostly end up sticking with the original booking.

  • I was able to book a Starwood hotel up to two years in advance for college graduation. I think some of the hotels will operate on a case by case basis if you call them in advance and speak to a manager rather than the general reservations system.

  • What a raise in consciousness about hotel bookings! Thx so much!

  • I wonder if people actually book 3 years in advance for club carlson. Thats ridiculous

  • This is a useful reference. Curious why Club Carlson is such an outlier.

  • Seems to me 365 should be more than enough………..

  • Wow, never thought Club Carlson can be so flexible about anything!

  • i do not think club carlson can do 3 year advance reservation. Right now i cannot even find anything available in Nov 2018

    • Allen, it looks like award reservations are typically about a year with club carlson or less — even though you can book revenue rooms 3 years out. We’re going to poke a bit more at this and add details to the table.

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