What is a Mattress Run, and how can it get you free hotel nights?

In the world of frequent travel, the mattress run is to hotels as the mileage run is for air travel – a trip with the sole purpose of getting hotel points or taking advantage of a promotion.

With a mattress run, you book a cheap hotel night, and in return you’ll earn something far more valuable. This summer, I’m taking advantage of a promotion by Hyatt, where I’ll earn one free night for every two nights I stay at their properties.

This may not appear to be a very efficient way to use my time, but the rewards are very much worth it – I can stay 2 nights at a local Hyatt hotel for around $60/night, and in return I’ll earn a free night at any property. Take for example the Park Hyatt in Chicago – as one of the most luxurious properties in the Hyatt chain, this hotel usually goes for around $450 a night during the summer months.

So – for an investment of just $120, I get two nights at a nice Hyatt property and one free night at a really nice one. Best of all, most promotions like this don’t have any limits – so I can earn quite a few free nights with a fairly minimal investment. Of course, my daughter thinks the promotion is really nice, because once a week she gets to go to a hotel and play in the pool.Many hotel chains have their own promotions once or more a year – so pay close attention to those emails they send you. You’ll need to sign up for their frequent guest program, but that won’t cost you a penny.

Some of the more popular promotions this summer season:

  • Hyatt – The Big Welcome Back (stay 2, get 1. Promotion lasts till June 30, free nights must be redeemed by August 31)
  • Hilton – Fast Ways to Free Stays (stay 4, get 1. Promotion lasts till June 30, Free nights must be redeemed within 1 year.
  • Marriott – Marriot Rewards Global Promotion (stay 3, get 1 + $50 off Hertz rental. Promotion lasts till August 31, free nights must be redeemed by December 31)
  • Starwood – SPG Free Weekends (stay 3, get 1 free weekend stay. Promotion lasts till July 31, free nights must be redeemed by December 19)

There are some disadvantages to these promotions – the most important one being a lack of availability when you want it. Award stays may not always have blackout dates, but there are only a limited number of award rooms available on each day, so you may need to settle for dates you didn’t originally want.

Also, hotels usually count two nights as one stay, so to get 2 stays, you’ll actually need two different hotels – which means packing and unpacking twice.