As many of you may know, I traveled with my son to Zagreb and Istanbul during March break.

I had booked 3 hotels in Istanbul: the first for practical reasons, the second one is a Hilton Honors luxury sweet spot and the third one is a Marriott Bonvoy sweet spot.

Here goes.


I stayed at the Doubletree Istanbul Old Town for a good reason. The property is located in the city’s old town, named Fatih district. This is where the most iconic and historical venues are. To name a few:

  • The Grand Bazaar
  • Hagia Sofia
  • Blue Mosque
  • Basilica Cistern

These venues deserve 2-3 days to visit them properly. It is after all the historical Constantinople which hides so many smaller monuments. And yes you will walk a lot.

The hotel is perfectly located on the main avenue, with access to the tramway that will take you to the other side of town for a boat ride in Kabatas. The room is a typical Hilton product: brand new, comfortable bed, practical bathroom. My Hilton Honors Gold status was honored with free breakfast (buffet with Turkish baker on site) and bonus points on stay.


With the coronavirus pendemic getting worse by the day, I changed our return flight date so we make it home 2 days earlier.

Therefore, I had to cancel my Conrad Istanbul Bosphorus booking. I was looking forward to that hotel stay for many reasons: my first Conrad stay ever, see how they honored Gold status, check out the lounge that overlooks the Bosphorus and the hotel amenities.

The booking only cost 31,000 Hilton Honors points!

In Canada, you can earn these points easily with the American Express Cobalt card. I wrote an article on how to do it.


The other heartbreak was cancelling the Ritz-Carlton Istanbul.

The hotel has been entirely renovated and it conveniently located near Kabatas ferry terminal and 20-minute walk to Taksim Square.

A reward night at the luxury hotel costs 35,000 Marriott Bonvoys. I had used my American Express Marriott Bonvoy annual free night certificate. Of course, I cancelled and recouped the certificate.


Travel plans don’t always go like we want them to.

However, this experience reminded me that reward hotel bookings are very flexible. One can cancel them the day before or, in some cases, the same day before a certain hour.

During this coronavirus confinment, it’s a good time to stack-up on those hotel points. I personnally stick to Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy.

Both do a great job.