L.A. Universal Studios with Free Stay at Hilton Universal City Hotel

For this April, we wanted a simple affordable getaway, so decided to spend four days at Southern California. Finding deals is my hobby; I wanted to save on three nights of hotel stays.  We drove 5 hours to Los Angeles from S.F. Bay Area.

Promo codes for Los Angeles Universal Studios

Adult ticket is close to $90.  The best eligible (10% discount) promotion I found is via AAA.com, as I am a AAA member.  We purchased two tickets online for a cost of $84 for each adult ticket including the extra $5 cost for 2nd day visit.  Therefore, we would have two days to experience the entire Universal Studios offering.

Where to Stay: recommend Hilton LA/Universal City Hotel

Hotel is two blocks away from Studios; free shuttle service available

1. Location: two blocks away from L.A. Universal Studios which is located up on a hill.  Free shuttle service is available every 10-15 minutes from hotel lobby door to Studios parking lot.

Hilton Universal City Main Lobby

2. Parking:  $24 self-parking (garage) per night till 6pm next day.  If you stay one-night only, from the time you check-in (we were able to check-in at 2pm) to next day 6pm (we checked out at 11am, kept the parking key), it is considered at one day parking.  Considering parking at the Universal Studios is about $10 per day, the price is quite reasonable.  More interesting, the hotel did not charge us for parking this time...

3. Quality:  Spacious, neat, clean and quiet, both room and hotel itself.

4. Breakfast: because we are Hilton Gold members, complimentary (cold) continental breakfast are included.  I did not pay attention to the term "cold", so ended up paying $11 more person for hot breakfast.  The cafe has plenty of choice of hot food and desert, which makes the extra $11 worth it.

Hilton Breakfast Buffet

5. Cost: About $200 per room with additional 15.56% tax per room.  We redeemed one night using Isa's Hilton HHonors points, thus paid nothing.

How to Get Free Hotel Nights

Redemption of free stays using Hilton HHonors points also covers all taxes, but not parking. I redeemed one two-queen-beds room using 50,000 Hilton HHonors points, because king-size bed was not available for redemption.  I requested a standby upgrade ($26 after discount) to king-bed bed at a high floor room (20th and above) rather than using Hilton HHonors points to upgrade.  Hilton Gold member also receives complimentary upgrade when available.

King-size Alcove room at 20th Executive floor

Hotel's attention on little things helps to make travel experience great.

There are currently three limited-time Hilton card promotions.
  • Citi Hilton Visa Card - 60,000 HH points, no annual fee, $1000 minimum spending within the first 4 months, versus the typical 40,000 HH points

  • American Express Hilton Card - 60,000 HH points, no annual fee, $1000 minimum spending within the first 3 months (expires May 5, 2015) versus the typical 40,000 HH points.  This sign-up bonus is not eligible f you have had this AMEX card in the past.

Or Citi Hilton Reserve Card now with $100 statement credit - two free weekend night stays at participating Hilton worldwide properties, one-year Hilton Gold membership status, $95 non-waive-able first year annual fee, $2500 minimum spending within the first 4 months.

Statement Credit and Rewards Certificate Offers
In order to qualify for this one-time statement credit, the minimum $100 purchase requirement must be met and will include charges at hotel restaurants, lounges, retail stores, or spas, which are charged to the cardmember's hotel room bill and settled using the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve card upon checkout.

Statement credit and Weekend Night Certificates offer is not available if you have had a Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card account that was opened or closed in the past 18 months.

When are Hilton HHonors bonus points or reward certificates received

Regarding the reward certificates:

Please allow 6-8 weeks after purchase requirements have been met to receive your certificate via email. If you do not have an email registered with HHonors, you must call 1-800-HHonors to receive and redeem your certificate.

Regarding the Hilton HHonors bonus points, my experience is the latest credit billing cycle as soon as the minimum spending requirement is met.

Total (after-tax) savings is at least $500.  You can apply either one of the Citi Hilton card with American Express Hilton card at the same time.  Applying two Citi cards on the same day is rarely approved.

We have redeemed two weekend beach resort nights at Oxnard, CA near Santa Barbara on our way back from LA. Universal Studios fun, using Isa's two Citi Hilton weekend certificates.  We have never been Oxnard, a city in the middle of Santa Barbara and Los Angeles.  It is not a well-known city.  And that is exactly the purpose.  We wanted a quiet relaxing vacation.  I will share our experience in the next blog.  Stay tuned.

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