Ball Drop View From Your Free Room in New York Using Points: Review of Hilton Times Square
Elizabeth and I decided to take a trip to New York City after Christmas and through New Year’s Day. We stayed 6 nights total and spent 2 nights at 3 different hotels.
Since Elizabeth is one of those people who wanted to see the ball drop at Times Square just once in her life, and I am not one to want to be in the middle of the crowd and the cold that long, we made a compromise:
How about booking a hotel where we could see the ball drop from our room AND book it for free?
No one can imagine how many times we were told that we wouldn’t be able to pull this one off, but we did. We sincerely hope after reading this article that you will pursue your travel dreams and keep finding ways to make memorable vacations happen even when others say it can’t. Whether it’s a trip like this one to a big city or a majestic beach, most vacations are attainable with some creativity and research!View of ball from the room
After looking for hotels for who knows how many hours, we finally settled on the Hilton Times Square. We did look at a Doubletree, Marriott, Hilton Garden Inn, and SPG property all on Times Square, but we didn’t think we could get a room that faced the ball drop without paying thousands of dollars.
Even though I didn’t at first want to use Hilton because of their revenue-based system for booking (here for more info), we ended up deciding we would go ahead and fork over the points, but we didn’t pay a penny for the room on the busiest night of the year!
Really? It was free?
Yes. It cost 80,000 Hilton Honors points per night for a total of 160,000 points. A room with a view of the ball drop was selling for right at $900 per night, so our redemption value was actually really good for Hilton honors; however, I normally don’t like losing that many points over a 2 night stay…..or so I thought. When I saw everyone else outside freezing for over 12 hours and having to wear adult diapers (yes, really) I was glad to be eating dessert in our warm room while relaxing in a comfortable chair and watching the chaos outside.
Hilton Times Square does have rooms that are labeled as “ball drop view” but they are not bookable on points. We did receive an email that we could upgrade to one of them, but it would have cost over $1,000 over 2 nights. Based on the research we had done(see below) we thought we could get a great view from some other rooms just using points. It certainly was a gamble that paid off!
What about the flight?
We flew to New York from Nashville using Southwest Airlines. We have companion pass, so Elizabeth flew for free, and I used points. It only cost a total of 18,231 points round-trip! If you want to know more about how to get companion pass, read this.
In effect, we flew for free and stayed in a hotel with a ball drop view for free using points for both. You can see how people were skeptical!
How to get the room with the view:
The trick to getting the correct room with a view of the ball drop was checking in through Hilton’s mobile app and selecting the room. We were able to book a room with the Hilton Times Square in September on points, and then I started studying the floor layout and looked for people to have taken pictures of their view from specific rooms. You’d be surprised how you can find out the exact view of each room at a popular hotel by using TripAdvisor (kinda scary when you think about it). Hilton lets you mobile check-in to your room at 6 AM the day before arrival, and you can then choose your room. So I set an alarm to be the first person choosing rooms!
At that point we got the room we wanted and could only hope our research had paid off. As soon as we got to our room, we were elated to have such a perfect and unobstructed view of the ball!
***Note, our view of the ball was very clear, but I want to make sure that you notice from the pictures that we were looking at it from the side. Our goal was to see the ball drop, the people, and the confetti, and we hit all of those three things. However, if you are wanting to see the live concerts, you won’t be able to see that from your room. We opened our window and could certainly hear the concerts, though!
How to get points to stay for free:
There are credit card referral links in this article, and we appreciate you using our links. Some cards have higher sign-up bonuses only offered through referrals!
Hilton has new credit cards that were released in January of 2018. These cards give lots of points for sign-up bonuses, and you can combine points (pooling points) with friends. If you sign up for the Ascend card and your spouse signs up for the Ascend card or the no-fee card, you will have enough points to book 2 nights at the Hilton Times Square on New Year’s Eve!
Most other hotel programs only let you transfer points with those living at the same address, but not Hilton! So you could even combine points with a friend or co-worker if you don’t mind staying in the same room.
You really had a view of the ball drop from your room?
Yes. In case you can’t tell, the ball is EXTREMELY bright, and we could not get a clear picture of it from our phones. Even though we had a view from an angle, we got to see it drop and were almost level with it. When on the ground in Times Square the day before, the ball seemed really small compared to what we thought it would. When we were in our room the ball was huge and changed colors by the second.View of the ball from the ground (where everyone packs in for 16 hours)
We were most surprised at the incredible fireworks right after the clock struck midnight. I guess we had been excited about seeing so many other things that the fireworks show had not been mentioned until it started, but it was seriously crazy to see them explode when we are already 35 floors up!
The second thing that I didn’t fully expect was how the confetti rose into the air. We knew there would be more confetti than we ever could have imagined, but it floated around in the wind and reached elevations higher than the skyscrapers at Times Square!Confetti and Fireworks Lobby
The room was gigantic, and not just by New York standards. The room had a chair with a comfortable footstool and could have likely fit another chair on the other side of the bed. We stayed at the JW Marriott at Central Park on this trip, and the room at the Times Square Hilton was much more spacious and just as luxurious!Room
We ended up not spending time in the lobby as our stay at the hotel was busy and revolved around the New Year’s Eve celebrations, but the lobby was awesome! The lobby itself is on a high floor and has a great view of Times Square, but it is not high enough to see the ball drop. The lobby was always busy and had people constantly getting drinks at the bar or just hanging out with family and friends.
Because we have Hilton Honors Gold status, we get free breakfast for two at Hilton hotels. We are always going to choose the breakfast option over the points because of the expense of breakfasts that are that good. All you can eat breakfasts that have made-to-order items, like omelets, can hold us over until a very late lunch.
Breakfast was busy, but we didn’t have to wait for a table. We were really happy to get the free breakfast when we realized how expensive it would have been had we paid! We would have been out over $50!View from the lobby
The staff was extremely nice and helpful, and we had plenty of questions considering we had to go through so much security on New Year’s Eve. At check-in, guest services described how we would have to use a printed page and room keys to prove we were staying at the hotel. The road to the hotel was blocked off and barricaded, and no one could enter unless you were staying at one of the hotels on that street.
Trust me, without a clear explanation of how to get in the hotel on New Year’s Eve, we would have been completely confused. Their was a permanent police officer stationed next to the elevators in the lobby. I am not sure if he/she is always there or if it was for New Year’s only, but we were impressed overall with the security of the hotel and of the city in general.You never know who you might find in Times Square
Our stay couldn’t have been better, and we were so thankful to mark an event off of the bucket list without having to get out in the cold for hours (and be packed in around thousands of others). Although we will be heading to New York again in the near future, I doubt we will stay here again, mainly because we found that we like to spend most of our time in Midtown. However, if you are traveling to New York for the first time, you definitely need to give this hotel a serious look as it puts you right in the middle of the action and within walking distance of wonderful restaurants in Hell’s Kitchen.
As always, please let us know if you have questions, and share this with friends while also liking our facebook page!