My buddy and I had the opportunity to fly to Germany to pick up a Mercedes Benz S550 from the factory in Stuttgart. We turned the trip into a European tour, with stops in Frankfurt, Dusseldorf, Amsterdam, Brussels, and Paris.
- Booking Tickets To Germany So We Can Drive Across Europe in a Mercedes Benz S550
- Booking hotels for Mercedes Benz S550 European Delivery
So, we needed hotel rooms in each city along the way.
- Stuttgart Marriott Hotel Sindelfingen (Germany)
- Wyndham Garden Duesseldorf City Centre Koenigsallee (Germany)
- Radisson Blu Hotel Amsterdam (Netherlands)
- Sofitel Arc de Triomphe (Paris, France)
After landing in Frankfurt and taking a shower at the Lufthansa Welcome Lounge, we picked up a daily rental from Alamo, then drove to the Mercedes factory in Stuttgart for a tour and to pick up the Mercedes Benz S550. After our tour, we dropped the Alamo rental off at the Stuttgart airport, then drove the Mercedes to our hotel.
Stuttgart Marriott Hotel Sindelfingen
I booked this room using a Marriott free night earned from the Marriott MegaBonus promotion in Summer 2013. If we had to pay cash, the room would have been 149 EUR ($210) or 15,000 Marriott points per night.
The room was not too fancy, but it was adequate since we were only in the room for the night. A bad thing about Marriott is that you cannot get free wifi in your room, even if you’re a Silver Elite member, like I am. You have to be Gold or Platinum Elite to get free wifi. Definite knock against Marriott Rewards!
So, we had to hang in the lobby for awhile to check our email and upload some pics before going to bed.
The beds were comfy, and the hotel had plenty of options within walking distance to eat. We found a authentic restaurant that had a lot of character about a 15 minute walk away. Always have some Euros with you, because many places do not accept credit cards!
In the morning, we remembered that there was a pool heated to about 90* (with a waterfall) at the hotel that we should have enjoyed… but, we were on a mission to explore Europe. The pool would have to go unused.
Our only expense for the stay were some snacks at the gift shops and parking. Awesome. Onward to Dusseldorf!!!
Wyndham Garden Duesseldorf City Centre Koenigsallee
I booked this hotel with some points I had leftover from my family’s New York and Paris trip in April 2013. The points were earned from a promotion in the Fall of 2012 where you could stay a night at one of Wyndham’s new hotels (I stayed in Irvine, CA) to earn 16,000 points per night.
Actually, I was 1,000 points short, so I bought them very easily online from Points.com for $11. They’re a great place to go to trade points you won’t use or to top off accounts (like I did) so you can book a flight or hotel room.
The room would have been $103 EUR for the night ($145), but I used 20,000 Wyndham Rewards points (19,000 from my account + 1,000 I purchased) for this Level 6 property.
When we checked into the hotel, they asked for a “voucher”. I had no idea what the front desk person was talking about because I had never been asked for that before. Usually, my reservation is just in the reservation system. So, I provided a printout of my reservation, which they copied for their records, and we were handed the keys. The hotel had just converted to Wyndham from another brand (or something local, I wasn’t sure) so I think it was just some confusion over the new protocols.
TRAVEL TIP – Always carry a printout of your airline, hotel, and car rental reservations, even if you use TripIt (like I do) or Apple’s Passport. You never know when computers will be down, they cannot find your reservation in the system, or your phone battery is out of juice.
There is free wifi in the lobby and in the rooms. Parking is free on the streets, if you could find it, otherwise, parking is available down the block for 13 EUR a day – very reasonable.
We were upgraded to a suite, which was spacious by European standards. The couch was a futon, so that would have been great if we needed extra space.
At first, we thought the bedroom only had one bed… so I was thinking, “David, go get your futon ready!” but then we realized it was 2 single beds pushed together, so we just pulled them apart, and we each had our own bed.
In the morning, they offered a breakfast buffet until 10am. We slept in too long and missed it, but the dining area looked nice.
If you’d like to stay at a Wyndham hotel for free, check out the Wyndham Rewards Signature Visa.
- Earn 12,000 bonus points after your first purchase
- Earn 3 points per $1 spent on hotel stays at 14 popular brands
- Earn 2 points per $1 spent everywhere else
- No Annual Fee
- Participating hotels in the Wyndham Rewards Visa Card Program include Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, Wyndham Grand Hotels and Resorts, and Wyndham Garden Hotels
- Program also includes TRYP, Wingate, Hawthorn, Microtel, Dream, Ramada Worldwide, Night Hotels, Baymont Inn and Suites, Days Inn, Super 8, Howard Johnson, Travelodge, and Knights Inn
- Please see Terms and Conditions for complete details
After doing a little more sightseeing in Duesseldorf, we headed to Amsterdam.
Radisson Blu Hotel Amsterdam
I love booking rooms with points at Radisson Blu’s because they are always high-quality rooms and my last night is free because I have the US Bank Club Carlson Visa. Our two nights should have been 169 Euro ($240) or 50,000 points per night.
Instead, the total reservation was only 50,000 points vs. 100,000 if I didn’t have the Club Carlson Visa.
Unfortunately, because we checked in late at night, they didn’t have any parking available in their valet. So, we had to drive a few blocks away by the Royal Palace to park for 50 EUR ($70) a night.
At least we were able to get acquainted with the city and grab some food while walking back, so it wasn’t too bad.
The hotel is actually two buildings across the street from each other, and they’re connected by an underground passage. Of course, because we checked in so late, we were in the building across the street.
The room is the normal high quality you’d expect from Radisson Blu… and a first for me… the bathroom floors are heated!
There is free wifi in the hotel and lobby, but the connection was very spotty, so it took forever to connect or load pages far too often.
After our second night, we had to leave the hotel by 6am so that we’d had a little time in Brussels on the way to Paris to drop off the Mercedes at the airport by 5pm. Mental note… always carry Euros and a chip-and-pin credit card because we were stuck in the parking garage for about 30 minutes trying to get out until we realized the problem was our American magnetic stripe credit cards.
Sofitel Arc de Triomphe
We dropped off our bags at the Sofitel, then drove to the airport. We arrived with literally 15 minutes to spare. If we missed the Friday at 5pm deadline, one of us would have had to wait until they reopened on Monday to drop off the car. This would have been a problem since our flight home was on Sunday. Whew! We made it.
After dropping off the car, we took the train from the airport into the city, then the subway to the Arc de Triomphe, and our hotel was just a block or two away.
With each hotel reservation, our experience was better and better. We certainly saved the best for last. The Sofitel is a true luxury brand, and you could feel it with every aspect of our stay.
The first night was free as part of the Mercedes Benz European Delivery package. The second night, my buddy David paid for it since I booked our flights and took care of the previous 4 hotel nights. Our stay did start out a little rough because somebody mixed up our reservation and had us at the Sofitel Le Faubourg originally, when we were supposed to be at the Sofitel Arc de Triomph. The front desk upgraded our room to a Junior Suite to make it up to us.
Obviously, the Junior Suite would have been more expensive than a regular room at 580 EUR (or $812) per night , which makes our rates that much better of a deal!
My buddy was able to get a really good rate for the 2nd night as part of the European Delivery package, but normal rates were $500 per night.
I checked through PointsHound and you can get this same room for $440 per night in March 2014. I like using PointsHound when I book reservations that I’m going to pay cash for because I’ll also earn airline miles for my reservation, on top of rates that are sometimes lower than reserving direct or through sites like Expedia.
Our room was very large for Paris, with a small sitting area, a walk-in shower, and a soaking tub.
The room was in the corner on the 4th floor, directly above the hotel entrance.
Through creativity and taking advantage of offers, we were able to travel across 4 countries and book hotel rooms in 4 cities for less than $500. Rooms that would have normally cost well over $2,000.
We booked some great rooms in fantastic cities that enhanced our travel experience and gave us a taste of the culture these cities have to offer. I look forward to being able to spend more time in each of these cities in the future, and now that I’ve stayed at these hotels, I have a good idea of what to expect.
One thing that took me by surprise at each of these hotels is that they had a bottom sheet, but no top sheet. There was only a comforter to cover your body. So much different than what we’re used to in America. But, that’s what traveling is all about… having new experiences and learning how our cultures are the same and different in many areas we often take for granted.