Mattress Running Defined

Mattress running is a term you’ll hear quite frequently in the die hard frequent traveler community, and it helps to explain this concept to folks new to staying in hotels.

A mattress run is booking (though not necessarily staying) a hotel night for one (or both) of two purposes:

  • Earning hotel points, usually through a promotion.
  • Earning additional stay credits for hotel elite status.
  • Basically, you’re booking a hotel night, completing the night/stay just to earn hotel points, or to add to amount of needed nights/stays you need to qualify or re-qualify for hotel elite status. You need to check-in and check-out.

I decided to look up the Hyatt Dulles for a sample date in November.


$79 is a fairly cheap rate for this property – though I’ve seen cheaper, it’s a decent enough rate that’s much cheaper than weekday business prices.

Since Hyatt requires 5 stays to earn their Platinum status, if you booked 5 separate stays at this property, for a total of $395 (not including tax), you’d earn their Platinum status. Now, of course, I have no reason to consistently stay at this hotel but perhaps if I wanted Platinum status and was willing to pay the $79 per night rate, I would. This is a mattress run.

There’s several options of what to do next:

  • Check-in and actually stay at the hotel.
  • Check-in remotely on the app or website, and never stay (you can still earn the credit)
  • Call the hotel and check-in via the phone.

Each chain usually runs sales on their properties, updating their websites weekly or as deals arise. With Starwood Hotels, try using their Hot Escapes website every Wednesday to see reduced rate properties good for the short term.

Tips for Mattress Running

You don’t mattress run at an expensive hotel. The idea here is to book a very cheap rate, because the cheaper the rate, the cheaper your costs are to achieve your goal. So, what makes a good property to mattress in?

  • You’ll find that airport hotels are usually cheaper than inner-city hotels.
  • Try booking lower-tier hotels in a hotel’s brand. Hyatt House is cheaper than the Park Hyatt and Sheraton is cheaper than the St. Regis and Holiday Inn is cheaper than Intercontinental. The cheaper hotel chain you’re able to book, the more you’ll save on this stay.
  • Rates are generally cheaper on the weekends and if you book during the week, you compete with business travelers staying for work, and rates are forced higher.
  • Look at the hotel loyalty program the property is affiliated with. Hyatt offers points and cash rates that still count for stays/nights toward elite status. SPG allows award stays to count as eligible nights, too. So, you don’t even need to pay for a hotel night for you to get some benefit out of it.
  • Nights are different than stays, and you usually need less stays for hotel elite status. The point here is that hotels assume that on that one stay you’ll stay longer, but you as a mattress runner can easily utilize this by doing one night stays. Check-in, check-out. Maybe go to a hotel down the road and then come back to the first property, thus incurring 3 stays vs. 3 nights. If you can get to elite status faster using stays, you’ll want to maximize your opportunity to accumulate them.