Our Five Star “Free” Europe Trip: Part 2 Paris to Barcelona

In the post earlier this week, Our Five Star “Free” Europe Trip: Part 1 London to Paris, we discussed how we got to Europe, the hotels of London, the train to Paris, and finally the first night in Paris.

It is a lot. I mean A LOT of work to plan this trip and thus a lot to discuss when sharing how we did this all without airfare or hotel fees.

So, naturally, we broke it down into pieces making this easier to…swallow…

Ok, without further ado, here is part two. Starting from the second hotel stay in Paris to our journey through Barcelona.

Paris:

The last night we spent at the Hilton Paris Opera using our last free night Hilton weekend certificate.

We decided to pay $80 to upgrade to a suite with executive lounge access. This allowed us to access snacks and beverages any time during the day in the lounge and extra space in our room to have a “night in.” Basically, we decided to go to a local market pick up some food and wine and enjoy it with our friends in the comforts of the hotel.

This hotel wasn’t in as quite as good of a location but the price wise it was more in the $300-$400 range per night and its style was more to our liking, not gold everything haha. No Nespresso though….deep sigh…

Total Cost: Hilton Weekend Night Certificate and $80 for the suite upgrade

Notre-Dame

Barcelona:

Getting to Barcelona, we decided to take the train again. It’s actually slower and more expensive to take the train but we wanted to see the French country side and didn’t want to deal with the hassle of getting to the airport and checking bags. Plus, after days of walking many, many miles of site seeing London and Paris, it was nice to have a day of relaxation.

Total cost $98 a person so a total of ~$196

Busy Market in Barcelona

In Barcelona we stayed at Four Points by Sheraton Barcelona Diagonal. At the time, it was only 3,000 pts per night but they have since raised the category. Now, it costs 7,000 points a night.

The down side to visiting Barcelona in early Spring? The beaches were closed every day due to stormy weather.

It is a pretty basic hotel, definitely the least fancy of our trip, and room rates can be had for $~130 Euro a night. I would probably pay for nights here now since I could get more value for SPG points elsewhere. We used the leftover SPG points we had for this hotel.

Total Cost: 9,000 SPG points. And $0 

The Sagrada Familia. A MUST when visiting Barcelona

Getting Home:

We wanted to fly business class back so we had to find availability for four people on the same flight in business class from Europe to the U.S. It was especially difficult since we were using two different award currencies.

Between us, we booked using Air Canada Aeroplan miles to book United flights.

At the time it was 45,000 miles one way per person in business class which was the sweet spot for Aeroplan redemptions. They have since raised it to 55,000 miles. United will charge 60,000 miles for the same flights.

Total cost 90,000 Aeroplan miles and $200 in taxes ($100 per person)

Unfortunately, there was a snafu with the flights and Aeroplan messed up our bookings so we almost got stuck at the Barcelona airport. In result to hours of international calls to straighten things out, we had to fly Economy back to the states in terrible seats far apart from each other. For our trouble they refunded the difference in miles and gave us 10,000 miles each for the trouble.

New Total, 40,000 Aeroplan miles and $200

We acquired Aeroplan miles by transferring the American Express MR points which we got from signing up for the American Express Platinum Card. We were fortunate enough to receive a target offer for 100,000 point sign up bonus. Long term this card is pretty terrible but it is hard to pass up the sign up bonus and like the Chase Sapphire Reserve you can use the airfare credit twice since it is per calendar year before paying the annual fee again.

Cards Acquired:

Amex Starwood Preferred = 30,000 pts

Citi Hilton Honors Reserve = 2 free weekend nights

Citi Platinum Select American Airlines = 50,000 miles

Chase Hyatt = 2 free nights

Amex Platinum = 100,000 pts

Trip Total Cost was about ~$700  or about ~$350 a person when also accounting public transit in London, Paris, and Barcelona. 

We also spent money on food, museums, and tours that were not free which increased our costs. There are a lot of free things to do in these cities so keeping these costs down would have been pretty easy, but hey we were on Vacation! We also could have saved $80 by not upgrading to a suite in Paris…tis life.

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