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How I Find Outsized Value With the AC Hotels by Marriott Brand

Christine Krzyszton's image
Christine Krzyszton
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Christine Krzyszton

Senior Finance Contributor

311 Published Articles

Countries Visited: 98U.S. States Visited: 45

Christine ran her own business developing and managing insurance and financial services. This stoked a passion for points and miles and she now has over 2 dozen credit cards and creates in-depth, deta...
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Juan Ruiz

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Juan has extensive experience in writing and editing content related to credit cards, loyalty programs, and travel. He has been honing his expertise in this field for over a decade. His work has been ...
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Earning hotel loyalty points can be easier than finding good value at redemption time, especially for an aspirational stay. While I enjoy the occasional luxury hotel, I tend to gravitate towards properties I can purchase with fewer points yet still have a pleasant experience.

This preference led me to discover the Marriott Bonvoy AC Hotels brand. Although I usually travel alone, the brand can also be an excellent option for families and couples.

Let me explain why the brand works for me and could work for any traveler who values a good deal for their hard-earned hotel points.

What Is the AC Hotel Brand?

Marriott describes the AC Hotels brand as offering an all-encompassing experience.

The AC Hotels brand was established to provide a “seamless, intuitive experience that lets travelers live life by design, not by default,” with “smart and easy amenities and services.” The company also promises guests can expect “European-inspired beverage and food offerings.”

The first AC Hotel opened in Madrid in 2019. It became so popular that the brand quickly expanded worldwide. Today, Europe and North America have the most AC Hotels, with 91 and 126, respectively.

There are approximately 30 additional properties around the world, with a highly ambitious expansion plan for the brand in China.

I appreciate the AC Hotels brand for consistently providing a comfortable stay, convenient location, reasonably priced dining options, and excellent value for my rewards.

Here’s how I’ve found value when booking AC Hotels.

Hot Tip:

Learn about the AC Hotels by Marriott brand and 30+ other Marriott Bonvoy hotel brands!

AC Hotels Booking: Sweet Spots

In Europe, I have found AC Hotels that offer 5-night stays for as few as 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points! We value Marriott Bonvoy points at ~0.7 cents each. Using this calculation, a 5-night stay could be booked with as few as $245 worth of points.

And, given how many ways there are to earn Marriott Bonvoy points, using them to book a stay at AC Hotels should be a breeze.

Here’s an example of a 5-night stay booking at AC Hotel Guadalajara, Spain, for just 37,000 points (7,400 points per night):

AC Hotel Guadalajara Spain Booking
Image Credit: Marriott

Now that I’ve gotten your attention, I’d like to show you how you can find your own AC Hotels deals. I’ll then give you more examples of my booked stays.

How To Find AC Hotels Deals

Finding a suitable AC Hotels location using the Marriott Bonvoy website is easy. One key benefit I utilize for finding a good deal is the fifth-night free benefit.

Marriott Bonvoy will give me 1 of my nights free when I book 5 consecutive award nights at the same hotel. This benefit is available to all Marriott Bonvoy members and will automatically be applied to searches of 5 consecutive award nights, or more.

Using the Marriott Bonvoy Search Function

I access the Marriott Bonvoy website, login to my account, and select Find a Hotel. Next, I type in the destination area I want to search, select a 5-day date range, filter by the lowest rate, and select the AC Hotels brand.

AC Hotels Search
Image Credit: Marriott

I’ll also check the Use Points/Awards box to see those results first.

In the example below for the area surrounding Guadalajara, Spain, I wanted only those options within my preferred points range. I filtered the options to less than 40,000 for 5 nights and 40,000 to 80,000 points for 5 nights. There were 5 properties available that fit my preferences.

I can filter my search further once I hit the Find Hotels search button.

AC Hotels Filter by Points
Image Credit: Marriott

Instead of using specific dates, I can select the flexible dates option and results by month for the lowest price with populate.

AC Hotels Flexible Dates Search
Using the flexible dates option helps me find the best deal. Image Credit: Marriott
Bottom Line:

You can search for AC Hotels by geographic area, lowest price, hotel brand, points price, amenities, and flexible dates.

My Favorite AC Hotels Stays

I have found some of the best AC Hotels deals in Spain, although I’ve stayed at the brand in several other countries. Here are a few properties I enjoyed, the price I paid for a 5-night stay, and my in-depth review.

AC Hotel Ciutat de Palma (Spain)

AC Hotel Ciutat de Palma in Mallorca was a few blocks from the water, and restaurants, shopping, and activities were a short walking distance away. The hotel was bright and cheery, the service was great, and the restaurant prepared an excellent grilled octopus.

AC Hotel Palma Mallorca Booking
Image Credit: Marriott

Check out my review of the AC Hotel Ciutat de Palma for more information on why I loved the hotel.

AC Hotel Málaga Palacio (Spain)

I chose the AC Hotel Málaga Palacio for a slightly more upscale experience.

AC Hotel Malaga Rooftop Bar
Many AC Hotels have special amenities, such as this rooftop bar at AC Hotel Malaga Palacio overlooking the Old Town. Image Credit: Christine Krzyszton

A 5-night stay with taxes and fees was over $1,200, so I was happy to instead spend ~$700 worth of Marriott Bonvoy points and save a considerable amount of cash.

AC Malaga Hotel Booking
Image Credit: Marriott

I recommend the hotel for its location, restaurant, service, and incredible rooftop bar/pool.

Here’s an in-depth review of my stay at the AC Hotel Málaga Palacio.

AC Hotel Alicante, Spain

While I didn’t care much for the AC Hotel Alicante‘s location, the bus station was conveniently close by and the hotel was only a 20-minute walk to the city center. The hotel property was very nice and even had a rooftop pool.

AC Hotel Alicante Booking
Using the 5th-night free benefit can result in affordable hotel stays. Image Credit: Marriott

There were also plenty of restaurants and activities nearby. Although I stayed at the hotel in 2022, the points price is still the same today and still a bargain.

If you’re curious about the AC Hotel Alicante, my review of the property will give you plenty of insight.

Comparing Points vs. Cash Rates

While AC Hotels brand properties can be a great deal using Marriott Bonvoy points, comparing options is essential to secure the best deal.

Here’s how I decide whether to use cash or points.

When Using Points Is the Best Deal

It’s important to compare the price of a stay using cash vs. Marriott Bonvoy points. In the example below, it would cost me ~$685 (€644, including taxes and fees) if I paid cash for the room.

AC Hotels Compare Cash and Points
Comparing payment options can help you get the best value for your stay. Image Credit: Marriott

I can secure this 5-night stay for just $462 worth in points, (66,000 points x 0.7 cents in value per point), a significant savings.

When Paying the Cash Rate Is Better

Let’s look at another example where the opposite is true. In some cases, it makes sense to pay the cash rate.

AC Hotels Cash Rate
AC Hotel Almeria, Spain cash rate versus using Marriott Bonvoy points. Image Credit: Marriott

In the example above, AC Hotel Almeria shows a cash rate of ~$344 for a 5-night stay, which is significantly better than using $476 worth of points (68,000 points x 0.7 cents in value per point). Sometimes nightly cash rates are so low that it makes sense to save your points for a later date and simply pay cash for a cheap stay.

AC Hotel Almeria Booking
Always check for discounted rates at AC Hotels. Image Credit: Marriott

Also, don’t forget to check for discounted rates such as AAA or senior rates. In this case, I secured an even better discount rate of $303 for 5 nights, including taxes and fees.

The AC Hotel Almeria is located in the center of Old Town, within walking distance of all the sights. Dozens of restaurants surround the hotel, and a grocery store is around the block.

The Value of Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status

You’ll enjoy AC Hotels even more with Marriott Bonvoy elite status. With Titanium Elite status, I’ve received bonus points, early check-in/late checkout, the option of a daily food/beverage credit or breakfast, and, in some cases, an in-room welcome gift. Plus, I can always count on an upgraded room, which is occasionally a suite.

While the associated elite benefits have always applied, some AC Hotels go above and beyond the requirements, such as my suite upgrade and in-room welcome gifts at the AC Hotel Ciutat de Palma.

AC Hotel Palma Mallorca Living Area
Surprise upgrades, like this suite, are possible at an AC Hotel. AC Hotel Ciutat de Palma. Image Credit: Christine Krzyszton

We’ve put all the information into a detailed article to learn more about Marriott Bonvoy elite benefits, including what you can expect at AC Hotels.

Earning Marriott Bonvoy Points

I have several Marriott Bonvoy branded credit cards. I use my Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express® Card for everyday spending as it earns 4x points on dining worldwide and at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $15,000 in combined purchases at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets per calendar year).

My Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card gives me a free night certificate each year, and I use my Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card for 4x points at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers, and on U.S. purchases for shipping.

By having a personal and business Marriott Bonvoy branded card, I receive 15 elite night credits for each card (30 total elite night credits) toward Marriott Bonvoy Elite status.

We’ve researched Marriott-branded cards and share everything we know in this article on the best credit cards for Marriott loyalists.

Final Thoughts

The combination of affordability without sacrificing amenities makes the AC Hotels brand a perfect choice for me as a solo traveler. The brand could also work for families traveling in areas where it can be difficult to find rooms for more than 2 people to occupy. Purchasing 2 rooms at an AC Hotel may be the same price as 1 room elsewhere.

While not many AC Hotels are aspirational or luxury properties, the brand delivers excellent value for those who want to travel longer for less or want a comfortable, stylish hotel on a trip.

I have found the AC Hotels, particularly in Spain, to offer great value, and I’ll continue my quest to stay at as many as possible.

The information regarding the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.

For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express® Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card, click here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do AC Hotels have executive lounges?

There are AC Hotels with lounges. However, I have not stayed at one. You can use the filters to sort out properties with lounges and if one is available, Ambassador, Titanium, and Platinum Marriott Bonvoy elite members would have access.

Are AC Hotels a Marriott brand?

Yes, the AC Hotels brand is a Marriott brand.

Are AC Hotels luxury hotels?

No, AC Hotels are not considered a luxury brand. The brand is more of a mid-scale lifestyle brand. AC Hotels are also generally more affordable.

Are AC Hotels good for families?

Because many AC Hotels are well-located and affordable, they can be perfect for families. In areas where 3 people cannot share a room, an AC Hotel may be a good choice. Two rooms may be more affordable than 1 room at another brand.

Christine Krzyszton's image

About Christine Krzyszton

Christine ran her own business developing and managing insurance and financial services. This stoked a passion for points and miles and she now has over 2 dozen credit cards and creates in-depth, detailed content for UP.

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