Why is it you seem to get an upgrade when you least need it?

The night my wife and I were crammed into a room with 10 other people (all female I might add) at a Budapest backpackers in stifling heat following six hours stuck on a train? That would have been a great time for an upgrade to a penthouse suite.

But while travelling alone recently, being looked after very well the previous two nights during a golf jaunt around Victoria, I was upgraded to a penthouse that would measure up as roughly the same size in square metres as my home in Titirangi. With twice as many spas.

What exactly did the John Olsen suite at the Olsen hotel, part of Melbourne's Art Series Hotels, entail? Two bedrooms, both with ensuite (though I naturally picked the one with its own spa), three 42" HD flat screen televisions (yes, three of the things), a full gourmet kitchen and dining table for 10 and another spa on the balcony with 180 degree views over Melbourne's CBD and Chapel St. Did I mention I was by myself?


Luckily, I was catching up with a school friend so I could actually show off the ridiculous space. Because what's the point of an upgrade if you can't brag about it?

It takes nanoseconds on Google to find numerous tips on how to get an upgrade to first class on an aeroplane or a bigger room in a hotel.

An obvious suggestion is to travel on less busier routes. You're not going to get an upgrade if you're flying from Sydney to Auckland on a Sunday afternoon as there will be no free spots opened up. Another is to dress like you're worth the upgrade - though it's probably not worth wearing your only suit just to attempt an upgrade to business class.

As for bagging hotel upgrades, a recent Huffington Post column suggested that you can help your cause by mentioning a unique reason for special celebration.

"Unique" is the key word. The old "we're on our honeymoon" doesn't often work as a lot of people are on their honeymoon, likewise birthdays. But if you're celebrating a divorce, hospitality veteran Jacob Tomsky says, then that is a great reason to be given a bigger room.

One of the most popular suggestions for upgrade hunters is: travel alone. That will open a few more doors, even if they go into rooms you won't even use. Which is what worked in my favour - that and probably because I was journalist on a travel-writing trip.

Getting there: Jetstar flies daily direct between Auckland and Melbourne.

Where to stay: The Olsen Hotel.

The writer travelled as a guest of Tourism Victoria.