21st October 2017 update: Hilton weren’t impressed with my non-stays in Columbia and Malaysia – despite them being non-refundable rates, you actually have to stay at the hotel to qualify as a stay. I argued that this wasn’t clear and a little unfair so they gave me a chance to continue the challenge through to the 10th October. Stays in London Olympia, Nuremberg and Watford helped me get back to Diamond through to March 2019.

Hilton Gold Status is pretty useful when staying at Hilton properties worldwide. You’ll usually get an upgraded room, free premium wi-fi and mostly access to the Executive Lounge where you can enjoy free drinks and snacks. Getting this status the hard way means staying at least 16 nights.

Hilton are offering a status match challenge here: https://statusmatch.hiltonhonors.com/

You are matched (for 90 days) to the same level you have in another program. Your status will then be extended all the way through to March 2019 if complete four stays. If you’re matched to Diamond, you’ll need eight stays. So you need to plan at least four stays, not four consecutive nights, before applying for the status match.

I applied and was matched to Diamond on 11th April 2017 and 90 days meant that I have until July 10th 2017 to make at least four stays. That was my mistake as my next Hilton Hotel Paddington stay was 6th May and the one after that 29th July. So the perfect match date would have been 5th May.

I completed my first stay but need three more before the 10th July. That should have been easy, but my travel plans changed and it was clear that I wouldn’t be staying at a Hilton before the match expired.

I started looking for the World’s least expensive Hilton. Somewhere I could book, check into online and record a stay. The first place I found was the Hilton Petaling Jaya in Malaysia – with a rate of around £30 per night, non-refundable rate. I checked in via the Hilton app – I’d been upgraded which was nice.

A few days later, I found my stay registered as ‘LateCancel’. I emailed the hotel to say that I’d booked a non-refundable rate and would like the stay to be credited. For some reason they couldn’t do this and they emailed HHonors to ask if my stay could be credited. After a few weeks, the points for my ‘stay’ appeared in my account, although the stay still shows as ‘LateCancel’.

I decide to book the Hampton by Hilton, Cali in Columbia. Partly because it was slightly less than the Malaysia hotel and partly for the novelty of virtually staying at unusual locations around the World. This time I added a note to the booking to say that my plans may change last minute, but please check my in as normal as this was a non-refundable rate. Another ‘LateCancel’ appeared. There was no email for the hotel and so I emailed Hilton – who replied that they would need to ask the hotel. I chased them last week as I hadn’t heard for 10 days and the said they’d chase the hotel.

July 10th isn’t far away. I have one stay shown, two stays shown as ‘LateCancel’, one with points credited, one without anything yet. The question is: Do I risk another £30 booking some exotic low-cost Hilton or just give up? I think I am too far in now and have to take the risk. I can always argue with HHonors that as I’d paid for all four stays then that should count.

The alternative is no Hilton Gold Card – although it might be interesting to try some other hotel brands for a change.