When I wrote about the new 40,000 points sign-up bonus for the American Express Platinum card on Friday, there were some queries about the Fine Hotels & Resorts hotel booking programme. I thought it was worth running over the key benefits again – I will also explain how you can get similar benefits without a Platinum card.
FHR, as it is known, is a collection of 600 luxury hotels worldwide which commit to offering special benefits to American Express Platinum cardholders when you book via Amex Travel. FHR bookings can be made online via the Amex Travel website or by calling.
The 2015 directory of FHR properties is here – this is a US website so don’t try to book through that as it will not accept your Platinum card number. Note that you cannot book for 2016 until quite late in 2015 because the hotels included change from year to year.
The special FHR benefits are:
Noon check-in when available (I value this at nothing! I want it guaranteed or it is useless.)
Room upgrade on arrival when available (can be very good but not guaranteed)
Free breakfast for two people (very valuable at expensive hotels)
GUARANTEED 4pm check-out (very valuable)
Free in-room wi-fi (very valuable, luxury hotels still like to charge)
An additional benefit, usual $100 of food and beverage credit per stay
Where FHR really works for me is the guaranteed 4pm check-out. If you are on a short break with an evening flight home, you really don’t want to be checking out of your hotel at noon. Yes, the hotel will store your bag for you, but it isn’t the same as having full access to your room.
The big downside of Fine Hotels & Resorts is pricing. Rates seem to be fixed in advance for the year so it is possible that, if the hotel starts discounting, the FHR rate may be higher than the highest flexible rate on the hotel website. That said, on a shorter stay the $100 food and drink credit usually offsets that and you still have the benefit of free breakfast, late check-out and potential upgrade.
It is worth noting that Fine Hotels & Resorts rates DO quality for points and status credit if you stay at a chain hotel.
Park Hyatt Hamburg
I used Fine Hotels & Resorts last month to book a room at the Park Hyatt in Hamburg. We stayed there for a Saturday night on our way to a beach resort on the Baltic.
I am not going to review the hotel, although it is worth saying that my wife is crazy about the place and always insists that we stay there. To be honest, I don’t find it as polished as it used to be – no-one bothered to help us when we turned up at the door in a taxi with two suitcases, two bags, a buggy and a 4-year old. The hotel is now 17 years old and has not had any major refurbishment, albeit it is well maintained.
The Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts rate was €245 – the same as the flexible rate on the Hyatt website.
Last time I stayed on an FHR package I was given a huge junior suite. This time we were upgraded to the executive floor, which meant we got access to the club lounge for free. (Neither of us has Hyatt status.)
Overall, we got:
free breakfast (could have had it in the lounge but we went to the restaurant as this was part of the FHR deal – and the Park Hyatt does a great breakfast)
€85 of food and beverage credit, which we used in the lounge – it would also have been valid for the main restaurant, but not via room service
additional evening snacks and drinks from the club lounge, due to our executive floor upgrade
We didn’t need the late check-out on this occasion. Hyatt now gives free wi-fi to all guests so this benefit was also unused.
The stay posted perfectly to my Hyatt Gold Passport account. I had been tagetted for a ‘3000 points for your next stay as we haven’t seen you for a while’ promotion, so I got around 4,500 points in total. This is worth around £45 of free Hyatt stay at some point in the future.
The hotel also forgot to enforce the ‘you must pay with an Amex’ rule. This meant that I was able to use my Travelex Supercard and avoid the 3% foreign exchange fee.
(Want to earn more hotel points? To see our complete list of promotions from the major chains, click here to visit our ‘Hotel Promos’ page or use the link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)