Benefiting from Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts – Park Hyatt Hamburg example

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.

Park Hyatt Hamburg

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.)

Odd rules emerging ... is the Aspire lounge in T5 really an Aspire lounge?!
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  1. Is there a proper list of the hotels that participate in the similar offer for the relaunched Gold card package?

  2. Just to add to the list of deals, you can get similar benefits by booking through BUPA membership offers, although i don’t think its as wide ranging – i see deals for Four Seasons and Mandarin Oriental.

  3. As you state, many of these hotel benefits can be accessed via a travel agent without having to be an Amex Platinum card member (that’s a £450 saving straight away!).

    I have a simialr package coming up with the Mandarin Oriental with their Fan Club benefits, which I booked via an online travel agent. The benefits ($350 for breakfasts alone) at a room price that matches a MO “best deal” makes it a no-brainer. With an evening flight the 4pm check-out is also a huge benefit on this trip.

    • Strange that no one requested, which online travel agent you have used for Mandarin?

  4. Slightly OT- does anyone know the best hotel to stay at Manchester Airport? Haven’t decided how we are getting there yet, train or car, but I can get a family room at the Manchester airport Hilton for £103 and we’re gold so that seems the best idea, unless someone knows something that’s better :)

    • Just stayed at the Hilton Manchester Airport as a Silver. The staff were very friendly and sorted a minor issue straight away. Had a room which could be considered a family one though not specifically booked as one. Was very nice but the bed was a bit hard…my wife and I both had slightly stiff backs when we woke, but that soon wore off.
      You have to wait for a shuttle to get to airport (we were terminal 3) which you can’t prebook, you just have to wait in a queue. One serms to shuttle to terminal 2, the other to terminals 1&3. We waited about 10-15 mins and thankfully those ahead of us wanted terminal 2 or we would have had to wait for shuttle to come around again.
      All in all we liked it and would use again but leave time for shuttle travel.

      • Thanks Peter, have just booked the family room and it tracked at 8%. no idea why.
        We are terminal 2.

  5. Simons Schus says:

    I had a cracking FHR visit at the Boston Harbor Hotel (in Boston, MA) earlier this year. They really did look after us, the $100 credit was great for dinner (although it didn’t cover tip which I had to pay in cash)

    I also spoke to AMEX Travel Services before booking to find out about the upgrades and they phoned up the hotel to request a double upgrade for my booking, which was honoured.

    The hotel also let me check in early and depart late which was great as my girlfriend was feeling terribly ill so I wanted her to rest for as long as possible.

    The room service breakfast (which we received as a complimentary benefit) was really tremendous. I’m definitely going to use the benefit at the BHH again.

    I have a lot of time for the FHR program.


  6. In addition, I’ve found the following website/email newsletter quite useful for keeping track of the FHR deals:

    In particular, the website mentions lots of ‘3rd night free’ or ‘4th night free’ deals, one of which I have taken advantage of myself.

    One caveat I should note is that the website/newsletter is written for the US-issueed AMEX FHR program. However, I’ve always found that the US FHR benefits are the same for the UK-issued AMEX (obviously, there could be exceptions but I’ve just not ever had any so hence I heartily recommend the website).

    • I second that. A very useful newsletter. It’s a shame they don’t publish the newsletters directly onto a blog so it would be easier to search at times.

      • Shh, don’t tell anyone, but you can find the FHRNews newsletter archive here:

        As Simon noted, if your country’s Platinum card included FHR (some don’t), then the FHR benefits are the same as for the US market. It’s just that booking the hotel needs a phone call as not every country has a booking website yet.

        • Although an upside of calling to book) which isn’t necessary in the UK after they updated the Amex Travel website) is it lets you confirm which room categories are eligible for upgrade and potentially also get the agent to call the hotel to change the amenity slightly.

          • Simon Schus says:

            I wholeheartedly agree about calling AMEX travel for booking FHR. It sometimes feels nicer to chat to/thanksomebody than just booking it on the AMEX travel website (which is a welcome improvement which the US-issued AMEXs have had for a few years).

            Indeed, the AMEX Platinum Team always seem excited to book a FHR when I have phoned them :) it’s quite a positive experience getting to hear and talk about the benefits (even though some are available elsewhere).

            Again, I have a lot of time for FHR and even the Platinum Travel Service in general as they’re often very good when I can’t get the Amex Travel website to book me into specific fare classes and codeshares for an ex-EEA/EU mainland set of flights.

            Sometimes even the concierge service can be excellent too (though I find the quality differs depending on who responds to your email/phone call). I had a great experience last year with them hunting down somewhere to find a banoffee pie in Boston. They found the one really obscured place that does it which is now a regular haunt of mine when I’m over there. Similarly, they’ve been great in helping me plan various trips and options.

            I’m sure other services can offer something equivalent but I’m very happy with the AMEX platinum service I get, having just renewed again.


          • Totally agree, Simon. BTW what’s the name of the banoffee pie place in Boston? A bit more out of the way, but if anyone is ever in Hobart, Tasmania I’d highly recommend Jackman & Mcross for cakes, their hazelnut salted caramel is amazing!

          • Simon Schus says:

            The Banoffee Pie place is called Island Creek Oyster Bar. It is right near the Red Sox Stadium, and is physically attached to the hotel (I think it is the Hotel Commonwealth which has just had its foyer/reception area refurbished after looking terrible for some time. I don’t know if the restaurant is affiliated with the hotel or not, but there is a door between them). Anyway, here is their website:

            They do some pretty decent drinks in there, and the food looks great although I’ve never had a full meal there… just the banoffee followed by some drinks with friends. You really have to book in advance though because it can be an hour wait for at-the-bar service sometimes, and even longer for a table. I’m not a big fan of waiting so I tend to head ask for banoffee to go, which they always happily oblige with within 10 minutes of asking. They’re lovely in there… I just walk in and they say “banoffee pie?” to me as if they already know what I want!

            The place doesn’t open until 5pm during the week (at weekends, I’m not so sure – it might open earlier if the Red Sox are playing).

            Thanks for the Tasmania guidance :) ):

          • Excellent, thanks Simon.

  7. I am just checking out of the Hamburg Sofitel a couple of blocks away from the Hyatt.

    543 EUR = 385 GBP for Thur, Fri Sat. Platinum Accor benefits courtesy of Amex Plat card, which means a room upgrade and a welcome drink, there was no exec lounge, so no benefit there and breakfast is not part of the benefit list. The Sofitel is quite nicely done out, and the canal side bar went down well with the wife.

    So overall it sounds like the Hyatt would have been a better deal at 742 EUR by a short head.

    I’ll certainly check the amex FHR site next time.

    One question for Raffles – do you have a recommended strategy for actually booking flights and hotels – how do you decide on Online Travel Agents versus direct?

    • I looked at the Sofitel on the stay when I ended up at the Reichshof but, as you say, the lack of a lounge meant I didn’t bother. Location not as good as the Hyatt either unless you want to be near the harbour.

      My hotel booking strategy depends whom I am with. If I’m with the family then the need for location, high quality and big enough rooms trumps everything else. If not, it tends to go something like this (which is effectively what we did in Toronto and Niagara this week):

      Use Tripadvisor to get a feel for the top 4-5 hotels – it isn’t perfect but if the InterCon is 25th by reputation then there is clearly an issue (I would not have ended up at the Trump in Toronto if it didn’t been so well reviewed)
      See which of the those top 5 I could get on points and decide if the location is also acceptable
      Compare the points cost to the cash cost to see if using points makes sense given my mental valuations of the points
      Factor in current promotions (eg the Kaligo 5,000 Avios for your first booking) – whilst remembering that Kaligo, etc will mean no status benefits
      Factor in any status I hold, as a free breakfast, upgrade etc may swing it
      Factor in additional benefits I would get paying cash but using a scheme like FHR or, via Propeller, Four Seasons Preferred Partner etc

      The Amex FHR 4pm GUARANTEED late check-out is often a swing factor for us (I also get this at every InterContinental due to my Ambassador status). All other things being equal, if we are on a weekend break or have a late flight back the 4pm check-out often swings it.

      • Is there anyway you can put that into topic on its own?
        I’m sure it would be a handy route, to start, for most people looking.

        • Could do … I was thinking that I wrote it

          • Yea that would be very helpful. I often trip myself up when undertaking that thought process for booking hotels and flights. How you go about yours would be a very helpful article indeed.

  8. I just got an Amex Platinum UK and excited about using FHR to book our winter holiday. I have some questions hope someone can help.
    1. Does FHR work for UK customers? I’m assuming yes
    2. I found some good deals (flights + the hotel I want at my selected destination) on BA holidays – in the past I booked such holidays thru BA to get Avios points as I am an BAEC member etc. Is there a clever way where I can get FHR benefits ( ie booking thru Amex) and try to maximise get Avios points? I presume it doesn’t matter as you get points thru Amex anyway and can transfer to Avios?
    Hope someone can guide me with some suggestions and tips :)

  9. Receive this exclusive suite of benefits with each FINE HOTELS Noon check-In, when available Room Upgrade upon arrival, when available Daily breakfast for two people In-Room Wi-Fi, exclusions apply Guaranteed 4pm late checkout Additional special amenity unique to each property, such as a $100 food and beverage credit or a massage for two people See Program terms and conditions for additional details Certain room categories are not eligible for upgrade; call Platinum Travel Service for details Complimentary In-Room Wi-Fi is not available in all locations. See terms for details.