One of the most useful benefits of having an American Express Platinum card – and one which genuinely helps me justify the £450 fee – is the Fine Hotels & Resorts programme.
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.
These special benefits vary in their usefulness, to be honest, but do add up. They 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 (valuable, many 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.
On our last trip to Four Seasons Hampshire, for example, using FHR allowed us to stay one night less and save a significant sum. With young kids in tow, you don’t get much done in the evenings anyway so leaving at 4pm the day before doesn’t make a lot of difference compared to leaving the next morning.
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.
UK Platinum members should book via travel.americanexpress.co.uk – make sure you are logged in or the FHR rates do not appear.
If you don’t have an Amex Platinum card, you can get similar benefits on luxury hotel stays by using a member of the Virtuoso group of luxury travel agents to make your booking. I wrote more about Virtuoso in this article which ironically also references a Four Seasons Hampshire stay I booked through them.
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