Benefiting from Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts at Park Hyatt Hamburg

One of the key benefits of the American Express Platinum charge card – apart from the 30,000 points (=30,000 Avios) you get for signing up! – is the Fine Hotels & Resorts programme.

As I booked a stay via this programme last week, 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 via our hotel booking partner, Bon Vivant.

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 (you must be logged in as a Platinum cardholder to see pricing) or by calling.  Bon Vivant can also book them for you – this is a little unnecessary, admittedly, as you can do it yourself online but you could always ask Bon Vivant if they have any better deals via Virtuoso or a ‘preferred partner’ agreement and if not to book FHR for you anyway.

The 2017 directory of FHR properties is here. This site is aimed at US Amex customers but the deals are the same globally.

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 on some trips)

Free in-room wi-fi (can be valuable, some luxury hotels still like to charge)

An additional benefit, usual $100 of food and beverage credit per stay

FHR

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 11am or noon.  Yes, the hotel will store your bag for you, but it isn’t the same as having full access to your room.

On my trip last week, my flight out of Hamburg was 17.10.  Being able to keep the room and work until 3pm was a real benefit.

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.  As it turned out, pricing was identical on my stay last week.

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 to book a room at the Park Hyatt in Hamburg last Thursday.  This has been my ‘go to’ hotel in Hamburg for years, partly because it is 1 minute from the railway station and partly because it is very well run and maintained.   I even remembered my swimming trunks this time!

Park Hyatt Hamburg

The Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts rate was €245 – the same as the flexible rate on the Hyatt website.

The first time I stayed on an FHR package I was given a huge junior suite.  This time, like last year, I was upgraded to the executive floor, which meant I got access to the club lounge for free.  If I’m honest, this doesn’t add much because the other FHR food and drink benefits are so good.

For one night stays, the rebate you get on a Fine Hotels & Resorts booking is substantial.  I got:

free breakfast (I could have had it in the lounge as I was upgraded but I went to the restaurant as this was part of the FHR deal – and the Park Hyatt does a great breakfast.  This would have been valid for two people if my wife had come too.)

€85 of food and beverage credit, which I used in the casual dining area – it would also have been valid for the main restaurant, but not via room service.  This is equivalent to 30% of what I paid for my room.

additional evening snacks and drinks from the club lounge, due to my executive floor upgrade

check-out to 3pm (I could have had 4pm) for my 5pm flight

I also got a half-bottle of wine in my room (which I had to leave behind as I was only on hand baggage) and a bag of chocolates.  I don’t know if this was due to FHR, my previous stays at the hotel or my World of Hyatt membership – albeit I have no Hyatt status.

Based on previous experience, the stay will post to my World Of Hyatt account in the next couple of days.  FHR bookings do earn points, unlike most third party website bookings.

No Amex Platinum?  No problem!

If you don’t have an American Express Platinum card, you can access similar benefits at luxury hotels via Emyr Thomas at Bon Vivant, who is the HFP hotel booking partner.   Emyr is an affiliate of SmartFlyer, a Virtuoso agency, which means that booking through him can get you access to similar benefits including upgrades, free breakfast, early check-in / late check-out and $100 hotel credits (or similar) at every Virtuoso member hotel.

To be fair, Park Hyatt Hamburg is not in Virtuoso, so it wouldn’t have helped here.  The Fairmont Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten and soon-to-open The Fontenay Hamburg (built on the site on the now-demolished InterContinental Hamburg) are, however.

You can read more about our hotel booking service here, and more about Amex Platinum in my card review here.

(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

250 free Avios for joining Meridiana Club (but any use?)
Holiday Tips 3 – earning Avios or other miles when ordering foreign currency
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Comments

  1. I was under the impression that with a Platinum card, FHR rates can only be booked via Amex / on their website in order to qualify for the rate and exclusive benefits. How can Bon Vivant book these?

    • barnaby100 says:

      They are a Virtuoso agent- a scheme which has similar benefits to FHR.

    • Not sure of the process, but all luxury agents can access them – you still need to have a Plat card though.

  2. barnaby100 says:

    The FHR rate typically bears no resemblance to any rate on the hotel website (it is more expensive) whilst so far the Bon Vivant rate has been the same as a published rate.

    • That is the key difference between FHR (which can vary) and Virtuoso / Bon Vivant.

      We ‘overpay’ via FHR occasionally to guarantee the 4pm checkout though, or when we will use the food credit.

  3. I have not had the same experience with AmEx FHR. I have never been upgraded to the executive floor and have not been upgraded at all in 50% of the times I used it.

    I also feel the price is expensive and often a direct booking of a deal on the hotel website is better. Ok you do not get the financial allowance but if you are an elite with a chain (that can also comes with AmEx Platinum) then you also may get an upgrade and late checkout.
    I have found it difficult to use the food and drink allowance as I enjoy going out for a meal to see the sights of the city I am visiting.

    Currently I remain ambivalent as to the FHR offers.

    • I concur, I’m very anti food at hotels and prefer going out for local cuisine in the area. Don’t mind if it’s free though 🙂

  4. There are also offers such as ‘3 nights for the price of 2’ and ‘4 nights for the price of 3’ with the FHR programme.

  5. I am a massive fan of booking via the FHR programme. I’ve used it in Barcelona, New York, Bali, and a few other cities. I’ve been upgraded every single time – sometimes to rooms / suites 2/3 categories above what I’ve booked. I’ve basically received every benefit listed, every single time.

    This has incredible benefit when considering that sometimes a room’s rate may be £250 per night, and the upgraded room may be £850 per night (this happened at the EDITION hotel in NYC). Throw in the “pay for 2, stay for 3” deal and it becomes a no-brainer.

    One note of correction: the rates are definitely not fixed. When in Bali, we initially booked The Ritz at around £320 per night, and then a week later the rate dropped to £240. A simple call to the concierge and they were able to cancel the booking so that I could rebook it at the lower rate (they can’t rebook for you as it’s churning).

    Overall, I can certainly recommend FHR! It’s the reason I’m renewing my platinum card.

    • Genghis says:

      What was your opinion on the RC Bali?

      • The hotel itself is really good. We were upgraded from a ‘Lagoon access suite’ to a ‘Ritz Carlton Lagoon Access Suite’, which was around 130sqm, or something ridiculous. The bed is probably 2.5m x 2.5m, there’s a massive bathroom and a guest loo, plenty fruit supplied, a daybed, etc etc. The suite was truly impressive!

        The hotel is very large, and you need buggies to get around (readily available). The pool area is quite good, but the beach is not that good. Overall, the service was very good, but I did not find the food to be all that impressive.

        The location is not great. Nusa Dua is full of resorts, so you are very far removed from any sort of Bali vibe. We had a great time at the hotel, but only stayed 4 nights and decided not to extend. After that, we spent a night in Canggu, and then two nights at the Marriott Courtyard in Seminyak – where the gold status also helped – early checkin, late checkout, discount on food etc. Unfortunately no upgrade there as the hotel was 100% full.

        • Genghis says:

          We stayed only one night in April and by the sounds of it we got the same room as you. The room itself very impressive, one of the best I’ve stayed in, and grounds very impressive, pool nice. The service was a right shocker, however. As such, I only gave it a 3* TA review. On check out I explained everything that had gone wrong to the duty manager so hopefully such feedback is taken onboard to make this a really fantastic hotel. We much preferred our remaining time at the Conrad up the road.

        • You guys think Bali has lost its appeal now?

        • the real harry1 says:

          I was very unimpressed with Denpasar as far back as the year 2000 – not my scene at all – that’s where 80% of tourists stay and I would advise against, it’s pretty awful

          however the rest of the island is great

        • Genghis says:

          We stayed just outside Ubud for 4 nights then to the RC for one night and the Conrad for seven. Highly recommended. We avoided Kuta area completely. I went in 2009 and it wasn’t my scene then so not at all now I’m in my early 30s.

    • Then you have been incredibly lucky or I have been incredibly unlucky. I am surprised our experiences have been so different.
      Perhaps I am not good looking enough!!!

      • Darren says:

        Maybe it’s down to frequency of use, I have only used FHR once in the Pen in BKK, didn’t receive the upgrade but found the benefits of breakfast and late check out very useful. The dining credit was a little restrictive, but handy nonetheless.

        I use SLH Club all the time, mainly because I prefer smaller hotels rather than chains, which gives free breakfast, upgrade if available which I have been quite fortunate with. But, the scheme is changing to a more ‘focussed’ experience.

  6. I have heard a lot of negative things about the Club and the breakfast/restaurant, since it must be very crowded!?

    • I have been here at a weekend and found it busy. Pretty dead at 9am on a Friday. Club was always very empty.

  7. Hey Rob, any reason you keep going to this rather than Kempinski or Grand Elysée?

    • Force of habit; unwillingness to risk a surprise on a 1 night stay; convenience for S-Bahn to airport

  8. The misconception that Amex is expensive is not true. FHR rates (and virtuoso) are what a hotel website would have under “best available rate” – it is a flexible rate
    It is true that hotels sometimes offer a 5-10% discount directly but these rates are pre paid and non refundable. Amex tells fhr guest that they benefits are consider to a value of prox 500usd.

    • Not true for Amex, true for Virtuoso.

    • barnaby100 says:

      Not true for Amex. Some hotels have a totally different FHR rate. Four seasons would be a typical example. RC in Singapore is another that I can think of (better booking directly with the hotel and negotiating for extras in my experience)

  9. OT but related to Amex platinum. I was caught up in the BA IT fiasco and my MAN – NCE flight was cancelled. BA paid EU compensation and hotel but refused to cover consequential loss of F1 Monaco GP tickets. Sent claim to Amex platinum (AXA) which has been refused on the grounds that as I made my own way to NCE 48 hours later I’m only covered for the inconvenience insurance. They have a huge exclusion on any consequential loss to not include cancellation of a flight by the airline. So beware Amex platinum insurance is not comprehensive.

    • Jonathan Martin says:

      Hi BLT – can you confirm that BA paid your wasted hotel nights?

      I missed out on 2 nights in Venice and, apart from paying Eu261 & some incidentals, BA are refusing to pay the lost hotels (inc 1 night at Stucky Molino!).

      Thx,

      Jolly.

      • Not the wasted hotel nights. They reimbursed hotel at MAN airport we had to book due to cancelled flight. Seems like between BA and Amex/ AXA you are screwed for consequential loss.

  10. $100 food credit on a $300 room is fine but what if you stay 4 days or a week ? The single $100 credit looks very poor then doesn’t it ?

    I have had a couple of hotels give me daily credit but also been refused even when suggesting the technical – I book for Mon, Wed, Fri and my other half books for Tue, Thur, Sat etc.

    On principle, I won’t pay more for longer stays outside the room rate changing. It is taking the michael.

    • It does, I agree – but this article was about one night stays being excellent value.

    • It’s worth checking both the FHR offer and the Virtuoso offer for a property. I booked a hotel recently where the FHR benefit is $100 credit per stay, but the virtuoso benefit was $100 credit per night. Room rate was the same, and all other benefits identical except FHR guaranteed 4pm late checkout whereas Virtuoso only offered 4pm late check-out if available. Emyr was able to contact the hotel and ask them to guarantee the late check-out on the Virtuoso rate, so I got the best of both offers and he got some commission instead of amex. Highly recommended.

      • the real harry1 says:

        how does this Virtuoso stuff work?

        it seems once one gets qualified as a Virtuoso agent, you can grab commission & ask hotels to give better deals in terms of extras – which they readily do?

        • Virtuoso, centrally, negotiates the deals which its agents can then offer.

          You need to understand why they do this. It is a US business, virtually unknown here. In the US, wealthy individuals tend to use individual travel advisers for their bookings and they mainly subcontract to Virtuoso.

          (It’s a bit like a travel version of St James’s Place financial management, which is the only business in the UK I can think of which serves the wealthy market via independent contractors)

          When a hotel offers a good deal to Virtuoso, the agents who work for it are highly likely to suggest such a hotel over one which does not have a Virtuoso relationship and so has no special benefits. And think how cool the adviser looks when he says “I can book you into this place and you’ll get a deal you can’t get when you book direct”. It’s the same reason hotels offer a good deal to Amex Platinum FHR, because their customers are likely to be Platinum cardholders and Platinum cardholders are likely to favour FHR properties. When you get critical mass it is a virtuous circle.

        • the real harry1 says:

          thanks for explanation

        • Thanks for the explanation of Virtuoso but can you refresh us on the means of using Virtuoso as looking at their website it asks us to find an advisor.

        • Use Emyr at Bon Vivant, he is one of the very very few UK based advisers – http://www.headforpoints.com/virtuoso-agent-london/ – and very good. We’ve done £320,000 of booking for readers since January.

        • Cheer Rob but honestly, in 21st century, I am expecting a little more than having to email someone with tight specifics on what I want against having filters options made available at the touch of a button.

          How do I even know which hotels he might be able to use ?

          For instance, I am going to Singapore and looking at the Capella on Sentosa. However, on any modern search facility, I can instantly see other potential properties and their respective rates which may drop significantly if booked the day after or (similar to you) we need either connecting rooms or a large enough suite. Alternatively, some hotels have specific rooms which well suit having a 3rd persons bedding down.

          I don’t feel I can go back and forth to an agent and yet I don’t think I have enough comparative information to make a singular request and then get a take it or leave it price.

          For a specific hotel on a specific date then perhaps it works but I am trying to make it work for me and I’m struggling.

        • It isn’t designed to be used that way though. It is designed to be used by home-visit travel agents in the US.

          Emyr can also access all of the Preferred Partner booking schemes with Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental, Shangri-La etc. You should start on the basis that he can get something, and if he can’t he’ll tell you quickly.

          However, let me sort out your problem for you. Take one of the residential villas in the grounds of Sentosa. We did this 2 years ago. They are HUGE – designed for families who live there permanently. There is an extra pool for villa guests and a private lounge where you can have breakfast. It is fantastic. All of the hotel facilities are available to you 90 seconds walk away.

          These are NOT in the hotel booking system, although from time to time booking.com has had them showing. There is a separate website where you can enquire about availability.

        • Rob – you mean in the grounds of Capella ? Sentosa is the island.

        • Yes, sorry, the villas / apartments in the grounds of Capella.

          This is it – http://www.theclubcapellasingapore.com/

          We were there with both kids and a nanny – as my wife was at a conference during our time there and so not around much – and it worked very well. The (very public) beach is literally a minute away.

        • Sorry for dragging this Capella this on but do you mean the 1/2/3 bedroom suites or the separate Manor houses / Colonial rooms ?

        • The separate Club bit as per the link. We had a 3-bed apartment. I can send you some pics from May 15 if you drop me an email.

  11. The problem I find is the prices can be upto 25% higher than usin sites lik hotels.com when combined with cashback and the free night. if you’re just interested in the cheapest price im not sure it’s really worth it.

  12. How does the actual booking process with Bon Vivant work?

    I have enquired a couple of times, but it’s never been clear to me how the booking actually worked – it seemed like the person who replied to me was suggesting that I send my credit card details via email to complete the booking, but surely that can’t be correct?

    Perhaps it was because I was enquiring about single-night stays, but I did find it strange that there wasn’t a “if you want to proceed with this booking, please do X” part of the email reply…