Official: here are the IHG Rewards Club welcome benefits by hotel and tier level

One of the few guaranteed status benefits in IHG Rewards Club – if you are staying in Europe – is the ‘welcome amenity’ which is offered at check-in.  These are rarely anything to set the pulse racing but they are a gesture, especially at hotels where the rooms are virtually identical and there is little scope for upgrades or special treatment.

There has been some confusion in recent months about what is offered where.  In particular, some Crowne Plaza hotels have been offering club lounge access to Spire Elite guests.  Some, but not all.

A HFP reader was at a UK Crowne Plaza last week and complained that he was not offered an upgrade to the lounge, even though the hotel was willing to sell him access.  The hotel gave the reader a copy of its internal IHG guidelines to prove that it was not obliged to offer lounge access.   He passed it on to me and it is worth a look.

Here is the chart (click to enlarge) which came into effect in January 2017 in Europe:

IHG status levels and welcome amenities

As you can see, IHG is attempting to vary the offering by both brand and by membership tier.  This leads to 15 possible combinations of welcome amenity!

Top left is the most interesting.

A Crowne Plaza in Europe is meant to offer Spire Elite members 600 points or a drink and snack voucher or club lounge access.

This is a slightly odd choice, since the points are worth around £3, the drink / snack around £5 and club lounge access – based on the upsell price – around £50!

Here’s the catch though.  The hotel is allowed to make the lounge access benefit ‘subject to availability’ which could mean anything.  Hotel staff are told that they should always use the phrase “on this occasion” when offering club lounge access.

Importantly, lounge access is only for the Spire Elite member personally.  If you are sharing your room with your partner, they will not receive access.  You also cannot bring any guests into the lounge.  (Not all hotels will follow this rule, of course, but this is IHG’s suggested position.)

Other Spire Elite benefits are slim

Looking down the chart, there isn’t a lot else on offer for Spire Elite members on top of the Platinum Elite benefits:

At a Hotel Indigo, you can have a cocktail as your welcome drink – Platinum members cannot

At Staybridge Suites, you will get two drink and snack vouchers instead of one

At Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express hotels, whilst there is technically no difference between the Spire Elite and Platinum Elite amenities, Spire Elite members are meant to be offered a better choice of drinks at the point of redemption

Many hotels, of course, will go further for Spire Elite members.   These guidelines don’t cover room upgrades, which can be decent at a Crowne Plaza.  I booked a Junior Suite in Salzburg in February and ended up with a 2-bedroom suite, for example.  You also need to remember that Spire Elite members receive a 100% bonus on base points, which allows you to rack up free nights quickly.

Bits: Good Groupon MAN lounge deal, Lloyds drops Choice Rewards, Louis Vuitton hits LHR T3
Comparing UK lounge networks of Priority Pass, Lounge Club and LoungeKey
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Comments

  1. Alan C says:

    A little help if poss. Any thoughts on the IC Madrid. Booked a Club Room for this weekend using the Amb cert. Spire Ann wanting a room with a terrace or balcony that could sit out. Emailed a request and noted. Any rooms to ask for?
    Cheers
    Alan

    • Genghis says:

      Never stayed there but it’s a bit out of the mixer for tourism. I stayed at the Gran Melia down the road a few weeks ago even though IC slightly closer to our Madrid office.

      • It is a bit out of the way but last time i was there John Kerry was staying, the place was swarming with secret service agents. Gave the place a certain entertainment charm

        the sunday brunch is outstanding

    • I am not sure what is there current upgrade policy for AMB, but I stayed last year with my certificate and was treated well. Staff were all very friendly.
      According to flyertalk the junior suite with terrace overlooking the avenue is very nice, but then the room with balcony facing courtyard could be nice too…

  2. I wanted Hilton diamond so status matched spire to diamond and will complete 8 stays in 3 months. My OH was platinum through the IHG credit card and he was also status matched to Diamond which I was a bit surprised by as it’s not top tier. Might not bother trying for spire next year as I will have platinum through the credit card too.

    • Colin JE says:

      I did the same. The only problem was that Hilton were so quick doing it that my 90-day window finished too early for 4 of my stays booked in September to count, so I either have to make do with Gold, or do a mattress run for 3 more stays by end of August to keep Platinum.
      I’d shift the Sept bookings to IHG if they had another Accelerate offer. Any news on that Rob, or will they only launch another Accelerate once the existing offer is finished?

      • Anyone know if you can filter a Hilton on price rather than venue? I need 1 night so was hoping to pre-pay least possible to meet a Diamond challenge that I cannot meet with a ‘proper’ stay?

  3. Colin JE says:

    I can’t say I’ve received much in the way of benefits other than drinks or points, though I did get a late checkout to 1pm at the New York Times Square IC, despite ‘only’ being Spire Elite at that time. At a US HIE my colleague at base level got an upgrade but I didn’t even though I booked and checked in before her. I’ve since used 30k points to upgrade to Ambassador and get an extra year on Spire (didn’t get the 25k points for ‘renewing’ – but didn’t follow-up with IHG as I felt it was pushing my luck).
    The table is interesting reading. There’s such little difference between Plat and Spire that it barely seems worth it. Where were all these wonderful extras that were promised when IHG introduced Spire? You’d think that at least the points would be higher. A free breakfast would make it something worth chasing (even if it was only one – and they’d keep revenue in the hotel from couples, who might otherwise go out).
    The only plus point of IHG currently is that I can top up my points from Virgin, get my Spire renewed and another 25k back from IHG, and still use the points for free nights. And then use that status for matching with others, like Hilton who give better benefits.

  4. Glasgow Sprocket says:

    I recently stayed at the Intercontinental in Dublin as an award booking (I’m Platinum elite via the IHG credit card) and received both the drink voucher and the 600 points. The same thing happened with a reward booking in the Madrid Intercontinental in April. Regardless of whether this is an error or a deliberate decision a drink voucher in most Intercontinental hotels is well worth it as the drinks are usually exorbitant. 600 points back on the redemption simply brings a small smile to my face.

    First post for me after being a long time passive reader.

  5. I have received the drink voucher at HIX – though I booked my stay with Skywards miles. Nice!

  6. O/T When I log into my Tesco Clubcard account it says 20th July is the last day to stock up on points before you receive them in your next statement. Do you know when in August the points are released? Mine are set to automatically convert to Avios. Thanks

  7. Can anyone advise whether IC o2 will offer paid for lounge access to a spire (not ambassador) on a points stay? And any idea on costs?

  8. If any of the regulars can make use of Intercontinental IHG Ambassador Free Weekend Night Certificate before the end of July , I have one I now cant use (and Rob is too busy as well!)

  9. Nigel Proctor says:

    A little off topic –

    Has anyone who is a intercontinental ambassador (or who has been) got a view on the following:

    I am staying at the Chicago intercontinental for 5 nights and the LA downtown intercontinental for 3 nights this September. I am currebtly a platinum IHG member and am considering using 32k points to upgrade to ambassador status.

    Is it worth it? how good are the upgrades / free drinks / welcome gifts and are they a lot more than what you would get with IHG status?

    Thanks a lot all!

    • Upgrade (1 level) is guaranteed, 4pm check-out is guaranteed. Don’t put store on anything else.

      If your stays cover a weekend (Fri/Sat, Sat/Sun) then you’d be able to use your free weekend night certificate to cover the cost of a night, so effectively the whole thing covers its costs anyway.

      • Alex W says:

        In addition I’ve always had a fruit basket which just about covers 1 breakfast for 1 person at a stretch (not ideal though). The free movie is good too if you fancy a quiet night in.

    • IC upgrades have a bad reputation, upgrades can be to obscure room categories not on general sale, but a level above your room booking. At IC Ho Chi Minh i was upgraded to a higher floor, but a much smaller room (i knew the room numbers of both rooms to compare).

      Free drinks, nope, none.

      Welcome gifts, some fruit, at one IC i got a v nice business card holder, whilst at another i was literally handed a (empty) fruit bowl, wasn’t even boxed or anything. Ummm ta!

      • My personal experience has been excellent at IC. Hong Kong IC suite on 2/2 stays, shanghai suite upgrade, Mumbai suite upgrade. Perhaps the key is picking the right room category and knowing the hotel, for example HK won’t upgrade points stays to harbour view and often times there’s a break in the categories where the room rate jumps, every time I’ve chosen those points I’ve ended up with a fantastic room.

    • It’s all a bit random with ICs. LA Downtown is brand new. You might do better checking on FT till a few more HfP readers have tried it. Like Rob says you’ll be upgraded a category but to bank on this it has to be a paid stay.

  10. Johnny_c-l says:

    A couple of years ago I was offered a free drink voucher at a UK HIX only to be told at the bar it was not valid for a G&T as that is two drinks….mixers are chargeable!!

    A great example of how to underdeliver on service!

  11. I am a spire member. Checked into Holiday Inn Sheffield Victoria was only offered points or free drink.

  12. Mr Dee says:

    If they offered free breakfast then I would likely be more interested in collecting and redeeming points vs Hilton as it can easily stack up when staying in the Crowne Plaza and Intercontinental brands over a few days of more than 1 person.

    • Indeed. It was a joy to pay a £90+ breakfast bill for 2 adults and 2 kids at the InterContinental O2 last year …..

  13. Mr Dee says:

    BTW in your example of the person who was inquiring about the lounge access, I assume he wasn’t Spire Elite and Platinum or below?

  14. Andrew says:

    I’m Spire, at CP they rarely give lounge access – I’ve stayed at a Heathrow, Gatwick and Kings Cross – they sometimes upgrade you to Clib room but still don’t give you access to Lounge. Last night I asked if I could have lounge access as the room was not upgraded as they were “full” (yet website said they still had 4 for sale) receptionist said this was not a benefit.

    • It depends, check out the threads on FT and choose your CPs wisely. Newcastle, Glasgow, Copenhagen, Athens are good.

      • RussellH says:

        I am happy to second the recommendations for CP Newcastle and Copenhagen.

        By contrast, I always thought the rooms at CP Manchester Airport were the smallest possible you could get away with at a CP until we stayed at CP Gatwick a couple of weeks ago – barely room for two people and four suitcases (we were en route to a wedding in California).

        Restaurants at both Manchester and Gatwick were pretty good, though.

  15. Ramones says:

    I have been very lucky with IHG Ambassador Platinum. Have had some amazing room upgrades and complementary club lounge access a number of times so far this year. No complaints whatsoever with IHG rewards club.

    Thanks Rob for all the great advice and tips.

  16. RussellH says:

    At least a Gold menber at IHG gets something, at least here in Europe. Only Accor matches that for Silver, with drinks vouchers only, no points.

    Hilton Honors, Club Carlson, Marriott Silver and SPG plus all give you nothing apart from a few extra points, though if they are feeling kind you might get a bit of an upgrade if the place is half empty. (We did get a surprise upgrade to the “Golden State Suite” at 4 Points in San Jose last weekend. Nothing was said at the front desk, so it was only when we saw the little notice by the room number and opened the door that we realised!!)

  17. As a Platinum I got that strange offer of a drink or lounge access at a recent stay in CP Harrogate…of course 3 nights in lounge was a no-brainer, but I was slightly surprised by the offer !!

  18. Alex W says:

    Instead of 100% bonus points they should offer Spires lounge access and/or free breakfast. That would certainly increase my loyalty to IHG.

    • RussellH says:

      Free breakfast could be worth having – unless the only hotel for miles around is a HIX. Do all CPs have lounge? The only one I have been in is Manchester Airport, which was paid for on a special offer. Pretty poor as I recall; breakfast would have been far preferable.

  19. I’ve recently stumbled upon some additional IHG points and thought I would share it with you on this excellent site…
    Having moved to the new creation credit card (the free white one) I realised that I would be able to make spire status by year end (card spend plus some stays) if I switched to the black credit card. It transpired that you can’t upgrade the card and have to apply from scratch. This has triggered all of the benefits again in the same year so I’m well chuffed.

    It begs the question how many cards they will issue to a person but do the maths and get applying if you’re close to an upgrade!

  20. IC Al Jubail KSA 600pts or a drink voucher

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