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InterContinental Royal Ambassador qualification criteria finally confirmed

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Last July I wrote a piece in praise of InterContinental Ambassador.  This is the loyalty programme for InterContinental hotels, and confusingly works alongside IHG Rewards Club.

Ambassador is different to other loyalty schemes for two reasons:

You join by paying $200, not by staying a certain number of nights

The benefits are GUARANTEED when you stay at an InterContinental on a paid rate

InterContinental Ambassador

If you are not familiar with the programme, take a look at my original article.  You get a free weekend night stay every year as a member which can recoup the fee by itself.

Ambassador has a second higher tier called Royal Ambassador.  I haven’t written about this before because you need to be a heavy stayer to get it.  More importantly, InterContinental never published the criteria required to achieve it.  People knew roughly what it was via trial and error but IC was obviously able to move the goalposts without anyone knowing.

The benefits of Royal Ambassador are impressive:

A minimum two-level upgrade on every InterContinental stay, and often much higher

Free mini-bar

Guaranteed 8am check-in

Plus the usual Ambassador benefits – guaranteed 4pm check-out, free fruit and mineral water, free Pay TV film per stay.

(As with Ambassador benefits, hotels are not required to give benefits on reward stays or stays booking through third-party booking sites.  In general, though, hotels will do so, especially on reward nights.)

The qualification criteria for Royal Ambassador have now been published as part of the IHG Rewards Club terms and conditions.  Scroll down to point 12 of the ‘InterContinental Ambassador’ section.

This is the criteria to hit during your Ambassador membership year (you must already be a member of the Ambassador programme to be invited to Royal Ambassador):

60 nights across ALL IHG brands, including Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza etc, of which you must have …

20 nights at InterContinental hotels, which must be across …

3 different InterContinental hotels

There are rumours that this opening up of the criteria for Royal Ambassador membership will be offset by a reduction in member benefits.  This could include limitations on the mini-bar perk (cash allowance or no refill during your stay) and a removal of suite upgrades unless you book a room which is within two levels of a suite.  These are just rumours, however.

If you stay at a lot of five star hotels, Royal Ambassador should be on your radar.  The benefits can make a real difference to your stays.

IHG One Rewards update – December 2023:

Get bonus points: Our article on IHG’s current bonus promotion is here. You will receive 2,000 bonus points for every two cash nights you stay until 31st December. Nights do not need to be consecutive. Click here to register.

New to IHG One Rewards?  Read our overview of IHG One Rewards here and our article on points expiry rules here. Our article on ‘What are IHG One Rewards points worth?’ is here.

Buy points: If you need additional IHG One Rewards points, you can buy them here.

IHG is offering a 100% bonus (some members may be offered less) when you buy points by 30th December 2023. Click here to buy.

Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from IHG and the other major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.

Comments (15)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Rich says:

    On a mildly related note, any news when the IHG credit cards will be available again?

  • DrTom says:

    Just to note, the first link in the article is the correct one. I believe that the second link goes to the old terms and conditions.

    The terms give the figure of 20 nights in ICs (not 30).

    I note that the criteria is “20 qualifying nights”. Presumably then, reward nights would count towards this target, which would make it possible to strategically obtain RA status quite cheaply.

    I hadn’t come across the IHG Dining Club before, mentioned in the terms. This costs $397 and comes with a free night in any IHG property, which could pay for itself immediately in an IC. Unfortunately the food discounts aren’t very useful as there are no European hotels participating yet, but the other benefits may well be worth having. Might be worth some further exploration and an article.

    • Rob says:

      The Dining Club is mainly as Australasian and Asian thing. There is no Euro version (yet?).

    • Rob says:

      Technically you could do a lot of 5k IC PointBreaks. However, remember that RA is not guaranteed if you hit the criteria so they could look at your stay pattern and decide not to give it.

  • Dr Kim says:

    A free weekend night! Big deal. You have to stay at least one other night at a special rate.
    Booking that free night is difficult, that is to say: you are not allowed to book directly with the hotel of your choice but through a friendly call centre in the Phillipines. Try incorporating the one free night in a stay from Friday through Monday. Not easy.
    On reward nights there are generally NO benefits like the free mini bar for Royal Ambassadors.
    In theory you could ask to have certain items (chmpagne?) replenished, but who is going to do this?
    Anyhow one can calculate the real benefit of a free mini bar easily. It isn’t worth much. And remember those chocolates or chips are not part of the free minibar deal. Also the contents of the minibar may be different on reward nights! It depends very much on the particular hotel too.
    And the staff! Sometimes they will sell your unused items on the street.
    I’d rather receive a good bottle of wine instead of a minibar full of softdrinks.

    Most hotels outside of the IHG will be happy to give you a free night in a weekend if you ask them. Mostly weekend nights are already available at a reduced rate. So is this such a benefit? I have let many vouchers expire.

    As real benefits I count the early check-in and late check- out and there again most bigger hotels can ccomodate you.

    • Dr Kim says:

      Absolutely not. Some Intercontinentals are quite good though but the quality is inconsistent.
      The franchise holders can – to some extent – do what they like.
      Yes they changed the contents in my mini bar when I had my free night but tis may depend op the hotel. One thing is certain, if you have to pay for Ambassador you have spent $200,–
      If you can afford staying in an Intercontinental why should you be so happy with a free mini bar?
      If you are lucky you will find 2 miniature whiskys, good for one drink and a few other miniatures that you may or may not want to drink. But because it is free I am not going to drink all that is available in the mini bar. Most hotel groups offer similar benefits without charge

  • pottmar says:

    I don’t think the change in criteria will have much effect on the number of Royal Ambassadors, I recently re-qualified for my RA status, and one thing I noticed was that they used to include a referral certificate in the RA Pack so you could gift RA status to a friend or family member, this certificate is no longer included so I guess everyone has to qualify in their own right now, so the net result should be less RA’s not more as with the referral certificate they were effectively making 2 RA’s every time someone qualified. I often used to see those certificates sold on ebay for mucho dinero which of course is against the terms and condition so I would never do such a thing…

  • Myer says:

    When you use your “Free Night”, it has to be booked with a paid night, for which you are charged a higher rate. You do not get the best price, so the saving is nothing special!

  • Dr Kim says:

    Hear, hear.
    Like the Platinum American Express Card this is one of the most overrated programs you can think of. However they are self destructive. Just wait.

  • pottmar says:

    I disagree. For business travel I admit there is little advantage, apart from the fact that I am often upgraded to a club room so having access to the club lounge (My company won’t pay for club rooms) is a nice benefit (However that varies by hotel, for example London Park Lane don’t add club benefits to RA Stays). However for leisure travel, I think it is great, I travel a lot for work so when I get the opportunity to take my wife away for a break it adds another level of “sparkle” to our holidays. I am always greeted as a Royal Ambassador, often whisked away to check in with the club lounge or concierge. I am usually upgraded to one of the best rooms in the hotel, my favourite was Cancun where we are always upgraded to a nice suite with the best views. Free mini bar is a great benefit when on holiday, we can have several drinks a day free of charge, there are usually several beers, wine, soft drinks and spirits in the minibar. Also as an RA they are usually bringing me gifts every day or so, sometimes a bottle of local spirit or a food plate, always something different. I estimate the added benefits came to around £1000 on our last trip to Mexico when you take into consideration the room upgrade, minibar, gifts and club access. Also once you qualify as a Royal Ambassador you no longer need to pay for Ambassador status, so I get all of this for free, they also give you a one year soft landing to Ambassador so if you fail to qualify for RA at the end of your year, you get a free years Ambassador status. I am sure there are some other hotels chains that run a similar invitation only status, however I am very happy with my Intercontinental Royal Ambassador.

    • Dr Kim says:

      In some hotels I am recognised as a Royal Ambassador, but not always. In some hotels I do get upgraded, but not always – or it is uncertain. Some hotels do a double upgrade. It very much depends on the hotel. I have been given lounge access but again, not always and anyhow the upgrade does not include lounge access.
      Quite another thing is that in too many cties there is no Intercontinental at least not in Europe.
      Being a RA does not really have any advantages when you check in with another hotel of the IHG.
      Often I go tupgraded to a better room but not to the suite I was supposed to get upgraded to.
      As said before the name Intercontinental does not guarantee the same standard in many countries. As for the minibar I don’t know to what extent I should use it to have it count against my room expenditure.

      • binky says:

        You should obviously trash the mini-bar & get completely lego-ed, surprised you need me to tell you that.

  • mitpat474 says:

    I don’t think reward nights count towards RA requals therefore forget about the 5k PBs…. in all honestly that would be pretty silly now.

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