What is the best hotel scheme? – Le Club Accorhotels – The Facts

This is the fifth of our overview series of the main hotel loyalty schemes. Each scheme will be covered over two posts on consecutive days. One will list the basic facts of the scheme, the other will be my subjective view of what is of particular merit.

Le Club Accorhotels covers 2,700 hotels globally. These operate under the Sofitel, Pullman, M Gallery, Novotel, Mercure, Adagio and Ibis brands, plus Orbis in Poland. Accor also owns for Formule 1 / F1 brand but this does not participate in the programme. The home page for the programme is here.

What is the geographic spread?

Accor has the largest number of non-US hotels of any chain. The group is well represented throughout the UK (Sofitel St James, their poshest UK hotel, is pictured below) at all price points.  The Sofitel at Heathrow Terminal 5 is connected directly to the airport. 

The chain is poorly represented in North America and, globally, it is not well represented in the luxury market.

Do I use them?

No – I think the last paid stay would have been the Ibis next to Nice train station many years ago!  The only exception was four years when they had a promotion offering easy-to-earn €40 vouchers. I collected five and used them at the Sofitel in Luxembourg.  I did have a day room at the Mercure in Kensington recently to sleep off a hangover ….

The Accor ‘Happy Mondays’ promotion is very popular with Head for Points readers.  Every Monday and Tuesday, unsold rooms in the UK for the following weekend are offered at £25 (Ibis) to £60 (Pullman).  You even see Ibis hotels in London occasionally on offer for £25.  You can read more about ‘Happy Mondays’ here.

Elite membership levels

Accor has three elite levels to the programme:

Silver – requires 10 nights or 2,500 points. Benefits are free internet, a welcome drink and a 25% point bonus.

Gold – requires 20 nights or 10,000 points. Benefits are free internet, a welcome drink, late check-our or early check-in and a 50% point bonus.

Platinum – requires 60 nights or 25,000 points. Benefits are free internet, a welcome drink, lounge access, late check-out and early check-in and a 75% point bonus.

Some Accor brands offer specific extra benefits to different tiers.

Platinum status is given free to American Express Platinum card holders for as long as they keep the card. It is the only top-tier hotel card offered by Amex.

Suite upgrades are NOT an elite benefit.

Full details of elite benefits can be found here.

Accor does not offer lifetime status.

Sofitel St James 350

Earning and spending points

Accor does not have a typical ‘earning and burning’ structure.

Following an increase to the rates in July 2014, non-status members earn 2.5 points for every €1 spent at the hotel. On the website, this is described as a 5% rebate.

For every 2,000 points you collect, you can redeem for a €40 Accor voucher. These can mainly be redeemed in Accor hotels.

As long as you avoid Ibis and Adagio properties, you are effectively receiving cashback (in Accor vouchers) of 5% as base member up to 8.8% for Platinum members.

If you don’t want to spend your voucher in an Accor hotel, there are a small number of other options – Europcar, Club Med holidays or (if travelling to Paris or Cannes) Lenôtre restaurants.  Sports tickets (for example French Open Tennis) are also available for points but this appears to be on an ‘invite only’ basis.

Exceptions – Accor has some weird exceptions to points earnings. At Ibis, Ibis Styles and Adagio, you earn 1 per €1. At Adagio Access you earn 0.5 per €1. In China, you earn nothing at Ibis hotels, every day.

There are also a few other partners where you can earn points but the only relevant one for a UK resident is Europcar.

Bizarrely, Accor has a partnership with Finnair which allows you to transfer your Finnair miles into Le Club Accorhotels points. The exchange rate is very poor at 7:1, putting a very low valuation on your miles, but it may make sense if you are just a little short of what you need to qualify for the next status level. You can generate Finnair miles by transferring American Express Membership Rewards points.

Bonus points

The group rarely runs global promotions, preferring to run a mix of regional offers.  However, in late 2014 and early 2015 it ran an exceptionally generous offer which let you earn 8,000 points (8,000 Avios or €160 of vouchers) for just three stays.  It remains to be seen if this is the start of a more aggressive promotional strategy.

It also runs regular private sales for Le Club members which offer cash discounts of up to 50%. See our ‘Hotel Promos‘ page for any current global offers.

Accor has a Facebook app which offers bonus points if you activate it during your stay at an Accor hotel – see this article for details.

Points expiry

Your points will expire exactly 12 months from your last stay. There is no way of extending their validity apart from doing a stay.

Can you upgrade using points?

No – except to the extent that you negotiate a better room for cash at check-in and then use your Accor vouchers to pay for it.

Are ‘cash and points’ redemptions available?

Yes, to the extent that you can part-pay your room with Accor vouchers whilst paying cash for the balance.

Airline redemption options

Accor points can be transferred to a number of airlines.

Uniquely among major hotel programmes, Accor has different exchange rates for different airlines. British Airways is 2:1 whilst Iberia is 1:1, so you should ALWAYS move your Accor points to Iberia Plus. You can then use ‘Combine My Avios’ to move them to your British Airways account.

Because you could use your points for an Accor voucher instead, you are effectively paying 2 Eurocents per Avios (2,000 Accor points = €40 or 2,000 Iberia Plus Avios). This is very expensive and you would be better off using the points for a hotel stay if possible.

Can I earn Avios directly without collecting points?

Yes, see ba.com here. You can earn Avios by showing your British Airways Executive Club or avios.com card at check-in. The amount will depend on which brand you are staying with – it is 1.25 Avios per €1 with the upper end brands.

You will not earn any Le Club Accorhotels points. However, you must still be a member of Le Club Accorhotels in order to do this.

Credit card partnerships

Can you get elite status with a UK credit card? Yes, American Express Platinum members receive Platinum status for as long as they retain Platinum.

Is there an Accor credit card in the UK? No

Is Accor an Amex Membership Rewards partner? No

Purchasing and transferring points

You cannot purchase Accor points. This is not surprising, given that they can only be redeemed for a fixed cash value.

My opinion

Click here for Part Two and my overall opinion of Le Club Accorhotels.

(To see our complete list of current Accor promotions, click here to visit our ‘Hotel Promos’ page or use the link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

An overview of Global Hotel Alliance, and how to get upgraded to Platinum status
Amex Gold relaunched today - some good news, mainly bad news
About Head for Points

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  1. Timely article. I’m off to the Pullman St Pancras today, so will remember to take my Avios card.

  2. Le club is a weak scheme when it comes to benefits. I stay fairly regularly at mercure branded properties and never really get anything (except bottles of water in the room). Also trying to sort out any problems through the central contact points is painful… It’s normally better to email individual hotels when you have a problem

    • We stayed at a Mercure in Manchester about a month ago and had the two rooms upgraded from standard to suites, and got a drinks voucher for each person staying due to status. That might be unusually unlucky, I’ve rarely stayed in Mercures before, but clearly status makes some difference at some of their hotels.

    • The_Real_A says:

      I have Platinum membership from AMEX – i have received some good service even from (even!) Ibis hotels, a daily drinks voucher and very early check-in and late checkouts (when the person next to me at reception was refused the same request – i was told it’s because of my membership tier). Also the lounge access at the more upmarket hotels is effectively a free bar, free breakfast and can also pass as an evening meal. You also seem to get benefits guaranteed even when booking with third parties.

      It might not be my go-to chain, but having the benefits give some choice in unfamiliar cities or when price sensitive. I’m also a big user of happy Mondays offer! I’m not particularly interested in the point’s scheme, it’s just a little boring!

  3. onemoretrip says:

    Very informative article, thanks. While not a programme benefit, Accor properties are often located in or near airports which make layovers easier to bear (especially for TP-runs). Also, as a platinum member I’ve received room upgrades at most properties; I can’t say the same for properties with my Hilton VIP status. Until June if you are an Accor shareholder you receive Platinum status.

    But I do agree with James, it can be hard to sort out problems through the central office. And free breakfast would be a nice programme benefit in properties without a lounge.

  4. Although the scheme for earning points, when compared to others, is weak the Platinum benefits have been good. A stay this week at Novotel and I was upgrade to executive room, free drink voucher, free bottled water and a ‘VIP’ welcome gift which contained some fruit and chocolate. This has been my experience on previous Novotel stays, even when booked through the Happy Monday offer. Also had room upgrades at Mercure (although not always).

    • Ditto – I don’t think it’s an amazing programme on the points side, but elite recognition is overall better than I received as IHG Plat. I’ve had a few airport hotel stays and was happy to receive water+fruit+chocolate as a welcome gift. Sofitel T5 has always given an upgrade and lounge access even on BA paid-for stays (due to flight delay) and my folks, who also have Accor Plat as my additional cardholder, received good treatment from Sofitel Rio.

  5. Accors platinum has definatly got me some good upgrades, better than IHG and it’s great for T5.
    Also found Accors really good for road trips in France and getting better treatment on the way south.
    The points are not worth chasing for rooms in my opinion and I tranfers to avios sites as a sideline to getting an upgrade.

  6. Accor has also added the Mama Shelter hotels to their portfolio (it looks like they corrently only have 5 hotels, but they are looking at opening a few more in the next months/years), these are now bookable on the accor site since the start of this month.
    They are not (yet?) members of Le Club, so not points earning or spending.

  7. Metatone says:

    Have Accor Plat through Amex Plat and it’s been a boon for Gatwick stays. Early check-in, late check-out, water and fruit in the upgraded room have all made journeys more pleasant.

    Other nice thing about Accor is good coverage in France/Germany, which can be useful.

  8. I stayed at the Mercure London Bridge last month and inquired about an upgrade at check in – the person said “I’ll see what I can do” with a smile and then when we got to our room, we had been DOWNGRADED. No mini-bar, no water, no table and chairs to sit at, no robes, no Nespresso coffee machine. I could not believe it!! The story ended up more complicated than that, the person felt they had upgraded me as the room had been recently redecorated and someone else who did not have a clue insisted it was a superking bed when it was a queen!! I was beside myself in the end and I felt like I was being taken for a mug. lesser mortals might have backed down and put up with what they were given 😉 I got it resolved with a letter of complaint that resulted in a free night in an upgraded room in June but frankly, I am still shaking my head thinking about how we were treated at check-in and beyond..

  9. From reading the comments after mine I can’t help feeling that I am being hard done by with my Accor plat 😛

    • Werner says:

      I’m sure it always depends on the hotel in question. I’ve certainly been treated well as a Plat and even as a Gold when my status was downgraded.

  10. gnarlyoldgoatdude says:

    I’ve never seen a good rate in Oxford and I regularly looked for the 3 years that I was working there. Having said that I didn’t need to be in the centre of town. If I did, and was willing to pay for it, I would recommend the Mercure.

    I did however stay in the HI (Peartree) and HIX (Kassam) which were both priced similarly.

    The better option has been to stay further away and drive in. Newbury, Slough and Heathrow offer much cheaper alternatives leaving a 30-50 minute journey instead.

    • Werner says:

      The Eastgate in Oxford is available on the Sunday pretty much every weekend for Happy Mondays. I always look because my parents enjoy going there. Friday and/or Saturday is available on a less frequent basis. I got all three nights last weekend for the Easter weekend. They offer breakfast at 10 pounds a head, so you essentially get bed and breakfast for 60 pounds – a quite incredible value deal for such a wonderful location.

      The better option is certainly NOT to stay further away and drive in. If you do that, you don’t get the most out of Oxford – you’re there at the same time as all the crowds of other daytrippers and schoolkids. You need to stay in the city itself, so you can enjoy the quiet spells in the earlyish morning and evening.

      • gnarlyoldgoatdude says:

        Agreed, but I was speaking as someone who had to work in the soulless Oxford Business Park during the week.

  11. Its by far my favourite scheme because of :

    – the two generous points offers they did in late 2014 and early 2015 counted towards status, so made gold on the back of it

    – free welcome drinks, early check in, late check out, and gold/platinum get room upgrades at the nicer end of the group

    – you can sometimes use points for speedboat rides in London and sporting events where they are sponsors, and also concerts.

  12. Currently sitting in a deluxe room at Pullman St P. Booked via Happy Mondays for £60. Drinks voucher, nespresso machine, fluffy slippers and a brilliant view from 11th floor. Off to the Science Museum shortly for the Red Arrows simulator flight 🙂

    • Werner says:

      Well done – never seen the Pullman available before, but it’s good to know that it does pop up since I’ve always wanted to try it.

      • The Pullman was added to the Happy Mondays promo this week, i think for the first time.

      • I’d definitely come here again if I can get it for £60. Came back to a nice note and a choccy on my pillow 🙂

  13. gnarlyoldgoatdude says:

    I received £220.31 without any problems for a booking I made for my wife’s business trip at the M Gallery Accra, Ghana 18 months ago.

    That hotel doesn’t appear to exist any more.

  14. Stuart says:

    I’m fairly new to Accor and managed to get Silver status which off the top off my head I think my card says it’s valid for a calendar year.

    I get this probably is a little dumb but I’m confused as to when I have to earn Gold status which I’m aiming for; is it a calendar year from the anniversary of me joining or do they work out if I earned enough points in the last 12 rolling months for status?

    I can’t seem to find any info on it online.

  15. Adam W says:

    “Platinum status is given free to American Express Platinum card holders for as long as they keep the card.”

    I know that’s what the rules say but I cancelled my (previous) Platinum card 9 months ago and am still Le Club Platinum.

  16. Happy Monday’s and privat (!) sales usually very good. Sometimes upgraded, never been given a duff room. Not in the same league as Radisson…

  17. I recently stayed exclusively at Accor hotels during a trip to Australa. I have platinum status through Amex. At every hotel we got drinks vouchers and free internet, including the Ibis Sydney Airport.
    At the Pullman Sydney Hyde Park we were upgraded to a suite, got the usual drinks voucher & wifi plus a bottle of wine and cheese platter in our room.
    I’m new to Accor but am impressed so far with their recognition of Platinum members.

  18. Forgot to add, also had access to the Exec lounge in Sydney, the only hotel on our trip that had an exec lounge.

    • And I have to add that the staff in the Pullman Sydney lounge were absolutely superb, my glass of wine was never less than half full and the breakfast offering was really great as well and saved us a fortune. Highly recommended hotel.

  19. How long does it take to get the Platinum Accor card once you have completed the application online?

  20. neuromancer says:

    Not just Finnair, TAM Fidelidade also allows transfers into Accor at 2:1 rate. That’s probably a better use of Fidelidade points than using them for flights. I’ve used that route to transfer from TAM to Avios at 2:1.