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How I maximised the value of an IHG reward night, including free lounge access

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I have just finished three nights at InterContinental Le Grand in Paris, a hotel which I rate highly for its frankly epic public areas – including the most astounding ballroom you will ever visit – and great location.

I successfully pulled off one of the best tricks you can do to maximise the value of a reward night – stacking it behind a paid night and assuming that the hotel will continue to honour your existing room and benefits.

In actual fact, this is what I did:

Friday night – paid for a Club InterContinental room

Saturday night – used my InterContinental Ambassador free weekend night certificate

Sunday night – redeemed my IHG Premium Visa free night voucher for a standard room

I spent my 4th night, in case anyone is wondering, at a non-descript place near Gare du Nord.  With a 4pm check-out from the InterContinental and an early train, it wasn’t worth splashing out.

The InterContinental did not blink an eyelid about letting me keep my Club level room.  More importantly, they didn’t blink an eyelid about me continuing to use the Club lounge on my reward night.  They could have done, because Le Grand sells lounge access as an add-on for €120 per room per night for Ambassador members (€140 for non-members).

The club lounge is a big deal here.  The staff are excellent, especially Gilles.  There is food available pretty much all day, as well as free flow champagne at breakfast and in the evenings.  The food is of high quality, although does not vary much so got a little repetitive by my third night.  Because the hotel is so central, it is easy to pop back in during the day for a top up.

This technique is one solution to the problem of how to book ‘premium’ rooms for IHG points.  It is also a solution if you want to bring children with you but a standard room cannot sleep more than two people.  Book yourself a larger room for cash for the first night and then book redemption nights behind it.

It is not 100% foolproof.  I hear the odd story about people who are asked to change rooms.   In general, you WILL get away with it.  Of course if you book a suite for one night and then book a standard room on points for seven nights then you should expect trouble. 

In my case, I had booked two cash nights – although the Ambassador voucher made one of them free – so extending the benefits for one reward night was not asking much.  I could almost certainly have added at least one more reward night without fear of being moved.

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 (62)

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  • barrycutters says:

    Off topic.
    I’m staying at a holiday inn tonight for one night. Needed two rooms , one for myself and one for a worker. Booked them both separately, but both under my name and on my ihg app. Therefore I’m hoping I will get points , and accelerate credit, for both these nights. Is that likely to happen. If so do I even have to bother booking as two separate bookings?. Thanks in advance

  • Dannyrado says:

    I’m guessing the IHG 72hr summer sale rates that are currently available, do NOT qualify for accelerate?? Does anyone have experience?

    • Rob says:

      Check the small print. IHG has started adding to the T&C’s ‘Rate will earn IHG Reawrds Club points’ in many cases. If that is not there, assume No.

      If this was an old offer, check my article.

      • Sididdly says:

        Slightly OT but still IHG related. I had a stay at Intercontinental London O2 last week and spent £610. For this I received a paltry 5880 base points. I looked at the earning details and the bill in no way resembled my spend e.g. it had £50 worth of phone calls on (who uses hotel phones?!)
        I complained and IHG Ambassador informed me that they were delighted to have corrected my mistake. When I checked I had an adjustment taking away 202 points (101 base)! I assume this was a change in the exchange rate in the past week on the still incorrect phantom bill.
        How many points do you think I should earn. At time of booking it forecast 7590 base points and I spent an extra £36 on a meal.

        • Rob says:

          In that case, just under 8,000 plus status bonus.

          • Sididdly says:

            Agreed. Also, I obviously booked it through your link but I am not overly optimistic about getting the correct double points posted. By my calculations I should have had roughly 8000 points x3 for base, elite bonus and HFP bonus. I’ll be happy if I can get my base/elite bonus right for a starter.

  • Andrew A says:

    I used my Ambassador free night in Times Sq New York this year and tagged on 4 free/reward nights but emailed the hotel beforehand so got upgraded to Sky view and kept the same room for 6 nights. I would like to go to the Le Grand in Jan next year so i was thinking I could renew my Ambassador membership 4 months early, get another certificate so spend 2, hopefully 3, nights in a junior suite with lounge access for €650 plus $150 for the membership. I will have spent £10k by then on IHG card for a free night. So can I renew early and get the free night again?

    • Rob says:

      Suites do not come with lounge access which is a pain. You either book a JS and pay Euro 120 per day for club, even on your AMB free night, or book a club room and hope for a JS upgrade. That was my plan, it failed.

  • Danksy says:

    nicely done! as you say it doesn’t always work!

    I booked 4 nights at century city in LA

    night 1 – free visa night
    night 2 – paid for suite
    night 3 – paid for suite
    night 4 – rewards night

    and had to move 3 times … I wasn’t happy but they weren’t able to help…not helped much by the fact that the hotel was undergoing refurb at the time!

    so I lucked out !

  • Simmo says:

    Worked along the same lines with Hilton Phuket for me.

    Diamond Status

    Night 1-3 booked a Suite for cash
    Night 4-7 used points and cash
    Night 8-9 booked the lowest rate std room

    All 3 reservations have been upgraded to a Deluxe Suite! Result!

  • WTL says:

    I’m contemplating using an AMB award weekend +3 paid nights, along with 4 nights (free night vouchers/points at Pool View). With the AMB award weekend + 3 paid nights (5 “paid” in total) I have booked one level above the standard reward night (Ocean View). This is for a stay at the IC Presidente Cozumel.
    Is it likely, I will retain the AMB upgrade (Ocean Front?) for all 9 nights? Or would I be given Ocean Front (?) for the first 5 paid nights, and a Pool View for the remaining 4 nights on points/free nights?

    • Sididdly says:

      I have a two night stay in Kuala Lumpur coming up in a couple of weeks. Thinking of doing a paid club room followed by a reward night. Do you think I’m likely to get club both nights? I know that sometimes they are rigidly ‘by the book’

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