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The Leaders Club entices me back with a freebie …. where should I go?

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I don’t mention Leading Hotels of the World much on Head for Points.  10 years ago it was quite a force in luxury hotel marketing – and they threw some fantastic events in London to prove it.

Leading Hotels of the World is a marketing group for 375 independently run luxury hotels across 75 countries.  It provides a centralised booking site as well as a loyalty programme, Leaders Club.

Its allure has faded in recent years.  There is no particular reason but the factors include:

the continued growth of branded luxury hotels, primarily Four Seasons, which do not belong to Leading Hotels of the World

the struggle that independent luxury hotels find in accessing the capital needed to renovate and compete with the major brands, which makes them less attractive to guests

the introduction of a $150 annual fee for joining Leaders Club, albeit this can be justified by additional benefits on stays

the growth of ‘preferred partner’ travel agent schemes such as Virtuoso (which includes a lot of independent hotels), Four Seasons Preferred Partner etc.  These schemes offer GUARANTEED benefits when you book through them as opposed to the vague benefits – apart from breakfast – promised by LHW.


If you join Leaders Club for $150 you receive the following benefits:

A free night for every five stays you complete (there are conflicting reports about how difficult it is to redeem a free night)

Free continental breakfast for two on every stay

One category room upgrade when available at check-in

Free internet access

Early check-in / late check-out ‘considerations’ (ie worthless)

Welcome gift at each hotel

The only thing you can rely on is free breakfast – although that is worth having, of course, and would justify the $150 membership fee on a 2-3 night stay at a Leading Hotels member.

However, compare it to the benefits that American Express offers to Platinum cardholders who book a hotel via Fine Hotels & Resorts (I wrote more about Fine Hotels & Resorts here):

Noon check-in when available (admittedly worthless)

Room upgrade on arrival when available (not worth much)

Free breakfast for two people (continental at a minimum but usually full in my experience)

GUARANTEED 4pm check-out (very valuable)

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

Free in-room wi-fi 

Compared to Leaders Club, Fine Hotels & Resorts trumps them with the $100 food and beverage credit, often a better breakfast and a GUARANTEED 4pm check-out.

Gainsborough Bath

LHW wants me back

I let my Leaders Club membership lapse when the $150 annual fee was introduced.  I have happily survived without it using a mix of Virtuoso, Fine Hotels & Resorts and Four Seasons Preferred Partner booking options.

On Monday, however, I got an email from Leaders Club:

If I renew my Leaders Club membership for $150, I can claim a free night at one of 49 participating hotels to be used before 30th November.

This looks like a good deal.  There are a lot of hotels on the list I like the look of.  This includes the new and well reviewed The Gainsborough in Bath (image above) – where I was at university – which is usually £267 midweek with breakfast.  I could get in via this route for £115.

There are others – the Kamp in Helsinki which I stayed in years ago and loved.  Vila Vita in Portugal which I’ve always been intrigued about.  The Bairro Alto in Lisbon.  The Grand Hotel in Stockholm which, again, I have stayed in a few times.  I took my wife there on our first weekend away if I remember correctly.  For $150 this is a good deal even if I don’t use the LHW benefits again during my membership year.

So …. I have ponied up my $150.  I will let you know when and where I redeem my free night, whether I have any issues doing so and what sort of LHW recognition I receive.

best hotel loyalty promotions

Hotel offers update – July 2024:

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

Want to buy hotel points?

  • Hilton Honors is offering a 100% bonus when you buy points by 23rd July 2024. Click here.
  • Marriott Bonvoy is offering a 25% to 50% mystery bonus when you buy points by 24th July 2024. Click here.

Comments (29)

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

  • harry w says:

    i have to say that in my experience the breakfast alone is worth the $150, most of the hotels will charge around £30/$50 for breakfast. When there are two of you it doesn’t take long to get value for the fee. I use the Langham in London a lot and also get membership of the 1865 club.
    The Okura in Amsterdam is worth a visit.

    • John says:

      Only if you routinely pay £30 or $50 for breakfast. If a hotel charges that much I will look for a cafe outside and have a meal of similar or better quality for £10 or less.

  • CK says:

    Tortuga bay in punta Cana, Dominican republic

  • Mrs_Fussy says:

    Is this offer available to new members as well? I would be tempted to get membership

  • marly says:

    Strange, I am a member, and it was free. That must have been a promotional period or something, I don’t remember who posted it but I just needed to complete a form from the Biltmore in Miami and now I am a member and didn’t spend a dime nor ever stayed at any of their properties, unless I did without knowing…
    I am looking into taking full advantage of it in the coming months.

  • harry says:

    Shouldn’t Raffles just go to the best redemption – Europe, be reasonable! – where he gets most £ benefit?

    Could be a new place.

    Could be a familiar place at a particularly popular (sold out) time.

    It’s all about the money (ok not really but it is a way of approaching this)

  • BigDave says:

    If you look at the rates for the room credit offers they are at least £30-£50 more expensive per room per night compared the the 15% off offer per night so you are (depending on nights stayed) paying or overpaying for the room credit anyway

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

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