One of the key benefits of the American Express Platinum charge card – apart from the 30,000 points (=30,000 Avios) you get for signing up! – is the Fine Hotels & Resorts programme.
As I booked a stay via this programme last week, I thought it was worth running over the key benefits again. I will also explain how you can get similar benefits without a Platinum card via our hotel booking partner, Bon Vivant.
FHR, as it is known, is a collection of 600 luxury hotels worldwide which commit to offering special benefits to American Express Platinum cardholders when you book via Amex Travel. FHR bookings can be made online via the Amex Travel website (you must be logged in as a Platinum cardholder to see pricing) or by calling. Bon Vivant can also book them for you – this is a little unnecessary, admittedly, as you can do it yourself online but you could always ask Bon Vivant if they have any better deals via Virtuoso or a ‘preferred partner’ agreement and if not to book FHR for you anyway.
The 2017 directory of FHR properties is here. This site is aimed at US Amex customers but the deals are the same globally.
The special FHR benefits are:
Noon check-in when available (I value this at nothing! I want it guaranteed or it is useless.)
Room upgrade on arrival when available (can be very good but not guaranteed)
Free breakfast for two people (very valuable at expensive hotels)
GUARANTEED 4pm check-out (very valuable on some trips)
Free in-room wi-fi (can be valuable, some luxury hotels still like to charge)
An additional benefit, usual $100 of food and beverage credit per stay
Where FHR really works for me is the guaranteed 4pm check-out. If you are on a short break with an evening flight home, you really don’t want to be checking out of your hotel at 11am or noon. Yes, the hotel will store your bag for you, but it isn’t the same as having full access to your room.
On my trip last week, my flight out of Hamburg was 17.10. Being able to keep the room and work until 3pm was a real benefit.
The big downside of Fine Hotels & Resorts is pricing. Rates seem to be fixed in advance for the year so it is possible that, if the hotel starts discounting, the FHR rate may be higher than the highest flexible rate on the hotel website. That said, on a shorter stay the $100 food and drink credit usually offsets that and you still have the benefit of free breakfast, late check-out and potential upgrade. As it turned out, pricing was identical on my stay last week.
It is worth noting that Fine Hotels & Resorts rates DO quality for points and status credit if you stay at a chain hotel.
Park Hyatt Hamburg
I used Fine Hotels & Resorts to book a room at the Park Hyatt in Hamburg last Thursday. This has been my ‘go to’ hotel in Hamburg for years, partly because it is 1 minute from the railway station and partly because it is very well run and maintained. I even remembered my swimming trunks this time!
The Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts rate was €245 – the same as the flexible rate on the Hyatt website.
The first time I stayed on an FHR package I was given a huge junior suite. This time, like last year, I was upgraded to the executive floor, which meant I got access to the club lounge for free. If I’m honest, this doesn’t add much because the other FHR food and drink benefits are so good.
For one night stays, the rebate you get on a Fine Hotels & Resorts booking is substantial. I got:
free breakfast (I could have had it in the lounge as I was upgraded but I went to the restaurant as this was part of the FHR deal – and the Park Hyatt does a great breakfast. This would have been valid for two people if my wife had come too.)
€85 of food and beverage credit, which I used in the casual dining area – it would also have been valid for the main restaurant, but not via room service. This is equivalent to 30% of what I paid for my room.
additional evening snacks and drinks from the club lounge, due to my executive floor upgrade
check-out to 3pm (I could have had 4pm) for my 5pm flight
I also got a half-bottle of wine in my room (which I had to leave behind as I was only on hand baggage) and a bag of chocolates. I don’t know if this was due to FHR, my previous stays at the hotel or my World of Hyatt membership – albeit I have no Hyatt status.
Based on previous experience, the stay will post to my World Of Hyatt account in the next couple of days. FHR bookings do earn points, unlike most third party website bookings.
No Amex Platinum? No problem!
If you don’t have an American Express Platinum card, you can access similar benefits at luxury hotels via Emyr Thomas at Bon Vivant, who is the HFP hotel booking partner. Emyr is an affiliate of SmartFlyer, a Virtuoso agency, which means that booking through him can get you access to similar benefits including upgrades, free breakfast, early check-in / late check-out and $100 hotel credits (or similar) at every Virtuoso member hotel.
To be fair, Park Hyatt Hamburg is not in Virtuoso, so it wouldn’t have helped here. The Fairmont Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten and soon-to-open The Fontenay Hamburg (built on the site on the now-demolished InterContinental Hamburg) are, however.
(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards? Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)