Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Official: here are the IHG Rewards Club welcome benefits by hotel and tier level

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

One of the few guaranteed status benefits in IHG Rewards Club – if you are staying in Europe – is the ‘welcome amenity’ which is offered at check-in.  These are rarely anything to set the pulse racing but they are a gesture, especially at hotels where the rooms are virtually identical and there is little scope for upgrades or special treatment.

There has been some confusion in recent months about what is offered where.  In particular, some Crowne Plaza hotels have been offering club lounge access to Spire Elite guests.  Some, but not all.

A HfP reader was at a UK Crowne Plaza last week and complained that he was not offered an upgrade to the lounge, even though the hotel was willing to sell him access.  The hotel gave the reader a copy of its internal IHG guidelines to prove that it was not obliged to offer lounge access.   He passed it on to me and it is worth a look.

Here are the IHG Rewards Club welcome benefits by elite status level

Here is the chart (click to enlarge) which came into effect in January 2017 in Europe:

IHG status levels and welcome amenities

As you can see, IHG is attempting to vary the offering by both brand and by membership tier.  This leads to 15 possible combinations of welcome amenity.

Top left is the most interesting.

A Crowne Plaza in Europe is meant to offer Spire Elite members 600 points or a drink and snack voucher or club lounge access.

This is a slightly odd choice, since the points are worth around £3, the drink / snack around £5 and club lounge access – based on the upsell price – around £50!

Here’s the catch though.  The hotel is allowed to make the lounge access benefit ‘subject to availability’ which could mean anything.  Hotel staff are told that they should always use the phrase “on this occasion” when offering club lounge access.

Importantly, lounge access is only for the Spire Elite member personally.  If you are sharing your room with your partner, they will not receive access.  You also cannot bring any guests into the lounge.  (Not all hotels will follow this rule, of course, but this is IHG’s suggested position.)

What are the other Spire Elite benefits?

Looking down the chart, there isn’t a lot else on offer for Spire Elite members on top of the Platinum Elite benefits:

At a Hotel Indigo, you can have a cocktail as your welcome drink – Platinum members cannot

At Staybridge Suites, you will get two drink and snack vouchers instead of one

At Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express hotels, whilst there is technically no difference between the Spire Elite and Platinum Elite amenities, Spire Elite members are meant to be offered a better choice of drinks at the point of redemption

Many hotels, of course, will go further for Spire Elite members.   These guidelines don’t cover room upgrades, which can be decent at a Crowne Plaza.  I booked a Junior Suite in Salzburg in February and ended up with a 2-bedroom suite, for example.  You also need to remember that Spire Elite members receive a 100% bonus on base points, which allows you to rack up free nights quickly.

IHG One Rewards update – September 2022:

Get bonus points: IHG One Rewards is not currently running a global promotion.

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.

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 (109)

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

  • Butzi says:

    I have received the drink voucher at HIX – though I booked my stay with Skywards miles. Nice!

  • jamie says:

    O/T When I log into my Tesco Clubcard account it says 20th July is the last day to stock up on points before you receive them in your next statement. Do you know when in August the points are released? Mine are set to automatically convert to Avios. Thanks

    • Anna says:

      It seemed really late last quarter, I think it was May 15th.

      • Jamie says:

        Is it the same time each month?… Do you think it would be August 15th ?

  • Ed says:

    Can anyone advise whether IC o2 will offer paid for lounge access to a spire (not ambassador) on a points stay? And any idea on costs?

  • jason says:

    If any of the regulars can make use of Intercontinental IHG Ambassador Free Weekend Night Certificate before the end of July , I have one I now cant use (and Rob is too busy as well!)

  • Nigel Proctor says:

    A little off topic –

    Has anyone who is a intercontinental ambassador (or who has been) got a view on the following:

    I am staying at the Chicago intercontinental for 5 nights and the LA downtown intercontinental for 3 nights this September. I am currebtly a platinum IHG member and am considering using 32k points to upgrade to ambassador status.

    Is it worth it? how good are the upgrades / free drinks / welcome gifts and are they a lot more than what you would get with IHG status?

    Thanks a lot all!

    • Rob says:

      Upgrade (1 level) is guaranteed, 4pm check-out is guaranteed. Don’t put store on anything else.

      If your stays cover a weekend (Fri/Sat, Sat/Sun) then you’d be able to use your free weekend night certificate to cover the cost of a night, so effectively the whole thing covers its costs anyway.

      • Alex W says:

        In addition I’ve always had a fruit basket which just about covers 1 breakfast for 1 person at a stretch (not ideal though). The free movie is good too if you fancy a quiet night in.

    • CV3V says:

      IC upgrades have a bad reputation, upgrades can be to obscure room categories not on general sale, but a level above your room booking. At IC Ho Chi Minh i was upgraded to a higher floor, but a much smaller room (i knew the room numbers of both rooms to compare).

      Free drinks, nope, none.

      Welcome gifts, some fruit, at one IC i got a v nice business card holder, whilst at another i was literally handed a (empty) fruit bowl, wasn’t even boxed or anything. Ummm ta!

      • Will says:

        My personal experience has been excellent at IC. Hong Kong IC suite on 2/2 stays, shanghai suite upgrade, Mumbai suite upgrade. Perhaps the key is picking the right room category and knowing the hotel, for example HK won’t upgrade points stays to harbour view and often times there’s a break in the categories where the room rate jumps, every time I’ve chosen those points I’ve ended up with a fantastic room.

    • Leo says:

      It’s all a bit random with ICs. LA Downtown is brand new. You might do better checking on FT till a few more HfP readers have tried it. Like Rob says you’ll be upgraded a category but to bank on this it has to be a paid stay.

  • Johnny_c-l says:

    A couple of years ago I was offered a free drink voucher at a UK HIX only to be told at the bar it was not valid for a G&T as that is two drinks….mixers are chargeable!!

    A great example of how to underdeliver on service!

    • CV3V says:

      At Cologne Pullman (Accor hotels) i was given drinks vouchers for the bar, to then find out the bar was closed for a private function! Still got my drink, drank in room!

  • James says:

    I am a spire member. Checked into Holiday Inn Sheffield Victoria was only offered points or free drink.

  • Mr Dee says:

    If they offered free breakfast then I would likely be more interested in collecting and redeeming points vs Hilton as it can easily stack up when staying in the Crowne Plaza and Intercontinental brands over a few days of more than 1 person.

    • Rob says:

      Indeed. It was a joy to pay a £90+ breakfast bill for 2 adults and 2 kids at the InterContinental O2 last year …..

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

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.