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Why Amex Platinum Fine Hotels & Resorts is a great choice for one night stays

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If you have an American Express Platinum card then you should know about the Fine Hotels & Resorts hotel booking programme.  This is a grouping of 5-star hotels which offers special benefits to Platinum cardholders when they book via Amex Travel.

Regular readers of Head for Points will know that I place £0 value on hotel benefits if they do not have the word ‘guaranteed’ in front of them.  Fine Hotels & Resorts bookings use the word ‘guaranteed’ a lot which I like!

The point of this post – which I am writing after a stay in the Waldorf Astoria on the Palm in Dubai – is to show how you can use the use the guaranteed 4pm check-out to your advantage, and how the hotel credit is maximised on a one-night stay.

The same principles apply whenever your trip involves a late night arrival and / or a late night or early morning flight out.

My Dubai schedule had me landing at 9.30pm on Tuesday and flying out at 7.45am on Friday.  That meant three hotel nights for only two full days on the ground.  Given Dubai hotel prices, this could easily have got expensive as I wanted to be on a beach.

This is where two Fine Hotels & Resorts benefits kicked in:

  • noon check-in if available
  • 4pm guaranteed late check-out

I booked myself into a cheap Hyatt Place downtown – which was great, review to follow.  It was so good, I dumped my JW Marriott Marquis booking for Thursday to return.  I arrived at the Hyatt about 11pm local time, did some work and went to bed about 2am (9pm UK).  I woke up at 10am and was checked out by noon.

At the Waldorf Astoria I had booked a standard room to maximise the chance of it being available at 1pm when I arrived.  It was.  If I hadn’t been asleep I could have arrived an hour earlier and still checked in.

My check-out was guaranteed for 4pm the next day.  I headed back to the Hyatt Place – which costs 25% of the Waldorf Astoria price – arrived at 5.30pm due to stupid weekend traffic, did some work, went to bed, and woke at 5am to head to the airport for my Royal Jordanian experience.

I had got a 27 hour stay at the Waldorf Astoria for the cost of just one night.  It would have been 28 hours if I’d made it across by noon.  This compares to 21 hours for a standard one-day stay, checking in at 3pm and leaving at noon.  I didn’t lose much by downgrading to Hyatt Place because the only time I spent there was asleep or working.

Now let’s turn to cash.

Sometimes Fine Hotels & Resorts rates are a little more expensive than the Best Flexible Rate offered by the hotel.  Surprisingly this one was cheaper, in fact it was cheaper than any other rate the Waldorf Astoria was offering.

The FHR package comes with:

  • Free breakfast for two
  • $100 property credit

The $100 credit is key.  This is per stay, not per night.  You are maximising the value when you only stay for one night.  Given that breakfast was also free, I covered my entire food bill for the stay – two one-course lunches, one one-course dinner – with the $100.

I turned what would have been a 3pm check-in / noon check-out stay into a noon check-in / 4pm check-out stay and got a $100 food, beverage or spa credit too.

(If we are being fussy, you can argue that – as a Hilton Diamond – I should have been able to negotiate a slightly later check-out had I booked a normal rate.  This is true but it would not have been guaranteed and it would not have been until 4pm.)

Because the 4pm check-out is guaranteed, Fine Hotels & Resorts bookings work particularly well if:

you have a late flight home or

you have a very early flight home and are happy to check-out at 4pm and transfer to an airport hotel for the last night

Either way, you can get good value.  I got three hotel nights at peak season in Dubai for under £500 (and offset by the $100 food credit and free breakfast at the Waldorf) and still managed to spend almost all my daylight hours in a five-star beach resort selling for over £300 per night.

The key issue is the FHR price you are quoted, which can be more than the standard Best Flexible Rate (wasn’t in my case) or higher than any highly discounted Advanced Purchase rates on offer.  Fine Hotels & Resorts bookings can be made online via the Amex Travel website, although you need to be logged in with your American Express Platinum details for the pricing to show.

PS.  Full Waldorf Astoria Dubai review to follow

PPS.  FHR bookings ALWAYS qualify for loyalty points despite being ‘third party bookings’.  I got 10,000 Hilton Honors points for the Waldorf  Astoria stay.

(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.)

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Comments

  1. Can we book FHR on a supp? If so do you think we could get away with booking alternate nights with our other half to maximise the $100 credit on a longer stay? What about room upgrades?

  2. I used it a few times in Vegas and the benefits have worked for me, especially the 4pm check out given most hotels want you out by 11am. The $100 credit varies between hotels though for some you can only use it for spa treatment which has no value for me. Everytime I’ve used it my final bill has been wrong though so I’ve had to queue to sort it out.

    I’ve read of people continually transferring hotels in Vegas just to get the $100 credit. I haven’t got a Platinum card now, had some good stays at the Bellagio but it never showed online on the Amex Travel website during booking as a FHR (others did) for me so I always had to phone to book it.

  3. For people doing a diamond match, would it count as a stay if booked through FHR? What about Hilton points?

    • Philip White says:

      Whenever I’ve booked FHR bookings through Amex Travel it always asks me for my Loyalty Card # and the stays have always collected points and counted towards status.

      Interestingly as an IC Ambassador I’ve found that the hotels tend to honour both the FHR and Ambassador programmes. To such an extent that at the IC Carlton Cannes we got a couple two grade upgrade.

    • Should be fine. Ask me in 2 days and I’ll confirm!

    • Yes, you always get points for FHR stays – it’s standard Amex Travel ones that can be a bit more hit-or-miss.

  4. Did you get any Diamond benefits?

    Looked at this in Las Vegas, but having done a status match my m life discount saved even more. Even with the cost of breakfast at $30 per day per person.

    • FHR (unlike Amex travel) still gets you loyalty status benefits and earns loyalty points if you are a member of the hotels loyalty scheme.

    • You should get all benefits and stay/points for FHR – it’s great being able to double them up with the FHR benefits! As the money goes direct to the hotel itself they get more cash than for standard OTA stays where they lose a lot in commission.

  5. James W says:

    Do you only need the Platinum card to book the stay? Or do you still need to check in?
    Thinking about upgrading for an anniversary trip to New York, which hotels might be available? Thanks

    • Philip White says:

      You need to have the Amex Platinum to receive the FHR benefit options when you book. The hotels usually insist you pay with an Amex as well, though it doesn’t need to be the Plat, i usually use my Amex € or $ card instead.

    • Varies by hotel – some still require Amex Plat, some any Amex, some couldn’t care less which card used!

  6. Used this at the Pen in Bangkok for a one night stay, great F&B benefits, breakfast for two and late check out worked well. 4pm check out was extended to 6pm after I asked.

    Do the math, as our US neighbours would say.

  7. Phillip says:

    What is their policy for making bookings for others? Family members etc?

    • A quick read says the card member must travel to get the benefits, Google FHR benefits to see the full terms.

  8. The Original Nick says:

    Rob, I think the (9pm UK time) should be 10pm.

  9. RussellH says:

    As I get older I find that I misread headlines ever more frequently on an initial skim through. The mis-read always makes sense though…

    This one I read as “Why Amex Platinum Fine Hotels & Resorts is a great choice for one night stands”
    🙂

  10. OT: Looking forward to what you have to say about the Royal Jordanian trolley service.. It’s like living out a 1960’s airline advert. I love it.

  11. Semi-OT – I’m signing up for hotel schemes using Amex Platinum but not planning to keep the card once upgrade bonus hit, probably a month or so. Having read the reviews, it’s clear you maintain status after cancellation for hotel programmes. However, the small print (see Melia, SPG, etc.) states that amex:

    “reserves the right to instruct [SPG/Melia etc.] to cancel your membership if you cease to be a Platinum Cardmember or your Account is not in good standing.”

    Is this new and/or should it be a cause for concern? Are there any data points? Clearly, if the worst that can happen is you status is ‘downgraded’, it’s not worth overworrying, but the language of ‘cancelling membership’ seems disproportionately strong and, if technically the case could cause of loss of a great number of points…

    Clearly don’t want to overworry this if it’s never happened to anyone… It sounds standard boilerplate text, though it’s not there for all the programmes…

    • I cancelled my plat in June 2016. Hilton, Accor -!;’one other status wasn’t downgraded until the end of the membership year.

      Carlson and Melia have still not been downgraded despite not meeting qualifying criteria. Carlson just renewed for another year at Gold. V pleased (and probably v lucky, too).

      • Thanks, that’s helpful to know. Interested to hear if anyone actually has been downgraded by Amex before end of membership year. Otherwise it sounds like this isn’t being enforced at all at present

  12. Oh poo and I was looking forward to the Marriott review as it’s a toss up for us between that and SPG’s Grosvenor House. Looking forward to the Hyatt review though 🙂

    • We stayed at Grosvenor House 2 years ago. Hotel fantastic, and the lounge access with club room was great also (great service, breakfast every day, snacks at lunch time were effectively enough for a full lunch, and snacks and drinks in evening again almost substantial enough to count as dinner. particularly liked the service -coming round 5 mins before free drinks ended to top up drinks) – but having to walk over the road to Le Meridien for the pool was a bit of a drawback. The pool at GH was fine apart from being in the shade at various times of the day, so we went over the road every day.

      The pool and grounds at Le Meridien were really nice – easily got beds by the pool, or on the grass if wanted a bit more space and didn’t mind being a little further away. So actually we would probably chose Le Meridien over GH next time.

      Another option.. we’ve actually just booked Habtoor Grand which is Marriott and actually in-between GH and Le Meridien with direct. beach access – think it was 30k points per night. Reports clearly not as good as GH or Le Meridien (or the other Marriott more than likely) but we thought we’d give it a try.

      • Second Grosvenor House, very nice hotel with the option to use LRM pools, beach and restaurants.
        We had a free HB offer when we stayed which was great.

        • Very good mini review Tom1 thank you. I will check the others out for another time. I think we will go this time with Grosvenor. Thanks Darren.

    • I cancelled my supplemental plat and they read out that all statuses and pp with the sup card would be immediately cancelled. I think a letter arrived from pp and one of the hotel groups to that effect also saying that their status was cancelled with immediate effect.

  13. Sorry, but shouldn’t you stay two nights or more to get those benefits? Or is it only for hotel collection?

  14. I’ve done the hotel hopping thing in Vegas to maximise FHR, but only on my own.

    There is no way on earth I could get my wife to agree to check in and out of 3 different hotels on a 3 night trip….

  15. Looking on FHR, where does it say about the $100 hotel credit. It said on the main FHR page but once it takes you to Amex Travel and shows search results, I can’t see any hotel credit details by clicking on individual hotels. Do you still get it?

    • You need to be logged in to the Amex Travel site using your Platinum log-in details for FHR rates to show. They are very clearly marked.

  16. Used to love booking 1 night stays at Four Seasons Bangkok using Privilged Partners.

    £120 a night and used to get $100 dollar dining credit. Got upgraded to a Deluxe 1 Bedroom Suite my first stay and a Poolside sala my 2nd stay.

    Pity it is now an Anatara property. That chain really pissed me off when they wanted to take pictures of my girlfriend and I to “show the staff who are staying in the room” at Rasanada Koh Phangan. It was as if 2 people in their 20s carryover by backpacks couldn’t possibly be staying in one of their pool villas.

  17. My hit rate on FHR has been about 1 in 30 that’s 1 time in 30, that booking fhr has worked out a better deal then booking the non fhr rate and paying for the extras

    • But you can’t ‘pay’ for a 4pm checkout, which is the main reason I use it. I assume you are comparing with prepaid rates for long stays because it is impossible that FHR – for a one night stay – could be worse than a direct booking given that brekky and the hotel credit are worth £100.

      • barnaby100 says:

        You can get a late checkout at many hotels just by asking though. Especially luxury hotels.

        • 4pm? Not easy. And you really need it guaranteed in many case, if for example you are planning to come back and change or shower before heading to the airport. I don’t like leaving this sort of thing to chance. It is also dependant on room category – if you have a particular room category and that category is sold for the following night, you’re stuck however nicely you ask.

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