Bits: England v France rugby tickets, Hilton’s LXR brand hits London, Four Seasons Hampshire update

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News in brief:

See England v France at Twickenham with Marriott Rewards

Marriott Rewards has put two packages to watch England v France at Twickenham on 10th February up for auction.

Each package is for two tickets.  It includes:

  • Tickets to watch the England vs. France game from a Hospitality Pitch View Suite
  • Meet and greet with a rugby legend
  • Access to a private balcony to view the match
  • Three-course meal prior to kick-off
  • Beverage package including beer, wine and soft drinks until one hour after the final whistle
  • Match day souvenir tickets, match day programs and accreditations

The minimum bid is 45,000 Marriott Rewards points.  The auctions end on 1st February.  You can bid here.

The Biltmore Hotel Grosvenor Square London

Hilton’s new LXR brand to arrive in London

In a surprise move, Millennium & Copthorne Hotels has announced that the Millennium Hotel in Mayfair – across the square from the old American Embassy – is to reopen as ‘The Biltmore’ under Hilton’s new LXR brand.  The hotel closed last year for a full refurbishment.

No-one seems quite sure what Hilton’s LXR high-end brand is about, or how it will sit alongside Conrad and Waldorf Astoria.  The only LXR hotel to date is the Habtoor Palace in Dubai (click here).  This hotel was originally a St Regis branded property and was designed to those standards.

The Grosvenor Square hotel is also a luxury hotel but, again, Hilton will be inheriting a design planned by others.  It is hard to see how LXR is going to carve out a brand identity when none of its properties were designed for it from scratch.

PS.  Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Hilton Honors points.  That page is regularly updated with the latest special offers and will still be accurate even if you are reading this article months after publication.

Four Seasons Hampshire new childrens pool

New kids pool at Four Seasons Hampshire

Four Seasons Hampshire is the default weekend break choice for solvent Londoners with children.  If you haven’t been for a few months, you won’t have seen the new pool for children which is now open.

Here are a couple of photos we took last weekend – click to enlarge.  There are two parts – a 14m lap pool (not that any children swim laps in it, it is for playing in) and a separate pool to the side filled with lots of play equipment.

Four Seasons Hampshire childrens pool

The only thing I didn’t like is that it seems low on seats for parents who just want to watch their children, although I admit that I always managed to find one.  The seats are also very near the water so you are continually getting splashed!

Four Seasons Hampshire kids pool

Overall it is a massive improvement to the pool facilities for younger kids.

If you ever visit here, make sure that you book via our booking partner Bon Vivant or, if you have an American Express Platinum card, Fine Hotels & Resorts.  Via either route you will get a $100 food and drink credit, free continental breakfast for two (kids are charged £12.50) and an upgrade if available at check-in.  Fine Hotels & Resorts also gets you a guaranteed 4pm check-out which is very handy on a long weekend stay.

Note that the main pool is due to close for a few weeks during February / March for refurbishment so do confirm dates before booking if this is important to you.

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

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  1. OT. Anyone know if it is possible to pay an Amex card with the debit Curve card? Any limits if it is possible?

    • Thomas Howard says:

      It’s against their T&Cs but I have in the past. Generally it seems to be getting harder to create this kind of manufactured spend. If it works you’re lucky but I wouldn’t plan anything around it.

    • Rob Walker says:

      I’ve been doing it quite a lot recently. When backed by my IHG card, I can only get chunks of £100-200 through at once and then only one or two of those per day at best. My Lloyds Avios card always works fine.

      However… I still have the initial £10k limit on my Curve and when I asked for an increase, they basically told me to take a hike as I was mainly using it to pay credit cards with other credit cards.

      • Thomas Howard says:

        My Lloyds account is now refusing to accept Curve with the message its not a UK card (I think I looked its BIN up once and it was German). I can’t really check any more as I’ve exhausted my limit paying HMRC last quarters VAT and they haven’t responded to my email asking for more (I’m on the black card).

        • I’ve had issues with Lloyds but the problem was that you can only make a limited number of debit card payments per month (possibly 3?). It’s worth waiting until the next calendar month and trying again.

        • How do you pay your Lloyds account using curve?

        • I’ve found the free online BIN lookups pretty unreliable. Not seen a way to make debit card payments to Lloyds though? Nothing online and phone system didn’t seem to offer it either – do you need to a current a/c holder with them?

  2. O/T:

    My girlfriend and I would like to transfer some points from our BAEC household account to our Iberia accounts. I’m aware of the 90 day rule and the fact that we won’t be able to transfer from our household account. It’s just me and her in the household account.

    If we bring an end to the household account, how long does this usually take?
    I know it’s another 6 months until further changes can be made but would this also include the formation of a new household account? I read something about a 24 hour window – would it be possible to ‘suspend’ the account, transfer the points and then reactivate it?

    Thanks for any help

    • Have you tried to move them while still in your household account? I’ve never had a problem moving from BA to Iberia. The restriction appears to be on movement the other way.

      • And if that doesn’t work, open AerClub and transfer BA->AerClub->Iberia

        • Or a Flybe account as Matt mentioned above. I have also never needed to close my household account with BA

    • Just move via – mine’s still open via AerClub and works fine despite my BAEC a/c being in a HHA

  3. That Habtoor palace looks far more in keeping with what I class as close to the original style of a WA.

    I had no clue as to what LXRs stands for.

    Well that was until I read its Luxury “based on experience rather than opulence” ( a tad pompous slogan)

    Also found out another new potential Hilton brand… “Signia”

    • Habtoor Palace is cheaply built, however. I was talking about this someone yesterday who has stayed there. Hard to have a luxury hotel where many of the rooms DIRECTLY overlook an 8-lane motorway and the whole property is overshadowed by two far taller hotels built on either side.

  4. “It is hard to see how LXR is going to carve out a brand identity when none of its properties were designed for it from scratch.”

    It appears that LXR is supposed to be a soft brand, with the properties maintaining their individual identities. This seems to be supported by Hilton in their media description, “We’ve connected legendary luxury properties into a network of hotels offering singular service and remarkable experiences.”

    I find it quite appealing if you want something different from the big groups.

    • Isn’t that supposed to be “Curio” though? Most of the brands seem a bit arbitrary tp me….

      • I would have thought Curio is a level below LXR – I don’t think any of the Curio hotels I’ve experienced would count as ‘legendary luxury’, even if they are nice.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Curio is just 5* while LXR is 5* luxury.

      • Indeed. Curio as 5-star and Tapestry (not in Europe yet?) as 4-star. Is LXR meant to sit above Curio?

        • Rob, did you know that the Doubletree in South Ken is rebranding as Curio this spring?

          • No – interesting. Put my brother in here once but never actually went in. It is in a very posh location but the hotel historically wasn’t up to much. Has only been a DoubleTree for a while.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          That’s how I saw it from a recent random news article I saw online about Hilton’s aspirations of an organic move into the Luxury sector

        • I’ve stayed there twice. Rooms are fine – second stay was in a refurbished one that was nice. It doesn’t have anything particularly special about it, though, unlike, say, the Reichshof in Hamburg, so not sure what will make it Curio…

        • Sort of makes sense – the only Curio I stayed at was the Del in Coronado. Expensive, nice location and definitely historic (for the States) but in reality a massive convention machine. If you weren’t wearing a blazer and chinos carrying a folder you stuck out like a sore thumb….

  5. Off topic – any idea how to boost my wife’s credit rating as shortly want to apply for a mortgage as need to relocate to somewhere in London and buy a place as doing a 2 hr commute to St Pauls is getting silly. It’s currently 969 on Experian. She isn’t on electoral roll (non EU citizen), but she is on all household bills, has a mobile contract in her name, pays off credit card each month, two bank accounts.

    • Isn’t 969 a pretty good credit rating?

    • Genghis says:

      From what you’ve said I wouldn’t worry. It doesn’t matter what Experian think, remember.

    • When you make the application, you will find that your credit rating only plays a small part in the application. What the lender will really be looking at is how often you default on payments / direct debits and potentially flag any charge cards as they often do not have any credit limits however must be paid off in full each month.

    • Experian’s credit rating is meaningless unless Experian is a mortgage lender. Mortgage lenders look at far more factors that what some company that doesn’t even lend money itself thinks. Sure they may auto-decline anyone with a crap rating, and they likely also auto-decline non-EU citizens who don’t have ILR. Using credit cards may be bad for mortgage chances, especially if you have high limits.

      • “Using credit cards may be bad for mortgage chances, especially if you have high limits.”

        It’s not what you use, it’s how you use it.

        • thanks all, limits aren’t high on her card and it’s paid off each month. Appreciate not much more can be done, and Experian isn’t a mortgage lender. No ILR presently but there are some lenders who are still happy to lend.

  6. I thought you weren’t going again to the FS rob after last time? Was it any better?

    • £12.50 for a child’s breakfast! Would it hurt these hotels to offer a free portion of toast or cereal, which is generally all that small children eat for breakfast and costs 50p at most?

      • Especially when your kids are 12+. My lad is now 14 looks like a grown man but still won’t eat more than half a bowl of cereals at breakfast, but we get hit with a full adult breakfast charge for him now. We just leave them in the room now (at 14 & 11) and smuggle a croissant/apple or whatever up for them, no way I’m paying £20+ for a slice of toast or some rice crispies!

    • We reached a settlement after my very messy “we don’t have a restaurant and this weekend we don’t even have a chef” stay in August 2017! New restaurant is now open and is, at least for families, a big improvement on the old one.

  7. OT Journey Latin America just sent me 2 complimentary tickets to the Olympia Holiday & Travel Show at the end of Jan.

    I don’t think I am short of ideas for my bucket list, but it might be interesting

    JLA say the tickets are worth £30 – but does anyone have a view on whether its worth going?

    • Genghis says:

      I get free tickets every year. In reality worth a couple of quid. Worth going once for an hour or so but I’ve not been now for years.

      • RussellH says:

        I get free entry with the Sunday Times Travel Mag, as presumably does every other reader.

        One of the European Tourist Offices once offered to hand out leaflets for my business from their stand. I used a unique e-mail address on the leaflets and never had a single enquiry. Perhaps more worrying, that address never even got spammed!

    • Hasn’t Rob been several times? If you have nothing else to do and it isn’t inconvenient to get there why not?

    • code OLYWEB will get 2 tickets for £3. There are other promo codes that come with travel magazines.

    • worth having a look at the speakers on each day and timing your visit – they usually get some good ones / speak about a wide range of destinations

  8. Does anyone know P&O offer from Amex (now expired but may come back as it usually does); can be used to book channel crossing – e.g. Dover to Calais?
    Also taking my car for very first time to EU (benelux) from west london, what are my best options?

    I have Amex Travel offer but cannot use to book any travel for channel crossing.

    • Genghis says:

      Take Eurotunnel. Ferries are full of “rough ‘uns”.

      • Cheers, Genghis.
        Never have seen any Amex offer for EuroTunnel, any feedback, best ways to book etc.?

        • Genghis says:

          Tesco clubcard vouchers 3x or free with Majestic Calais (day trip or overnight)

        • Lady London says:

          There are lots of offers especially at this time of year. The Daily Mail has a website and I think the Mirror? might have one too.
          Hotukdeals and vouchercodes also usually feature these when available. Returns often don’t cost much more than singles on tunnel and ferry.

          If doing Benelux I would still do tunnel or via Calais. It’s the shortest crossing. Longer crossings such as Harwich to Hoek of Holland (if that’s still going) are…er… longer and can have rougher water.

          Aferry dot com will find most ferry options on one search and good for other ferries eg Scandinavia. They do miss some of the special offers though.

          Lastly some of the ferry co’s and I think Eurotunnel do offer carnets for frequent travellers. This removes a lot of the seasonal pricing you’d normally be subject to and can break even with 6 oneways in a year or less.

      • Genghis says:

        Oh, and don’t forget your high vis. Have EUR100 in the car to pay off the Gendarmes when they fine you even though you’ve done nothing wrong.

      • I’m in 2 minds on this one:
        Ferry: takes longer to get to from London, longer crossing time, not good with toddlers. However, it can be much cheaper than Eurotunnel (I’m talking £20 return and a free case of wine on a day trip), and delays are less important than Eurotunnel.

        Eurotunnel: Can be booked with Clubcard, quicker if things run smoothly. Though more expensive, and if things go south you’re in trouble (Last year I had about £200 worth of tickets refunded due to a handful of faulty trains leading to 5-hour delays, not fun staying in the car at night with a 4 y.o. and a 1.y.o without knowing when you’ll depart)

        • Genghis says:

          I wouldn’t put any value on the wine. I once asked a guy at the shop: “what grape variety is the free case of red”. “red”. Perhaps OK as red wine vinegar.

        • More details needed on the 20£+free case deal with ferry, please! 🙂

      • Lady London says:

        Oi! I take the ferry a lot especially for work.

    • Eurotunnel using Tesco clubcard as Genghis says. Seriously though, look on AA/RAC or other motoring site at up to date info. regarding what you have to carry in car – hi vis, breathalyser kit etc. If you do get stopped for something and gendarmes check you can get fined on the spot if you don’t have the stuff in your car and also if caught speeding and checks in high season on main roads to ports often catch speeding drivers late for their homeward ferry!

    • RussellH says:

      Where in Benelux?
      For Belgium or Luxembourg Dover-Calais or Dover-Dunkerque (longer crossing but shorter drive, DFDS only).
      For Netherlands, and if you like overnight crossings, then Harwich-Hoek (Stena) might be your best bet.
      High vis jackets only compulsory in France, but you do need a warning triangle – never understood why they are not at least recommended here – I always have two in the car anyway.
      If going to (or even near) Luxemburg remember to fill up there – much cheaper than anywhere else in Europe, and prices fixed, so you pay no more at quiet, rural garages. You may find filling stations sparse in other countries close to Luxemburg!
      For amusement drive through Martelange – the east side of the road is in Luxemburg, the west side in Belgium. About all there is on the Luxemburg side is 7 filling stations – one is always closed – a different one each day.

  9. O/T (but it is bits!)
    Does anyone know whether the Virgin Atlantic 241/upgrade voucher needs to be booked with the Virgin Atlantic credit card that it was earned on?

    • Don’t think so. No-one has ever mentioned this.

    • No. Booked a flight and used the upgrade voucher all paid on a BAPP card.

      • Hi Jay, still waiting on my upgrade voucher even though I have qualified for 2 of them!
        Are they emailed to you?

        When you use the upgrade voucher from economy to permium, do you pay the “airport/Fuel surcharge” for economy or premium economy?
        Thanks Matt

        • Genghis says:

          Check your VFC acct. You pay TFCs for the cabin you fly in.

        • No you just see a line in your Virgin Flying Club account – “Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Credit Card – Reward Qualification”

    • Thanks both

  10. OT. BA Price match

    Don’t know if this has been mentioned before (apologies if it has), but BA has a price match guarantee promotion running. Details are here if anyone is interested……

  11. OT: have been offered American AAdvantage Platinum (equivalent to one world Sapphire) for free until 15 May. If I do 12500 EQ Miles and 1500 EQ Dollars on AA,BA,JL,AY I get to keep it until Jan 2020. However, I’m not doing any major travel until probably September. Anyone know if these promotions come round again? If I take it now (and fail) am I less likely to get it again in future?

    • Don’t take it unless you have a plan to meet it. Some people say these offers are once in a lifetime or once every 5 years or so, and they do tend to recur.

      • Thanks!

      • This one is a bit different though – seem to be plenty of folk that have had it more than once – they say it’s ‘no strings attached’ and nothing about only having it once per time period (unlike the matches that some of the US programmes let you apply for)

    • They offered me Plat Pro – sadly no internal US flights imminently planned to make use of the unlimited upgrades!

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