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.

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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Comments

  1. BlueHorizonuk says:

    I think the number of brands the chains have is simply out of control now. It’s just ridiculous for a chain to have 30 different brands. They need to merge some of these brands and keep a few distinct ones.

  2. Jo biden says:

    OT
    Sorry-trying not to Spam here but:

    Hi
    Schoolboy error!
    Got a new AMEX Plat card- a DAY EARLY!!
    I do not qualify for the bonus 🙁

    Chat will not give me an “Incentive” to cancel

    Any idea if their CS on the phone offer me anything not to cancel ?

    Thanks

    • Nope, you’ve screwed this up – no bonus and you’ve reset the 6 month timer too.

      Look at a few referrals for 18k a pop to make best of bad job?

  3. Lady London says:

    *above for Roger but WordPress seems to have treated as standalone post rather than reply to him.

  4. OT does anyone know if the Amazon 15 off 25 is still on? Can I use a new amex on an amazon account that I’ve used the code on previously.
    Also, if it’s sold by a different company but fulfilled by Amazon is that ok?

  5. Are SPG offering retention offers of double points for three months or similar these days?

    • AndyGWP says:

      I cancelled last month and they offered me an extra ‘point’ (so “double points” in old money) to stay.

      After reading of the problems people had during the switchover to Marriott, I checked that as the points were now tripled, did they mean I would get 6 points instead of 3, and they went away and got back to me confirming it would definitely only be 4 points.

      I cancelled.

      • RussellH says:

        Thanks. I expect to be cancelling soon.

        • We cancelled hubby’s card on Monday and he was offered an extra point for 3 mths – we declined. Got to cancel mine in about 10 days time when my points sweep across.

    • Steve-B says:

      Interesting… my strategy has shifted to hold, given its uncertain future and tendency for Amex to withdraw products suddenly.

    • I cancelled yesterday 9th Jan no offer.

  6. OT anyone else having problems with Amex referral links? Trying to refer a friend from Plat and they just get this screen:

    https://imgur.com/a/sDmbVCM

  7. charlie says:

    OT – I need a decent and cheap Madrid airport hotel for some short overnight stays I have coming up prior to some long-haul Iberia flights. I am getting there 10-11pm each time and leaving circa 8-9am so not much needed.

    Looking for hotel either a short walk or 1-2 metro/bus stops. Seems to be hard to find this via the hotel booking websites. Any recommendations?

    • Jo biden says:

      Look at Airbnb
      Cheaper than hotel and near metro.
      “Cozy modern room near subway” Host is Alvaro

    • Melia has some kind of cheap hotels near Barajas (with their own free shuttle). If not, there is an Ibis, Novotel and Pulman, also with a shuttle service.

      • I stayed in Tryp Alameda (Melia). Free shuttle bus from T4 that runs every 15 mins or so and takes 15 mins, dropping off at a few hotels along the way. I came in on the FRA-MAD LATAM flight and had a connection onto Seville the next morning. It was very cheap – like €50 I think – and clean and quiet so totally adequate. I think they gave me drink vouchers too at check-in.

  8. OT: Has Iberia quietly increased avios required for award tickets? Booked MAD-PVG in J yesterday and paid 59.5k avios, but according to the old HFP article Shanghai should require 51k avios, as it’s one band below Tokyo. Also can’t seem to find the redemption chart online anymore.

  9. OT – a little late in the day. Thinking of taking advantage of the Qatar business class deal from Stockholm to Singapore – there are flights with long stopovers in Qatar. In folk’s experience, how helpful is Qatar’s (airline, not country) in accommodating for this? Car into Doha, hotel etc.

    • Can’t really comment on how helpful the airline was but we had 2 9ish hour stopovers in Doha in November. We arranged our own trip into Doha in a taxi which was worth doing (thanks to advice from some useful threads on flyertalk) and spent the rest of the time in the lounge. The 9 hour stopovers were not a problem!

    • If you’re flying before end of April, you might be able to get a free hotel night:

      https://www.qatarairways.com/en-se/offers/plus-qatar.html

  10. OTs:
    If we’re in business (first time), where would you recommend sitting pls – the two on the sides opposite each other or the two in the middle of a row of four but side by side? (Flight is LHR to SIN on an A380).

    I think the answer to this is no from Googling – adult daughter will be on same flight but in economy. Can we get her into BA lounge at all (we don’t have status)?

    • Genghis says:

      I’d recommend sitting on the upper deck by the windows next to each other. The toilets up there at the very front are massive. There are some seats with direct aisle access (e.g. 53A and K but probably already been snapped up).

      No to lounge access (assuming no status).

      Use Air Asia SIN-DPS. We did in 2017.

  11. I knew there was a third OT! From Singapore we then need to get to Denpasar – is there an airline we could use Avios on pls?

    TIAs

  12. Just pay jetstar or Air Asia… really not worth spending any miles in this route (KLM, which also flies the route but with low frequency, is usually only a little bit more expensive – Singapore is atrocious). If you have MR points, you may consider transferring to Flying Blue, you may find some availability on Garuda.

  13. OT: I am going to cancel a gold card in the next month or so and trying to decide on my strategy for 2019, and whether to transfer the points to Avios (which is what I have always done) or whether to jump ship and move to Virgin Miles. In theory I am saving towards a trip for 2 to NZ or OZ in 2020 or more likely 2021.

    Realisticallly I think there are 4 options, very interested in anyone’s thoughts.

    1) Pay cash. I have just reread an old article in which Rob argues quite convincingly, don’t bother using points on that route just pay cash, and indeed that is what we did last year and may actually be the most sensible option for next time!
    2) Reading today’s article about ANA to Japan reminded me of an article from last year in which Rob described an Air NZ sweet spot to get flights from Asia to NZ using Virgin miles (I cant find the article so if anyone can post a link that would be great!) so combining these 2 deals feels like it might be a great strategy. I currently have 0 virgin miles but together with my wife we have about 60k membership reward which could be transferred to Virgin Miles, so may take some time to get enough miles.
    3. There is the option to use the one world multi-partner chart to get a better rate.That feels like an option to reduce the cost in which case maybe I should stick with Avios.
    4. In theory I could stick with Avios and use a 241 to get flights to Sydney and then it’s a short hop to NZ If that’s where we decide to go but I think finding availability for this is almost impossible!

    What would be your strategy?

    • Scallder says:

      Hugh think you might be after this one: https://www.headforpoints.com/2018/09/18/air-new-zealand-redemptions-with-virgin-atlantic-miles/

      How many MR do you have? Singapore Airlines might also be worth a look. I went with them in business class from LHR to AKL and back in July which was lovely (and was streaks ahead of Club World, and would say I also preferred it to BA First to be honest). As an aside, they were amazing with our 9 month old!

      • Thanks that was the article I was looking for! Singapore Airlines is definitely an option!

    • I think the general view on here would be NOT to fly BA to Australia, neither cash nor Avios. Qatar Airways sales are a good option.

      If you don’t have a specific redemption planned then MR -> Marriott Rewards retains flexibility to transfer on to various airlines (less lucrative since travel packages were devalued).

      MR -> Virgin retains the flexibility if you decide not to fly, to transfer them to Hilton at 2:3 or IHG at 1:1 (no longer elite qualifying). Virgin miles are easy to earn as well via Tesco and their decent credit card. It will be interesting to find out the new earning/redeeming options when the Virgin deal with KLM/AF happens.

      • But surely Amex MR => Marriott => Airline comes at a huge cost.

        20000 Amex MRs = 20000 air miles

        20000 Amex MRs = 30000 Marriott Rewards = 10000 air miles (plus a possible 25% bonus)

        • Interesting you mention this… I was considering this exact point last night. I have a bunch of MRs but will be churning my GC so need to move them somewhere. Will likely end up as Avios but would prefer to keep the flexibility in short term. Thought about transferring to Marriott but saw the big haircut I will take to retain this flexibility. Sounds like too big of a cost unless you are pretty sure that Marriott points is what you will probably want anyway (in which case I guess spending should be focused onto an SPG card anyway – much better bang for the buck)

      • Thanks. We went to NZ in November with Qatar and I would definitely consider them again if they were to do another offer as good as the one we got last year!

        Some useful feedback and food for thought!

    • I’d definitely consider MR to SQ KrisFlyer – done a few redemptions with them (mix of Suites, First, Business) – excellent staff and product and had reasonable availability when I was booking (better than BA at least!)

  14. If the destination of choice for “solvent” Londoners is a hotel that is as bad as your 2017 experience then I’ll throw my lot in with the destitute and penniless…

    To be fair between this and the review of the Venice JW Marriott with the wasp invasion and concrete bunker pool, I do admire your determination in giving repeat custom to places that manage to be BOTH expensive AND rubbish 😀 😉

    • We’ve done about 70 nights at Four Seasons Hampshire since it opened so we give them the benefit of the doubt. And they comped me the full bill – room, food, spa, horse riding for my daughter, the lot – for the August 2017 disaster stay so it is difficult to be mad at them. And they don’t know who I am.

  15. OT- I need to get the family to a wedding in Hawaii this July – not great given the School Hols.

    I’m looking to secure 4 Bus Class Avios Seats (using 2x Companion Vouchers) to and from the West Coast and then Avios seats on Alaska to and from Hawaii.

    I believe I can go Open Jaw to and from the West Coast but can anyone advise if I can book the return (Which seems to have more availability) and then add on the outbound if they become available (keeping in mind the vouchers).

    I’m guessing this is pretty unlikely to materialise but any thoughts would be hugely appreciated!

    • You can book a single ex-UK or a return so you couldn’t just book US to UK. A few things are, I think, quite important:
      (i) You can upgrade Avios bookings no problem as and when availability appears – and I think by more than one class, but you should check this.
      (ii) You can change the booking within the same zone.
      (iii) Each change is £35pp so you wouldn’t want to change too often. You’ll usually have to phone BA to make changes which can be easy or can be a PITA
      (iv) Long haul singles are bonkers expensive as BA only sell full fare flexible tickets as singles, so don’t necessarily rely on redemption one way and cash fare return.

      A single zone (Band 6) covers most of the US except the north east so you’re looking for anything beyond Chicago and Washington – the one that Peak is 75k each way per person in Business.

      I think your best bet is to find something in Band 6 that would just about do the job for the outbound, even in Y, lock in the return you want and then seek to improve your situation nearer the time. The BA App and BA Redemption Finder websites are your friends here. Hope this helps a bit and good luck!

      • Thanks
        Forgot about the need for the ex uk flight. Will see if the above plan can work.

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