Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

The HfP chat thread – Sunday 28th March

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Comments (247)

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  • Mouse says:

    Can people help explain to me the point of hotel club lounges? I’ve only ever been in one, at the Gatwick Hilton, and it was one of the most miserable rooms in which I’ve ever had the displeasure to spend any time, roughly on a par with the London passport office waiting room. I understand airport lounges, when you’re captive in the airport so have to be somewhere, and the higher tier airline-run ones are actually quite nice. Going to Galleries First before my flight makes the whole travelling experience more enjoyable. But why when staying in a hotel would you want to go to a horribly-carpeted room full of tense gammony men for a free glass of foul plonk and a dried-out canapé, rather than a nice local bar or restaurant?

    • Harry T says:

      I’ve told there are some good ones in Asia.

      • Crafty says:

        Hilton Da Nang lounge shortly after the hotel opened was absolutely fantastic for a few nights. My wife, my daughter and I were among probably only about 30-40 guests in the hotel, and as newly minted Diamonds were treated like royalty. Especially welcome as I had come down with a terrible bronchitis type illness.

    • Genghis says:

      There are some nice ones. Good place for breakfast. Snacks if you’re around. I’ve had free dinners there when ive felt tight and I was by myself. Different strokes for different folks. I wouldn’t pay for access but will take it when it’s free.

      • xcalx says:

        Grand Hyatt Bali was the nicest lounge we have used. Located outside in the middle of a small pond. Everything about it was stunning.

    • Gavin says:

      Generally I’d agree, but I stayed at a hotel in HK with a great club lounge. High quality canape-type food and drinks, and a great view from the top of a tower. It was a nice place to spend an hour or so before going out for dinner, and far more wallet friendly than finding a bar or restaurant with a comparable view.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Hotel Icon has a great lounge with a full cocktail bar.

        JWM Dubai gets very busy but if you’re alone/don’t fancy going out it’s fine for a few after work drinks and a meal.

        It depends a few G&T’s in Dubai can be worth £20-30 for example so can save you a few £

        • Michael C says:

          Agree the Icon is stunning, TG: amazing way to start an evening!
          Another “I could live here forever” is the RC Singapore, with it’s 5 food offerings a day and non-stop champagne.
          On a far more practical note, from a family perspective, being able to grab 3 basic juices/spring rolls/small sandwiches a couple of times a day as a mini stop-gap, instead of traipsing around looking for a random café, is priceless!

      • Polly says:

        Harbour Grand Kowloon fabulous.mine time we were there when it snowed, so literally hung out in the lounge for 2 days. Felt we had died and ….so yes, there is def a point if good. And like Genghis says we would even eat dinner there, the canapés were so substantial.

    • Chrisasaurus says:

      Hilton T5 entirely different kettle of fish – LGW is suspect I agree

    • Anna says:

      Yes it varies from hotel to hotel. A stand out one for me was the Hilton UN Plaza in New York – decent breakfast and evening nibbles but the best bit was that it was on one of the high floors with views of the Chrysler building on one side and over rooftop gardens to the Hudson river on the other. It was a very exhilarating way to start the day!

      • Chrisasaurus says:

        I think it was your comment nearly made me book it previously Anna but decided the early morning flight from JFK was enough to give it a miss.

        What was it like in reality getting about?

        • ChrisC says:

          Have stayed there twice – a long time ago though. May not be the case now but the crew of an Italian based airline stayed there. Being in the same lift of an Eastern European diplomat and his minders was an experience!

          It’s a 5-10 minute walk from Grand Central for the subway.

          IIRC there is a bus stop near the hotel if you don’t want to walk. Taxis plentiful because of the UN diplomats demands.

          Lowest floor for the hotel is the 28th (offices below that).

          Over looks the East River (which should be on the list of things that are incorrectly named as it’s not a river) and fantastic views whichever side of the hotel you are on.

        • Anna says:

          We walked or got the subway, it was in a decent location for us as we’d planned activities at both ends of the city so we never had to go that far. It was also quite handy for Grand Central station. Still waiting for my next F trip!

          • Polly says:

            Food hall in Grand Central is definitely worth sampling. We had some great on the run meals there.

      • Genghis says:

        East River?

    • Peter K says:

      Making a decision based on an experience of one is not usually a good plan. Some are awful like the Hilton Gatwick lounge, I agree, but there are much nicer ones.

      Hilton Barbados had a lovely one with fresh food, amazing harbor views and it saved about $8 a soft drink at a bar downstairs (they’ve since got rid of it). Hilton Cardiff has amazing views of the castle. Marriott Copenhagen has a decent food and drink offering at breakfast and evening (if no food intolerances and you don’t fancy going out).

      So yes, some are dreadful, but others take the whole hotel experience a notch higher.

      • Rob says:

        The key thing about a lounge, if you are working, is that is effectively a secure environment. Unlike a cafe or a restaurant, you can set up a laptop etc and feel perfectly happy hanging around as long as you like, and also knowing that you can nip to the loo, get some more food etc without having to worry about your stuff. A decent one will have plenty of seating options inc sofas, plenty of reading options, a good alcohol selection which you can pick and mix from etc. In a really good one the staff will start bringing you your preferred drink automatically if you are there for more than a couple of days.

        The difference at IC Festival City in Dubai at New Year between the crazy restaurant at breakfast (running at more than full capacity) and the pretty deserted lounge was night and day. It also served full afternoon tea in the afternoons and had a decent selection of snacks in the evening, which the adults could go to whilst safely leaving the kids a couple of floors below.

        • Memesweeper says:

          +1

          On a business trip they are a real bonus. For leisure they have to be better than the surrounding sites and smells, which they rarely are, even the good ones.

          • TGLoyalty says:

            Agree. But can be useful before you hit the sights and smells 🙃

          • Rupert says:

            +2.

            Lounges are very useful on a business trip. “ table for one” at a hotel restaurant being shouted out, and being placed in a middle table is awkward. I always look for the food fare at the lounge first.

    • Chris Heyes says:

      Mouse I can tell you there are some really good Hotel Lounges throughout Europe and in America’s
      Hilton Athens, Hilton Sorrento springs to mind nice lounges good views
      The Secret is to go in them “Not Happy Hour” although they don’t call them that
      an Hour before they are empty 2 hours after very quiet
      nice quite sit on the Lounge Balcony’s with great views
      I don’t take my phone on Holiday or laptop so ideal for checking in for flights either home or to another destination
      Yep don’t take my phone or switch it off until back in UK, never switch TV on either, i guess I’m a rare breed.
      I Keep getting told off about it, but if it’s bad news I’d rather not have a ruined hols

    • mark2 says:

      I can recommend Sheraton Suites Eau Claire in Calgary – lounge but also suites and location.

    • Will says:

      Try the Cavalieri Rome, sitting out on the balcony overlooking Rome, or IC HK and Singapore for a better experience.

      Many other decent ones out there too but agree some can be terrible.

      • david says:

        Lounges aint what they used to be – remember eating caviar and drinking Krug whilst listening to someone playing the harp – 20 years ago in the RC club lounge Dubai.
        If you want to still be blown away go to Okura lounge in Bangkok.

    • David D says:

      Melia have some good lounges. The Melia Milano is a really good room with good food and alcohol all day, and anything you want for breakfast. Similar at the Melia Princesa, hotel looks awful on the outside, however the lounge is quite spacious and food made all day, though very much tapas based, and all alcohol available from 11am to about 11pm. The Gran Melia serves champagne in addition to Cava.

      The Corinthia in Prague has really good views across Prague and serves an excellent range of food at both breakfast and later in the day. Plus the service is really good. Now, that is just three good ones, and I have not even started with one of my favourites at the Hilton Berlin or Dusseldorf, nor the Doubletree in Krakow which have large ranges of food or drink or just really good quality when serving hot food at breakfast and dinner times.

    • Tim says:

      Are we talking about the updated LGW Hilton lounge or the one pre-Covid? There have been significant changes at the LGW Hilton over the last 12 months (albeit I’ve only seen the lobby and restaurant so far).

    • Ja says:

      If you are a woman who travels on their own, it can be good knowing you have somewhere to go rather than a bar.

      Best I’ve been to is IC in Malta where I sat out on the lounge terrace to have freshly cooked breakfast. Cream teas in the afternoon and things to eat in the evening with loads of different bottles of wine to try.

      However the Hilton New Orleans comes to mind when I wish I hadn’t bothered. I stayed Friday to Monday and guess what. Apart from breakfast it doesn’t open at all over the weekend

  • AnotherUser says:

    Can be an easy place to get a free breakfast without leaving the hotel, and some are nice spaces to spend time in (with nice views etc). Can also be useful if you’re in the hotel for work – somewhere to work with a ready supply of free coffee, and a handy place to meet colleagues

    • Alan H says:

      I agree. When you are working away for weeks staying at a
      Hotel, the lounge is a bit of an oasis to meet colleagues whilst enjoying drinks and nibbles. Riverbank park plaza London was excellent for this but haven’t been for a while. The Marriott on park lane was excellent to meet up with friends prior to heading out to Mayfair.

  • Fm says:

    Has anyone run into issues paying Solihull with Hong Kong WE? Have been doing so for a few months without issue but not sure if I saw mention of someone’s account being shut down for doing so.

    • Clubx says:

      I never thought of that before! Paying with DBS Black?

    • Chrisasaurus says:

      I would risk it at all, asking for trouble with HSBC

      • Jonathan says:

        Second this. HSBC are worth keeping onside as consistently the best (or very close to) mortgage rates over the last 10+ years. They’re also very intolerant of any behaviour that sails vaguely close to the wind.

        Premier account is also a very good product for no fee with inclusive travel insurance that has proved better than Amex Platinum on a few occasions for me.

    • Rachel R says:

      I’ve been doing it for a few months without issue too.

      • Eric says:

        So if I have Curve, Solihull, Hong Kong and Virgin (what’s the code name for this??), is there a way to actually triple dip?

        • CH says:

          Get bendy metal. Then triple (or more…) dip to your hearts content. Then get shut down. lol
          (depends on how extreme you take it I guess)

        • Chrisasaurus says:

          Beardy 🙂

          • Eric says:

            Haha thanks. Do they not work on basic Curve? So what’s the order to triple dip these for Metal?

  • Tiger says:

    Is the 10,000 MR points bonus on an annual spend of £15,000 an annual bonus or just for first year? Thanks.

  • mart says:

    Having some issues rescheduling a cancelled BA Avios 241 flight, what is the best number to call please?

    • Memesweeper says:

      Depends on your status unfortunately— you need to log into your account and find out.

      Phoned twice today and got through immediately, call answered in India, both issues very swiftly resolved.

    • S879 says:

      I called in the afternoon today on the 0800 number. Got through within a minute albeit the call centre in India but she rebooked it efficiently. She did try the ‘we don’t have enough reward seats available on your chosen date,’ but when I reminded her that I could book any date and that August was within the date range she suddenly found the extra seat.

  • KBuffett says:

    What’s the cheapest way of getting iTunes vouchers at the moment?

    • Jonathan says:

      If you’ve got the Amex offer for 10% off at Morrison’s when spending £30 or more, that’s almost certainly the best return.

      Assuming you’ve got an Amex card with the offer, and you can easily find some Apple gift cards in your local Morrisons

      • Harry T says:

        As Jonathan says, but remember you can buy amazon gift cards at Morrison’s. Amazon often seem to discount Apple gift cards, so you could buy amazon gift cards and could wait for that to ensure an even better discount.

        • Jek says:

          Note that after the recent quadruple dip at Morrisons your local Morrisons may have no gift cards left…

          • Harry T says:

            Quadruple? My local Morrison’s stores always have a plethora of all types of gift card, so it probably tells you something about the area!

          • Polly says:

            Correct. They often remove Amazon GCs when the 10% off is running…

          • Lord Doncaster says:

            Quadruple dip? Airtime hasn’t tracked for me in over a week.

  • Benilyn says:

    Which NatWest current account and/or credit card am I meant to get to be able to swap to Avios?
    I see Rewards / Black Rewards / Premier Rewards.

    • Harry T says:

      You’re thinking of Barclays?

      • CH says:

        Unlike the Barclays offering, NWG/RBS (standard) accounts are accessible to mere mortals 🙂
        A debit card with the Rewards account will give you rewards (basically points where 1 point = 1p) with certain retailers, much like the offerings from the other banks.
        A credit card can earn 1% on general purchases.
        The Premier offering is similar, but marginally different (better-ish).

    • Cabal of rabid baboons says:

      Any rewards account, it’s the reward points you swap for Avios.

    • The Savage Squirrel says:

      Bear in mind that the rewards redeem just as easily for cash so you’re basically buying Avios (at a rate cheaper than non promo BA but not an amazing one) if you choose that as your redemption option.

  • Clive says:

    So it looks as though a number of areas in Thailand will open to vaccinated tourists in June. Problem seems that direct flights into the location will be required.

    • Jonathan says:

      More the concern is the government lifting the ban on all travel !

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Phuket 1st July, other parts October?

      Tourists must still deal with a tangle of red tape. They must obtain online approval for a Certificate of Entry before departure and download the Thailand Plus track-and-trace application. Before boarding a flight they must present a negative PCR test result within 72 hours of departure from the UK.

      They must also show proof of travel insurance with Covid-19 cover.

      The critical question of what proof of vaccination will be required is unanswered. There is no international agreement on Covid status certification.

      • meta says:

        I presume like with Seychelles, you will need to upload a proof (which can be doctor’s letter, Hancock already said doctors will be issuing those) and then someone will check it in Thailand before issuing approval and that’s it. Just like you would submit all sorts of required documents for any standard visa application. There does not need to be international certification in place.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          At some point your country will just be green and no proof of anything will be required.

          That’s when I’ll consider visiting.

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