Leading Hotels of the World is currently offering free membership of Leaders Club for one year, saving you the usual $175 annual fee.
This is the first time that I have ever seen an ‘open to all’ offer of free membership for LHW. Many member hotels have handed it out in the past to non-member guests. It also crops up from time to time as a benefit for particular groups, eg World Elite Mastercard holders. The company has never opened the floodgates to everyone before.
Long-term readers will remember that I rejoined in 2016 – for cash – after being bribed with a free night voucher. I used that to stay at the amazing The Gainsborough Bath Spa Hotel, which I reviewed here. I let my membership lapse again after that.
That said …..
You don’t get much for your $175 if you pay, so being able to join for free for a year isn’t going to get you anything exceptional.
What is interesting is that LHW is willing to dilute its membership base in this way, which may or may not impact how good the exclusive member offers will be going forward.
What is Leading Hotels of the World?
LHW is best described as a marketing consortium. It comprises over 400 luxury hotels which are independently owned and run. None are part of a chain.
LHW allows these independent hotels access to a loyalty programme, as well as a group of fee-paying members to whom they can offer exclusive benefits.
That said, you don’t need to be a paid-up member of Leaders Club to book on the Leading Hotels of the World website.
Leaders Club is a bit like InterContinental Ambassador – if you do more than one booking via LHW each year, you would probably come out on top by paying the $175 membership fee.
What are the benefits of Leading Hotels of the World membership?
You can learn about Leaders Club here.
For $175 per year, you receive:
- access to member rates, which can be 20% below published rates
- one upgrade voucher for a GUARANTEED one-category upgrade (you only receive this voucher after your first paid stay after joining)
- free breakfast for two people
- free wi-fi, where charged
- priority for upgrades, early check-in and late check-out
For clarity, bookings must be made via the Leading Hotels of the World website to receive the benefits above. Bookings made directly with the hotel do not count.
Leaders Club also has a points scheme
There is also a points scheme. It is very simple – you earn 1 point per $1 spent. You can earn on up to three rooms per stay.
If you sign up via this ‘free for a year’ offer, you will receive 500 points to get you started.
Free nights start at 4,000 points, so are going to need to spend $3,500 before you have enough points to stay at even the cheapest property.
Is it worth joining Leaders Club for free?
In general, I would not recommend paying $175 for Leaders Club.
Whilst you would be in profit after a couple of stays, you can usually get the same benefits via other routes.
American Express Platinum cardholders can access Fine Hotels & Resorts, for example. I wrote more about Fine Hotels & Resorts here. FHR gets you:
- noon check-in when available (admittedly worthless)
- room upgrade on arrival when available (not worth much)
- free breakfast for two people (continental at a minimum but usually full in my experience)
- GUARANTEED 4pm check-out (very valuable)
- an additional benefit, usual $100 of food and beverage credit per stay
- free wi-fi
As you can see, Fine Hotels & Resorts gets you better benefits than Leaders Club (assuming that the same hotel is in both programmes and the rate is the same) and FHR is free if you have American Express Platinum.
If you don’t have Platinum, our luxury hotel booking partner Emyr Thomas can get you similar benefits at hotels which are part of the Virtuoso booking consortium. You don’t need any membership or premium credit card to use Emyr – just fill in this form.
However, free is free
If you use, or have used, Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts, or booked via Emyr, you will find Leading Hotels of the World Leaders Club membership an additional string to your bow.
I doubt you’ll get $175 of value over the next year, but then you aren’t paying $175 to join.
For clarity, if you are not the sort of person who spends £200+ on a hotel room on a regular basis, it probably isn’t worth it – even for free. You are just opening up your inbox to a year of email about hotels you would never pay for, even with free breakfast, a member discount and a potential upgrade.
You can sign up on the LHW website here. You will see the free membership offer as a pop-up or via the rotating banner at the top of the screen.
PS. Emyr dropped me a note to say that, for Leaders Club members, he can still process bookings due to a partnership he has with LHW. Depending on the hotel and the relationship Emyr has with the team there, this can lead to additional benefits on top of the standard Leaders Club ones. You will pay the same as the standard Leaders Club member rate.
Hotel offers update – May 2022:
Want to earn more hotel points? Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.