Until the end of 2022, you can redeem your InterContinental Ambassador ‘free weekend night’ certificate at Regent Hotels outside China.
Not many people know this.
Even better, you DON’T need to use it at weekends. With Regent Hotels, the certificates are valid at any time. This makes it a lot easier for your Ambassador membership to pay for itself.
Importantly, Ambassador benefits also apply at Regent Hotels albeit there is no $20 F&B credit.
(InterContinental Ambassador ‘free weekend night’ vouchers can also be used at Kimpton Hotels until the end of 2022. Like Regent, the certificates can in theory be used on any day and not just at weekends. In my experience, not all Kimpton Hotels choose to load certificate rates during midweek.)
Where can I find Regent Hotels?
In March 2018, IHG acquired 51% of Regent Hotels & Resorts for $39m, ie peanuts. For comparison, the refurbishment of InterContinental Park Lane a few years ago cost three times that.
The reasons it was so cheap is that Regent Hotels & Resorts only ran seven properties:
- Porto Montenegro (looks nice – see above)
- Shanghai (the ex-Four Seasons)
…. and the pipeline was thin, although InterContinental Hong Kong will (re)brand to the Regent name once its refurbishment is complete later in 2022.
The properties in Greater China are excluded from Ambassador. This means that you can only use your Ambassador 2-4-1 voucher at three additional hotels:
It is also valid at the one new opening since IHG bought the chain:
…. in Vietnam.
Montenegro is reportedly the best of the four, with the advantage of also being somewhere ‘different’ and of course having a fantastic location in the port.
You can use your Ambassador 2-4-1 voucher at Regent Hotels
The 241 voucher can be used at Regent Hotels, but only in 2022.
Head to the voucher booking site – intercontinental.com/ambweekend – and do a test. This is what comes up as your options for Berlin if I search for a Tue-Thu (ie midweek) stay:
Note that the InterContinental Berlin is not showing voucher availability, because I am searching Tue-Thu, but Regent Berlin is.
Even better, all room types are included, from a standard room to the Presidential Suite! Here are the top suites:
There are three quirks you need to know about the way the pricing works with the voucher:
- the second weekend night is free. It is NOT the average of the two nights. If you stay Fri/Sat, Saturday is free. If you stay Sat/Sun, Sunday is free. If you stay Thu/Fri/Sat, Saturday is free as it is the second weekend night. If you book a Regent where the voucher is valid seven days, the 2nd night of your stay is free.
- you pay Best Available Rate for the other night. This means that you pay slightly more for your ‘paid’ night because Best Available Rate is higher than the IHG Rewards member or Advanced Purchase rates.
- you don’t see the discount during the booking process. The hotel reduces the second night to zero on check-out.
How does InterContinental Ambassador work?
If you’re not familiar with InterContinental Ambassador, the rest of this article will explain how it works.
InterContinental and Regent, the two luxury hotel brands inside IHG Rewards (which also covers Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo and others) are a little odd when it comes to loyalty schemes:
- as part of the Holiday Inn / Crowne Plaza group, they participates in IHG Rewards
- InterContinental and Regent hotels do not officially recognise your IHG Rewards status. In reality, they often do, but it is not guaranteed.
- InterContinental and Regent also have their own loyalty scheme – Ambassador – which costs $200 to join
You can sign up here. The cost is $200.
For new members, there is an option to use 40,000 IHG Rewards points instead of paying $200 in cash. Given my 0.4p valuation of an IHG Rewards point this is a fair deal, although it is always possible to exceed 0.4p – often by a large margin – at peak hotels on peak dates.
The key thing about Ambassador is that, once you are a member, the benefits are virtually guaranteed on paid stays. They are NOT guaranteed on reward stays but most properties do let you have them.
These benefits are:
- A certificate for a free night (BOGOF) when you join and each year when you renew. In one swoop, you can save your entire membership fee with this benefit. To use the voucher, you need to book a 2-night stay (weekend only at InterContinental, any day at Kimpton Hotels and Regent Hotels in 2022) and pay the Ambassador Certificate Rate, which is usually equal to Best Flexible Rate. The rules say that only standard rooms can be booked. However, many hotels let you book club rooms or suites which is especially useful for families.
- (As the Ambassador Certificate Rate is more expensive than a non-refundable Advance Purchase rate, your free night is not totally free if you would otherwise have booked a cheaper pre-paid rate. It is totally free if you would otherwise have booked at Best Flexible Rate. For clarity, the free night is the 2nd night. It is NOT the average of your two nights.)
- A GUARANTEED one-level room upgrade on every InterContinental and Regent stay – this is usually processed before you arrive and is visible online. If the hotel cannot provide an upgrade, you receive 10,000 IHG Rewards points compensation at an InterContinental. There is no compensation at a Regent.
- 4pm check-out – this is a GUARANTEED benefit and comes in very handy on a weekend break or on a trip with an evening flight back home. If an InterContinental hotel cannot provide late check-out, you receive 10,000 IHG Rewards points compensation. There is no compensation at a Regent.
- A $20 food and beverage credit per InterContinental stay (not valid at Regent)
- Free mineral water in your room
- Platinum Elite status in IHG Rewards
The benefits package is slightly different for stays in Mainland China, including free restaurant breakfast for one person.
Is InterContinental Ambassador worth it?
Obviously InterContinental Ambassador is not for everyone. You can earn back the cost of membership in just one stay by redeeming the free night voucher. It may even be worth it if you had just one long InterContinental or Regent stay booked and wanted to guarantee your upgrade.
Ambassador members also receive Platinum Elite status in IHG Rewards. This will make your future Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo etc stays a little more pleasant although it is unlikely to lead to major upgrades or lounge access.
You can learn more about InterContinental Ambassador, and sign up, here if it sounds interesting.
IHG One Rewards update – December 2023:
Get bonus points: Our article on IHG’s current bonus promotion is here. You will receive 2,000 bonus points for every two cash nights you stay until 31st December. Nights do not need to be consecutive. Click here to register.
New to IHG One Rewards? Read our overview of IHG One Rewards here and our article on points expiry rules here. Our article on ‘What are IHG One Rewards points worth?’ is here.
Buy points: If you need additional IHG One Rewards points, you can buy them here.
IHG is offering a 100% bonus (some members may be offered less) when you buy points by 30th December 2023. Click here to buy.
Want to earn more hotel points? Click here to see our complete list of promotions from IHG and the other major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.