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Bits: new Luton Priority Pass option, new Bonvoy hotel in Porto, Hilton Honors Silverstone F1 event

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News in brief:

New Luton Airport option for Priority Pass customers

Priority Pass has added a new option at Luton Airport for cardholders.

Unfortunately it is NOT available to anyone who gets their Priority Pass via American Express. It is available to anyone who gets their pass directly from Priority Pass or via another financial partner. It should also be available for LoungeKey customers, which in the UK primarily means HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard holders.

The deal is with Italian restaurant Nolito in the depature area. Priority Pass customers will receive a £15 credit towards any meal. If your Priority Pass allows a free guest and you arrive with someone else, you will receive a £30 credit.

If you’re not a pizza or pasta fan, Priority Pass also has a deal with The Big Smoke Taphouse & Kitchen on the same terms.

There are a grand total of TWO restaurant experiences globally that Amex-issued Priority Pass customers can use. One is The Grain Store at London Gatwick’s South Terminal. Given that this is the British Airways terminal, it is at least convenient for most HfP readers. The other is the Moevenpick Cafe in Berlin Brandenburg.

My best guess is that Priority Pass wants to charge American Express a higher fee for restaurant visits, as it pays out more than it pays a lounge operator, and that the two parties could not reach an agreement.

This is something that American Express may want to look at again given the frustration over being unable to access UK lounges with Priority Pass due to overcrowding. The fee differential cannot be more than £1-£2 per visit, given that no other bank or credit card provider has brought in a similar restriction.

There is also the Aspire lounge at Luton (our last review of the Aspire lounge at Luton Airport is here) which IS accessible with an Amex-issued Priority Pass. Recent reader feedback has not been too impressive though.

You can see all of the Priority Pass options at Luton on this page of their website.

New Luton Airport option for Priority Pass customers

Marriott opens a Renaissance hotel in Porto

Porto has made huge strides in attracting tourists over the last decade, and the international hotel groups have belatedly been catching up.

I reviewed IHG’s InterContinental Porto here – it was my last foreign trip pre-covid – which is one of those lovely conversions of well located historic buildings that InterContinental does so well. (Don’t let the ugly London ones give you a false impression!)

Marriott has now launched the Renaissance Porto Lapa Hotel. Lapa isn’t a part of the city that I know but:

Located in charming Lapa, one of the most historic, vibrant neighborhoods in Porto, the new hotel offers spontaneous explorers a sleek, sophisticated urban hideaway moments away from the iconic Lapa Church and other city landmarks, such as Casa da Música and Clérigos Tower.

Perched on the Lapa’s hills, the hotel offers panoramic views of the city skyline. Drawing inspiration from this beloved city, local architecture firm Visioarq Arquitectos and interior designers of Broadway Malyan were commissioned to create Renaissance Porto Lapa Hotel as an ‘Art House in The Park’. Anchored by the brand’s theatrical design concept, the hotel is dressed harmoniously in pastel pinks and champagne golds with an unexpected touch of petrol blue, which pays homage to the iconic Douro River running through Porto and Gaia. The hotel’s interiors feature vintage Portuguese tiles, which have been used in local buildings and pavements for centuries. Adorning the walls are original art pieces from Portuguese international artists including a tile mosaic installation by Pedrita Studio, a painting by Isabel Mello, and a unique piece made of corrugated iron and neon lights by Berlin-based artist Clemens Behr.

The hotel is a new build – which is often beneficial in terms of terms of ‘stuff works’ – and with 163 rooms doesn’t seem overwhelming. There is a 55 foot heated outdoor infinity pool on the roof.

You can find out more on the Marriott website here.

Porto renaissance hotel open

Redeem Hilton points for a rooftop Formula 1 event!

Hilton recently opened a Hilton Garden Inn hotel at Silverstone, overlooking the circuit. Unsurprisingly, Hilton Honors is taking advantage of this as the British Grand Prix approaches.

For Practice Day on Friday 7th July, Hilton is throwing a rooftop party! This is how they describe it:

Enjoy all day VIP hospitality with free-flowing food and beverages and unrivalled views of the start/finish line and the pit lane, all from one of the newest viewing platforms.

This experience for two (2) includes:

– VIP Rooftop access at the Hilton Garden Inn Silverstone on Friday, July 7, 2023

– General Admission access to the British Grand Prix Fan Zone, including access to the following: 

    o In-person driver talks on at The Main Stage in the Convert Zone

    o Official F1 Fanzone Pitstop Challenge

    o Official F1 Fanzone Racing Simulators 

    o Historic parts of the track, including the iconic 180mph speed of Copse Corner

    o The Entertainment Village and Sports Zones

    o A performance from Jax Jones at The Main Stage on Friday evening

    o A giant screen playing live action-packed racing

This isn’t a bargain, although you need to remember that General Admission tickets for Practice Day are £169 per person, no rooftop party included!

The cost is 110,000 Hilton Honors points for two people. We value a Hilton point at 0.33p so you’re giving up £330-ish of future free hotel stays if you redeem for this. It does sound like good fun though.

There were originally 25 pairs of tickets up for grabs. This had dropped to 20 by last night.

There is no mention of car parking in the event description which, given the nature of the event, is a bit odd. Hopefully Hilton has a plan.

You can redeem via the Hilton Honors Experiences website here.

Comments (16)

  • Marko says:

    Thanks Rob! I had the old Sheraton Porto booked for August, I was completely unaware of the new Renaissance at the time of booking. Just cancelled Sheraton & booked the RS.

  • John says:

    “There is also the Aspire lounge at Luton […] Recent reader feedback has not been too impressive though.”

    A wonderful understatement, Rob. While the rest of LTN has been on a journey of improvement – exemplified by the new Shuttle and contactless barriers – the Aspire Lounge has deteriorated to a filthy calamity. Beyond the poor and scarce food, and toilets in need of a deep clean and maintenance, the greatest dis-amenity is the long term absence of usable Wi-Fi in the lounge (and recently in the departures hall too).

  • Save East Coast Rewards says:

    “There is a grand total of ONE restaurant experience globally that Amex-issued Priority Pass customers can use”

    There’s not. There’s at least two. I learned that from comments on here and just verified that’s still the case 😁

    • AlexT says:

      Indeed. There’s Berlin as well…

      • Rob says:

        Forgot about Berlin, you’re right. Apologies. Too new to register.

        • Save East Coast Rewards says:

          Due to the delay in opening it’s possible the Movenpick cafe actually signed an agreement with Priority Pass before the Grain Store which is how it’s an oddity.

          Berlin was one of my favourite cities to visit but I’ve not been yet since TXL closed. I need to fix that some time

  • Michael says:

    We were turned away from the Aspire Luton last week with the Plat Amex; the staff said that they had never provided access via this card.
    Is there an effective and easy way to feed this stuff back to Amex as it devalues the card?

    • Save East Coast Rewards says:

      Aspire doesn’t provide access via Plat Amex, it provides access via the Priority Pass card you’re given.

      That’s the confusing bit… Some Amex lounge access (most) comes through Priority Pass, but others (Plaza Premium, Eurostar, Lufthansa, etc) comes through the Amex card itself, of course their own Centurion lounge access comes through the card too.

  • ExpatInBerlin says:

    I used the Aspire Luton in late Feb before flying back to Berlin after a very short notice job interview in London (EZY still had a £40 flight to Berlin bookable 48 hours before, all other airlines out of London were extortionate). I was thankful for some space as the terminal was packed. To be fair, on the day I was there they had a half decent chicken curry option so I was able to have a hot meal before the flight. The bar was manned but there were no queues so I enjoyed a couple of g&ts. Main gripes were that there were used plates/glasses everywhere and despite staff around no one seemed to be bothered about clearing them up. Also for some weird reason there were “reserved” signs on about 75% of all the tables! I opted for one of the single comfy seats in the “quiet” section overlooking the terminal. Agree that the toilets need a far more rigorous cleaning regime. I noticed that as I was packing up to leave there were a few large groups coming in teetering on rowdy. Aspire could do with improved sectioning off of the lounge for the quiet spaces to prevent noise from travelling.

  • PlaneSpeaking says:

    Currently and everywhere I look, there are articles on Porto. Everyone I know has either just been, is there now or is going in a few weeks. I’m having such a FOMO moment – have I missed something?!

    • Rob says:

      There are many places in that neck of the woods – Valencia, Bologna etc – which are all equally interesting but which have finally got on the map after tidying themselves up, investing in new facilities and, frankly, benefitting from people looking for something new who have already ‘done’ Lisbon, Madrid, Barcelona etc.

      Note that Porto is very hilly, as the photo in the article shows. Not one for the feint hearted, weak jointed or anyone with a buggy or walking impairment.

    • xefo says:

      We went there last year and enjoyed it even more than Lisbon. Fantastic views, great and cheap food, friendly people.

  • PlaneSpeaking says:

    Thanks Rob, that’s good enough for me – it’s on the list (and with no port on BA for years, there’s a further incentive to visit too!).

  • yorkieflyer says:

    I’m not sure that Bologna is in the same neck of the woods as Oporto?!

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