When IHG, the hotel chain behind InterContinental, Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo etc, rolled out its new IHG One Rewards loyalty scheme last year, one of the key benefits was confirmable suite upgrades.
This benefit turned out to be better than many of us expected.
Basically, as long as a ‘standard’ suite is available for cash, you can have it. The hotel can’t game the system – you call IHG and if a ‘standard’ suite is bookable for cash, the agent will rebook you into it.
What is the small print for using a Confirmable Suite Upgrade?
Until very recently, here were the rules:
- you needed to have a cash booking made at Best Available Rate
- you could only call to request your suite upgrade from 14 days before arrival
- one upgrade voucher is good for up to five nights in a suite
- you had to be the guest – you can’t gift your stay in any way
- Six Senses hotels which do not take part in IHG One Rewards are excluded – I assume the Iberostar Beachfront Resorts are similarly excluded at the moment as they are not yet integrated
Whilst the ‘can’t upgrade until 14 days before arrival’ clause was arguably an issue, in reality it didn’t matter that much. Because your booking was at Best Flexible Rate, you had the ability to cancel and rebook – either for different dates or at a different hotel – if all suites had gone.
In reality, because few hotels have sold out of standard suites at 14 days before arrival, people were getting their upgrades OK.
Reward nights have now been added
Ever since Confirmable Suite Upgrades launched, IHG has been talking about extending them to reward nights.
After a couple of false starts, it now seems to be live. If you have a Confirmable Suite Upgrade in your account, you now see this message on the IHG website:
It appears that you can now call IHG and upgrade a reward booking to a suite.
As you can see from the screenshot, I have a Confirmable Suite Upgrade expiring soon so I may get some real life experience in how they work.
A reminder …. how do you earn a Confirmable Suite Upgrade?
‘Milestone Rewards’ are a key feature of the new IHG One Rewards.
If you do 20 or more IHG nights in a calendar year (rollover nights are NOT included), you can select your ‘Milestone Rewards’ at the IHG website.
What I like about IHG’s new Milestone Rewards is that it is a way of bringing together their disparate brands.
Do 20 nights in a Holiday Inn Express and you get a suite upgrade for a 5-night stay at any hotel, including top InterContinental properties. You can’t argue with that. If you want to carry on staying at a Holiday Inn Express on holiday, you can choose another reward such as £15 / $20 Food & Beverage Rewards.
How do IHG’s ‘Milestone Rewards’ work?
Before you read this, remember that IHG One Rewards has to cater for disparate groups of people:
- those who exclusively use the ‘select service’ brands (Holiday Inn Express etc)
- those who exclusively use the full service brands (InterContinental etc)
- those who switch between the two, either through choice or because they behave differently on business vs leisure trips or long vs short stays
This is what you get:
You have 90 days from hitting each milestone to make your selection. Let’s explain how these elements work:
- Bonus points – this is relatively clear. We value IHG One Rewards points at 0.4p each so 10,000 points are worth £40. On this basis, the food and drink vouchers are more valuable, unless all your stays are for work and your employer pays.
- Food and beverage rewards – these are worth £15 or equivalent. They are valid for 12 months. You can use multiple vouchers against the same restaurant or bar bill. You cannot use them against ‘market place’ charges where the hotel has a mini mart. They are non-transferable.
- Annual lounge membership – this is very valuable if you stay at full service hotels with lounges. It is valid for the current AND following calendar year, so you could get 20+ months out of it if you did 40 nights early in the calendar year. It is valid for you and a guest. IHG has confirmed that reward stays will be included in this benefit.
- Confirmable Suite Upgrades – you can trigger these at 20 nights, 40 nights and 70 nights (x2) for a maximum of four per calendar year. They are valid for 365 days from the day you select them.
Are IHG’s suite upgrades better than Marriott’s Suite Night Awards?
Yes, I think so:
- The Marriott upgrade process is opaque – a hotels can refuse to release a suite for upgrade if it thinks it can sell it. IHG says that if a ‘standard’ suite is available for cash, you can have it. Evidence so far implies that this is correct.
- 50 nights at Marriott gets you 5 x one-night Suite Night Awards. 40 nights at IHG gets you 2 x ‘up to five night’ suite upgrades – and you only need 20 nights to earn your first one.
- However, Marriott will let you upgrade any cash rate including pre-paid rooms – IHG insists that you book a reward night or a Best Available Rate cash room
A lot will come down to your personal stay patterns. If you often do longer stays (3-5 nights) at the same hotel then being able to upgrade all of it with just one Confirmable Suite Upgrade voucher is attractive.
The terms and conditions for the various member benefits are here.
Our main article on how to earn points and status in IHG One Rewards is here. Part 2, looking at IHG One Rewards and its status benefits, is here.
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.