Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

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  • in reply to: More crap Amex customer service

    if 20K points offer is ‘paltry’, what does that make my offer of 5k for £3k spend in 3 months?

    in reply to: Korea

    I forgot to mention that anything beyond 1-2 days in Busan should be used for day trips to surrounding areas but others have already mentioned this.

    I concur (seems to be a popular word on HFP!) that the food is amazing in Korea. There is a great day trip you can do from Seoul which goes to one of the towns that is famous for its cuisine (sorry I can’t remember the name but googling stuff like ‘foodie trips in Korea’ or ‘day trips from Seoul’ should show it)

    The new version of the card will offer Platinum status and 25 elite night credits (formerly it was Gold and 15 night credits).

    How does the US$ annual fee compare with the UK £75 one ?

    The US Brilliant card was always more expensive than the UK version but had extra bennies and a massive signup bonus

    in reply to: Korea

    to me it’s a bit soulless.

    oh come on, you had the perfect opportunity for a pun right there…

    Unfortunately, as a Korea nut myself, I’ve heard that pun way too often to use it myself 😀

    PS Ask Mrs Aston if she’s seen Extraordinary Attorney Woo on Netflix

    in reply to: Korea

    Thanks for the info @Pangolin
    We can allocate up to 14 full days for this trip.
    What would your split around the country look like? 5/4/5 for Seoul / Busan / Jeju?

    Would be trying to use our IHG & HH stash of points where possible.

    You probably want to allocate more time for Seoul (and day trips) than to Busan, so maybe 6/4/4?

    in reply to: Korea

    2 weeks is plenty of time for just those 3 destinations, so I would suggest looking at day trips from Seoul also.

    I think 3 days is enough for Jeju but if you have 2 full weeks you could consider adding on a day as it’s a very pleasant place to wander round. Fly there/back from Gimpo (or Busan) to save time. Hallasan is good for hiking if that’s your thing. You’ll probably want to hire a car for the island.

    For hotels I can only talk about Seoul (in Jeju I stayed at guesthouses). The CY in Namdaemun has excellent location and was great value when I stayed there as you got lounge access (as Platinum) and it was a decent lounge with great service and happy hour from 5.30-9.30 (good food also). There’s some other good hotels nearby and I think it’s a great location (I prefer it to Myeongdong in fact) due to the all the markets and hole-in-the-wall eateries that do great bibimpap/kimbap

    Hilton by Seoul Station is excellent for doing day trips from as you’ll do all those from Seoul Station in any case. Remember to get the City Travelcard from a 7/11 place as soon as you arrive. It will make metro travel a lot easier.

    Your wife might be interested in Gangnam (style) so consider splitting your Seoul stay into two different hotels – eg one around Myeongdong and one in Gangnam. I would avoid the area by the Palace/City Hall – to me it’s a bit soulless.

    in reply to: Marrakech advice

    I booked airport transport via, cost me £8 each way.
    I recommend a great hike if you’re a fan – A Magical Overlook on Marrakesh on Airbnb


    Thanks! Never occured to me to use Airbnb for the experiences. I will give it a whirl.

    I was looking at transfers via too, was it a meet and greet?

    Yes it was when I did this.
    The car was quite battered and the driver was constantly trying to sell tours, which fits with the hustling nature of that city.

    The city (especially the medina) is full of annoying gits who won’t leave you alone, and scooters that come within millimetres of killing you.
    Just assume that every single person you speak to is looking to scam you in some way.
    Do not let anyone guide you to some shop that is doing an amazing deal.
    If you ask people for directions or any kind of info at all, they will want paying.
    Keep small notes / 20 dirhams on you for taxis who will no doubt miraculously have run out of change.
    Oh and make sure taxis use the meter or else go find another one.
    It’s a bloody tedious and annoying city full of people you’d want to punch. A bit like Birmingham.

    However, once you are out of ‘kech, the rest of the country is fine (except Agadir, which is a dump and also suffers from all of the above).

    What’s wrong with Brum? 😀

    What about Rabat or Casablanca?

    in reply to: (Possibly) Slumming it in KL

    The IC had a great lounge and spectacular service, when I stayed there 4 years ago, but the rooms were very dated and badly in need of a refurb.

    I really liked everything about the hotel other than the rooms. A lot of ICs are getting refurbs now so if this one gets modernised it should be an excellent option for KL.

    in reply to: AC Hotel Inverness

    Interesting. I’ll keep my eye on it


    I thought that Amex Plat no longer gave Shangri-La Jade?


    I’d choose the F&B vouchers as the milestone reward if they were available. I don’t care that much about getting a suite (and don’t want the faff of calling some hotline and trying to find availability), and the F&B credit looks better value than the points anyway.

    I should reach the 30-night milestone in September, and am still waiting for F&B to come online before selecting my 20-night reward (I have till October).

    Obviously if I reach the 40 night milestone (aiming to get this in December) I will choose the lounge access 🙂

    in reply to: IHG Status Challenge

    The two promos stack without any issues, since Qualifying Rate applies in both cases.

    As long as you’re paying cash it will be fine. I qualified for Diamond this way and have also been receiving the 2-4x points

    in reply to: InterContinental Ambassador – worth it?

    To me Ambassador is definitely worth it.

    1) BOGOF – the issue about the AMB rates being significantly higher than BAR seems to have gone away since the pandemic

    2) 4pm guaranteed checkout

    3) $20 F&B credit (depends on currency)

    4) You can use AMB renewal to preserve top tier status apparently, which gives it significantly extra value if you’re Diamond

    5) 15K renewal bonus

    It’s just a pity they’ve dropped the 10% discount on points redemptions


    I think so, the e-upgrades usually offer it around $50 per night. It feels like I’d be paying for a breakfast I’m getting free anyway though.

    I am just plat (and plan to get AMB). If I pay for club room upgrade, would I have the option to have breakfast at either lounge or the main restaurant?

    Most ICs would offer you the ability to take breakfast in the main restaurant I think. The one brand that normally doesn’t is Marriott – if you get lounge access via status you have to take breakfast in the lounge (but it’s property dependent, as JWN in SIN allowed me to take breakfast in the main restaurant)

    in reply to: Where should I use my Be My Guest voucher?

    WA AMS for sure

    in reply to: My summer of Hilton resorts in Turkey

    About two weeks after I sent my initial complaint to Hilton I finally got an answer.
    They offered nothing.
    “Sorry about your frustration, we are not able to offer any compensation. Here is the hotel manager’s email”.

    Pretty annoying but the fight continues.

    Wow.. what a stinker of a place!


    Not sure if it’s made clear but if you’re doing 241 then you only pay club on the upsell for the first night – the second night is free so the club charge is effectively half price (it’s similar if you book a Club room outright in a 241 reservation – the second night shows the room price (with club built into the rate) but you are not paying for that night anyway.

    So for 241 – whether booking Club outright or paying the upsell afterwards – the rule is always 2 club nights for the price of 1

    If ever I’m going to splash out and book a Club room, a 241 is when I’m most likely to indulge!


    That’s the decision for IC Athens, base room is 100euro cheaper for the 2 nights total, so 50euro per night. I will have breakfast included so is club access and a slightly better room worth 50euro per night??…

    If you’re Diamond or on a package where breakfast is included, lounge access doesn’t really add much extra. Especially if you stay at a Kimpton and there’s social hour as well as brekkie!

    See my recent post above – a club room should give you an unobscured view of the Parthenon from your room – 7th floor or lower and you see some monstrous carbuncle instead

    What’s interesting about IC ATH (and quite a few other ICs it seems) is that you get an even worse offer on the upsell at the front desk than just paying for it upfront in the reservation. And if you book a Club room as AMB that opens up the possibility of a Suite upgrade (upsell would just give you club in a Deluxe room)


    I just had a stay at IC Athens. I have Diamond Ambassador status. I got an upgrade from a Classic Room to a Classic Room City View. 5th floor room so the only view is of the surrounding blocks, not the city and certainly not the Parthenon which you can see from the upper floors. Essentially, a “non-upgrade”. €15 stay credit but with beer at €10,50 a glass it doesn’t go far. Free breakfast with Diamond status. They wanted a farcical €80 for Club access. Hotel was NOT busy.
    Contrasts poorly with an foc Club Room and Club access on last stay. Haven’t done enough stays yet under the new scheme for any significant Milestone Reward. You sense a miserable attitude – the generosity has gone.
    With no hotel benefits worth having I voted with my feet and ate out at the Vassilis restaurant 3 mins walk away – great food, and beer at €5,20 a go.

    I was there 3 weeks ago on a 241. I’m also Diamond ambassador and I got a 7th floor room – you still can’t see the Parthenon, as it’s maddeningly obscured by a hideously ugly building in the foreground that is just high enough to block the view (8th-9th floor should be okay so getting a Club room would fix this).

    I got offered €90 for Club Lounge, so consider yourself lucky to have received such a generous offer!

    In the last two months I’ve stayed twice in IC WAW and once in IC ATH and am 0/3 on Club but IC’s in general won’t comp you lounge access – so treat it as a bonus if you get it.

    An interesting datapoint for the CP WAW – I stayed there in June (as Plat) and all the staff said that as Diamond I’d get access to the lounge. So as a newly minted Diamond I went back a few weeks later in July and the staff said no Club for Diamond.

    I asked why and they said the GM had removed Club access for Diamonds since they now get free breakfast 🙁

    I hope other places don’t follow suit, but if you’re thinking of booking the CP WAW as Diamond in expectation of lounge access, you should cross it off your list.

    • This reply was modified 52 years, 9 months ago by .
    in reply to: Noise cancelling headphones – Airpod pro

    Does anyone here use the Apple headphones? How do you rate them?


    As far as they are concerned it’s an upgrade.

    hotels have stratified rooms so much that an east side room with a view of one part of the city is an upgrade over a west side view of it. Or a higher floor north view is better than a lower north one.

    (At least you got an email. I’m due at an IC tonight and not or a sniff of one yet)

    Maybe receiving an email is considered an upgrade also 😉

    in reply to: Platinum elite experience

    Does the CP have a lounge? I’m interested in hearing people’s experiences of being granted lounge access in CP properties, as either Diamond or Platinum.

    I completed a 3-night stay at a HIX on Wednesday which gives me 15 nights for the Diamond status (I was Platinum when I signed up). However, 2 days later the stay is only showing as pending and hasn’t produced the night credits needed to trigger the status upgrade.

    Tomorrow I’m going to ATH to stay at the IC. I was hoping I’d be made up to Diamond by the time I arrive, so that I could get the free breakfast.

    in reply to: Marriott new data breach

    Keep an eye on your credit card bills!!

    Hotel giant Marriott confirms yet another data breach

    <iframe class=”wp-embedded-content” sandbox=”allow-scripts” security=”restricted” style=”position: absolute; clip: rect(1px, 1px, 1px, 1px);” title=”“Hotel giant Marriott confirms yet another data breach” — TechCrunch” src=”; data-secret=”gz9b32zpJ5″ width=”500″ height=”282″ frameborder=”0″ marginwidth=”0″ marginheight=”0″ scrolling=”no”></iframe>

    Hotel group Marriott International has confirmed another data breach, with hackers claiming to have stolen 20 gigabytes of sensitive data, including guests’ credit card information.

    The incident, first reported by, is said to have happened in June when an unnamed hacking group claimed they used social engineering to trick an employee at a Marriott hotel in Maryland into giving them access to their computer.

    It’s a systems breach at a single property. Nothing like the scale of previous data leaks (which were systemwide)

    in reply to: Priority Pass becoming worthless?

    This being the same Collinson that are selling their Smart Delay add-on to travel insurance providers and Revolut, which automatically gives an access pass for a lounge once a given period of flight delay has been reached. Makes me wonder who gets to queue closer to the door for non-access; PP holders or Smart Delay access holders.

    Smart Delay holders for sure. Had a Wizz 2hr delay notification on WAW-LPL last week and Revolut accepted it within 15 minutes of registering the delay. It comes through as a Lounge Key purchase with a QR code that looks exactly like you’ve bought it yourself. Headed straight to Bolero NS lounge, showed them the QR code and said “I purchased a lounge pass via Lounge Key”

    No issues 🙂

    in reply to: Summer ’23 planning dilemma

    My 2p worth, and what we’re doing with same dilemna: SIN is pricey both in cash and in avios being zone 8. If, like us you bet on TYO you save both cash and avios. Actually, if you return from Zone 7 too, you could then be looking at CW both ways instead of WTP on the longer flight back. We’ve booked INV-TYO, and are keeping an eye on HKG through this year. If it starts to look promusing we’ll book return from HKG which will cost us 75k avios plus around £150 for two. If that does not look good we will go to plan B and use the return from TYO later in the year, nesting a QR redemption or revenue return from BKK-EDI. I prefer to be optimistic and believe both TYO and HKG will be a thing for independent travel again by summer 23. JAL Y on a 787 with 2-4-2 seat config is a cheap option for TYO/KIX-BKK using avios. Alternatives are FC miles on ANA, or LCC. Japan so much more exciting than Singapore IMO so personally I consider it worh the extra hours. In Thailand I’d opt for Phuket and/or Krabi over Samui for reasos others have described.

    SIN makes way more sense as a redemption if you’re willing to position from somewhere like IST

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