Is Club Level worth it?

a stuffed animal standing on a ledge overlooking a city

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We take 3 things into consideration when determining whether Club Level is worth it

I recently spent a couple of nights at the Intercontinental Sydney which features a top floor Club level offering 270 degree views of the Sydney, including the Harbor Bridge and Opera House.  It’s touted as AustralAsia’s leading executive club lounge ,and since we were staying free of charge, we spent the extra money to secure club access. Personally, I think IHG needs to figure something out whereby members can achieve complimentary club access through published status. I mean, Hyatt gives it to Globalists, Hilton to Diamond, Marriott to Golds+( newly minted Platinums ), but IHG only gives it to their shrouded in mystery Royal Ambassador status. Cahmon, IHG, step it up 🙂 If you don’t maintain status, is Club Level worth the added cost?

a stone building with a stone staircase

The Three Factors I take into consideration

1)  The included benefits

There is a big difference in what club access gives you. Some clubs provide amazing breakfast spreads, work spaces, concierge services, and the evening canapes/happy hour are truly meal replacements. If this is the case – you could be saving some big bucks. Typically you can get a good feel by searching TripAdvisor photos of whichever club lounge you’re going to be visiting. Also…if your trip is in Asia or the Middle East – the odds are your club level experience is going to be pretty awesome. In the States…most club levels require you pay for alcohol at night, and the breakfast options pale in comparison to Asia/M.E.

2) Your need of real estate

If your group is occupying more than one room, this may be a great option regardless of how many of the benefits you ultimately use. Club levels typically have great views, and provide space for people to hang out. Instead of paying extra for a suite, consider getting club access which will give you the extra space you need, with whatever benefits are included. Club levels are typically on high floors with great views, which is why we sought out club level in Sydney.

a room with a view of a city and water

3) Price

It all comes down to what you value the first two factors. Typically, I think if you can score a club upgrade for $50 a night it’s a no brainer. This is assuming there are two people in a room. That’s just $25 per person to have a great breakfast, nice space to go to mid-day, and a nice venue to crack open a beer or glass of wine at night. More than that, and other factors have to be in play than just the food aspect, but $50 is my go-to number.

My recent experience at the Intercontinental Sydney

Their lounge is located on the top floor. While it does provide a very good breakfast in the morning, an afternoon tea service, along with a canapes/happy hour at night – the most valuable part of the upgrade was the view and extra real estate. We were paying nothing out of pocket for the room: The first night was an IHG annual night cert, and the second was booked with points. Even with my Ambassador status we didn’t get an upgrade, and while the city view was nice, we wanted to see the Harbour.

At 200AUD it was a very pricey upgrade. However, we thought with a free room, being crazy jetlagged, having the club access would be very valuable. And ultimately it was. We had a great breakfast there each morning, but what was really worth it was the view and outdoor space. It’s pretty magical looking down on the city as the sun rises and sets. Being my first time in Sydney, standing outside on a balcony overlooking the city was pretty special, and we visited the club a few times each day we were there. I’d say that the food/drink we consumed made up for half the upgrade cost, and the other half was the view and place to sit and relax. As a means of comparison…the upgrade from a standard room to an opera house view is 160AUD…

a stuffed monkey sitting at a table with food and drinks

Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

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  • Tom April 22, 2018

    I’ve really enjoyed the Intercontinental Clubs. I haven’t done a lot of them (Mark Hopkins San Francisco, Intercontinental Barclay NY, Intercontinental Boston, Stephen F Austin Austin and Intercontinental Bordeaux). They all had full complementary bars and great breakfasts and heavy hor d’oeuvres in the evening. Not all of them had great views. Club access cost $40 per person in Austin and $60 in Boston per night.

  • KR April 22, 2018

    Monkey Miles,
    I love calling out IHG on their stinginess. I have been RA for last 3 years and may I remind again Club Lounge access is provided at discretion of property on award stays.

    IC Sydney does provide Club Lounge for RA and this lounge is truly nice. The view from IC Sydney lounge is mind blowing.
    Until recently, even on paid stays, Ana Tokyo did not provide club lounge or breakfast benefit for RA, but they changed this recently and have an awesome lounge whose signature Petit Dejeuner (Breakfast) menu created by 2 Michelin star chef Pierre Gagnaire is one of the pull factors!

    ICs @ Geneva, HK, Ana Tokyo, Bali, Koh Samui are some of the ICs that DONT provide any lounge or breakfast benefit on award stays

    This rather nonsensical attitude of IHG made me wind down from 100+ IC nights to 30-40 last year and pick them only when there is no SPG availability nowadays.

  • Allen April 22, 2018

    Ritz Carlton Club Level is worth every penny and if you have the branded credit card and get the upgrade for free, the potential savings one on stay at club level can justify the price of the card

  • Christian April 21, 2018

    Six or eight shots of tequila each and you’ve paid for the upgrade. Of course, eating breakfast the next day might be rough…
    Seriously though, did you pay for the upgrade, or did the hotel just bump you up? You mention not getting an upgrade, so did you fork out the extra on free nights out of pocket? Sorry, but at least to me this was unclear.

    • Miles April 21, 2018

      Christian – we didn’t get any upgrade for the room in Sydney, and paid out of pocket for club access. Had we been given a harbour view, I’m not sure we would have gone for it.

  • DaninMCI April 21, 2018

    You can buy IHG Ambassador status with points. I’ve never paid for anything at an IHG club in the US. Maybe I don’t go to the right ones?

    • Miles April 21, 2018

      DaninMCI – ah sorry for the confusion, I meant paying in Club Levels across all brands, not specifically IHG. I’ve definitely had free booze at Crowne Plazas, but Hyatt is notorious for charging in theirs, as is Hilton.

      • Observer April 21, 2018

        Only in America. Hyatts elsewhere don’t charge for booze.

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