When we arrive in Athens next month after a 10-hour overnight transatlantic flight, it will be nice to check into the InterContinental and sleep off some jet lag. We will rest easier knowing that it will cost us less than staying at the local youth hostel. I have no great need to stay in luxury hotels, but when I can do it at low cost, then why not?
We have been doing this for several years now. Last year on the way back from Crete, we had an overnight in Rome, and stayed for free at the De La Ville InterContinental Rome at the top of the Spanish Steps. This was handy because the cheapest room you can get in Rome will run you about 70 Euro.
IHG is the International Hotel Group and includes the following hotels. It was called Priority Club for many years. You will recognize most of these brands:
Several years ago we applied for the Priority Club (now IHG) card with a sign-on bonus of 80,000 points, which can be used for free nights at any of the above hotels. Most nights require a spend of 20K-30K points, so the sign-up bonus was worth 3-4 nights in some nice hotels. Below is a snippet from the current sign-up taken directly from the ihg.com page. The current bonus is 70K points, which is still decent.
There is no fee for the first year, but after the first year the yearly fee is $49. Usually I cancel my cards after the first year to avoid the fee, but I keep this one, and here is why:
When you pay the annual fee of $49, you get a free night at any IHG hotel for free! When we stayed at the IC Rome, the nightly rate was over 300E, so that is a fantastic deal. Our current stay in Athens won’t be such a coup. The nightly rate is much less, but it still is a good deal.
It works out that we are getting a $200 room for the cost of the annual fee on the card. Here is the receipt for the room showing the final price–Free! (after we pay the annual fee of course)
A wonderful advantage of the free night is that it is can be cancelled until 6 pm of the day of our arrival, so if something goes awry with our plans, the free night will be returned to our account. We both have the card, so we can take advantage of this twice a year.
If our stay there is typical, we won’t be in the hotel long enough to enjoy the amenities, but we have to stay somewhere, and it might as well be in one of the best hotels in town. I like luxury, but only if it is cheap or free!