Unsurprisingly, InterContinental Hotels are a member of the InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG). So you can regularly collect points through their freshly rebranded loyalty program, IHG One. But you can also buy perks specifically buy perks for InterContinental branded Hotels by purchasing an InterContinental Ambassador membership for US$200 (~€184) per year. If you’re not keen on paying in cash, you can also buy the status for 40,000 IHG Reward points.
In addition to IHG One Platinum status, you get additional perks at InterContinental hotels. Among these are a guaranteed room upgrade, late check-out until 16.00, a voucher for a free night on weekends and other things. The membership remains valid for 12 months after purchase.
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InterContinenal Ambassador Perks
- Guaranteed Upgrade into the next best room category.
The crucial information: guaranteed! Meaning, if you book a category lower than the suite, you’ll get the suite. But even if you upgrade to an executive floor room, you won’t necessarily get lounge access. Further, you can’t get the upgrade on reward nights.
If the hotel cannot upgrade you, it must compensate you with US$50 (~€46) credit or 10,000 points. Alternatively, you can switch rooms as soon as the next best category is available. Some dates like NYE or Christmas are excluded from this rule.
- $20 Hotel Credit
You’ll get US$20 (~€18) credit to spend at the hotel’s restaurants and bars per stay.
- Guaranteed Late-Check-Out until 16.00.
If that’s not possible, the same compensation rule of US$50 (~€46) credit or 10,000 points applies.
- A Complimentary Weekend Night
You will receive a voucher that gives you the second night of a two-day weekend stay for free. It remains valid for 12 months.
- Free Daily Water
You can enjoy these perks during stays at InterContinental hotels. Staying with other IHG brands like Holiday Inn or Crowne Plaza additionally gives the following bonuses:
- IHG Rewards Club Platinum Status
Paying $200 spares you 40 qualifying nights or 75,000 points that are normally necessary in a calendar year.
Perks are not too good: You’ll get early check.in, late check-out (14.00) and complimentary upgrades. Free breakfast or lounge access are not included in this status.
- Hertz Gold Plus Rewards Five Star Status
You’ll get Five Star Status at Hertz Gold Plus Rewards
You only get your benefits when booking your stays directly with IHG. When booking via a travel agency or online portal, you may not get a qualifying night and forfeit the majority of your perks.
Complimentary Weekend Nights
The complimentary weekend night can repay the $200 investment by itself when using it the right way.
A weekend is any night on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, except for the Middle East, where it’s Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
To redeem the free nights, you need to book the AMB Certificate rate. Your stay needs to include two weekend nights and be booked via intercontinental.com/AMBWeekend. You need to present the voucher during check-in.
If you extend your status, you will get an additional voucher (or certificate, as IHG calls them).
Next Level: Royal Ambassador
Anybody who frequently stays at InterContinental Hotels and already holds the Ambassador status might be knighted by the company and become Royal Ambassador. There is no official threshold for that status: it’s Invitation only.
Until 2014, there was an official requirement for this tier: 60 nights in IHG Hotels with a minimum of 20 nights spent in at least 3 different InterContinental hotels within 12 months. You cannot find that rule within the T&Cs anymore, but it is a good milestone.
In 2016 an internal presentation was leaked, in which IHG noticed that Royal Ambassadors spent less money per night than regular Ambassadors. That led to the decision to make the Royal Ambassador revenue based.
Because of that, many long term Royal Ambassadors were stripped of their status at the end of 2016. Now it seems like you’ve got to spend at least $10,000 in InterContinental, Regent, Kimpton and Six Senses Hotels to get an invitation. It seems like it, because there is no official confirmation for that rumor.
Royal Ambassadors enjoy the following additional perks:
- Guaranteed Double Upgrade
Basically the same upgrade rule that applies to regular Ambassadors, but this time you can skip two room categories. If you’ve booked a suite, you will be upgraded into the next higher category. However, certain specialty suites are excluded.
Back in the days, this used to be a guaranteed upgrade to an executive room or a suite. This is however no longer the case, making the status less desirable.
- Lounge Access
If the hotel offers a lounge, Royal Ambassadors will gain access. If there is no lounge, they’ll receive free breakfast for two persons instead.
- Minibar Credit
You get a US$50 (~€46) credit per night to spend on the minibar, up to a maximum of US$200 (~€184) per stay. In China, it’s 200 RMB with a 800 RMB limit.
- Early-Check-in as early as 10am.
- Guaranteed Availability until 24 hours before arrival.
But at the most expensive rate.
- Single Room Rate for Double Bookings
Pay the single rate and check-in with two persons.
The Ambassador status allows you to get valuable advantages without ever spending a single night in an IHG hotel. Especially the guaranteed upgrades, Late Check-out and complimentary weekend night are distinct perks. Anyone who spends multiple nights in IHG hotels anyway should invest the $200 and get the status. It will repay itself.
Chasing the upgrade to Royal Ambassador isn’t really worth it anymore. The perks are nice, but not spectacular – and the qualification requirements are lacking transparency.