Mar022009

Planning for Europe Part 3: London Hotels – IHG Stay 2 Nights for Price of 1

Part three of Europe Vacation Planning is a look at InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) properties around London for April 10-18, 2009 room rate deals. Hotel search strategies I am using to find low cost, upscale hotel lodging for London is applicable to much of Europe.

European Vacation Travel Planning Part 1 is an example of the low airfare deals to Europe currently available in this tough economic climate.  Europe is cheap right now.

London Calling, but can I afford the charges? Europe Travel Planning Part 2 is about finding a hotel with Starwood Preferred Guest hotel options. Starwood options are upper upscale hotels at a total cost of about $1,500 for 8 paid nights. SPG Cash & Points awards could bring the total cost for 8 nights to $600 and 30,000 Starpoints. 30,000 starpoints in lieu of $900 is a fair exchange, however, paid nights would also earn thousands of Starpoints and receive elite credit to my account. I like to receive at least 3.5 cents per Starpoint redeemed and the Starwood hotels plan using 30,000 points does not achieve that objective.

Part 3 Planning a London Vacation: The IHG Factor in London

There are loads of InterContinental Hotel Group hotels, 60 or so in the greater London area. With a dozen or so properties in the central London tourist area, there are plenty of options to consider.

First, I checked for IHG PointBreaks hotel award for 5,000 points per night.  These are basically $60US room rates if you are around a participating hotel.  You can buy 40,000 points for $460 from Priority Club. There is one participating Holiday Inn at Stevenage, about 13 miles east of Luton Airport, north of London. Stevenage sounds like a nice place to visit for a boring sod like me.  No Pointbreaks properties in London.

Next, I checked www.frequentflyerbonuses.com for Priority Club links and that site showed me a 2 nights for Price of 1 link for Europe hotels.  The promotion states for two night stays through March 31, 2009 and for mostly Friday to Sunday stays, however, over the past two years this “2 nights for the price of 1” offer typically allows mid-week bookings at many hotels and allows bookings for dates past the stated deadline.

I have followed Europe hotel rates through this IHG promotion for the past couple years and this most recent survey of London hotels just has me saying WOW!

Rates are so incredibly low for London hotels.

Per night rate using 2 Nights for Price of 1 booking link for London:

 


 

Hotel

Date

Room

Price (1GBP=$1.43)

Price per Night  in US $ after tax (15%).

Hotel Indigo London Paddington

4/10-12/09

Standard Room

64.50 GBP

$106

 

 

Executive King

77.50 GBP

$127

 

Crowne Plaza London – The City

4/10-12/09

Standard Room

52.50 GBP

$86

 

Deluxe Room

70 GBP

$115

 

 

Crowne Plaza Club Room

92.50 GBP

$152

 

Suite

147.50 GBP

$243

Crowne Plaza London-Shoreditch

4/10-12/09

Standard Room

49.50 GBP

$81

Club (free breakfast)

54.50 GBP

$90

Crowne Plaza London Docklands

4/10-12/09

Standard Queen

39.50 GBP

$65

King Executive

54.50 GBP

$90

Junior Suite

77.00 GBP

$126

 

Suite

114.50 GBP

$188

Holiday Inn London Mayfair

4/12-14/09

Standard

67.50 GBP

$111

 

 

 

King Executive

82.50 GBP

$136

Suite

175 GBP

$288

 

Holiday Inn London Oxford Circus

4/12-14/09

Standard Double

55 GBP

$90

 

Junior Suite

140 GBP

$230

 

Holiday Inn London Regent’s Park

4/12-14/09

Standard

49.50 GBP

$81

Deluxe

65 GBP

$107

 

Holiday Inn Kensington Forum

4/12-14/09

Standard Room

44.5 GBP

$73

Executive Room

54.50 GBP

$90

 

Suite

79.50 GBP

$131

 

There are actually Holiday Inn Express hotels in the greater London area for under $35 per night using the 2-for-1 reservation link.  Holiday Inn Slough-Windsor has rates at 21GBP.  I’m thinking Ricky Gervais and The Office.

I’ll take a hotel in central London please.  I still remember being 14 in 1974 and commuting an hour each way by train to travel from the campground in north London where our family slept to the city center during our week in and around the city.

From my travel experience, the rule of thumb I developed is get as close to the city center or in the vicinity of places you want to see.  Travel is costing you money and spending your time transiting from the place you sleep to the place you want to see can be a lot of wasted time.

Hotel Recommendations Anyone?

I am not IHG Priority Club elite and aside from the Crowne Plaza St. James where I stayed for my honeymoon in 1989, before it was a Crowne Plaza, I am not familiar with the IHG properties in London.

TripAdvisor was too daunting.  I searched and there are over 1,000 hotels in the database for London.

I quickly moved on to FlyerTalk where I could get the IHG experts’ opinions on the benefits of particular hotels.

Within 30 minutes I found a consensus for the InterContinental as the top choice for London. Crowne Plaza The City seems to be a popular choice.  The main complaint is the closure of the Tube station by the hotel this month for two years means a five to ten minute walk to the next station.

Crowne Plaza-The City has standard rooms for $86 and a Club room for $152 per night. TripAdvisor.com shows the Crowne Plaza-The City as having a $362 average rate. The hotel has an overall four star customer rating with 123 reviews. 80% of the TripAdvisor reviews are at least a 4 and mostly 5 star ratings.

The Holiday Inn Kensington Forum also is a popular choice for one of the best IHG hotels and the 2-for-1 offer has standard rooms for $73 or even a suite for $131 per night. TripAdvisor has 440 reviews for Holiday Inn Kensington Forum and mostly 4 and 5 star ratings, but more 4 star than 5 star.  Average price is listed at $209.

Crowne Plaza Shoreditch at $90 per night including Club lounge access with free breakfast sounds like a great deal. According to FlyerTalk posters this hotel would put me in the clubbing district. There was also the comment the club lounge is closed on weekends and guests receive vouchers for a much better breakfast at the hotel restaurant. That sounds good to me.  Looking for breakfast on Easter Sunday and Easter Monday holidays is not as easy as you might think in a major city like London.

TripAdvisor.com gave Crowne Plaza Shoreditch the highest popularity rating (#71 of 1,169 London hotels) of the three hotels.  Guests have supplied 153 hotel reviews, although the Crowne Plaza-The City has overall higher guest rating. Average price is listed at $205.

Conclusion

IHG can place me in central London for under $100 per night with a choice of hotels.  I can even book a suite at a popular hotel like the Holiday Inn Kensington Forum for $130 per night. A Crowne Plaza Club Room in central London (CP-The City) for $150 per night can easily save $50 a day or more in breakfast, snacks, and drinks for a couple.

My initial budget allows about $900 for my hotel and transportation for the week.  The closer I am to the central London sites, the less I spend on transportation around London. 

The IHG “Stay 2 Nights, Pay 1” special rates allow me to stay in central London hotels for under $600 for eight nights.  Counting on an elite status upgrade with Starwood or Hyatt is not so important when I can just pay for a suite.

Priority Club’s current 3,000 points for 3 nights along with the regular base points earned for $500+ in room spending for IHG stays will add another $100 value to the paid rooms through points received. 

Another advantage of the IHG plan for this April trip to London is my Starwood points can be saved for another vacation destination where there may not be such a good alternative like the IHG 2-nights-for-1 rates.

Note on IHG 2 for 1 London rates: Rates vary depending on the dates selected for two day stays.  I only included a sample of the rates for comparative purposes.  Rates during the April 10-18 period vary by as much as $50 per night or more depending on the dates selected.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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