One of the great values in Europe is the IHG 2-for-1 hotel rate at Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express and Hotel Indigo brands in various cities around Europe. The comments on my blog lately suggest many travelers do not know the acronym IHG for InterContinental Hotels Group.

2-for-1 rates can be great savings, however they are severely restricted.

  • Nonrefundable
  • Must be booked five days in advance.
  • Full payment at time of booking.
  • Generally do not earn IHG Rewards points.

The tricky thing about IHG 2-for-1 rates is finding the link for this special offer:

Click through the drop down menu and select Partner Rate 2×1.

After searching a specific hotel, I typically have to reload the original link since IHG automatically reverts to Best Available rate and will not show the 2-for-1 rates.

Here are a few IHG 2-for-1 rates I found in different countries for stays in February 2014. In rate searches I located 2-for-1 rates in London for May 2014, however, not in June 2014. In years past 2-for-1 rates have been available in summer. It may simply be that 2-for-1 rates have not yet been loaded for June 2014 travel or I did not search enough dates and locations.


Read More…

Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London has prime location for stepping outside directly into the vicinity of the iconic sites of London.


View of Big Ben and Houses of Parliament from hotel room.

That’s Big Ben out the window. This is not even the preferred location for a room in the hotel, although better than many other locations in the hotel. Best location is a room on the front side, Thames River facing side of the 12-story hotel. Read More…

London and Paris are the top two international tourism destinations for Americans and international travelers.

I have been to London four times and Paris three times.  I would like to spend more time in these cities, but my travels have not worked out that way. There are so many places in the world to visit. shows 1,079 hotel listings for London, UK in 28 neighborhoods.

My recent one night stay in London was March 13, 2013 at Park Plaza Westminster Bridge, a Club Carlson category 6 property at 50,000 points per night. The hotel is ranked #73 of 1,079 London hotels on

I have only stayed in three hotels in London, all in the neighborhood of Westminster.

Honeymoon in London 1989 Read More…

I am traveling 16 of the next 17 days and staying in ten or so different hotels in seven or more different cities. This week I will be in Chicago for the Carlson Global Conference and next week Berlin for ITB 2013 travel trade show. The trip home from Berlin includes overnight stops in Oslo, Helsinki, London and Chicago.

Yesterday I had Best Price Guarantee claims approved for two nights in Chicago and one night in San Francisco. These approved claims mean the first night of the hotel stay is free and all three hotel stays are one night stays.

Last Wednesday I stayed at the Crowne Plaza Denver on a free night using IHG’s Best Price Guarantee reducing the $199 room rate to free.

IHG denied my claims twice over the weekend for a free night at the Crowne Plaza – St. James, London. Read More…

Choice Privileges has an offer available right now that allows members to buy and redeem points for hotel nights in Paris, London and many other high priced locations for as little as $80 per night.

Choice Privileges offers 10% bonus points on points purchases through December 31, 2012. The regular price for 1,000 points is $11. This offer gives 1,100 points for $11.


Choice Privileges limits points purchases to 20,000 points per calendar year. This means a member can buy 22,000 points now for $220 and up to another 20,000 points in January 2013 for $220.

Note: Choice Privileges does not allow points transfers to other members, even a spouse.

You may not combine your points with points belonging to anyone else, including your spouse.

Choice Privileges Rules & Regulations: Other Terms and Conditions Rule #3.

  • Only members from USA and Canada are eligible to buy Choice Privileges points.
  • Reward reservations can be booked only within 60 days of stay for international hotels.

The main point to know about Choice Privileges is reward reservations can only be made for hotels outside the USA within 60 days of your stay, unless you are an elite Platinum (75 days) or Diamond (100 days) member.

Choice Privileges reward nights range from 6,000 to 30,000 points for the vast majority of the 6,000+ hotels worldwide.

Another feature of Choice Privileges are the reward night rates change seasonally. Reward nights at hotels in the USA do not vary nearly as much as the reward nights for international hotels. Many hotels in Europe that cost 20,000 to 25,000 points per night in summer drop to just 8,000 points per night in the low season.


Choice Privileges Reward Search for London, England November 26, 2012.


Choice Privileges Reward Night search for London, GB returns eight hotels within London proper at just 8,000 points per night. There are several more hotels in the suburbs at 8,000 points per night.

Rate comparison for London using points and paying cash.


Quality Crown Hotel Hyde Park = 159GBP = USD $252 per night.

You can buy 8,000 points for $88 through Choice Privileges and with the 10% bonus you will receive 8,800 points. This hotel example reduces the rate from $252 down to $88 for a one-night stay and you will have 800 points remaining in your account.

That is one hotel bargain for London.

Booking a 4-night stay in Paris for $330.

A couple can each buy 16,500 points now for $165 and make separate 2-night reservations. Then notify the hotel in advance that you are a couple with two separate reservations and ask for the same room so you do not need to change rooms after two nights.


Paris, France offers several hotels at 8,000 points per night in November 2012.  For November 26 there were 14 hotels available within Paris for 8,000 points per night. Of these 14 hotels, there were 10 hotels available for a 4-night stay Nov 26-30.


Comfort Hotel Royal Aboukir Paris 2 = 151 EUR or USD$193 per night.

Or 8,000 points per night which you can buy for $88.


Note: The current list of hotels at 8,000 points expire November 30, 2012. These same hotels are currently showing 16,000 to 25,000 points for December and January reward nights.

The new list of hotels at 8,000 points have not yet been loaded. This means hotels will show their full points rate for December and January reward reservations, however, I expect the hotel reward rates for December and January to be adjusted in the next couple of weeks.

You might want to wait until December and verify the hotels with reward nights at 8,000 points before you buy Choice Privileges points if Paris and London are in your plans for December 2012 to February 2013.


Exchanges for Choice Privileges points

You can also get Choice Privileges points from exchanges with American Express Membership Rewards, Amtrak Guest Rewards and Diners Club Rewards.

American Express

  • 1000 Membership Rewards points = 1,000 Choice Privileges points

Amtrak Guest Rewards

  • 5,000 Amtrak Guest Rewards points = 15,000 Choice Privileges points

Diners Club

  • 1,250 Diners Club Rewards points = 2,400 Choice Privileges points


About Choice Hotels

Choice Hotels are the second largest hotel chain worldwide with over 6,000 properties in 11 hotel brands.

  • Comfort Inn
  • Comfort Suites
  • Quality Inn & Suites
  • Clarion
  • Sleep Inn
  • Ascend Collection
  • Cambria Suites
  • MainStay Suites
  • Suburban
  • EconoLodge
  • Rodeway Inn

More than 90% of Choice Hotels properties are located in the USA and Canada.

Clarion, Comfort Inn and Quality Inn are the primary three brands found in several international locations in France, Germany, UK, Italy, Brazil, Australia and Italy. There are several other countries with a few hotels. Sleep Inn is found in some Latin America countries.

Ric Garrido, writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler, shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests. You can follow Loyalty Traveler on Twitter and Facebook and RSS feed.

The 5-star Lanesborough London St. Regis Hotel in Knightsbridge, London has been managed by Starwood Hotels for more than a decade. The problem though for Starwood Preferred Guest members is the hotel never participated in the loyalty program. SPG members have never been able to use points for free night awards at one of the most, if not the most expensive hotel in London.


Rate check today for Wednesday, October 17, 2012 shows rates starting at $762 per night or USD $914 per night after tax, however, that does include free internet and butler service.

On Monday, October 15 that all changes when the Lanesborough St. Regis London becomes a participating hotel in Starwood Preferred Guest entering as a SPG Category 7 hotel for 30,000 to 35,000 points per night for award stays. Members will earn points and be eligible for elite benefits and the hotel will participate in the SPG “Better by the Night” promotion for hotel stays through December 20, 2012. 

The building was formerly a 19th century hospital

The Lanesborough at the corner of Hyde’s Park in Knightsbridge served as a hospital for over two centuries since 1733. The original Lanesborough House was torn down due to disrepair and the current building was constructed between 1827 and 1844 when it reopened as St. George’s Hospital. The hospital remained in service until the 1970s.

Rosewood Hotels and Resorts refurbished the property in the 1980s and opened the site as a hotel in 1991. The hotel was taken over for management by St. Regis in 2002 as a non-participating SPG property.

The hotel has 93 rooms with 43 of these suites.

The restaurant Apsleys – a Heinz Beck Restaurant apparently set a record for the fastest time a London restaurant received a Michelin star rating.

Even TripAdvisor reviewers love the Lanesborough. Starwood Hotels offers reviews on their own site now, but as yet no reviews have posted for The Lanesborough.


The Lanesborough London St. Regis photos Starwood site link. website photos.

Ric Garrido, writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler, shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests. You can follow Loyalty Traveler on Twitter and Facebook and RSS feed.

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One of the best discount rates over the past several years is the 2-for-1 discount with InterContinental Hotels Group for 2-night stays in the UK and Europe. This is a prepaid, nonrefundable rate, but the savings are truly two nights for the price of one night. Many hotels in the UK and other countries in Europe are under US$50 per night with this discount.

Another feature of this rate is the possibility to book upgraded room categories, even suites in some hotels. Back-to-back reservations also allow extended stays. These hotels are primarily for weekends, however, many hotels allow the 2-for-1 rate any days of the week.


In the past the IHG 2-for-1 rates T&C indicated no points are earned for these rates. Checking hotels today I repeatedly saw a box for new member registration in Priority Club stating members will earn points for these 2-for-1 bookings. Read More…

InterContinental Hotels Group regularly offers 2 nights for the price of 1 night in Europe. The current offer is for hotel stays through June 30, 2011 at participating Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express brands. Most participating hotels offer weekend 2-for-1 rates with many locations also offering weekday 2-for-1 rates. Up to two children under the age of 18 may stay for free when sharing room with 2 adults.

Main restriction with the 2-for-1 rate is it requires full prepayment and there are no cancellations or changes allowed by the rate terms. These rates are deep discount savings, but use it or lose it once you book your 2-for-1 hotel stay.

Priority Club points are generally earned for these stays, but your results may vary depending on the specific property. Priority Club has a strange rule about not awarding points if the rate is more than a 30% discount. This is a loosely enforced rule, but when applied it seems members are out of luck with earning points.

Two other IHG hotel discount deals currently being offered in Europe like “3 nights for price of 2” and “Save up to 35% on Weekend Stays” specifically mention “Priority Club points do not apply” in the terms and conditions. The 2-for-1 offer terms and conditions do not have this “no points” statement.

London can be an incredible deal with these rates where numerous IHG properties generally mean this deal can be found every day of the week.

My observations for this 2-for-1 offer over the past couple of years concludes this is one of the best deals for European hotel stays. I have written posts in the past showing how London could be done for US$100 per night, but don’t even think you will get this kind of deal for London during the days of the Prince’s wedding.

IHG 2 for 1 special offer rate beats for London

April 22-24, 2011 Crowne Plaza Shoreditch, London is a forum where people post successful bids. A member of posted Feb 26 on a successful bid for the Crowne Plaza Shoreditch at USD$110 per night for a three night stay April 22-25. She states the price on IHG website was $125 at the time.  I assume both these rates are room rate only and do not include the UK 20% VAT tax.

April 22-24 using the 2-for-1 IHG special offer rate lowers the price to just USD$89 per night before tax.

The rate using the 2-for-1 special offer gives a two-night rate for the Crowne Plaza Shoreditch hotel at £109  with 20% VAT = £130.80  or USD$106 per night after tax for the same dates as a successful February bid. This is an overall savings of at least $26 less than and $44 less than the IHG room rate listed on February 26. currency conversion


IHG 2 nights for Price of One special rate offer.

Totally off this topic:  

I want to turn people on to the Ryan Bingham of hotel travel who is currently staying in 33 hotels in 33 days on the Las Vegas Strip. Here is a link to Paul Carr’s Huffington Post story “The Strip Diary“. The only relation of Paul Carr to this post is Paul is from London.  I’ll be hanging out in Las Vegas most of next week. Maybe I’ll run into Paul!

Finding an affordable London Hotel – Step-by-Step Guide

My wife and I arrived in London for Easter Sunday 1989 and stayed at the St. James Court Hotel, currently branded as the Crowne Plaza St. James.  K was living a dream with her first trip to Europe and our hotel was located just a few minutes walk from the front of Buckingham Palace. I booked the St. James Court in 1989 on a 2-for-1 rate for 6 nights through the Entertainment book before we headed to Edinburgh.

My 2009 budget is $2,000.  Currently, roundtrip airfare San Francisco to London is $1,094 for two tickets. I have $906 left for eight hotel nights, food, and transportation for a week in one of the world’s most expensive cities.  While we might splurge for a play (50% day-of-show tickets of course), restaurant dining is certainly eliminated due to budget constraints.

Here are my hotel loyalty program resources:

·         SPG points 30,000 points and one free award night credit (up to a Category 5 hotel)

·         Hilton HHonors 25,000 points

·         Hyatt Hotels 30,000 points

Starwood and Hyatt elite status will likely mean an upgrade for a hotel stay with one of their brands.

Starwood Hotels are my first search. 

SPG will provide a high quality hotel and the length of our stay allows me to access some of the best rates available through SPG using the exclusive Starwood hotel rate discounts for multiple night stays up to 2 nights free on a 6 night stay. This Starwood link has some additional resort hotel properties with the same discount offers.

Starwood Hotels offer: Buy 4 Nights, Get 2 Nights Free (April 10-16, 2009)

·         Le Meridien Piccadilly, London = 796 GBP + 15% tax = $1,309US or $218 per night

·         The Park Lane Hotel, London = 676GBP +15% tax = $1,112 or $185 per night

·         Sheraton Park Tower, London = 796 GBP + 15% tax = $1,309US or $218 per night

·         Sheraton Belgravia, London = 716GBP + 15% tax = $1,177 or $196 per night.

Starwood is out of my budget range.  I can stay 6 nights and get two additional nights for free using points.  If I spend $1,100 just for my hotel stay, then I will likely spend $2,700 total for the week with added ground expenses in London .

Starwood Cash & Points Availability

Finding Cash & Points awards for a week-long vacation can take multiple searches of stay dates to find available awards.

            Cash & Points Awards

Category 6 hotel = $150 + 8,000 points

Category 5 hotel = $90 + 4,800 points

Category 4 hotel = $60 + 4,000 points


London Hotels SPG Category

·         Sheraton Park Tower, London, Category 6

·         Le Meridien Piccadilly, London, Category 5

·         The Park Lane Hotel, London, Category 4

·         Sheraton Belgravia, London, Category 4

SPG hotel category determines the points required for a free night.  Three of four SPG-participating hotels in London went down one SPG redemption category as of March 2, 2009. The Lanesborough, St Regis does not participate in SPG.

When searching Cash & Points you need to try a variety of hotel stay dates.  My first attempt to find a room for 8 nights using Cash & Points shows no availability at any hotels.  My London searches indicate a 5 day limit for Cash & Points stays. All 6-night stays I tried showed no availability.

Finding all the Cash & Points opportunities requires a little combinatory math.  Here is what I mean:

Cash & Points Availability for London during week of April 10-18, 2009

·         Le Meridien Picadilly Friday, April 10

·         No Cash & Points options April 11

·         No Cash & Points options April 10-12

·         No Cash & Points options April 11-13

·         Le Meridien Piccadilly April 10-13, April 10-14, April 11-14, April 10-15, April 14-18, April 15-17, April 15-18. April 15 is not available when trying April 10-16, yet is available when trying April 15-17. (5 night stay possible on Cash & Points, but appears to be a 5 night limit.)

·         Park Lane, Sheraton Park Tower, and Sheraton Belgravia available April 15.

·         Sheraton Belgravia  April 12-17, April 13-17, April 14-17, April 15-17 (5 night stay possible)

April 17, a Friday night, shows Sheraton Heathrow available for 45 GBP.  This airport hotel dropped to SPG Category 2, an incredible 2 category drop from a Category 4 hotel in the 2009 SPG redemption category realignment.

Considering we need to be at Heathrow by 7am on April 18, I would opt for going to the airport on Friday night and paying $75US for a room at the Sheraton Heathrow and earn nearly 2,000 Starpoints or spend 3,000 Starpoints for a free Friday night at the Category 2 airport Sheraton.

Here are my best priced options in the combinations I tried:

·         Le Meridien Piccadilly April 10-13, 3 nights for $270 + 14,600 points.

·         Sheraton Belgravia April 14-17, 4 nights for $240 +16,000 points.

·         Sheraton Heathrow April 17, 1 night, $75US

8 nights in London with Starwood Hotels = $585 + 30,600 points.

I also have one free SPG night awarded as a SPG Platinum gift for 2009 that I could use at the Le Meridien Piccadilly to eliminate one award night using Cash & Points to save $90 and 4,800 points from the total expense.

Starwood is an option, however, London has other loyalty program options that will likely result in a less luxurious hotel experience, but possibly be more affordable in the long run if saving money is my priority.

And for travelers not sitting on 30,000 Starpoints there are still low cost options before resorting to Priceline or Hotwire for a discounted hotel.

Europe Travel Planning Part Three: The IHG Factor 

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