If all goes accordingly as I planned, then my one night stay at Holiday Inn London Gatwick Airport will be one of two hotel stays I need to earn two free nights with IHG Rewards Club Into the Nights promotion. My second stay to complete five tasks needed to earn two free nights at any IHG hotel worldwide will be next week at Dublin Airport, Ireland.
Way back on September 5, 2014, I registered for IHG Rewards Club Into the Nights and received a set of 5 tasks to complete for two free nights. These tasks would have required staying in a Holiday Inn on two Saturday nights and one other hotel stay at an IHG property.
Then, sometime between the date I registered and mid-October, I logged into Into the Nights to see that my account had a completely different set of six tasks requiring me to complete five of the six tasks to earn two free nights.
1. Survey – completed.
2. Apply for IHG Rewards Club credit card – completed.
3. Download IHG Rewards Club app and book a hotel stay – completed.
4. Book a bonus points with breakfast stay – completed.
5. Stay at an IHG in two different countries outside USA – 1 of 2 stays completed.
6. Stay 7 nights at IHG hotels. – Excluded task, since I only need to complete 5 of 6 tasks to earn two free nights.
Instead of two Saturday nights at any Holiday Inn, my offer changed to require either 7 nights at IHG hotels by December 31 or hotel stays in two countries outside the USA as the limiting factor to earn the two free nights.
While I could have complained loudly to IHG Rewards Club, my good fortune was to see that my new set of tasks could be completed in only two hotel nights, one night in London and one night in Dublin, during my two-week trip to Europe.
Traveling to Holiday Inn London Gatwick
On Saturday, I traveled 90 minutes from Athlone, Ireland to Dublin Airport on Bus Eireann to catch a RyanAir fight to London Gatwick.
RyanAir was a fine flight experience for the one hour trip. The flight attendant announcement at the end of the trip stated the airline had a 90% on time arrival rate last year. One of two young Irish women boarding the flight in front of me said she spent 900 GBP on her last five-day excursion to London. That is $1,400 USD. I am thinking that my seven day trip in London will cost about $700 for two of us + 170,000 Club Carlson points for seven nights in London.
IHG Bonus Points with Breakfast Rate
The IHG Bonus Points with Breakfast rate is tricky to find. Searching IHG.com does not necessarily display the IHG Rewards Club bonus points with breakfast rate. This link embedded in my Into the Nights task displays bonus points with breakfast package rates at hotels where I did not see the rates displayed when making a regular search of hotel package rates on IHG.com.
Loyalty Traveler – IHG mobile app and bonus points breakfast package for Into the Nights (Oct 26, 2014).
Loyalty Traveler – IHG upsell rates with Into the Nights promotion links (Oct 27)
Loyalty Traveler – Crowne Plaza Denver Airport 5K bonus points and breakfast deal (Nov 10, 2014). This hotel stay was booked for my wife’s Into the Nights offer, which is simply stay two times and earn one free night, for up to two free nights.
Holiday Inn London Gatwick Airport
Originally, I booked Crowne Plaza Dublin Northwood on a 1,000 bonus points with breakfast rate for 124 EUR ($155 USD) and Holiday Inn London – Gatwick Airport for 63 GBP ($99 USD), both rates with flexible cancellation. The lowest bonus points with breakfast rate I saw for London Gatwick hotels was around $190.
Then, last week I rechecked hotel rates to find the Holiday Inn London Gatwick Airport had dropped rates and was 55 GBP (Best Flexible Rate) or as low as 49 GBP for a prepaid rate. When I checked for bonus points and breakfast rates, I found the hotel offered 5,000 bonus points with breakfast for 83 GBP ($130 USD).
I knew I needed a good breakfast for my first day around London and 5,000 points is worth at least $20. I canceled my London and Dublin IHG reservations and rebooked my two hotel stays for an overall rate reduction of $25 USD, plus a net gain of 4,000 IHG points with a 5,000 bonus points package rather than 1,000 bonus points.
There are four IHG hotels around Gatwick Airport:
- Crowne Plaza Gatwick Airport
- Holiday Inn London Gatwick Airport
- Holiday Inn Express Gatwick – Crawley
- Holiday Inn Gatwick – Worth
As a tourist, be aware that only Holiday Inn Gatwick Airport is served by a shuttle bus. I think you need taxi service to reach the other three hotels. A couple on the shuttle bus with me arrived at the hotel to learn they were booked at Holiday Inn Gatwick – Worth and had to book a taxi after paying 3 GBP each for the shuttle to the wrong hotel.
Finding the Holiday Inn London Gatwick Airport shuttle
The first challenge at London Gatwick Airport was figuring out where to get the shuttle bus to the Holiday Inn London Gatwick Airport. I arrived in the south terminal.
I arrived at LGW South Terminal and when I exited customs, I found myself in a hall with a couple of currency exchange vendors, airport information and airport concierge and a London Victoria Express ticket vendor.
I had no GBP currency. The exchange rate was airport robbery at USD 1.79 when the mid-market bank rate is under $1.57 = 1 GBP.
From the airport information booth, go left down the hall and take the elevator down and walk outside where there is an area marked #9 for hotel shuttles.
G1 and G3 shuttles run to some airport hotels including Holiday Inn London Gatwick Airport, Airport Hotel and Travelodge. G1 and G3 run every 30 minutes with one on the quarter hour and one on the half hour, so a shuttle should pass every 15 minutes. The sign says courtesy shuttles, but the shuttle is not free. The ticket price was 3 GBP one-way.
The ride was about 15 or 20 minutes to the Holiday Inn since the shuttle went to Gatwick North Terminal and then to Airport Hotel, Travelodge and Holiday Inn. The return shuttle to Gatwick Airport South Terminal from Holiday Inn is the first stop.
South Terminal is also the stop for train service to central London. I’ll share information in another article about my travel from London Gatwick to London Heathrow for 8.10 GBP on trains and the Underground as the cheaper alternative to the 25 GBP direct bus, if you have 3 hours time. The direct bus takes 60 to 75 minutes.
Check-In Holiday Inn London – Gatwick Airport
Check-in was like celebrity treatment. The receptionist brought out a big black notebook and stated as an IHG Platinum member I had the choice of 1,000 bonus points or one free drink and snack.
I had to sign the ledger showing I had received my Platinum member amenity.
My free pint of Stella Artois had a price tag of 4.40 GBP ($6.88 USD) and I really wanted a beer after traveling about seven hours from Radisson Blu Athlone to London Gatwick. The snack choice was only crisps (potato chips) or nuts.
I enjoyed my pint in The Hub, the hotel bar, read the newspaper, ate a pack of crisps, looked up at the TV to watch the Wales/New Zealand rugby every time the crowd, who obviously knew the game rules, cheered or groaned at an exciting play.
The desk clerk said I received a double upgrade room as an IHG Platinum member. The door was labeled Executive Room.
There were two bottles of water in the room, one still and one sparkling. There was also a Kit Kat candy bar.
Bed was fine. Pillows a bit too hard for my liking.
Refrigerator was empty, formerly electronic service type. Funky smell when I opened it. Trouser press and coffee maker.
Figuring out how different bathrooms work is one of the features of international travel. I saw the shower water temperature was turned on hot and I turned on the water on the bottom faucet. After several minutes of cold water, I realized the shower knob worked completely independently of the bottom faucet. Eventually I got the shower running with hot water.
Buffet breakfast at Traders Bar & Grill was a welcome portion of my package rate. The hours were something like 6-10am on Sunday. I arrived a little after 9am. Staff were attentive and courteous. All the usual stuff for an English breakfast with breads, fruits, juices, eggs and a cook who would make omelets to order if you had a special request.
My 83 GBP ($131) rate was 34 GBP more than a 49 GBP ($77) advance purchase prepaid rate for the room only. That is $54 more for 5,000 points and breakfast. Breakfast was 10 GBP per person at regular rate. The additional $54 for 5,000 bonus points and breakfast and fulfillment of one of my Into the Nights task was a great deal.
This stay is my first stay credited for the IHG Into the Nights promotion. After my 80 EUR ($100) stay in Dublin next week, all five of my tasks should be complete to earn two free nights at any IHG hotel worldwide in 2015.