London currently ranks as Europe’s most expensive capital for hotels with average rates at £140 ($211 USD). TripAdvisor lists 1,055 London hotels. I have stayed in ten different London hotels in the past year, five of these being IHG brand hotels using IHG Rewards Club points and free night credits.
The typical hotel rate for the 20 nights in central London hotels I stayed at was far higher than I have ever paid for a hotel room. For example, InterContinental Park Lane, where we stayed two nights last week on free night certificates, had an advance purchase nonrefundable rate of £264 ($398.11 USD) per night at the time I booked the hotel in November. When we stayed at the InterContinental London Park Lane in July the advance purchase rate was £382 ($576 USD) per night. We also stayed for free in July using IHG Rewards Club certificates earned from promotions like Into the Nights. Kelley and I earned four free night certificates for around $500 on five paid hotel nights one year ago through IHG Into the Nights promotion.
InterContinental London Park Lane ranks as #130 of 1,055 London hotels listed on TripAdvisor.com.
Loyalty Traveler Hotel Review – Into the ‘Free’ Nights at InterContinental London Park Lane (July 11, 2015).
Let’s Make London an annual Thanksgiving Tradition
Last year Kelley said she wanted to make London an annual Thanksgiving tradition. I kind of had my sights set on Berlin for Thanksgiving this year, but after spending most of September traveling around Europe solo, Kelley’s wish became her command.
The problem with London is the cost of hotels. Hotels are expensive, whether you spend cash or use hotel loyalty program points. I published an analysis of London hotel reward rates across different chains a couple of days before I booked our flights in late October.
Loyalty Traveler – London hotel reward rates compared across 9 hotel programs (Oct 22, 2015).
When IHG Rewards Club came out with their current list of PointBreaks hotels, I jumped at the chance to book the Crowne Plaza Heythrop Park near Oxford at 5,000 points per night.
Loyalty Traveler – Visualizing Travel Before Bookings (Oct 26, 2015) is a piece I wrote about visualizing a trip before finalizing purchases. At the time, I still planned on us staying at the Crowne Plaza near Oxford.
Then, after careful consideration, the fact that the Crowne Plaza is in a rural location about 15 miles outside of Oxford, forced me to reconsider my hotel bargain stay. I canceled that IHG PointBreaks hotel stay and reconsidered how IHG Rewards Club could still put us in central London affordably. I rarely spend more than $100 per night on hotels.
Affordable London using IHG Rewards Club Accelerate Promotion
There are 23 IHG hotels within London’s city limits and another 49 hotels in the greater London metropolitan area, including London Heathrow and London Gatwick Airports.
Nearly all the hotels in central London are 35,000 points with eight hotels at 40,000 to 50,000 points and a few hotels in London at 30,000 points, mostly in places away from the main city center tourist sites.
Five nights at the InterContinental Park Lane would be 250,000 points. We had two free nights, but not another 150,000 points to allow us to stay put at the InterContinental for five nights.
IHG Rewards Club Accelerate is the current global loyalty program promotion.
Loyalty Traveler – IHG Rewards Club Accelerate Sep 1–Dec 31 targeted offers (August 24, 2015).
My IHG Rewards Club Accelerate has a task requiring three Points and Cash stays to earn 3,600 points. I need to complete 3 of 4 tasks requiring either 5 paid nights or 3 Points and Cash nights to earn 33,100 bonus points.
Initially, I assumed I would skip the Points and Cash task and stay five paid nights, but I ended up not needing five paid nights with my end of year travels. In October, I stayed one night at the InterContinental Geneva on Points and Cash. By booking two hotel stays in London last week using IHG Points and Cash reward nights, I redeemed 50,000 IHG points and figured I would get nearly all those points back through the Accelerate promotion. The two hotel nights I booked using IHG Rewards Club Points and Cash cost 25,000 points + $70 per night.
Loyalty Traveler – Burning and earning in London with IHG Rewards Club Accelerate Sep 1- Dec 31, 2015 (Nov 19, 2015).
Last week consisted of four hotel nights in London and one hotel night at London Heathrow before our early morning flight to Stockholm. Hotel hopping can be a drag, but it was not really too time-consuming since we left our luggage at the hotel for the day while we went about our touring in London and came back to the hotel when we were ready to move to the next place. I picked the hotels in London based on their location and proximity to museums and places we wanted to visit while in the city.
InterContinental London Park Lane – two free nights using last year’s Into the Nights promotion rewards from Kelley’s IHG account. Cost = free. We walked around Hyde Park’s seasonal Winter Wonderland, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and the Tate Britain Art Gallery.
Holiday Inn Regent’s Park – Points and Cash reward night for 25,000 points + $70 to buy 10,000 points. I received 5,000 points as a generous compensation for the list of complaints I had about the room. More on that in my forthcoming hotel review. We walked around Regent’s Park, spent the afternoon in Camden Town, visited the Wellcome Collection Museum and had a great night hanging out in a neighborhood pub.
Holiday Inn Bloomsbury – Points and Cash reward night for 25,000 points + $70 to buy 10,000 points. Complimentary Executive Floor upgrade and two free beers at the bar as a Platinum member. We visited the Grant Museum of Zoology, Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons and the British Museum with another memorable night in a historic London pub.
Holiday Inn London Heathrow – T5 Room rate £59 ($89 USD). We arrived late and left early with time to hang out for 90 minutes at the British Airways First Class lounge before our flight to Stockholm.
All four hotel reviews to come.
IHG Rewards Club made Thanksgiving in London Affordable
My three London hotel stays at Holiday Inn cost $229 USD and completed 3 of 4 of my IHG Rewards Club Accelerate tasks to earn 43,200 points.
I redeemed 50,000 IHG Rewards Club points for two IHG Points and Cash hotel reward nights in London. As an IHG Rewards Club MasterCard member, I will receive 10% of those points back making my net redemption 45,000 points. At the LHR hotel I took 500 IHG Rewards Club points as my Platinum amenity instead of a free drink. At Holiday Inn Regent’s Park I received 5,000 bonus points compensation. I will receive another 1,300 or so points for the paid night at Holiday Inn Heathrow T5. Once all the accounting is settled, I will receive back all 50,000 points I redeemed for two nights in London and a little more.
London hotel rates currently average $211 USD per night in Europe’s most expensive capital city. We stayed five nights in London last week for $229 using the IHG Rewards Club program.
This was our second annual trip to London for Thanksgiving. Hotel loyalty programs have made it possible for us to afford London with Club Carlson reward nights last year and IHG Rewards Club reward nights this year. London, despite its outrageously high hotel rates, could be turning into our affordable annual Thanksgiving week tradition.