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Following TPG Contributor Nick Ewen’s rundown of the best airport lounges in the U.S., TPG Assistant Editor Melanie Wynne shares her picks for the top 10 hotel club lounges in America, as well as tips on how to earn your way into them through their affiliated loyalty programs and co-branded credit cards. Gaining entry to private club lounges like these will take your future hotel stays to a whole new level.
1. InterContinental San Francisco – San Francisco, California
With three walls’ worth of windows overlooking most of San Francisco, guests with access to the Club InterContinental Lounge may choose to spend more time here than in their own rooms. In addition to plush seating and complimentary daily breakfast, afternoon tea and cocktail hours, the lounge features dedicated check-in/-out and concierge service, a 42″ plasma TV, and a slew of books and board games. Late check-out is granted to lounge-access guests, as well as complimentary clothes pressing and overnight shoeshine service.
Cost, points and elite status: The InterContinental San Francisco’s Executive Level Rooms come with access to the Club InterContinental Lounge and start at $328.48 per night. However, you can only redeem IHG Club Rewards points (45,000 of them, to be specific) for Classic Rooms, which don’t grant lounge access, and lounge access can be added to any Classic Room for $50 per night. Top-tier Platinum Elite status in the IHG Rewards Club grants you complimentary room upgrades based on availability.
The credit card boost: In addition to other perks, the IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card comes with one free night per year, a sign-up bonus of 60,000 points for spending $1,000 within the first three months, and earns 5 points/$1 at IHG properties. IHG is also a 1:1 transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, so you can transfer points from cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold, or Ink Plus to top up your account.
2. The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park – New York, New York
The Club Lounge on the property’s second floor feels like a lavish Upper West Side apartment, with a mix of rococo and Georgian-style furnishings in pastel shades and a gorgeous view of Central Park. Aside from the scenery, though, the star attraction here is the delicious food available throughout the day, from a hearty breakfast to light snacks, hors d’ oeuvres, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, and a parade of sweets. You’ll have access to express check-in/checkout and a dedicated concierge, as well as packing/unpacking and butler services. In addition to using the complimentary Wi-Fi, you’ll be able to choose from a wide selection of DVDs, CDs and children’s books.
Cost, points and elite status: A Club Level room at The Ritz Carlton New York, Central Park starts at $845 per night, but can’t be booked with Ritz-Carlton Rewards. However, a standard Guest Room can be booked for 70,000 Ritz-Carlton Rewards per night, and Club Lounge access can be purchased for an additional $150 per room (rather than per night). Ritz-Carlton Rewards Gold and Platinum elite status offer complimentary room upgrades based on availability.
The credit card boost: The The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card (reviewed here) gives you three Club Level upgrades per year, grants you automatic Gold elite status for the first year, and earns 10 points/$1 spent at Ritz-Carlton properties. Additionally, Ritz-Carlton Rewards is a 1:1 transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, so to top up your account, you can transfer points earned from the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus/Ink Bold cards.
3. Grand Hyatt Washington – Washington, D.C.
With gleaming wood, low lighting and muted tones, the 12th-floor Grand Club provides a relaxing escape from D.C.’s busy Penn Quarter. All-day refreshments include a continental breakfast buffet and evening hors d’oeuvres, and wine and beer are available for honor-system purchase. You’ll have access to a dedicated concierge and video checkout, as well as use of a workstation and complimentary Wi-Fi. Children are allowed in the Club, but there’s a private room for adults.
Cost, points and elite status: At the Grand Hyatt Washington, Grand Club level rooms start at $294 a night but can’t be booked with Hyatt Gold Passport points; standard room redemptions start at 20,000 Gold Passport points per night. Top-tier Diamond elite status in the Hyatt Gold Passport program gives you complimentary access to Grand Club (and Regency Club) lounges at all Hyatt properties.
The credit card boost: Within each calendar year, spend $20,000 with Hyatt Credit Card and you’ll get two stay credits and five night credits toward Diamond status; spend $40,000 in a calendar year and you’ll get an additional 3 stay credits and 5 night credits toward Diamond status.
4. Langham Chicago – Chicago, Illinois
The Points Guy visited the Langham Chicago’s Langham Club earlier this year and was utterly wowed. Located on level 12C (the 13th floor), the huge ultra-modern lounge features floor-to-ceiling views of the Magnificent Mile, as well as white marble details and white leather seating. Complimentary food service includes a sprawling breakfast buffet, all-day access to snacks, afternoon tea, and an evening spread of canapés and do-it-yourself cocktails. You’ll have free Wi-Fi and use of two computer workstations, a reading library, and a shiny brass telescope. You can check in and out at a private registration desk and request use of a private changing area and complimentary in-town car service.
Cost, points and elite status: A Langham Club Room starts at $698 a night, and Langham Club suites start at $1,039 a night. Only the top two tiers of Langham’s 1865 loyalty program,Voyager and the invitation-only Destiny, entitle you to complimentary room upgrades based on availability. Langham doesn’t have its own co-branded credit card, so you’ll have to earn your way to Voyager and Destiny with Langham stays.
5. JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa – Phoenix, Arizona
Set overlooking the property’s golf course, as well as the surrounding desert and mountains, Marriott’s first JW Griffin Club offers food and beverages throughout the day, from a hot buffet breakfast and hearty lunches of sandwiches, salads and soups, to midday and late-night hors d’oeuvres, as well as a dessert spread. From 4-11 p.m., an open bar include cocktails, beers and wines. You’ll get complimentary Wi-Fi, a dedicated concierge, and use of four plasma TVs and several iPads. Access is only for those 21 and over; no children are allowed.
Cost, points and elite status: At the Phoenix Desert Ridge, JW Griffin Club rooms start at $449 a night, but can’t be booked with Marriott Rewards. Standard rooms at this Category 8 property start at 40,000 Marriott Rewards per night, and access to the lounge for two guests can be purchased for $100 per night. Marriott Rewards Gold and Platinum elite status offer complimentary room upgrades based on availability.
The credit card boost: The usual sign-up bonus for the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card is 80,000 points (after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months). It earns you 5 points per $1 spent at Marriott properties and grants you 15 credits toward your next elite status level upon account opening and each year on your account anniversary.
6. The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles – Los Angeles, California
Picture windows line one whole wall of the enormous 22nd-floor Ritz-Carlton Club Lounge, offering sweeping views of L.A., from ocean to mountains across a century’s worth of architecture and a complex web of freeways. Multiple seating areas offer a choice of living room-style lounging and focused productivity, and you’ll have access to free Wi-Fi, workstations and a dedicated concierge. The five daily setups of food are delicious and include fresh-baked pastries, sandwiches, prepared salads, California cheeses and house-made potato chips, as well as glass canisters full of colorful macarons and candy. Alcohol is complimentary, and through the bar is generally do-it-yourself, you can request simple cocktails like mimosas.
Cost, points and elite status: A Club Lounge level room at The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles starts at $839 per night, but can’t be booked with Ritz-Carlton Rewards. However, a standard Guest Room can be booked for 60,000 Ritz-Carlton Rewards per night, and Club Lounge access can be purchased for an additional $100 per room (rather than per night), based on double occupancy. Ritz-Carlton Rewards Gold and Platinum elite status offer complimentary room upgrades based on availability.
The credit card boost: As mentioned above, the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card gives you three Club Level upgrades per year, grants you automatic Gold elite status for the first year, and earns you 10 points/$1 spent at Ritz-Carlton properties. You can also transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards at a ratio of 1:1 to top up your Ritz-Carlton Rewards account.
7. Waldorf-Astoria Grand Wailea – Wailea, Maui, Hawaii
Set on the 9th floor of the resort’s Napua Tower (which is essentially a private hotel within the hotel), the Napua Club offers friendly, personalized service, comfy couches, complimentary Wi-Fi and periodicals, and sweeping views of Maui’s Mount Haleakala, swaying palm trees and the Pacific Ocean. Food selections throughout the day and evening are relatively modest, but the fruits are generally island-grown, the small breakfast buffet generally includes pancakes or French toast, the canapés spread has both hot and cold dishes, and at the evening’s open bar, the cheerful bartenders will always remember your cocktail order.
Cost, points and elite status: Napua Club Rooms start at $739 or 206,800 Hilton Honors per night, and adding Napua Club access to any non-Club room costs $100 per night. Only Honors top two elite tiers, Gold and Diamond, offer complimentary room upgrades based on availability.
The credit card boost: The Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card and Hilton Honors Card from American Express give you automatic Silver status, and allow you to spend your way to Gold status. The Citi Hilton Reserve Card and Hilton Honors Surpass American Express give you automatic Gold status, and enable you to spend your way to Diamond status; in addition, the Hilton Reserve gives you two free weekend-night certificates. Through January 31, 2015, Hilton is running a Double Up promotion that allows you to maximize your Honors earnings, possibly helping you gain quicker access to the Napua Club at the Grand Wailea.
8. Sheraton Waikiki – Waikiki Beach, Oahu, Hawaii
Outside of a helicopter, it’ll be hard to find better views of Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head and Honolulu than those you’ll see from the two long walls of windows at the 30th-floor Leahi Club Lounge, the first Sheraton Club in Hawaii. The modern, casual furnishings are a mix of island details and cocktail-lounge chic, and you can choose between workstation, dining or living room seating, near or away from a few 42″ flat-screen TVs. There are two main food spreads, a big continental breakfast buffet in the morning and pupu platters of Polynesian-style hors d’oeuvres in the evening (accompanied by complimentary beer and wine), and snacks and beverages are available throughout the day.
Cost, points and elite status: Leahi Club level rooms start at $412 per night, but can’t be booked with Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints. Standard rooms at this SPG Category 5 property start at 12,000 Starpoints per night, and lounge access can be purchased for $75 a night per room. Platinum elite members of Starwood Preferred Guest are allowed complimentary access to the Leahi Club Lounge, while Gold status members have access to complimentary upgrades based on availability.
The credit card boost: The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express cards each get you two stays or five nights closer to re-qualifying for elite status each year, while The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum® Card from American Express cards both confer automatic SPG Gold status on cardholders.
9. Radisson Blu Warwick Hotel – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The Business Lounge at the Radisson Blu Warwick Hotel, a Rittenhouse Square-area property that was originally built in 1926, rebranded as America’s third Radisson Blu hotel in November 2013 and re-opened in January 2014 after a $20 million renovation, is light, airy and stylish, with Italian furniture and sweeping views of downtown Philly. In addition to complimentary breakfast, Wi-Fi and a small business center, you’ll be able to attend a bar reception each evening that includes wine, beer, cocktails and several appetizers.
Cost, points and elite status: The Radisson Blu Warwick’s Business Class rooms (all with King beds) provide access to the Business Lounge, and start at $239 or 75,000 Club Carlson Gold Points per night. Club Carlson’s Silver and Gold elite status both offer complimentary upgrades upon availability.
The credit card boost: Both the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature and Business Rewards Visa Signature offer automatic Gold status, while Club Carlson Rewards Visa Signature offers automatic Silver status.
10. Le Méridien Atlanta Perimeter – Atlanta, Georgia
With soft lighting, jewel-toned fabrics, and stunning views of downtown Atlanta and Buckhead from floor-to-ceiling windows, the 12th-floor Club Lounge is a cross between relaxing and swanky. The soundproofed lounge is open 24 hours, and you’ll find a hot and cold buffet at breakfast and evening cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. There are three separate seating areas, each with its own LCD TV, you’ll have complimentary access to Wi-Fi, workstations and a full office set-up.
Cost, points and elite status: At the Le Méridien Atlanta Perimeter, Club level rooms start at $156 per night, but can’t be booked with Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints. Standard rooms at this SPG Category 3 property start at 7,000 Starpoints per night, and lounge access can be purchased for $50 a night per room. Platinum elite members of Starwood Preferred Guest are allowed complimentary access to the Club Lounge, while Gold status members have access to complimentary upgrades based on availability.
The credit card boost: The Starwood Preferred Guest Amex business and personal cards each get you two stays or five nights closer to re-qualifying for elite status each year, while the Platinum Card® from American Express and Business Platinum® Card from American Express both give you automatic SPG Gold status.
Which are your favorite hotel club lounges in the U.S.?
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