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14 Ritz-Carlton hotels I'm considering for club-level upgrade certificates

Oct. 07, 2022
9 min read
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Back in 2018, my husband signed up for the Ritz-Carlton Credit Card. This card is no longer available to new applicants, but you may be able to get the card via a product change from another Chase-issued Marriott Bonvoy card.

Until the recent Marriott Bonvoy card changes, we'd debated whether the Ritz-Carlton card was worth its $450 annual fee. Each year, one of the reasons we decided to keep the card was the Ritz-Carlton club-level upgrade certificates it provides.

The information for the Ritz-Carlton card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Unlike most other club lounges at Marriott Bonvoy properties, you can't access Ritz-Carlton club-level lounges via Marriott Bonvoy elite status. As TPG's Summer Hull put it: Ritz-Carlton is the Marriott hotel brand where elite benefits don't really apply.

After enjoying the club-level lounge at The Ritz-Carlton, Bangalore for two nights this spring with a Ritz-Carlton club-level upgrade certificate, I've been interested in trying more Ritz-Carlton club-level lounges. Here's what you need to know about Ritz-Carlton club-level upgrade certificates and where I'm considering using them.

What to know about Ritz-Carlton club-level upgrade certificates

Club-level lounge at The Ritz-Carlton, Bangalore in India. KATIE GENTER/THE POINTS GUY

Before we dive in, let's discuss what you should know about the Ritz-Carlton club-level upgrade certificates that come as a perk of the Ritz-Carlton Credit Card. After all, even current cardholders with these certificates in their Marriott accounts won't find much information about the certificates or how to use them.

Each certificate is valid for a club-level upgrade on a stay of up to seven nights at a Ritz-Carlton with a club level. Not all Ritz-Carlton properties have a club level, so check the brand's website for participating properties before you set your sights on a particular hotel or resort.

You must book a specific rate before attaching a Ritz-Carlton club-level upgrade certificate. As such, you can't use a club-level upgrade certificate on an award booking, and you'll usually pay at least the standard rate.

The rate you must book may only be available for select room types, so you may need to book an elevated room type. But you can usually book a rate that's also eligible for the $100 property credit that Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card and Ritz-Carlton cardmembers get at Ritz-Carlton and St. Regis hotels on stays of at least two nights.

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A commenter on a Frequent Miler article noted you could see eligible rates for the upgrade certificate on Marriott's website if you enter "Z38" in the promo code box before searching online. However, when my husband called to apply one of his upgrade certificates to a stay we'd booked using the Z38 code, the phone agent claimed he couldn't apply the certificate to that booking.

The phone agent canceled our online booking and made a new reservation that cost slightly more per night. The agent said we should call in to book the next time we plan to apply an upgrade certificate, as there's no way to book an eligible rate online. However, looking at online rates should give you an idea of approximately how much the agent will quote for your stay when you call.

Related: Here's why Ritz-Carlton club-level rooms remain so exclusive

What's special about the Ritz-Carlton club level

Club-level lounge at The Ritz-Carlton, Bangalore in India. KATIE GENTER/THE POINTS GUY

Usually, there are two aspects of a Ritz-Carlton club-level upgrade: a club-level room and the club-level lounge.

Club-level rooms are often the same size and have the same furnishings as standard rooms, and are just located on a high or club-level floor. I don't put much value in getting a club-level room over a standard room.

The Ritz-Carlton club-level lounge is what truly provides value to the Ritz-Carlton club-level upgrade certificates. Ritz-Carlton club-level lounges are a step up from the nicest club lounges you'll find at other Marriott brands (hence why you don't get access to the Ritz-Carlton club-level lounges as a Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite or higher). With Ritz-Carlton club-level access, you'll usually get access to premium services such as a lounge concierge, business space, business services and private check-in and checkout.

Best of all, you'll get access to the lounge space and various culinary presentations daily. Club-level lounges offer "up to five complimentary culinary presentations each day including breakfast, hors d’oeuvres, beverages and dessert," according to the Ritz-Carlton website. If you plan to work remotely or spend time at the hotel, you may get a lot of value from these presentations.

Related: Rustic meets refined: A review of The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch

The least expensive Ritz-Carltons where you can use club-level upgrade certificates

A culinary presentation in the club-level lounge at The Ritz-Carlton, Bangalore in India. KATIE GENTER/THE POINTS GUY

Not all Ritz-Carlton properties have a club level. Based on the Ritz-Carlton website, 69 properties currently have a club level: 35 in the Americas, 19 in Asia, eight in Europe and seven in the Middle East.

I used Marriott's flexible dates calendar search for all 69 properties to get a feel for rates. Some of these properties go for upward of $1,000 a night. But some offer modest prices, especially if you travel during off-peak dates.

Here are some of the least expensive Ritz-Carlton properties where I'd consider using club-level upgrade certificates in the Americas and Europe:

Club-level lounge at The Ritz-Carlton, Bangalore in India. KATIE GENTER/THE POINTS GUY

And here are some of the least expensive Ritz-Carlton properties where I'd consider using club-level upgrade certificates in the Middle East and Asia:

For each of these properties, the price listed is the cheapest rate (including taxes and fees) I could find that would give access to the $100 property credit on a stay of two nights or longer. However, for greater China, I only considered rates in 2023 since that region is still mostly closed to U.S. tourists. I expect we'd be quoted the same, or perhaps a slightly higher, rate if we called to book a rate eligible for the $100 property credit and club-level upgrade certificate.

Related: 14 cities where you can book luxury hotels at budget prices

Bottom line

Rates at the least expensive Ritz-Carlton properties where you can use club-level upgrade certificates have gone up from what I remember seeing in 2019. Even so, if you have flexible dates, you can snag a modest rate at various Ritz-Carlton properties.

I enjoyed my two-night stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Bangalore earlier this year and would consider returning if I already had plans to be in India and could do so at a modest rate. But I'm eager to try out a different property with a Ritz Carlton club-level lounge.

The Ritz-Carlton, Kuala Lumpur is a solid option as the property is bookable for under $200 per night on most dates. But, if I wanted to try out a Ritz-Carlton in the U.S., I'd likely give The Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City a try since it offers views of the Pentagon from its club lounge.

Of course, compare the lowest rate you could book against the rate you'll need to book to apply your club-level upgrade certificate to ensure club lounge access is worth the difference. Additionally, check how much it would be to book a club-level room or suite outright. However, unless you plan to stay at Ritz-Carlton properties with club-level lounges more than three times a year, it will likely make sense to book an eligible rate and then apply a club-level upgrade certificate.

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.