I Got $160 of Food and Drink Included on a $153 Stay in Chicago, and You Can Too
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I recently booked a $153 one-night stay at the Loews Chicago Hotel through the American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts (FHR) program. The FHR program provides elite-like benefits at more than 1,000 luxury properties worldwide to American Express card members with a Platinum or Centurion-branded charge card like The Platinum Card® from American Express or The Business Platinum Card® from American Express.
Specifically, booking though Amex FHR provides the following benefits:
- Room upgrade upon arrival, when available
- Daily breakfast for two people
- Guaranteed 4pm late checkout
- Noon check-in, when available
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
- Unique property amenity valued at $100 or more
In the case of the Loews Chicago Hotel, the $100 "unique property amenity" is a $100 food-and-beverage credit.
Normally FHR properties charge much higher nightly rates. So when you can find a FHR property with a relatively low nightly rate and a $100 food and beverage credit, it can be a good excuse to treat yourself to a nice stay.
How It Worked For Me
For my one-night stay at the Loews Chicago Hotel, I booked a Superior King room for $129, or $153 after taxes and fees, through FHR.
By booking through FHR, I got the $100 food and beverage credit and two $30 breakfast vouchers. Plus, there was a $10 coupon for dinner at the ETA restaurant waiting in our room.
To help us stretch our food and beverage credit further, we went to dinner during the 8pm to 9pm "Evening Departures Happy Hour." Only one beer, one cocktail and two house wines were discounted -- but we were satisfied with the options.
Here's the breakdown of how we used our food and beverage credit and breakfast vouchers:
|Item||Normal Price||Price on Bill|
|ETA Burger with fries||$17||$17|
|Loch Duart Salmon||$26, but used coupon for $10 off||$16|
|3 Featured Draft Beers||$11 each, but $5 each during happy hour||$15|
|1 Featured Cocktail||$15 each, but $9 each during happy hour||$9|
|Tax and tip||$18||$18 ($7.47 tax, $10.53 tip)|
|2 Lattes||$5 each||$10|
|Tax and tip||$16||$16 ($5.06 tax, $10.94 tip)|
|2 Blue Moon draft beers||$10 each||$20|
|Tax and tip||$5||$5 ($2.30 tax, $2.70 tip)|
|Total||$202||$168 (of which $100 was covered by food and beverage credit, $60 by breakfast vouchers, $8 out of pocket)|
If we had no coupons, and paid full price for everything, we would've spent about $202 on the food and beverages. With the promotions, and before using our FHR credits to erase most of the cost, we were actually looking at a bill of $168. Once we used our FHR credits -- which were also valid toward tax and tip -- we ended up paying only $8 to eat and drink during our stay.
Since we're budget travelers who live on the road full-time, it's likely we wouldn't have incurred all of these food and beverage expenses on site if we hadn't booked through FHR. After all, there are more affordable local dining options in the surrounding area. This being said, the food on site was tasty, so there's clear value getting the room, dinner and breakfast for two and six alcoholic drinks for the $153 room rate and only an additional $8 out of pocket.
If you consider the American Express Membership Rewards points that I earned on the $153 room rate, it's an even better deal. Since I booked a prepaid stay through the FHR website, I earned 5x points on the room rate. This means I earned 765 Membership Rewards points, which TPG's latest valuations peg at $15.30.
How You Can Do It Too
The Loews Chicago Hotel often features room rates starting at $129 ($153 after taxes and fees) through Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts.
Since the $100 food and beverage credit is provided per stay and not per night, you'll get the most value out of one-night stays. But, if you're traveling alone and/or don't drink much alcohol, you could stretch your credit to cover more meals. That's what I did when I stayed at the Park Hyatt Beijing last fall on a FHR booking. You'll get vouchers for daily breakfast for two, so you'll be covered for breakfast each day even on longer stays.
To make a FHR booking, you need to be an American Express card member with a Platinum or Centurion-branded charge card like The Platinum Card from American Express or The Business Platinum Card from American Express. Although these cards have high annual fees, the card benefits can offset the annual fee for some card holders.
If you have the Platinum Card, you can add up to three authorized users to your account for just $175 per year (see rates & fees). My husband, JT, added me to his card, so I have access to many of the card's benefits including Hilton and Marriott hotel status, FHR and Centurion lounge access.
During booking, you'll want to select a prepaid rate on the FHR website so you'll earn 5x Amex Membership Rewards points on the stay.
The American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts program can provide excellent value at high-quality properties if you have an American Express Platinum or Centurion-branded charge card. FHR properties are often costly, so they're usually too pricey for my travel style. The Loews Chicago, however, is a property that I'd 100% return to the next time I'm in the city if I'm able to snag a similarly inexpensive room rate through Amex FHR. It's simply too good to pass up, especially for short stays.
All photos by the author.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, please click here.