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PSA: An IHG upgrade to a club-level room doesn't mean you have access to the Club Lounge

Aug. 01, 2022
5 min read
InterContinental Montreal exterior with hotel sign
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IHG’s newly revamped loyalty program, dubbed IHG One Rewards, has turned a largely forgettable hotel program into something exciting. It’s added features such as:

  • Free breakfast as a welcome-amenity choice for top-tier Diamond Elite members at full-service and select-service hotel brands.
  • More opportunities for early check-in for Platinum Elite and Diamond Elite members.
  • 2 p.m. late checkout for all members, based on availability.
  • Milestone Rewards that award you for staying a certain number of nights each year. You can select perks like Confirmable Suite Upgrades, bonus points, an annual Club Lounge membership and more.

But despite these positive changes, there's still one glaring issue that the program just clarified: If you receive a complimentary upgrade to a club-level room — including using a Confirmable Suite Upgrade — you won’t get club-level amenities. This news was first reported by Frequent Miler.

Let’s take a look at what this means for you.

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A closer look at IHG's upgrade policy

Club InterContinental at the InterContinental Bali Resort. (Photo by Brian Biros/The Points Guy)

One of the big promises from IHG during its introduction of IHG One Rewards was its commitment to upgrade Platinum Elite and Diamond Elite members with more consistency. If you’ve got either of these statuses, you should be upgraded to a premium room, including a suite, whenever available.

But per IHG’s terms, an upgrade to a club-level room doesn’t include club-level amenities:

Complimentary Upgrades to Club rooms, Club REGENT or Club InterContinental rooms / floors do not include Club Level amenities or services, e.g. Club Lounge access, free pressing, airport transportation, etc.

And the same restrictions apply when you use a Confirmable Suite Upgrade to snag a club-level room or suite.

In short, if you want access to an IHG Club Lounge, you’ll have to either pay for a club-level room, pay for Club Lounge access at the property or invoke your annual Club Lounge membership — which you can choose as a Milestone Reward after 40 or 70 elite qualifying nights in a calendar year.

Not getting Club Lounge access on complimentary upgrades to club-level rooms and suites has been IHG's policy for some time now. But the hotel group recently updated its terms and conditions to make this policy official. As such, it's making its rounds in the travel world again.

Related: What it’s like staying at an IHG hotel with Diamond status as the hotels unveil new elite benefits

Why this policy is disappointing

The InterContinental Johannesburg's Club Lounge. (Photo by Eric Rosen/The Points Guy)

This policy negates most benefits of being upgraded to the club level. Besides typically being located on higher levels of the hotel, club-level rooms are often barely distinguishable from a standard room. The reason a club-level room tends to cost significantly more than a standard room is because of its extra amenities — namely, Club Lounge access.

Club Lounges can be found at various IHG brands, but most are found at Crowne Plaza, Regent and InterContinental hotels and resorts. Here are a few things that may be included with Club Lounge access:

  • You can check in to the hotel in the lounge and receive a free welcome drink.
  • You’ll get free breakfast.
  • You can attend afternoon tea (which comes with finger foods) for free.
  • Drinks and canapes are served for free in the evening.

Without access to these benefits, your complimentary club-level upgrade will garner you a high floor — but that’s about it.

Related: What is IHG elite status worth in 2022?

Bottom line

Whether you are upgraded to a club-level room at check-in or you redeem a Confirmable Suite Upgrade, you won't have access to the Club Lounge unless you buy access or have an annual lounge membership.

This is disappointing news for those who hoped to snag Club Lounge access on upgrades. But luckily, getting Club Lounge access at IHG hotels with lounges is still possible for loyalists who crave it thanks to the new Milestone Rewards perk.

Featured image by ANDREW KUNESH/THE POINTS GUY
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.

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3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

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  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

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  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases