Top Notch, Bottom Dollar: InterContinental Perth City Centre

Apr 28, 2018

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To The Point

The recently opened InterContinental Perth City hotel impressed throughout my short two-night stay. Pros: a central and walkable location, attentive service, solid amenities and a well-designed room. Cons: minor service failures and an electrical issue that left my electronics uncharged the first night.

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In Perth for a couple nights before Qantas’ inaugural Perth-London flight, I sought out an interesting place to stay. A recent TPG article drew my attention to the InterContinental Perth City, which opened in October 2017. So I decided to check it out.

Spoiler alert: I’m glad that I did.

In This Post

Booking

The InterContinental Perth City was a Category 6 hotel, meaning award nights would have cost me 35,000 points per night. Rates for the two nights I needed cost just $180 per night after taxes — meaning I’d get a value of 0.51 cents each if I redeemed points. This redemption rate was below TPG‘s valuation of 0.6 cents per point, although it was above the 0.5 cents-per-point purchase price you could buy IHG points for.

Ultimately, I booked it as a revenue stay, as I could use this stay to complete some of my last first-quarter IHG Accelerate promotion tasks, as well as earn 4,968 IHG points after my Platinum elite bonus, a status I have thanks to my IHG Rewards Club Select credit card.

With the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card offering up to 20% back on bookings through Hotels.com (10x miles at Hotels.com when booking and paying with your card via Hotels.com combined with Hotels.com Rewards through Jan. 31, 2020), I made sure to check rates on Hotels.com before booking with the hotel. For this stay, IHG’s direct-booking price was $40 cheaper than Hotels.com. Plus, IHG stripped away elite benefits for not booking directly with the hotel, so I booked this stay directly, paying with my Chase Sapphire Reserve to earn 3x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent — netting 1,080 UR points for this booking.

Note that seemingly all IHG hotels in Australia charge a 3% surcharge for American Express cards and a 1.5% surcharge for other credit cards. You can avoid this fee by prepaying for your room at the time of reservation, as I did this stay.

Location

The hotel is in the heart of Perth’s downtown on King Street in the city’s central business district. The streets around the hotel are chock-full of cafes, restaurants and shops. Across a one-lane street was the elegant His Majesty’s Theatre. Just a block away from the hotel was the Hay Street Mall, providing even more shops, food options and eclectic street entertainment.

I made a couple of trips to and from the airport during this short stay, which each took 20 to 30 minutes and cost between A$25 and 29 ($19 to 22) in an UberX. Perth’s central train station was less than a 10-minute walk, easily connecting passengers to Fremantle and other destinations too far away for a cheap cab or Uber ride.

Check-in

I arrived shortly after 1:00pm to see if I could check-in early. The concierge hopped up to greet me but seemed thrown off his game enough not to be able to help me with my bags (I was carrying my Farpoint 70 travel backpack). At the reception desk, a friendly agent welcomed me, recognized my Platinum elite status — from my IHG Rewards Club Select credit card — and noted that my room was available early.

I booked a Classic King room and was assigned a room on the fourth floor. Knowing that free upgrades were one of the perks of Platinum elite status, I inquired if there was an upgrade available. Sure enough, the agent was able to upgrade me to a City View Classic King on the 12th floor, the highest floor before the higher-category club rooms.

As part of the check-in process, the agent asked for a newspaper preference (The West Australian, The Australian, Financial Review or none) and turn-down preference (5:00pm to 7:00pm or 7:00pm to 9:00pm.)

As a rare splurge, I selected a free drink as my welcome amenity instead of bonus points. Shortly after, however, I received an email that my welcome amenity of 600 IHG points had been deposited into my account. At current TPG valuations, that was only $3.60 worth of bonus points, but it was still appreciated.

Room

The sharp, modern room impressed me from first glance. The curtains over the nearly floor-to-ceiling windows automatically opened as I entered, dramatically revealing the view of the city. Next to the window was a chaise lounge, a welcome way of taking in the views. Next to the couch was a round table just large enough to use as my office for the stay.

The king bed was set up with four large pillows and two throw pillows, and struck a nice balance between comfort and firmness. There were nightstands on either side of the bed.

The 42.5-inch flat-screen TV was elegantly framed by a wooden shelf, but despite it declaring itself a smart TV, I couldn’t connect any of my devices or access streaming services with it.

The minibar and coffee machines were in a wood-paneled cabinet. A small fridge provided complimentary milk, placed unassumingly next to expensive minibar items. Beneath the fridge was a Nespresso coffeemaker, coffee pods, a tea kettle, a tea infuser and two mugs with saucers. Below that, the room’s safe was hidden in a drawer.

A wide, shallow closet provided several hangers, two robes and two pairs of slippers, an ironing board and an iron. There was also an emergency flashlight and a couple of extra blankets.

One of my hotel pet peeves is a lack of power outlets, but that was not an issue in this room. I found a whopping 14 Australian power outlets — four behind each bedside table, two Australian power outlets next to the office table, three in the hallway and one in the bathroom. If you were short an adapter, there was a sole 120V outlet with which you could charge a device with a US plug.

The shower was certainly TPG-approved, with a 7-foot overhead shower head as well as an adjustable, wall-mounted shower head. The shower had a frosted window between it and the bedroom, opaque enough to provide a degree of privacy but clear enough to let light pass through. This could be problematic if a couple were on different schedules, with one trying to sleep when the other was showering or getting ready in the bathroom.

Amenities

Although small, the room was full of amenities. On one bedside stand, there was a portable Bluetooth Bose SoundLink Mini radio, which packed spectacular sound despite its small size. The other stand had a wireless phone-and-radio combination. There was also a small box that held the TV remote on this table.

The bathroom was stocked with Agraria-branded soaps, shampoo, conditioner, body wash and lotion. A full complement of towels and washcloths was more than sufficient. The towels were large and soft. In a wooden box, IHG provided two dental kits, a shaving kit, a comb, an extra bar of soap, cotton swabs, a sewing kit, a nail file, cotton pads, a shower cap and a small trash bag. There was also a hair dryer.

Two complimentary water bottles were left on a bedside stand and were replaced at each service.


Food and Beverage

Although there was a wide variety of food in the hotel (Ascua Spanish Grill, The Loft bar, Graffiti’s wood-fire grill and Heno and Rey for tapas), I tested room service my second night. There were plenty of options in menu, even late at night.

I ordered a club sandwich for A$24 ($19), but thankfully there was no delivery fee or other charges added on top (besides optional gratuity). The food arrived 23 minutes after I ordered it, right in the middle of the 20- to 25-minute window I was told to expect. The reasonably sized meal came with locally sourced condiments.

Amenities

Overall, the service was excellent. I was greeted warmly by staff each time I passed through the lobby and addressed by name when I phoned the front desk or room service. The turndown service each night incorporated another room reset and cleaning when necessary. The room was left dimmed with smooth jazz playing on the TV to set a relaxing mood.

During the turndown service the first night and cleaning service between nights, I returned to my room to find a sign hanging on my door noting my room was being serviced. Both times, the housekeeping agents were friendly, apologetic about being in the way and promised to finish quickly.

There were a couple of minor service missteps, though. In the cleaning between nights, the coffee bar wasn’t supplied with more coffee and milk, but a call to reception quickly resolved this. On my first night, the power plugs in my room seemingly shorted out, meaning I woke to drained personal electronics. With the room phone also knocked out, I visited reception to get an engineer to fix the situation, but it wasn’t resolved in time to juice up my electronics for the day.

Overall Impression

As a dyed-in-the-wool budget traveler, I don’t typically see the value in splurging for a high-end hotel. Stays over the last year at Grand Hyatt, Sheraton, Westin and even other InterContinental hotels have only served to reinforce this preference. My experience at each has never seemed to justify the price premium over a mid-tier hotel brand.

However, this stay at the InterContinental Perth City showed how a high-end brand can really deliver a superior experience worth paying a premium for. At just US$180 or 35,000 points per night, this hotel doesn’t command much of a premium over other options in a notoriously expensive country. Combining a sleek room with solid amenities, attentive service and an excellent location in the heart of Perth, the InterContinental Perth City Centre certainly is one to consider for your next visit to Perth.

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