IHG removes club access from club-level upgrades


Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG) unveiled a much needed overhaul if its rewards program in April, changing the name to IHG One Rewards in the process. The new program was a distinct upgrade from the earlier iterations, especially when it came to elite recognition, which had been a weak point for IHG in the past. (See Nick’s full rundown of the program here).

Improving the consistency and quality of elite upgrades was a particular emphasis for IHG in the new program. We were told that IHG would be re-training properties to make sure that elites were actually being upgraded during their stays when availability allowed and that both club-level rooms and suites would be more frequently awarded for Platinum and higher (as opposed to just “preferred” rooms on a higher floor, with a better view, etc.).

We also found out that IHG would be awarding confirmed suite upgrades (CSU) as one of their new Milestone Rewards (benefits that are earned after a certain number of stays during the years). These CSU’s can be used to upgrade a room for up to 5 nights to a base level suite and can be confirmed up to 14 days in advance of your stay.

IHG has now watered down both of these benefits by adding language into the program terms stating that upgrades to both suites and club-level rooms WILL NOT be given access to the actual on-property club-lounge.

a cartoon of a person waving

What’s changed

IHG has added the following language regarding elite upgrades to the terms and conditions page for elite benefits:

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. 

This is bizarre as it’s much more common in other hotel programs for top-tier elites to be given access to the club lounge regardless of whether or not they are upgraded to a club-level room. IHG is doing the exact opposite here and removing the club access entirely. Given that many club-level rooms are essentially standard rooms on the club lounge floor with access to the lounge, removing club access takes away much of the value and reduces it to another one of the “preferred room” upgrades.

This really only applies to Intercontinental, Regent and some Crowne Plazas, as they are the only IHG hotels that have club lounges. But it is a meaningful downgrade to the upgrade’s potential at those properties.

At the same time, the following language appeared about confirmed suite upgrades, effectively stating the same policy applies when using those Milestone Rewards:

Confirmable Suite 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.

a room with tables and chairs
Intercontinental Club Lounge, Austin, TX.

Quick Thoughts

We originally hoped that the positive changes to IHG One Rewards would put pressure on programs like Marriott and Hilton to tighten up the generosity and consistency of their rewards programs. It seemed like IHG was really trying to build a genuinely rewarding elite program.

Then, a couple of weeks ago we started hearing about some Intercontinental hotels playing games with club upgrades and lounge access by actually renaming the club lounge, restricting it to paid access only and then creating a different “elite club lounge” in a corner of the hotel with minimal benefits (and to be fair, this happens occasionally in other programs as well, including one of Greg’s favorites, the St Pancras Renaissance).

Now, they’ve gone another step and restricted club access to only paid club-level stays at any property that has a lounge, a big hit to both elite and confirmed upgrades. My assumption is that this is primarily due to IHG corporate underestimating the ability of properties to accommodate the increased amount of traffic in the lounges. It may be that hotels genuinely felt that it compromised their ability to supply the quality of lounge access that they wanted to offer for paying guests.

Regardless, it certainly removes some luster from the new One Rewards program. While the change only affects a few brands, those brands also have many of the properties that road warriors are most likely to squirrel away points for…and also the places where elite benefits are the most powerful to begin with. Or used to be, anyway.

(h/t:Loyalty Lobby)

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Interesting read. I am Platinum Ambassador. Stayed twice in the Intercontinental Ljubljana this year, on both occasions received an upgrade (one Club room, one suite) and on both occasions received lounge access.
Did they change their policy, or was I just lucky?

[…] de sa marque phare Holiday Inn à enlever deux oreillers des chambres d’amis à refuser l’accès aux élites aux équipements et services du salon club lors de la réception d’un […]

[…] telling operators of its flagship Holiday Inn brand to remove two pillows from guest rooms to denying elites access to club lounge amenities and services when receiving a complimentary upgrade, IHG is infamously all […]

[…] telling operators of its flagship Holiday Inn brand to remove two pillows from guest rooms to denying elites access to club lounge amenities and services when receiving a complimentary upgrade, IHG is infamously all […]


DP (confirmation)…IHG platinum here, was recently upgraded to the executive floor at the Holiday Inn in Vienna. Denied club access. Was politely informed I’d need to pay 20 euros for entrance. I politely declined.

Last edited 1 year ago by Aloha808

Been Royal Ambassador for many years. Taken away without reason. Had the benefit of being pre-authorised only one dollar, unlimited mini bar, club access, lounge, double upgrades etc… Taken all away and I stay in excess on 200 nights a year. Forced to prepay and charged $100 extra per night. Room rates have almost doubled, no toiletries provided WTF is going on!


was going to pursue diamond via status match/challenge… but after reading this, just going to stick with Hilton.

FNT Delta Diamond

I’m glad I made the decision not to pursue renewal of my Diamond (formerly Spire) status with IHG. There is zero difference at a Holiday Inn or Holiday Inn Express — the two IHG brands most commonly found in North America — between Diamond and Platinum in the new IHG program, except the breakfast benefit at Holiday Inn. However, the breakfast at a good Holiday Inn Express is generally better than an average Holiday Inn. I was at a Holiday Inn a couple weeks ago and they didn’t even have real eggs. The only eggs were liquid eggs — even when ordering off the menu. They also didn’t even have fresh fruit, only canned peaches and pears. I will let my Diamond status expire and focus on Hyatt and Marriott.

huey judy

This is SO typical of IHG. They just don’t get it, they’ve never understood how a loyalty program is supposed to work. But actively treating elites like peons is really taking it too far. You’d think they’d send a few people around to Hilton properties and fine out how a loyalty program works. Such a shame.


Is this change for diamond elite members related to IHG hotels in US or all over board?


IHG work on rebranding their loyalty plan is an empty move. It is obvious why I keep preffering Marriott and Hilton properties, where a lounge and free breakfast are common practice beside an upgrade, for Elite members. IHG management should read this and the other comments.

[…] IHG hotels no longer have to provide club access to guests upgraded to club floors unless they’ve claimed the club access membership as a 40 or 70 elite night benefit […]

Top Tier

Diamond Elite here. The properties I stayed since the change have either ignored my status, or acknowledged it but offered zero perks, citing their management decision not to extend any upgrade.
Once again these hotels like the business travellers and the money they bring, but don’t want to spend a dime to reward them.


Thank you for flying on FM airlines! For being an elite FM Gregalist member we are upgrading you to first class. Oh, you will be in the first class cabin, just in an economy seat. Complimentary champagne and caviar? no no…. You are welcome to purchase snacks off the economy menu in your seat pocket. Enjoy your upgrade, and thanks for being a loyal FM Gregalist.


This is like an Onion headline

Club Level room without Club access?? Theatre of the absurd