I’ve long been a fan of Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts. When booking through Amex FHR, you get breakfast for two, guaranteed 4pm late checkout, a local amenity (usually something like a $100 property credit), and early check-in and room upgrade based on availability. That’s a sweet set of benefits and it comes with no minimum stay requirement, so I’ve often booked Fine Hotels & Resorts properties for single-night stays to maximize value (sometimes back-to-back with my wife when we needed more than one night). I set out to write this post looking to highlight places where you can get a night for free or close to it using the new Platinum card $200 prepaid Fine Hotels & Resorts credit (note that this benefit is available for both new and previously-existing cardholders). Unfortunately, whether due to increasing prices post-pandemic, a different selection of hotels, the wrong sample dates, inflated prices or some combination, I found it more difficult than I expected to find sub-$200 nights. Still, this post features a collection of places that could be booked with the new Platinum credit or close to it and we’ll look to add properties to the list as we find more that are reasonably-priced at some time of the year.
Fine Hotels & Resorts vs The Hotel Collection
It is worth noting that the new Platinum card benefit is a $200 credit toward a prepaid booking with either Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts or The Hotel Collection. Both are Amex hotel booking programs with additional benefits, but The Hotel Collection requires a 2-night minimum stay in order to get the ~$100 property amenity whereas Fine Hotels & Resorts bookings get full benefits with no minimum stay requirement.
Again, all Fine Hotels & Resorts bookings (even one-night stays) include:
- Daily breakfast for 2
- Guaranteed 4pm late check-out
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
- Unique property amenity (usually a $100 resort credit, food & beverage credit, or spa credit)
- Noon check-in when available
- Room upgrade upon arrival based on availability
Note that the “local amenity” can vary: while it is most often something like a $100 property/food & beverage credit, it is sometimes a $100 spa credit (less valuable to me, but YMMV) and occasionally something like a free airport transfer or lunch or dinner for two. Those things may be more or less valuable depending on the circumstances. Note also that some properties are now offering a $125 property credit. I’ve highlighted a few in this post.
Start out here if you just want to know which Fine Hotels & Resorts properties exist at any given destination: https://www.americanexpress.com/en-us/travel/discover/destinations. If you’re a more visual person, you could look at a map of properties in the US by going here and clicking on “View Map”: https://www.americanexpress.com/en-us/travel/discover/property-results/r/1.
The Fine Hotels & Resorts booking tool can be kind of frustrating.
When searching for hotels in a specific city, the process is straightforward enough: pop your city and dates into the box and search. I first log in to Amex, then click menu, travel, and book fine hotels & resorts to get to the booking tool (I prefer to be logged in to easily click through and see total prices).
The search tool can sometimes be very useful for searching more broadly and sometimes it can be very glitchy. For instance, you can enter a state in the box to presumably find all of the available properties in that state. I entered “Vermont” with a check-in and check-out date next month and found that there are two properties, neither of which are available.
Then I tried Vermont from December 1-2 and the tool told me no results were found for my search criteria.
However, when I put in “The Lodge at Spruce Peak” in the box (a Hyatt Destination Residences property where I stayed in its pre-Hyatt days), I got different results.
Suddenly that property, which is most certainly located in Vermont, is indeed available.
That’s frustrating and makes searching more difficult (and I hadn’t realized it until far into searches for this post). The inconsistency of the tool means that you may need to do some extra hunting.
When the tool works through, searching larger geographical areas can be at times useful and at times frustrating. I find it useful because I’ll sometimes find a property in a place where I’d have never thought to look (indeed, the only reason I’ve been to that property in Stowe was because I had searched by state in the Northeast. It was a deal with FHR benefits that was a reasonable drive from home for me. I’m glad I went and would go back – I never would have likely discovered it if not for searching by state in my region). And when I’m interested in visiting a country but I don’t have specific plans for where to go within that country, FHR can be quite useful. For instance, I have a trip to Spain booked from a big Iberia award sale last year. I don’t know whether I’ll go and if I do go I have no specific plans apart from flights in and out of Madrid right now. I can put “Spain” into the search box for a weekend in November and get a list of available Fine Hotels & Resorts hotels in Barcelona, Madrid, Malaga, and more (including numerous cities I’ve never even heard of before).
Sometimes you can go bigger with a search area like “Europe” and the tool works well and sometimes it misses a bunch of places. You do need to give it a second to add more hotels as you scroll down.
My biggest frustration with the tool is that there is no way to sort by price. You can sort by hotel name or by amenity (what sense does that make? they’re almost all a $100 credit…) but not by price per night. That makes it more difficult when dealing with those large geographical areas. Still, if you’re willing to scroll and hunt, you can find stuff.
It’s also worth noting that many of the hotels in the list that are affiliated with major brands may also be available through their hotel preferred partner programs. For instance, if you see a Park Hyatt available through FHR, it should be bookable via Hyatt Prive; a Ritz-Carlton is bookable via Marriott STARS, etc. In some cases, those programs may offer better value (or at least a more highly-prioritized room upgrade). Many of the FHR properties are also available via Virtuoso, Visa Infinite Hotels, or the Chase Luxury Hotel Collection. Sometimes a property that comes with a spa credit via Fine Hotels & Resorts may come with a (more useful) property credit via another program, so FHR is not always the best booking method.
That said, it is certainly possible to get a decent deal out of a free or nearly-free FHR night. While I recognize that it isn’t “free” since you’re paying the (expensive) annual fee to hold a Platinum card, those who got in before the fee increase are looking at a $200 credit this year and a $200 credit beginning in January that could be used before renewal and as such that crowd may look at these nights as a nice bonus this year and next year at least.
My goal with this post was to highlight properties where your $200 credit can get you a night for somewhere around “free”. With that in mind, I’ve highlighted properties below that I found for $250 per night or less. I didn’t include every single sub-$250 property I saw; I mostly stuck to either popular destinations/properties/brands that were under $250 or almost any place south of $200. Remember that prices vary wildly by date: you may not find anything near these prices during the dates you want to go or you may find dates that are even cheaper. My goal here was to find places that could be booked with the credit that are sometimes quite reasonably priced. You can take it from there for your travel plans. Feel free to add recommendations in the comments – I’d love to build this post out to become a decent resource of cheap FHR properties.
My frequent use: Las Vegas
If Las Vegas to you is a big-name concert or a weekend of clubbing, Fine Hotels & Resorts likely won’t do you very much good. If, like me, you primarily go to have some fun playing cards, seeing shows, and going out to dinner and you don’t care whether that happens on a Tuesday or a Saturday, Fine Hotels & Resorts can be a solid option. In the past, I’ve booked Delano as cheaply as $66 more than once. I’ve also seen NoMad under $100 per night and I booked Bellagio at $116 a couple of years ago, so it is worth hunting around. Keep in mind that you’ll pay a resort fee and taxes.
Sub-$250 hotels by region
Note that I had more difficulty than I have in the past locating good options under $200 in North America. My guess is that this is somewhat influenced by pandemic pricing and it is worth searching around as you travel. Try searching by state to look for things off the beaten path.
Hacienda Temozon, Luxury Collection, Abala Mexico $244 with $125 credit
Note that pricing at destinations in Asia is likely still quite skewed as I’ve found some of these properties to be much more expensive in the past.
Pudong Shangri-La Sanghai for $200.
The Langham Hong Kong for $167.
Grand Hyatt Taipei for $214.
Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi $170 ($196.36 all-in)
Park Hyatt Saigon $253
W Bogota $149.
Palacio Del Inka, Cuzco, Peru for $209.
InterContinental Vienna for $195. This is off-seasons, but still a nice deal!
InterContinental Sofia for $111. Note the amenity is lunch or dinner rather than a credit.
Intercontinental Porto at $268 is the most expensive place I included, but the property looks pretty nice.
Maison Albar Hotels Le Monumental Palace Porto, Portugal.
A nice thing here is that the taxes don’t add much. The Maison Albar Hotels property came out to $239 with tax. The InterContinental came out to $287.44.
Excelsior Hotel Ernst Am Dom, Cologne, Germany for $215.
Steigenberger Frankfurter Hof Frankfurt, Germany $220. That’s $238.43 all-in with tax.
The Phonecia Malta for $176.
Regent Porto Montenegro for $183.
Hotel Bristol under $200 (Nov 14-15). $208.28 with tax
Grand Hotel Europe St. Petersburg for $188.
InterContinental Ljubljana for $188. Lovely city!
I’m looking at booking a FHR hotel that is about $150 a night. Will I still get a $200 credit (or just a $150 credit)?
Hi, just wanted to clarify a mistake in the listing. All hotels, including the FHR requires 2 night minimum stay. Multiple Amex agents confirmed this and also stated many cardholders experience grief because of the mis-information that only the Hotel collection requires 2 night minimum stay.
Whoever you spoke to was wrong. Many of us (myself included) have used the $200 credit on a one night FHR stay. I just used one at a Ritz-Carlton on a one night stay a few weeks ago.
Unfortunately, it is very common for phone agents to be wrong. Many of them don’t actually have the product and it is very common for a phone agent to tell you what they *think* to be the answer rather than what they know to be the answer from experience.
You don’t have to take my word for it – you can probably find hundreds or even thousands of members in our Facebook group who have used the $200 credit on a one night FHR stay. The Hotel Collection requires 2 nights, but not FHR.
If I wanted to book a reservation for another person, would I just add them to the reservation after confirmed? Amex Travel hard codes the cardholder name for the reservation, so not sure if FHR makes it harder to do this.
I actually just tried this for my wife at a hotel collection property. She is not an AU since I didn’t want to spend the $175 to add her, but the amex concierge stated that the hotel would require the card to be presented and obviously it would be an issue without her name on it. YMMV hotel by hotel but it seems like it will be difficult to use the new hotel credit for a stay for anyone other than a cardholder.
The Amex rules state that the reservation needs to be paid using an Amex in the cardholder’s name (any Amex in that person’s name).
@Jay, in your case, you could add her as a Gold card under your Platinum (no fee for that AU card). If you could actually get the reservation made in her name (I’m not sure you can – as 54austin says, the online system hardcodes the cardholder’s name, but maybe if you book over a phone a rep can override that?), then I would imagine the hotel will just want to see an Amex in her name for incidentals. That Gold AU should work fine if you’re able to get the reservation in her name. Again, I’m not sure they’ll let you do that unless you’re booking multiple rooms (a Platinum card holder can book up to 3 rooms with FHR benefits).
My general expectation is that it won’t really be easy to use this credit for a booking where the cardholder won’t be there, but it may not be impossible.
There is a way to change the name in the booking process so that the name next to “ROOM 1 – MAIN CONTACT” on the Traveler Information final page. (have to do it before starting the reservation)
You can manipulate that name into whatever name you want by changing it elsewhere in AMEX Travel. I have not booked with a different name yet, so I can not say for certain that it works, but I feel pretty confident it wont change it back to the account holder.
Couldn’t you just book the hotel in the primary card holder’s name using the Amex Platinum then afterwards call the hotel directly to add the person’s name on the reservation who will actually be staying there/checking? I realize the primary person whose name the reservation is under technically needs to check in also and would be against hotel t&c if they never show up, but people do this all the time including myself. Just a thought.
I have two Amex Platinum cards. Can I split payment between the two to get $400 credit with one booking?
Thank you for your work on this!
You can sort by price. Do a generic hotel search, and sort by price. Then on the filters on the left you can select FHR or Hotel Collection.
Yep! Mine has a “Sort by” bar at the top and I can just sort by price…
Just found Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe/Incline Village at $179/night pre-tax for early Nov. 2021 – off-season and a week-night, but that works for a family trip we already had planned. Using Hyatt points would have been 25K/night, so I’m happy with that.
Since these are pre-paid, can you use your 2021 credit for a stay in 2022, or is that going to count against next year’s credit when you actually complete the stay?
Yes. Though I imagine if you cancel next year you risk a claw back with no recourse, but YMMV.
Would elite benefits and recognition apply ?and some hotels say call the number on the back of the card what does that mean?
Technically, no, since the bookings show as having been made by a travel agency, Expedia.
This said, Hyatt has tended to give elite credits (stays, points) and benefits. For the benefits: There is a lot of overlap – Hyatt gives you b’fast, FHR gives you b’fast (talking Globalist here); Hyatt guarantees 4pm checkout at arrival, FHR guarantees 4p checkout – so in a case like this, you look to see if the FHR rate is not too much over the best Hyatt rate you could get. I would often find at PH Washington that FHR rate was $25 higher than the Hyatt rate I could get, which meant $100 (FHR property credit) – $25 (overpay) = $75 (contribution to dinner and/or drinks at Blue Duck Tavern).
But who knows, really? There is an IC (IHG) where I did not get any points or anything else, but where I got upgraded to the same suite just recently under FHR than I thought I had been getting in the past with IHG Ambassador + FHR. Turns out I hadn’t needed to spend the $200 for Ambassador status.
Doing a WA (Hilton) in a couple of days where — no surprises here — Diamond status has been getting me a better but not necessarily that much better room. Will see what FHR adds to the equation.
Actually, you ARE supposed to be able to earn hotel points and elite benefits on FHR stays, even on prepaid FHR stays. There are some situations where it doesn’t seem to happen automatically, but my understanding is that it is supposed to.
Whoops. I stand corrected — and thank you!
Everyone I talked to at IHG was adamant on the recent IC stay that because it was booked “via a travel agency,” they would give no points (which I would have appreciated) or stay credits (which were immaterial to me, as someone not chasing IHG credit). The reservation did not show up on my IHG account, and even after a lot of discussion with both IHG and the hotel, the best they could do was get it to show up with all of the details greyed out — i.e., at least I could see it, as evidence that IHG/the hotel knew I was coming.
Fast forward to now: Just checked my IHG account and you are right and they (and I) were wrong: A bunch of points have shown up some time in the last few weeks.
[…] Searching for deals through Fine Hotels & Resorts […]
I like the fhr program but what I find frustrating is the lack of information about the rooms themselves. The descriptions are cursory and have no photos. It is often hard to align the fhr room descriptions to hotel website descriptions.
I’ve not generally had that problem, but that certainly sounds frustating.
Nick, when I look at the list of hotels, I see the top of the list that includes the bonus amenities such as free breakfast and $100 credit, and then at the bottom of the list, there are some hotels that don’t show that, or anything bonus, for that matter. Do you know if all the hotels that populate come with the added amenities, or is it just the hotels that list them under the search results?
If you are searching through the FHR portal, you should only be seeing FHR properties. If you are searching though the Hotel Collection or AmEx travel in general, you will see non-FHR hotels. If it doesn’t specifically say “Fine Hotels and Resorts” on the property in the list, then no, it is not part of FHR and will not be eligible.
ActualMichael has it spot on.
The Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh, Scotland is $220 (I checked for Feb 2022)
Others checked for Feb 2022:
The Sina Villa Medici in Florence is $213
The Grand Hotel Continental in Siena is $214
The Hayfield Manor in Cork is $248
The Sheen Falls Lodge in Kenmare is $228
The St. Regis Kuala Lumpur is $238
The Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur is $147
The Shangri-La Rasa Ria, Kota Kinabalu is $186
The St. Regis Cairo is $220
The Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at First Residence is $200
The Jimbaran Puri, A Belmond Hotel, Bali is $199
The Mandarin Oriental Jakarta is $189
The Hyatt Regency Nice Palais De La Méditerranée (France) is $223
I had less success searching the US:
The Duniway in Portland, OR is $204
The Art Hotel Denver, CO is $249
Awesome! Thanks for all this. I’ll add. I didn’t actually look at 2022 dates. I didn’t explain why, but my rationale at the time I was searching was that we have to put a $200 credit to use this calendar year, but long-term I’m looking to have properties that are around $200 at any time of the year, so this is all perfect and I will add. Thanks!
I figured you could book a night for Feb 2022 at the end of this year and then book a further night at the same place on 1st Jan, that way you could use both credits for the same place and still get a good rate.
The Hayfield Manor in Cork is a lovely hotel. I stayed there when I went to visit family in Ireland. It’s also about a 15 minute walk to downtown Cork.
Have you guys ever done a post comparing all of the luxury booking programs that provide amenities or upgrades? I checked resources but didn’t see. Might be some nice content if it’s something you are interested in or think might make a decent article.
Yes, but you’re right that it is missing from the resources page. We’ll fix that, thanks! I’ve also got more to add to this resource yet, but you should find this helpful anyway:
Excellent! Thank you.
love the idea!
My wife booked the Ritz Carlton Tyson’s Corner in September at $199 per night plus tax. Multiple nights were available at that price.
Good call! I have thought about that Ritz a number of times because I’ve seen it that price in the winter a bunch. That will make for a nice stop the next time I’m passing through. I’ll add this to the post later tonight, thanks!
I might have missed something in the article, but you can see all FHR and Hotel Collection Hotels using the Map View (click in View Map). https://www.americanexpress.com/en-us/travel/discover/property-results/r/1
Of course, you then have to see if the dates are available, etc. However, this will at least show you where the theoretical options are.
Thanks! Someone had shared this link with me recently and I totally forgot to include it. Found a couple more FHR properties in New York State this way, which was a welcome find. Thanks!
Hi, I was wondering if you were able to find sub 300 in new york? I tried and havent succeeded
If you book two consecutive stays at the same hotel with different cards, how do you consolidate the stays into one? Or do you not to maintain the two $100 credits? Does that go through Amex Travels or through the hotel?
I’m curious on this topic too. A similar example: I book night #1 using my Plat and my wife books night #2 in her name using her Plat. Any idea if hotels would allow this?
I’ve always been able to do this back to back nights with one night in my name and one night in my wife’s name. Always gotten the $100 credit both nights. I’ve not tried booking two separate reservations on back to back nights in one name. I think if you were going to try that and you want to get the credit both nights, you’d almost be better off just checking into the second room and moving your stuff to keep the reservations totally separate. Otherwise, I imagine the credits may indeed get messed up.
I handle the FHR contract for a hotel company and it is technically a violation of Amex’s terms to do that, but it’s a big YMMV if the hotel will notice and remove the additional credit.
To connect the stays at check in explain you’d like to stay in the same room with two different bookings and have them marked back to back stay/do not move. The front office may let you know that will void the second $100 credit or they may not catch it. You could call ahead to do that but it will maybe give them more time to realize why you’ve booked it this way.
If the hotel pushes back, and they turn to Amex they will agree it is against their terms. I know it’s the same with guests who do this through Virtuoso agencies that have online inventory.
Thanks, that’s the answer I was looking for. I can forego the 2nd $100 credit in favor of using up both credits on one stay and not being worried about violating T&Cs etc.
Thanks, noble attempt. I recently did some searching with the same goal and had similar results. I think you’re right, prices are just way high with reopening and if occupancy rates are going to be high as well it makes sense the hotels aren’t making rooms available for low rates or sacrificing money on FHR benefits. At least it’s good to know it’s not just me.
Also, yeah, FHR is a wonky site. Searching by city seems like it might be ok but beyond that it seems very sporadic.
Just want to add as a data point that the Ritz Carlton in Philadelphia often has some good rates during the off season. I’ve seen $249 but that could be pandemic reasons.
I was about to book the Ritz Carlton for July 2 (I was looking before the new benefit went live) but warning, the current reviews are very poor. Clearly hotel is either poorly run or having massive staffing issues. Hopefully these will resolve themself but I ended up being scared off and booking another hotel.
Another way to look at this is not necessarily what is closest to “free” but rather paying something reasonable out of pocket (~$200) for a property that would normally be way out of your price range.
My savings account will thank me for not taking this approach.
Montreal: Vogue Hotel Montreal Downtown goes for $218. If the border opens you might be able to drive there Nick.
Nice! That’s a good one to keep in mind. I’ll add it later, thanks!
Thanks for this post, Nick. This is timely given the new credits from AMEX. I have never used FHR before but I have two credits to use up this year. Thanks for helping me with my research.
Thanks for this article, Nick. Very interesting!