The Guide to IHG Executive Club Lounges

IHG offers an upscale executive club lounge experience at many of its InterContinental properties. Here's how to gain access (and whether it's worth it).

Sally FrenchMar 24, 2021
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Hotel executive clubs can provide a much-needed time and stress-saver during an otherwise busy trip. For travelers who frequent IHG properties, adding Executive Club lounge access to your next stay might be worth considering — especially if you anticipate needing a break from your companions.

When it comes to IHG Executive Club lounges, you might be wondering: What’s included? How much does it cost? And perhaps most importantly, is it worth it? Here's what you need to know about these lounges.

IHG Executive Club Lounges

IHG Executive Club lounges can be found at most upscale hotel properties, including many InterContinental properties worldwide. Even some lower-cost IHG hotels, including some Holiday Inn hotels, have similar executive club lounges.

InterContinental Hong Kong’s lounge. (Image courtesy of IHG)

The IHG Executive Club lounges aim to provide a relaxing retreat. At the lounge in Hong Kong, you’ll sit in what resembles a full-service restaurant, overlooking Victoria Harbour. The Club InterContinental in Los Angeles has equally stunning views, thanks to its vantage point from the building’s 70th floor. That lounge has separate areas created for relaxation, light dining and drinks, and business discussions.

The Club InterContinental in downtown Los Angeles.

The Club InterContinental in downtown Los Angeles. (Image courtesy of IHG)

Which hotels offer Club InterContinental access?

Not every IHG property — and not even every InterContinental property — has a club lounge. The following hotels have lounges (though some might be currently unavailable due to coronavirus restrictions):

IHG Executive Club lounge benefits

When you pay for club access, you unlock more than just the key to a magical room of free food and drinks.

Exact benefits vary by hotel, but IHG Executive Club lounges typically include:

  • A complimentary welcome drink at check-in.

  • Hot breakfast items like eggs, plus pastries and fresh fruit.

  • Afternoon tea, plus sweet and savory snacks.

  • Evening drinks (your choice of wines, spirits and champagne) and light snacks.

  • Complimentary Wi-Fi.

  • Complimentary local calls.

  • Pressing service.

  • Late checkout.

You’ll also get a higher level of service than everyone else. A dedicated Club InterContinental team can serve as your personal concierge to help you within the hotel and with services outside the hotel, such as making restaurant reservations.

Inside your hotel room, you’ll typically be treated to extra goodies, like daily complimentary mineral water. Additionally, club rooms tend to be among the best in terms of location and view.

The Club Intercontinental Deluxe Corner Suite at the Intercontinental Manza Beach Resort in Okinawa, Japan offers a spacious outside terrace with 180-degrees of ocean views

The Club InterContinental Deluxe Corner Suite at the InterContinental Manza Beach Resort in Okinawa, Japan, offers a spacious outside terrace with 180-degree ocean views. (Image courtesy of IHG)

How to get into IHG’s Executive Clubs

At IHG, even having the highest tier of advertised IHG elite status, Spire Elite, or holding the company’s priciest branded credit card, the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, isn't good enough. Elite status or credit card-holding won’t get you into IHG lounges.

Alas, you typically can only get into IHG’s Executive Clubs by paying extra for it.

Pay for a club rate when booking on the IHG website

When booking an IHG hotel room directly through IHG’s website, you’re generally able to pick from a few different rates when booking. You’ll typically see the Standard Rate; an (often-lower) Member Rate, which you can receive by signing up for the free IHG Rewards Club; and sometimes other rates, like Business Rates.

If your hotel of choice has an Executive Club lounge, you’ll usually see a rate that includes lounge access when booking. At InterContinental Hotels, it’s called a Club InterContinental rate. At Crowne Plaza properties, it’s called a Crowne Plaza Club rate, and so on. Those rates, while more expensive, will unlock access to lounges.

So how much are they? It varies by hotel.

Take a one-night stay at the InterContinental New York Barclay on Oct. 1, 2021. The standard room rate, including taxes and fees, is about $420 per night. The Club InterContinental Rate is about $535 but includes lounge access (which entails complimentary breakfast, cocktail hour and hors d'oeuvres daily) for up to two people — a $115 difference.

Book through certain luxury travel agencies, like Virtuoso

Booking through a travel agent might seem old-fashioned, but travel agents can be well worth it. They can come to the rescue in the event of last-minute cancellations, and they can help set up extra touches, such as getting a cake or flowers sent to your room for special events. They often have access to deals and discounts that the general public doesn’t have — and they can pass on those savings to you.

Most importantly, if you’re seeking to live the VIP lounge life, some luxury travel agencies — such as Virtuoso — include IHG Executive Club access.

Take that same one-night stay at the InterContinental New York Barclay on Oct. 1, 2021. Booking a King Premier room through Virtuoso will cost you $442 after taxes and fees, which includes club lounge access for two. That’s more than the standard room rate, but only by $22 (and far less than the Club InterContinental Rate when booked directly through IHG).

The lounge at Intercontinental Vienna.

The lounge at Intercontinental Vienna. (Image courtesy of IHG)

Hold IHG Royal Ambassador status

We said that you can’t get lounge access through the highest level of advertised IHG elite status, Spire Elite. However, IHG has a “secret tier” of elite status called Royal Ambassador. Not even IHG will disclose what you need to do to get into this secret tier other than stating that it’s extended by invitation only to a small percentage of its InterContinental Ambassador members.

That means that first, you’ll have to pay the $200 to become an IHG Ambassador member. From there, you’ll likely have to stay a whole lot of nights (and pay a whole lot of money) to IHG before earning that coveted invitation.

IHG Royal Ambassador benefits include:

  • Guaranteed two-category room upgrade.

  • A free night certificate.

  • A complimentary weekend night certificate on two-night minimum stays.

  • Extended 4 p.m. checkout and early 10 a.m. check-in.

  • Club InterContinental lounge access for up to two people.

If you’re an IHG Royal Ambassador staying at an IHG property that doesn’t have an executive club lounge, you’ll receive a restaurant, bar or spa credit of up to $100 per night instead.

Are IHG Executive Club lounges worth the cost?

Unless you’re getting free lounge access through Royal Ambassador status, you’ll usually have to pay for a higher room rate that allows access to club lounges.

That higher rate varies based on many factors, including the hotel location, the date and — if you’re using another source like a travel agency — where you’re booking from.

We ran the numbers at five different IHG properties worldwide to get a gauge of the price difference between standard rooms and rooms with club lounge access. As of March 2021, here were the prices when booking directly through the IHG website:

Hotel

Standard Room Rate

Club access room rate

Price difference

Crowne Plaza Vientiane

Vientiane, Laos

$98.29

$141.97

$43.68 (44.44%)

Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium

Singapore

$243.13

$288.01

$44.88 (18.46%)

InterContinental  Budapest

Budapest, Hungary

$184.79

$201.98

$17.19 (9.3%)

InterContinental Kansas City

Missouri, U.S.

$223.11

$276.07

$52.96 (23.74%)

InterContinental Miami

Florida, U.S.

$444.76

$611.47

$166.71 (37.48%)

Room rates are based on cash prices analyzed in March 2021 for a room the night of Oct. 1, 2021, at the lowest advertised room rate (typically the “Member Exclusive” rate for the lowest-cost room) versus the club access room rate directly through IHG’s website. Prices include taxes and fees.

Clearly, there’s no obvious pattern of how much more club access costs. Of the five hotels we analyzed, Miami’s club access was the most expensive in terms of dollars. But it was Laos’ club access where the upcharge to get into the club was the greatest percent higher relative to the standard room rate.

Thus, the answer to “Is IHG club access worth it?” is a less-than-satisfying: “It depends.”

A $20 upcharge is probably a reasonable fee if you and a companion are traveling together, considering it can be tough to find coffee, breakfast and a nightcap for less than that. A $150 upcharge might be justifiable if you can take full advantage of services like laundry and alcoholic beverages.

But if you’re a low-maintenance traveler who doesn’t mind a fast food egg sandwich for breakfast and you don’t drink, then that scenario is likely not worth the cost.

Keep in mind the cost of goods in that region. Both Laos and Singapore’s club access cost roughly the same, but $44 can typically go further in Laos than in Singapore, making Singapore’s club lounge upcharge more valuable than the one in Laos.

Frequently asked questions

Not necessarily, as executive lounge access is not a guaranteed benefit for IHG cardholders. Even if you hold an IHG credit card, you’ll have to pay for a club rate, or otherwise earn access through other means, like holding Royal Ambassador status.

Kind of. The only “elite status tier” that includes executive lounge access is Royal Ambassador status — and earning that status level is somewhat of a mystery (it’s invite only). The highest advertised tier of IHG elite status, Spire Elite, does not include executive lounge access.

Once you have access to the Club InterContinental Lounge, you can bring one extra guest at no additional charge. This guest, like you, can fully use all of the lounge’s benefits.

While many other hotel loyalty programs offer free breakfast to members with elite status, IHG is not one of them. The highest tier of advertised IHG elite status, Spire Elite, offers benefits like complimentary room upgrades, but — unless you’re booking a room rate where breakfast is included (which typically will cost more) — not even the most devoted IHG members get free breakfast.

The bottom line

IHG Executive Club lounges can be a welcome respite from the chaos of traveling among the crowds. While its perks vary from hotel to hotel, you can generally count on the lounge having comfortable chairs, free Wi-Fi and a small bite to eat. Those with Royal Ambassador status can enter the lounges for free, but most IHG members must plan to pay out of pocket for access. Since the price is inconsistent across properties, it’s up to you to decide at booking whether or not the cost is worth the amenities.

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