There are so many hotel options in Paris it is sometimes difficult to choose. For a weekend away, I chose the InterContinental Paris Le Grande, in the 9th right next to the Opera.
I am a Platinum Ambassador in the IHG Rewards scheme, a status level I arrived at via two separate routes. The Platinum part, valid across all IHG properties, was the highest level, until the introduction of the new “Spire” level in the summer of 2015. I have platinum status through the Barclaycard IHG Black visa card, which I talked about here. The Ambassador part comes from the InterContinental chain and costs $250 a year (or $200 for renewal). You can read more about it here. I decided to buy it as I had an InterContinental stay coming up in October 2014 in Washington, D.C., so wanted the upgrade on the room that it provides. It has come in useful as I have also stayed in the Venetian in Las Vegas, another InterContinental property.
One of the biggest benefits of the Ambassador Status is the free weekend night voucher, where you buy one night, get the second free; it was this benefit I used in Paris. When booking I used the online chat function of the website, which I think is great, to find out what level of room was just below a suite, knowing that the Ambassador status would give me an upgrade into a suite. These sell for over €600 a night, so there are some great savings to be made.
We checked in, and although there was a separate IHG Premium check-in, it was not staffed so it was quicker just to join the queue. Check-in was quick and we were given a room on the 5th floor. It had excellent views of the Eiffel Tower as promised, and was very nice, but it was not the suite I had expected.
I went to enquire at the Club Lounge as it was on the 5th Floor. Access to the Club Lounge is reserved for people with access attached to their room rate, or those who pay the €140 per day fee. The lady there was fantastic and suggested that the room hadn’t been upgraded because they didn’t want to move to a room without the view, but recognised that there should have been something due to my status so offered access to the club for the duration of our stay. This was a great outcome, and timed perfectly for lunch.
We had arrived at about 1400 to the hotel, and were in the lounge at 1420 with about 10 minutes to go until the end of the lunch buffet. There was plenty of food, with dips, small sandwiches, cold meats and cheese, as well as desserts and fruit. There was also soft drinks, wine and champagne to hand, perfect for celebrating an anniversary.
I had made sure to tell the hotel that we were celebrating, which is always worth mentioning, and was delightfully surprised to return to our room after an afternoon in the city to find a bottle of chilled champagne, a handwritten card from the manager and a box of InterContinental-branded mini-cakes!
Perfect for toasting on our balcony!
As well as the champagne, we also got 2 bottles of mineral water each night on our bed-side, another perk of Ambassador Status. I should point out that the third perk, a late check-out at 4pm was not needed as we had a lunchtime train to catch.
Breakfast was served until 1130 in the club lounge. I think that you could have had it elsewhere in the hotel, or as room service, but at upwards of €40 per person we were not partaking! I had been along to the lounge to get takeaway tea and coffee as we were getting up, as there are no facilities in the room. This is not unusual in European hotels, but it didn’t matter as the quality of the bean-to-cup coffee and specialist teas far outweighed the inconvenience of going to get it!
As well as the range of continental breakfast options on the buffet, and pancakes, potatoes, bacon and eggs on the hot counter, the staff offered a choice of eggs and omelettes to order.
Champagne was out in force again, and it would have been rude not to have a little breakfast Bucks Fizz!
After another full day out in town, we returned to change for dinner and after getting ready, went to the club lounge for the evening buffet. They had just cleared the afternoon tea service and had put out more snacks and nibbles; much was similar to lunch, and there was a definite lack of crisps or nibbles of a savoury type even if there was plenty of food. As well as the champagne, perfect for a Kir Royale, there was also a full bar for a pre-dinner Gin and Tonic!
The lounge also has a little upstairs section which is more like a living room with some sofas and more space, but we didn’t spend any time there. There are also some other fantastic spaces in the hotel, like the Café de la Paix and the Opera Salon in the hotel.
On check out, we were charged the city tax, of something like €2 per person per night, which was not a problem, but I never understand why they don’t just have it included in the rate!
All in all we had a fantastic time and will certainly return to the hotel in the future. We achieved excellent value for money. The room was €450 a night, we had access to the Club Lounge and we got a bottle of champagne in our room which, at the published rates, would have set us back about €1250. Using the free night voucher from the Ambassador status, we paid less than €460 including the tax, and this rate will also have qualified for IHG reward points (although we were just a couple of days too early for the latest promotion which would have netted about 20k bonus points!). Access to the Club Lounge, for us, was much better than an upgrade as we got 2 breakfasts, a lunch and some aperitif out of it that we would otherwise have paid for elsewhere.
I think that it is important to recognise that the headline figure for the savings of nearly €800 are slightly inflated as I need to factor in the cost of the Ambassador status, and the luck of the comps that we were given.
Overall I think that it is worthwhile if you are planning a weekend in a city where you can stay in an InterContinental and want more than just the basic room, as you will more than recoup the cost of membership on that one stay. I would certainly pay for Ambassador status in the future, but I will probably only do so when I have InterContinental stays coming up, otherwise I will end up in the false economy of going somewhere to use up the voucher and spend more money than I would have done so otherwise!