Frequent travellers know the joys of hotel club lounges: quiet spots to perch and work by day, indulge in a delicious bite or two at afternoon tea, and then unwind over cocktail hour canapés before dinner.
While booking an executive or club-level room is an easy way of getting a foot in the lounge door, it isn’t the only guaranteed path to entry. Status with the likes of Hilton, Accor and Marriott Bonvoy delivers it too… if there’s a lounge, that is.
Not all hotels have executive lounges or clubs, but those which do offer a fairly uniform list of inclusions across their respective brands, with some personal accoutrements.
Guests checked into Club-level rooms or those holding Platinum and Diamond status within the ALL loyalty program have an impressive list of executive lounges at their disposal. In Australia, there are around ten to choose from.
While perks vary from hotel to hotel, Accor Executive Lounges typically offer breakfast, followed by snacks throughout the day and drinks and nibbles as the sun goes down.
For example, Club Millésime on level 35 of the Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour boasts commanding views across its namesake harbour and the city skyline, with guests treated to daily buffet breakfast and afternoon tea, together with pre-dinner drinks and canapés.
In addition, club guests also receive private check-in/out within the lounge, together with butler service and a bevy of bonuses such as complimentary pressing and shoe shine.
Pullman Melbourne on Swanston’s club lounge is little different from most though. On top of entry with status or booking an Executive-level room, you can also buy an annual membership to receive lounge access 365 days a year – even if you’re not staying.
There are three tiers of membership available, ranging from $1000 per year to $5000. Perks soar with the price tag, with those at the base tier enjoying daily access for a member and guest, while the top level also receives 52 experience passes to give as gifts.
Access to Hilton’s worldwide executive lounges is yours with a sparkly Diamond membership card in your hand, even if you aren’t upgraded to a room where lounge access is included – you could book the most basic room and still enjoy the perk.
Virgin Australia Platinum frequent flyers can of course receive a one-time complimentary Hilton Honors Diamond membership, which unlocks the door to those lounges for the duration of your membership, among numerous other benefits.
Hilton Gold members, on the other hand (including those with a Velocity Gold match), aren’t guaranteed access and instead have to rely on their space-available upgrades to try nab a room on one of those lounge-worthy executive floors.
So what’s inside the lounge? As you’d expect, every lounge is a bit different, though you’ll commonly see a mix of dining and lounge seating, a self-service bar, and perhaps a small business centre with desks and a printer.
As for the dining, that’s where the differences are most evident: Hilton Sydney provides a continental breakfast, afternoon tea and evening drinks and canapés, while Conrad Tokyo plates up all-day light meals, plus an extensive selection of spirits and wines.
Whether it’s worth entering the lounge is entirely up to you: given the broad dining at hand, many travellers are known to enjoy most of their meals in the lounge rather than eating at the restaurants, no doubt saving a hefty amount of cash on check out.
Beyond the fare, lounges are generally seen as a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of the wider hotel, allowing moments to chat, relax and get down to business without the crowds.
Hyatt Hotels & Resorts
There are two ways to access Hyatt club lounges – holding the top-tier Globalist status in its World of Hyatt loyalty program, or by checking into a Regency Club room or suite.
So what does entry give you? Daily continental breakfast and evening hors d’oeuvres and drinks, naturally, in addition to exclusive check-in and concierge service.
Hyatt Regency Sydney recently unveiled a revamped Regency Club, which is perched on the 11th floor gazing out to the hustle and bustle of Darling Harbour. While much smaller than the previous iteration, the benefits remain as above.
On top of dining, Regency Clubs also typically deliver high-speed WiFi and a quiet space to work, making them worth the effort of scaling the status ladder or booking the more expensive room category.
IHG Hotels & Resorts
With the likes of InterContinental and the Crowne Plaza within its ranks, it stands to reason that IHG Hotels & Resorts would have a huge selection of club and executive lounges available to guests. That’s absolutely the case.
However, unlike in rival hotel loyalty programs, holding elite status in IHG One Rewards doesn’t get you inside the executive or club lounge automatically. Instead, that perk is offered as a Milestone Reward once you’ve completed a certain number of nights.
With 40 nights under your belt, you’re given a choice of two Milestone Rewards. These are:
- 10,000 Bonus Points
- 5 Food & Beverage Rewards
- 1 Confirmable Suite Upgrade (limit 1)
- Annual Lounge Membership (limit 1)
You’re allowed to select two more Milestone Rewards when you reach 70 nights, with the only difference in the available options being two confirmable suite upgrades.
Beyond that, your only path into the lounge is booking a Club or Executive-level room.
With some 30 properties dotted across Australia, Marriott Bonvoy may not have the reach of some of its rivals but with names including The Ritz-Carlton Melbourne and The Westin Perth within its stable, sometimes less is indeed more.
Holding a Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite card opens the door to Club Lounges, Executive Lounges or Concierge Lounges where available, regardless of the room type booked, while Gold Elite members instead have to rely on room upgrades.
Of course, there are some properties, such as the New York Marriott Marquis, that don’t allow lounge access with any room – only Platinum Elites and above have access to the M Club Concierge Lounge. These are outliers though.
Among the benefits of Bonvoy club access are five daily culinary offerings: breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea, followed by hors d’oeuvres and a night cap. Immersive local offerings are often also included.
At The Ritz-Carlton Perth, this takes the form of West Australian moments designed to give guests a deeper local connection, ranging from a Blue Boat Shed Discovery Tour to Sunset Drawing and a WA Wine Discovery Tour led by the hotel’s sommelier.
If there’s one brand where lounge excellence is expected, it’s Shangri-La and its legendary Horizon Clubs – sky-high havens unlocked when staying in Club-level rooms or holding Diamond status in Shangri-La Circle (as well as the invite-only Polaris tier).
Those lucky enough to receive access enjoy perks such as check-in at the lounge (or in your room at Diamond), plus late check-out, complimentary breakfast, morning/afternoon tea, and evening canapés and cocktails.
Set beneath an impressive golden chandelier, Shangri-La Sydney’s Horizon Club enjoys breathtaking harbour views – Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge are the stars – and includes a well-stocked buffet, plus ample spaces to kick back and relax.
Beyond Australia’s shores, the group delivers an impressive roll call of Horizon Clubs across the globe, with those in Singapore and Hong Kong particularly of note.
At the end of the day, whether hotel lounge access is worthwhile is entirely up to you and your travel habits – it’s certainly a nice to have the option.