Although travellers can easily buy an InterContinental Ambassador card for perks such as room upgrades and a late check-out with InterContinental Hotels, very little has been revealed about how to reach the uber-elite Royal Ambassador status – until now.
Published changes to the InterContinental Ambassador Terms & Conditions reveal that Royal Ambassador members must first clock up at least 20 nights with InterContinental Hotels & Resorts each year.
Doesn't sound so tough? But that's just the start.
They also have to stay for a further 40 nights at hotels within the broader IHG portfolio – either at InterContinental properties or with Hualuxe, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, Even Hotels, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites.
On top of that, guest need to stay at three or more different InterContinental Hotels & Resorts properties every year to make their 60+ nights of travel count.
Royal Ambassador perks
Base-level InterContinental Ambassador cardholders are perhaps the Qantas Club members of the hotel world – they pay a yearly fee to enjoy greater comfort when travelling, regardless of how often they leave home.
On the other hand, even though Royal Ambassadors still pay for basic Ambassador membership, they earn their threads by notching up stay after stay with InterContinental and its IHG partners – which sees the tier comparable to Qantas Platinum.
Over and above base-level InterContinental Ambassadors, Royal Ambassador members can book a room in an already-full hotel, provided that the booking is made by noon (local hotel time) on the day before arrival.
There’s also a free 8am early check-in, plus a guaranteed upgrade to either an Executive room, a Club InterContinental room or a suite.
The icing on the cake? If one of these higher room types isn’t available when rocking up at 8am, top-tier members are given an available room to use for a few hours until a better room becomes available that day.
Where normally charged, all in-hotel health club facilities are available for free, as are drinks from the in-room minibar.
The fine print
While these VIP travellers enjoy room upgrades, a number of top-level suites are excluded from the deal, which varies by hotel. At the InterContinental Sydney, the Australia Suite, State Suite and Governor Suites are all off-limits, even to Royal Ambassadors.
Lounge access also isn’t offered as standard – only when staying in a Club room or at the discretion of the hotel, which makes it the exception rather than the rule.
If space to work or relax in the hotel lounges is important to you, that’s where the Hilton HHonors program really shines.
HHonors Gold members face the same rules as Royal Ambassadors, while HHonors Diamond guests see Executive Lounge access as a guaranteed benefit.
Like Royal Ambassador, Diamond status is also yours after staying for 60 nights each year – but as those 60 nights can be spent with any hotel in the program, that flexibility could come in handy on the road.
More on hotel loyalty programs:
- Our guide to the IHG Rewards Club scheme
- The Hilton HHonors loyalty program for Australian travellers
- Kimpton Hotels launches Karma Rewards loyalty program
- The Le Club Accorhotels program for Aussie business travellers
- Rydges revamps Priority Guest Rewards with GHA Discovery perks
- Our guide to Starwood Preferred Guest
- Want points for your hotel stay? Avoid third-party booking websites
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