Most hotels don’t offer club lounges. But if you’re staying at a hotel with a club lounge and want access to the lounge, you’ll usually need to book a room that includes this access. After all, even if an IHG property upgrades you to a club-level room, you won’t automatically get access to the Club Lounge.
However, there are other ways to access a hotel’s club lounge. For example, programs like Marriott Bonvoy, Hilton Honors and World of Hyatt offer lounge access to high-tier elite members at most properties with a lounge. Meanwhile, IHG One Rewards offers lounge access during qualifying stays to members with an annual lounge membership, which you can earn through IHG’s Milestone Rewards program.
At these club lounges, you typically get complimentary breakfast and drinks throughout the day. You sometimes even get afternoon tea and evening appetizers that can substitute meals. This can save you quite a lot of money on food, especially during a longer stay.
Here’s what you need to know about IHG’s annual lounge membership, including how to earn and use it.
Related: The 19 best IHG hotels in the world
What is IHG One Rewards’ annual lounge membership?
IHG’s annual lounge membership — which you can earn through IHG’s Milestone Rewards program — provides Club Lounge access for the member (when staying at IHG properties with a Club Lounge) and one guest (who doesn’t have to be staying at the hotel).
An annual lounge membership get you access to the Club Lounge and its amenities during your stay. However, IHG’s terms and conditions allow for lounge access to be restricted “due to renovations, closures, or other facility limitations.” This membership also doesn’t include Club Regent or Club InterContinental amenities or services beyond the physical lounge.
According to IHG’s terms and conditions, annual club membership provides access to lounges on qualified stays, including reward nights, free nights and stays booked through online travel agencies. It’s worth mentioning that membership excludes access to lounges at Mr. and Mrs. Smith properties and InterContinental Alliance Resorts in Las Vegas and Macau.
Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to determine which IHG hotels in a particular city have Club Lounges. You can figure it out by seeing if a hotel sells lounge access rooms. However, you may occasionally come across a hotel with a closed lounge, such as I did at IHG’s Grand Pacific Hotel in Fiji (the hotel’s staff said the lounge was closed as the property transitioned to InterContinental branding).
How to earn an IHG annual lounge membership
The only way to earn an IHG annual lounge membership is to select it as a 40-night or 70-night Milestone Reward. You earn IHG One Rewards Milestone Rewards as you reach the following milestones each calendar year:
- 20 nights: 5,000 bonus points, two $20 food and beverage rewards or one confirmable suite upgrade.
- 30 nights: 5,000 bonus points or two $20 food and beverage rewards.
- 40 nights (choose two): 10,000 bonus points, five $20 food and beverage rewards, one confirmable suite upgrade (limit one) or one annual lounge membership (limit one).
- 50 nights: 10,000 bonus points or five $20 food and beverage rewards.
- 60 nights: 10,000 bonus points or five $20 food and beverage rewards.
- 70 nights (choose two): 10,000 bonus points, five $20 food and beverage rewards, two confirmable suite upgrades (limit one) or one annual lounge membership (limit one).
- 80 nights: 10,000 bonus points or five $20 food and beverage rewards.
- 90 nights:10,000 bonus points or five $20 food and beverage rewards.
- 100 nights: 10,000 bonus points or five $20 food and beverage rewards.
Once you select an annual lounge membership as a Milestone Reward, it’s valid through the end of the following calendar year. So if you select an annual lounge membership at any point this year, it will be valid through Dec. 31 of next year. Since you have 90 days to select a Milestone Reward after reaching a specific milestone, Frequent Miler discovered you could earn an annual lounge membership valid for almost two calendar years if you reach the milestones on or after Oct. 3 and select an annual lounge membership at the beginning of January.
InterContinental Ambassador membership doesn’t get you Club InterContinental access at InterContinental hotels and resorts. But if you’re selected for Royal Ambassador membership, you would get Club InterContinental access at InterContinental hotels and resorts with a dedicated Club InterContinental lounge. However, this type of lounge access is different (and more limited, since it’s valid only at InterContinental hotels and resorts) from the annual lounge membership you can select as a Milestone Reward.
How to use an IHG annual lounge membership
Between earning an annual lounge membership and its expiration, there’s no limit to the number of times you can use your membership. So far this year, we’ve already used my husband’s annual lounge membership at the InterContinental Sanctuary Cove Resort in Australia, the InterContinental Cartagena de Indias in Colombia and the Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium in Singapore.
When you check in, your annual lounge membership won’t appear to the hotel staff. So you must show your membership card to the front desk when you check in. Your annual lounge membership is in your account’s Rewards Wallet under “Rewards to enhance your stay.”
Click “Redeem” and show the resulting page to the front desk staff. The staff will then add lounge access to your room key or tell you how to access the lounge.
In addition to brands like InterContinental and Regent, where you might expect to find a Club Lounge, you’ll occasionally find hotels at other IHG brands like Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn that offer club lounges.
Is it worth earning an IHG annual lounge membership?
Other loyalty programs tie lounge access to room type or hotel elite status tier. While you can get lounge access by booking club rooms at select IHG hotels, lounge access isn’t an IHG elite status benefit. Instead, you can select an annual lounge membership valid for at least a year through IHG’s Milestone Rewards program at the 40- or 70-night milestone each calendar year.
So, should you select an annual lounge membership at the 40-night or 70-night milestone? And should you strive to stay 40 nights with IHG to earn an annual lounge membership as one of your Milestone Rewards choices?
Unfortunately, the answer isn’t always yes or no to either of these questions. All three Club Lounges I’ve visited so far at IHG hotels and resorts have offered a good selection of food and drinks, including complimentary alcoholic drinks in the evenings. So, I’ve been satisfied with our choice to choose an annual lounge membership as my Milestone Reward this year.
In short, consider how much you think you’ll use your annual lounge membership. Also, consider how much you’ll let club lounge availability determine where you stay. For example, I chose the InterContinental Cartagena de Indias in Colombia and the Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium in Singapore since their award rates were reasonable and I knew the properties had Club Lounges.
Once you decide the value you think an annual lounge membership would provide, consider the value you’d get from the other Milestone Rewards choices at the 40-night or 70-night tier. For example, at the 40-night milestone, do you value 10,000 bonus points, five $20 food and beverage rewards or one confirmable suite upgrade more than an annual lounge membership? TPG values 10,000 bonus points at about $50, while five $20 food and beverage rewards should be worth about $100.
I’ve been very happy with IHG’s annual lounge membership. If you stay at several IHG hotels with Club Lounges each year, I expect you’ll also find it worth selecting an annual lounge membership through IHG’s Milestone Rewards program after staying 40 or 70 nights in a calendar year.
However, if you rarely stay at IHG hotels and resorts with Club Lounges, frequently travel with more than just one guest or don’t value lounge access, you might not get enough value from an annual lounge membership to justify selecting it over other Milestone Rewards.