With the Hotel Indigo Lower East Side New York marking the InterContinental Hotels Group's (IHG) 5,000th property worldwide, you can now earn and redeem free nights even more easily than ever. Also, if you have plans to stay between now until the end of April 2016, be sure to register for your new Accelerate Offers - mine gives me up to 55,000 bonus IHG® Rewards Club Points!
Redemption of Reward Nights
One of the best things about redeeming Reward Nights with IHG is that unlike some of her competitors, the number of IHG® Rewards Club Points required per night never changes. That's right, it will cost you the same to redeem for a free night on a high-demand day (e.g. New Year's Eve) and a normal day so long there is availability.
Holiday Inn Express Singapore Clarke Quay - 25,000 IHG® Rewards Club Points a night
As I had a couple of errands to run in Clarke Quay one weekend, I decided to redeem for a night at the Holiday Inn Express Singapore Clarke Quay for 25,000 IHG® Rewards Club Points. At the time of writing, this is Singapore's cheapest IHG Property on points (even though the upcoming Holiday Inn Express Katong will top the chart at 20,000 IHG® Rewards Club Points per night).
Conveniently located just minutes away from Clarke Quay, the Holiday Inn Express Singapore Clarke Quay is perfect for travellers who want affordable accommodation in the heart of one of Singapore's most famous pedestrian malls. The rooms are relatively smaller but still filled with the necessities to make your stay a pleasant one - good pressure rainshower, a minibar to store your own goodies, an ironing and ironing board as well as a beautiful rooftop pool that rivals many other luxury hotels in Singapore.
While I was at the Holiday Inn Express Singapore Clarke Quay for the weekend, I took the opportunity to check out my favourite Taiwanese restaurant in Singapore, Shin Yeh which is located just a short stroll away from the hotel in Liang Court. I will write about my experience in a later part of this article where I will show you how my IHG® Rewards Club Points paid for my meal!
I also made use of the opportunity to take walk around Clarke Quay. While the location is often known as a tourist spot amongst the locals, I thought that it was really nice (and therapeutic) to walk around and I ended up checking out a lot of pretty nice places (some of them I'm usually unmotivated to go to because of the distance). The Holiday Inn Express Singapore Clarke Quay is actually located to a lot of places - Liang Court (where you can find everything Japanese), Central Mall (which to be honest is a little bit of a dead place to be but there are decent restaurants in there), Clarke Quay (lots of restaurants and bars here!) and one of my favourite coffee places, Ronin Cafe.
You also do get complimentary breakfast with all Holiday Inn Express stays worldwide. Since it was pretty crowded as I got down pretty late, I decided to opt for the takeaway option - grab some muffins, fruits and head upstairs. Netflix and breakfast in the comfort of my own room doesn't sound too bad after all.
InterContinental Ambassador - 32,000 IHG® Rewards Club Points a year
If you have plans to stay in an InterContinental hotel (I do not mean an InterContinental Hotels Group property!), you should definitely check out the InterContinental Ambassador membership. Running parallel to the usual IHG® Rewards Club, the InterContinental Ambassador is a paid annual membership that gives you a range of benefits when staying at any InterContinental hotel and resort worldwide. The cost of purchasing an InterContinental Ambassador membership for a year is US$200 or 32,000 IHG® Rewards Club Points. I actually got upgraded from a basic lead-in room type to a Club InterContinental Room (with full benefits) because of this membership but more on this later!
With the US Dollar appreciating against the Singapore Dollar recently, I have decided to purchase the InterContinental Ambassador membership with 32,000 IHG® Rewards Club Points instead. Here's what you get with the InterContinental Ambassador membership when you stay at any InterContinental hotel or resort around the world (in order of my personal importance):
- 5,000 bonus IHG® Rewards Club points
That's right, by spending 32,000 IHG® Rewards Club points, you will get 5,000 back when you receive your Ambassador Pack
- Complimentary weekend night certificate
Stay one night at an InterContinental hotel or resort on a weekend and get the next night free. While you may only use this once, you can easily get back whatever you paid for on your membership with this amazing benefit.
- Guaranteed room upgrade
Seriously, how many loyalty programs in the market advertise a guaranteed room upgrade? If you book one level below the room type of your choice, you will automatically get that or better.
- Elite status in IHG® Rewards Club
If you do not already have elite status with IHG® Rewards Club, getting the InterContinental Ambassador membership will give you Gold Elite status for at least the duration of your membership.
- Extended checkout—up to 4PM
Perfect for weekend staycations - checking out at 4PM means having ample time to rest, relax and use the facilities in the hotel after breakfast. No more rush for the 12PM checkout!
- Single-room rate for double occupancy
While I do not know why do hotels still charge this fee, it is great that you will not have to pay a higher fee when sharing the room with someone else (for InterContinental properties that still charge this fee).
- Fresh fruit upon arrival
- In-room water
- In-room gift
- Dedicated Ambassador check-in area
- Complimentary pay-TV film per stay**
- Complimentary newspaper, delivered daily
- Instant checkout
InterContinental Singapore - 50,000 IHG® Rewards Club Points a night
The InterContinental Singapore has just gone through a massive refurbishment process with brand new rooms as well as an all-day dining restaurant, Ash & Elm. If you have stayed at the InterContinental Singapore previously, you would notice the stark difference in room design after the refurbishment. Before I even move on to share my experience, can I just say how much I love the new rooms?
As an InterContinental Ambassador, I have been given an adorable tin of TWG Tea. If you have actually gotten mooncakes from InterContinental Singapore last year, you would recognise the metal tin to be a mini version of that. I understand that the InterContinental Ambassador welcome gift used to be Baba the Lion but it has now been replaced with this InterContinental Singapore Heritage Tea from TWG (which I have yet to try). Do note that some InterContinental Ambassador benefits like the guaranteed upgrade do not apply on a reward stay but from experience, most properties honour it anyway (even though they have no obligation to!).
Even though I have made a reservation for a Deluxe Room, I was given an upgrade into a Club InterContinental Room (without Club benefits) but with Business benefits. So this is a little complicated. Firstly, as mentioned earlier on, InterContinental Hotels (as per Terms and Conditions) are in no way obliged to give an InterContinental Ambassador a guaranteed upgrade when booking on points but some properties do honour it. I was given an upgrade from Deluxe in Business but was assigned a Club Room (without club benefits) because they are bigger and are located on a nicer floor. With Business benefits, I was given complimentary breakfast at Ash & Elm as well as two pressing per day.
The refurbished rooms at the InterContinental Singapore is beautiful and for the price point, I think it offers amazing value. Since InterContinental Ambassadors get a guaranteed one-level upgrade here when you make an eligible booking, you can almost definitely get complimentary breakfast when you book the Deluxe Room (since you will most likely get upgraded into the Business Room).
Do note that breakfast at Ash & Elm gets pretty busy so definitely try to head down before 930AM if possible. Also, if you have not checked out Ash & Elm's dinner menu, you should definitely give them a try because the meats are just beautiful (and the desserts are to die for). Breakfast at Ash & Elm is pretty decent and definitely one of the better ones in the area. My only complaint about this place? It takes forever to get coffee. I have been here on multiple occasions and this seems to be a pertinent problem - somehow the barista is always busy but when you finally get it, you'll appreciate how good it is! On this occasion, I have actually waited up to 25 minutes for a double espresso. I really do enjoy the food here though - the Chinese section is outstanding (especially since it will be bench-marked to Man Fu Yuan upstairs whether it's fair or not)!
Redemption of Dining/Shopping Vouchers - From 8,500 IHG® Rewards Club Points
IHG® Rewards Club gives you the option to redeem Points for dining vouchers (amongst other things). As mentioned earlier, IHG® Rewards Club Points paid for my dinner at my favourite Taiwanese restaurant, Shin Yeh. Available in S$50 and S$500 denominations, one may choose to redeem 18,000 and 163,000 IHG® Rewards Club Points respectively for these Tung Lok dining vouchers.
Shin Yeh is one of my favourite Taiwanese Restaurants that is located inside Liang Court (a short stroll away from the Holiday Inn Express Singapore Clarke Quay where I've spent a weekend at). I love how the dishes here are relatively affordable (when compared to other restaurants) and the food is pretty delicious - in fact, I think it is as good as it gets without having to go down to Taipei. Of course, no visit to a Taiwanese Restaurant will be complete without eating the signature "Lu Rou Fan" - Taiwan Style Rice with Soy-sauce Lean Pork (S$5++) . This seemingly simple bowl of rice is topped off with fatty, perfectly-seasoned and soft goodness.
The Braised Chicken with Garlic and Basil Leaves served in Claypot (S$15++) - sometimes known as 'Three-cups Chicken' - from Shin Yeh is also one of my personal favourites. I love the fragrance of the meat and how the dish manages to stay warm because the claypot is that hot. I also enjoyed the Pan-fried Fresh Oysters with Scrambled Eggs (S$14++) thoroughly.