It is only appropriate that I write this piece from a hotel lounge. So, here I am, perched on a couch on the 32nd floor Horizon Club Lounge at the Shangri-La Colombo, sipping a glass of wine while typing this.
I like hotel lounges for multiple reasons. They are casual places to catch up on work and meet colleagues on work trips. Secondly, they offer breakfast in the lounge, which may not be a full breakfast, but is usually very good, at least in the Asian hotels. Third, they serve evening drinks and canapes, which makes it a great place to get a glass of wine and catch a bite. Most of the times, the food spread is so expansive, at least in Asia, that I do not have to worry about dinner.
Hotel lounges are dedicated spaces that come with a number of perks, such as:
- Complimentary beverages and hors-d’oeuvres, and alcohol
- Exclusive check-in facility
- Concierge services
- Business center and access to meeting rooms
Some hotel lounges are invite-only, while others allow guests to pay for access. Now, to the more important question, how does one get access to hotel club lounges? There are three ways guests can gain access to lounges.
1. Elites in the hotel loyalty programs: One of the perks of being loyal to a hotel chain is that when you rise up the ladder and become a top-tier elite, you get an invitation to the lounge everytime you stay with them. For example, as a Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond, back in the day, I have enjoyed this benefit at multiple Hyatt hotels worldwide, where the evening spread in the lounge is a lavish affair and has a variety of food right from salad greens, to a well laid-out cheese board, tikkas, spring rolls, and desserts.
2. Buy access to the lounge: Many hotels also sell access to the lounge separately. This is open to residents and non-residents at the hotel where you can pay extra to gain access to the lounge. Guests can enjoy alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages along with hot food buffet which is excellent at some lounges. For example, InterContinental Grand Stanford in Hong Kong sold us access, in spite of the fact that Ajay holds IHG Ambassador status.
At the JW Marriott Sahar in Mumbai, the dessert spread is as large as the food buffet.
3. Stay in a Club Room: This specific category of rooms come with complimentary lounge access. These are usually called Club Rooms and located on the floor where the hotel lounge is for easy access. They are priced higher than the standard rooms, keeping in mind the multiple benefits they entail. Sometimes, hotels will upgrade their guests to Club Rooms to ensure they get access to the lounge.
Is it worth paying extra for hotel lounges?
Let’s work out some numbers to ascertain whether it makes sense to shell out that extra money. I am currently in Sri Lanka and staying at the Shangri-la Colombo. A standard room here, without breakfast, costs $180/ INR 12,000 per night. The Horizon Club rooms here which are located on the higher floor and come with exclusive access to the Horizon Club lounge are priced $60/ INR 4,000 higher at $240/INR 16,000 per night. On many days these rooms are priced at $205/ INR 13,500 just $25/ INR 1,600 higher than the regular rooms.
So, what am I getting for the extra money? Firstly, a room on a higher floor with a beautiful view and secondly access to the lounge which changes its spread three times every day. I have the option to eat my breakfast here; then there is a small spread for a quick bite during lunch.
Not all hotel lounges are created equal. Some offer a wide variety of food and beverage choices while some can be bare bones. So, if you plan to stay indoors during your stay, it may be worth having lounge access. However, if you are planning to be outdoors, and only like to use your hotel as a sleeping pad then it is always good to know what to expect before choosing to pay an additional fee.
What are your thoughts about hotel lounges? Will you pay extra to access them?