How to get free access to hotel lounges

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.

Get access to hotel lounges

Shangri-La Colombo: View from the 32nd floor Horizon Club Lounge

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:

  • Breakfast
  • 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.

Get access to hotel lounges

Cheeseboard laid out at the Hyatt Regency The Churchill, London

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.

Get access to hotel lounges

The alcoholic bar at the Courtyard by Marriott Hinjewadi, Pune

At the JW Marriott Sahar in Mumbai, the dessert spread is as large as the food buffet.

Get access to hotel lounges

The dessert spread at the executive lounge JW Mumbai Sahar, Mumbai

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.

Get access to hotel lounges

The Horizon Club room at the Shangri-La Colombo

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.

Get access to hotel loungesGet access to hotel lounges

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.

Get access to hotel lounges

Afternoon spread at the Horizon Club at the Shangri-La Colombo


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?


  1. I think may be by mistake you go on to write $25 as the difference between Deluxe and Horizon club view rooms, when it should be $60.

    Otherwise, even a paid lounge access is worth it’s salt – especially so for stay-cations.

    • @SH Thanks for pointing that out. The Club rooms for a number of dates at Shangri-la Colombo are selling at USD 205. I chose to pick up higher end rate and missed changing the differential.

  2. “A standard room here….costs $180/ INR 12,000 per night. The Horizon Club rooms here …….. are priced $25/ INR 1,600 higher at $240/INR 16,000 per night.”

    Since when is $240-$180=$25 ?

    At $60 higher in a place like Colombo, this totally changes the value proposition. I would gladly pay a difference to upgrade to a club room in a place like Scandanavia/a small town in Asia. But a $60 upgrade in cheap-Colombo is a bit much.

    • Thanks for pointing that out. The Club Rooms for many dates are available for 25$ higher at USD 205.

      The value proposition depends on how one perceives it. For me, paying $25 extra to get lounge access is still a good value to pay $240 a night than book a standard room at $180 and add-on 2 breakfasts to it.

  3. The title says “free access”. Nothing is “free” in your article.
    And really it is boring to read why you like lounges. Really?

  4. What about credit card-based access to certain Hotel lounges? I know AmEx Platinum has tie-ups with several hotel (e.g., ITC) for access to residing / non-residing card holder. Any information on this or other similar card-based lounge access?

  5. How is “buy access” a way to “get free access” to a hotel lounge?

    I hate posters who run to comments to crap all over bloggers but seriously that’s really not a way to engender happy readers of a blog. I go to boarding area and when I see a headline that interests me I click on it. When I get burned, I tend to remember the experience if it’s not a blog that has built up credit me. Just some friendly advice that we exist out here in the blogosphere and don’t appreciate being treated like idiots. (Well, not friendly — but I am not trying to be super critical, just constructive.)

    • Agree completely – apart from hotel elites/card privileges the list mentioned above is anything but free access. I had not clicked had I known it was to educate on how to get club access!

      • @maverickme, so you do agree that there are free access tips inside, right? Anyhow, we are better than the American bloggers who would have sold you 5 credit cards by now. take care buddy.

    • Hi Larry, I’m sorry that you feel like an idiot. It always helps to read the excerpt to set content expectations.

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