Hotel Lounges

Hotel lounge access can be an excellent source of meals & a relaxing place to spend time with your +1 (in some cases, and in some cases, more), but like airport lounges, the offerings vary substantially depending on the hotel and the brand.

 

With Ritz Carlton, you can expect 3 meals a day even at their former category 5 US-based lounges, but gaining access to those lounges is typically most frugally accomplished after a low $ cost few nights (i.e. Ritz Carlton Tysons Corner on a weekend) & using the Ritz Carlton Reserve (discontinued, but convertible from the Chase Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card years after discontinued to new applicants in 2022) credit card to take advantage of the annual Ritz lounge certificates.

 

Conversely,. Hilton also has solid lounge accessibility options just by holding onto their much pricier Hilton Honors Aspire card ($450/yr as of 4/18/22). With the help of other credit cards, I've gained free access to lounges with Marriott & Hyatt, but not simply by virtue of holding onto the cards.

My access to lounges:

At the time of this writing, 4/18/22, I have lounge access via the following status:

Marriott Platinum: Status requires 50 elite qualifying nights per year. It provides you lounge access at many, but not all, Marriott properties with a lounge - acquired by 30 nights/year via a business & personal version of the card, stays (to originally get platinum status), and the recent 50% free elite nights conferred from status (which for platinums, means 25 free elite tier night credits). 

My dad's access to Marriott platinum status at the moment came exclusively from spending on the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant. He did it at a time when he was also getting an extra point per dollar on all spending (on the primary account holder's card) through an Amex offer. If it wasn't for that, it probably wouldn't have been worth it to us.

Hyatt Globalist: While I have lounge access via globalist status (acquired after 60 elite qualifying nights, which can be acquired from stays or credit card spending), long before globalist, at 20 elite qualifying nights, you can get 2 club lounge access awards. During recent years due to Covid-19, the requirement here was only 30 elite qualifying nights. One of the nicest parts of Hyatt Globalist status is the guest of honor benefit, so anyone using my points gets to use my status. I recently applied for the Chase Hyatt business card. While I haven't yet been approved, I hope to use that to more easily spend toward elite night credits.

Radisson gold: (which can get me lounge access if a space-available upgrade gets me a room on the club level, though my status is about to end because of the Radisson Rewards personal & business versions being discontinued and automatically converted to other cards soon)

Difficult lounge access:

The new IHG program in 2022 provides an annual lounge membership for 1 after you spend 40 nights in IHG hotels in a year, as reported by OMAAT

Other easy access to lounges:

Sonesta  While their hotel portfolio isn't nearly as large as some, with just over 260 properties in the US and a small sampling of hotels elsewhere that are points eligible, it's easy to acquire lounge access at a Sonesta property even when using points just by holding on to their credit card ($75/yr as of 4/18/22)

Hotels without easy access to lounges:

Wyndham: Though the Wyndham Business Earner credit card, which I have, provides top-tier diamond status, you don't get lounge access from that, & you don't even get breakfast. 

My favorite lounge experience, including airport lounge experiences, was the Ritz Carlton Central Park (my review, focusing on the lounge), where I spent 5 nights with my wife for our 1 year anniversary. I went there prior to the introduction of category 8 Marriotts (so it priced as category 7) and took advantage of the 5th night free. I used Capital One points to cover the cost of the lounge (though I made that decision prior to the ability to use Capital One Miles on partners, so wouldn't recommend that now) for a cost of only $150/night (a discounted rate due to construction at their restaurant) and Marriott points to cover the cost of the stay. While we didn't eat there for every meal, it offered 3 meals a day, and was fantastic. My second favorite lounge experience was likely either the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay (upgraded to the lounge via my globalist status) due to the setting and unlimited nightly shrimp cocktails or the formerly category 5 (where we took advantage of free night certificates up to 35k points) Ritz Carlton Tysons Corner (paid lounge upgrade, $150/night I believe) where the food was better and 3 meals instead of 2 meals were offered, it was less crowded, but the setting wasn't as nice as Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay.