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Thursday, May 6, 2021

Are Hotel Club Lounges worth it?

Give them a try if you’re a frequent traveller or have had an ambitious sightseeing plan

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 Island Shangri La Hong Kong
Island Shangri La Hong Kong Lounge

With my cruise ending in Hong Kong, I wanted the final night of my trip to end on a high note. And it did. From enjoying evening cocktails and canapes, to taking in expansive views of twinkling lights across the harbour, the Club Lounge at the Shangri-La Hong Kong Island hotel gave me an experience that I’ll never forget.

Island Shangri La Hong Kong Lounge
Island Shangri La Hong Kong Lounge

And while I regularly visit Singapore, one stopover stands out. On arrival at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, I was ushered past the hotel’s world class contemporary art collection, into the Club Lounge. The views of Marina Bay were so extraordinary that I could have spent the entire day there, and almost did, cocooned in luxurious comfort while being fussed over by attentive staff.

Ritz Carton Club Lounge Drawing Room
Ritz Carton Club Lounge Drawing Room

At the Mandarin Oriental in Kuala Lumpur, staff reconfirmed my onward reservations, and with several hours to pass before my flight, I enjoyed savouries in the Club Lounge high up on the 24th floor with the Petronas Towers just metres away.

Ritz Carton  Library Alcove
Ritz Carton Club Lounge Library Alcove

On arrival in Penang, at the Eastern & Oriental Hotel, I ended my day in the hotel’s Club Lounge with a cocktail, just as the sun was setting over the sea.

ritz carlton  refreshment foyer
Ritz Carlton Club Lounge Refreshment Foyer

If you’re heading to a city where views up high will allow you to experience a breath taking panoramic skyline, take my advice and consider splurging on an upscale hotel that offers a Club Lounge. Your stay could well be nudged close to perfect.

ritz carlton lounge club
Ritz Carlton Singapore Lounge Club View

There are other benefits too that you’ll enjoy if you access a Club Lounge.

I’ve landed in cities that have been overwhelming – chaotic, noisy and overcrowded, or I’ve had a hectic work schedule, or set myself overly ambitious days of sightseeing that have left me feeling exhausted.

I’ve regretted those times when I chose not to upgrade and I’ve felt grateful for access to a Club Lounge when I did.  A retreat with reassuring smiles by friendly staff who welcome you by name, in a city where you may not know anyone, the Club Lounge becomes a home away from home, where you can relax in pleasant surrounds of plush carpets, artworks and appealing décor with newspapers and magazines to enjoy.

Taj West End Bangalore
Taj West End Bangalore

If you’re taking long-haul flights, also consider a hotel with a Club Lounge. When I arrived at the Taj West End Bengaluru late at night, I was led to the Club Lounge and felt instantly revived after a platter of dips, crackers and herbal tea were brought to me. Having food and beverages available is a great bonus if you’re adjusting to time zone changes, so that whenever you feel peckish, you can enjoy a complimentary light meal or snack at any time during the day. A la carte breakfasts, afternoon tea, and evening canapes are all included with the cuisine so appealing you can skip dinner altogether, returning for a nightcap instead.

And if you need it, a concierge is at your disposal to provide information on your destination and will take care of everything from travel planning to basic translation services. A business centre is also available with support staff to help you, including arranging conference rooms that you can use for meeting clients and business associates.  

So, next time you travel, narrow down the hotels where you’d like to stay. Compare the cost of upgrading to a room with Club Lounge access, and compare what’s included. A wide raft of benefits may include your own coffee making machine, round the clock butler service, complimentary shoe shine and pressing of at least one suit or dress, complimentary laundry, airport transfers, express check in, late check out and a higher category of room. Choose your hotel based on the benefits that are most important to you.

High end hotel chains that offer Club Lounges include Hilton, Sheraton, Ritz Carlton, Marriott, Hyatt, Mandarin Oriental, Shangri-La, Intercontinental, Taj and Sofitel. If you are a frequent traveller, inquire about their loyalty programs that may include complimentary Club Lounge access.

Club Lounge category rooms are well worth the splurge providing you with the feeling that you are experiencing perfection. On arrival in Beijing, after being met at the airport with my name on a paddle board and presented with a bunch of flowers, I was whisked away to the Shangri-La China World Hotel, with green tea and moon cakes promptly delivered to my room. On my pillow were a box of Belgium chocolates and my own monogrammed Pyjamas “P.O.” This is how luxury travel ought to be, and to this day they are still my favourite PJs.   

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Petra ONeill
After growing up in Australia's outback she enjoys visiting remote destinations in Australia for the wildlife, vast open spaces and brilliant night sky and travelling overseas to exotic destinations to experience different cultures. Her bag is always packed and ready for the next trip

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