You could be forgiven for not having heard very much about Accor Hotels before, but they are actually one of the largest hotel groups in the world and operate a wide range of well-known hotel brands.
If you have ever stayed at a Sofitel, Novotel, Mercure or Ibis (or Thalassa Sea & Spa, Pullman, MGallery, Grand Mercure, Suite Novotel, The Sebel, Mama Shelter, Adagio, Adagio Access, Ibis Styles, Ibis Budget, Hotel F1…) you have stayed at an Accor hotel. The various brands cover everything from luxurious 5* resorts, to basic budget hotels.
Although they have hotels all over the world, the majority are in Europe and therefore Accor should be of particular interest to readers of Inside Flyer UK!
Accor’s loyalty programme is called “Le Club”, and it is worth knowing about for three key reasons:
- They have hotels pretty much everywhere in Europe (and a good sprinkling throughout the rest of the world too).
- The promotions are often surprisingly generous.
- Gaining top level status (Platinum) can be relatively easy and the benefits are reasonable.
If you do not already have a Le Club Account, you can sign up for one here .
If you think you might have a stay coming up in the next 3 months, after signing up you can also register for 250 bonus points on your first stay here.
Before getting into the details, it is important to point out that Accor has a slightly odd policy where some of its brands and some individual hotels do not take part in the Le Club loyalty scheme, so always double check! The full list of non-participating properties is here, but the main thing to know is that Ibis Budget DOES NOT participate in Le Club – so you don’t earn any points or stay credits on Ibis Budget stays. It is considered a separate brand to Ibis and Ibis Styles, which do participate (apart from in China, where none of the Ibis brands participate).
Le Club has four status tiers – Classic, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Status can be gained either through the number of nights you stay in Accor hotels, or through the number of Accor points you earn from your stays.
One key advantage with Accor is that ALL points from stays count as qualifying for status – including any bonus points. Accor regularly has generous bonus points offers, so gaining status can be surprisingly easy.
The American Express Platinum card in the UK also offers Accor Platinum status as one of its benefits.
Status is maintained for a year from the date of qualification.
Accor’s entry level status, unsurprisingly, doesn’t offer any significant benefits. Being a member allows you to use online check-in (if the hotel offers it) and to check out by just dropping your key off (the hotel emails you the invoice). Accor also has a variety of regular sales which you need to be a member to access and these are sometimes rather good. Being a member also means you can start to earn points on your stays too.
Silver (10 nights or 2,500 points)
Silver status gets you free internet, a welcome drink (usually a voucher to use at the bar), and late check-out (if available). In other words, nothing spectacular but certainly comparable to the other major chains.
Gold (30 nights or 10,000 points)
Gold status grants you the option to request early check-in rather than late check-out (the rules state that this is an either/or, but in my experience hotels are happy to grant both in reality, if they have availability. You also get a room upgrade (if available) to the next room category. Guests with gold status are also supposed to be offered “VIP Treatment”, but I have never been able to discern any tangible benefits from this. Guaranteed room availability (if booking at least 3 or more day in advance) is listed as a benefit, but I suspect the rate would be ludicrously high in practice, so this is of limited value.
Gold guests staying at Sofitels get a complimentary newspaper, and gold guests at Suite Novotels have access to a “City Car” for up to four hours (subject to availability) – which could be a valuable perk, although the details on how this works are a bit thin (if anyone has any experience, please get in touch!).
Platinum (60 nights or 25,000 points)
Platinum status offers all of the above plus executive lounge access (if the hotel has a lounge). Lounge access typically involves complimentary breakfast, snacks and soft drinks during the day, as well as canapes and alcoholic drinks for a couple of hours in the evening – but the precise details and the quality of the offering, depends on the specific hotel.
Platinum status also tends to result in considerably better upgrades, including suites sometimes, but this really can vary immensely depending on the hotel. If a suite upgrade is important or you’re celebrating a special occasion, my top tip is to simply let the hotel know in advance! It doesn’t always help, but it can be genuinely remarkable what some hotels are able to do to make sure you have a great stay – if you give them the chance and let them know that the stay is special.
Some of the brands also offer platinum guests a small additional bonus, like a 10% restaurant discount at Mercure hotels, or free soft drinks from the mini bar at MGallery hotels.
Full details about the various status tiers can be found here.
The basic amount of points earned depends on the brand. For the majority of brands the earning rate is 2.5 points per Euro. For Ibis and Ibis Styles the rate is half – 1.25 per Euro. For Adagio the rate is 1 point per Euro, and for Adagio Access the rate is 0.5 points per Euro.
Silver members receive a 25% bonus, gold members a 50% bonus, and platinum members a 75% bonus.
Additional points can also be earned by taking part in Accor’s “Places” Facebook App.
Accor points can be used at a fixed rate of 2000 points = 40 Euros, which means that one Accor point is worth 2 euro cents. Given that at most Accor brands the earning rate is 2.5 points per Euro spent, a basic member therefore usually receives 5 euro cents worth of points back for each Euro spent. Points are earned on items charged to the room (food and beverage, phone calls etc) as well as on the room rate.
Points can only be redeemed for hotel stays in blocks of 2000. This can either be done at the time of booking, where you will be presented with an option to use your points for full or part payment, or you can redeem them for 40 Euro vouchers instead.
Vouchers are fully transferable and can be used to pay for a hotel room at check-out if it has been booked on a non-prepaid rate, and to settle most expenses charged to your room (apart from restaurant bills at some hotels in France – full list of exceptions here)
Accor points do not expire so long as you have at least one stay every 12 months.
Upgrades Using Points
There is no specific mechanism for upgrading using points, but you can of course simply book a higher category room and use your points towards the extra expense. Similarly, it should be possible to use Accor vouchers to pay for an upgrade at check-in too.
Cash and Points Redemptions
Points can only be used in blocks of 2,000 (40 Euros), so in one sense, almost all Accor redemptions end up being ‘cash and points’, unless the bill happens to be an exact multiple of 40 Euros and you have enough points to cover the full amount.
Airline Redemption Options
Accor offers a wide variety of airline frequent flyer partners that you can transfer your points to, including British Airways, Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Etihad etc (full list along with other transfer partner option is here).
Most airline partners transfer at a ratio of two Accor points to one frequent flyer mile, and require a minimum of 4,000 Accor points before a transfer can be done. There are some exceptions like Iberia Plus, Air China Phoenix Miles, Finnair Plus etc that have different arrangements – full details here.
The only exception likely to be of real interest to most readers though, is if you want to transfer your Accor points into Avios. If you transfer directly to British Airways Executive Club, you will only receive 2,000 Avios for 4,000 Accor points, but if you transfer to Iberia Plus instead you will receive twice as many Avios, because the transfer ratio is 1:1 rather than 2:1 (Direct link to transfer points to Iberia Plus). It is also worth mentioning that you can make a transfer to Iberia Plus with just 3,000 Accor points, rather than having to wait until you have 4,000. You can then transfer the Avios in your Iberia Plus account to your BA Executive Club Account, if you desire.
It is also possible to select automatic conversion to your chosen frequent flyer account – so points go there after a stay without having to wait to get 3000/4000 Accor points first. The earning rate is the same as the conversion rate, so for most stays (apart from Ibis + Adagio) it works out at 1.25 frequent flyer miles per Euro (standard 2.5 Accor points per Euro divided by the 2:1 transfer ratio), unless of course you transfer to Iberia in which case it works out as 2.5 Avios per Euro, because the transfer ratio is more generous. You can take a look at the details on how to set up automatic conversion here.
UK Credit Card Partnerships
Accor Platinum status is one of the benefits of holding an Amex Platinum in the UK.
This makes Accor the only hotel chain where you can get top level status just through having a credit / charge card. The Amex Platinum has a £450 annual fee, but if you are thinking about taking it out anyway, Accor status is a benefit that should be considered when weighing up whether the cost is worth it to you. Having top level status in one loyalty scheme is sometimes all that is required to be granted a status match by other schemes.
Clicking through to the Accor website from Quidco or Topcashback is a great way to get an additional rebate when booking. The percentage you receive back varies, but is generally 10-15% for the more luxurious brands down to 2-8% for the budget brands.
Cashback received from Topcashback can be transferred to Avios either directly, or indirectly through Tesco Clubcard. If you haven’t already used your £50.00 annual transfer allowance from Topcashback to Tesco Clubcard, this is a much better idea as you will end up with 240 Avios per £1.00, rather than 100 Avios).
If you haven’t signed up yet, you can do so here.
One of the big advantages of staying with Accor is the number and variety of promotions it runs.
My favourite is their regular “Happy Mondays” promotion, which for as little as £25.00, allows you to book hotels in the UK for a Friday, Saturday or Sunday, so long as you book it on the Monday or Tuesday earlier that same week. Availability varies, but £25.00 for a city centre hotel on a Saturday night is pretty unbeatable. Find out more here.
Every Tuesday Accor has a new list of hotels in their “Private Sale”, which offers significant discounts – up to 50%. The sale usually features a reasonable spread of hotels throughout Europe, with options in North Africa or the Middle East sometimes making an appearance too. You can take a look at the current selection here.
A similar offer for hotels in the Pacific region can be found here.
Small Bonus Point Offers
Accor provides a near constant stream of small bonus points offers for booking a hotel in a particular city/country/region, or at new hotels etc. These tend to range from 100-500 points or offer 2x, 3x, 4x, 5x base points instead, and current offers can be found here. Most require registration, so if you see something of interest, just click through (check the terms and conditions to make sure it will apply to your stay), and there is usually a registration button to click.
Large Bonus Point Offers
Accor also sometimes provides much more significant bonus points offers that can be very lucrative in their own right, but also help enormously with gaining status – because bonus points count towards status. These tend to pop up every few months, and take the form of “Stay x times at Accor hotels within a given period, and earn x thousand points”. The precise details are different for each particular offer, but the number of stays required is quite low (usually as little as 3 stays, though in recent times each stay has had to be 2 nights or longer – so 6 nights minimum), and the number of bonus points can be up to 10,000.
To put that into context, 10,000 points is worth 200 Euros to spend at Accor hotels, and is enough by itself to grant Gold status – after just a few nights, rather than 30. If you stay at Accor’s more budget friendly brands (and particularly if you take advantage of other promotions like ‘Happy Mondays’ too), 200 Euros and Gold status after just 6 nights is a fantastic rebate. Needless to say, we’ll be sure to keep readers updated with the latest offers and advice on how to best take advantage!
Frequent Flyer Mile Bonuses
In addition to the bonus Accor point offers, there is usually a selection of frequent flyer mile bonuses for various partner airlines. These are often double or triple mile bonuses, but sometimes they offer a fixed amount of miles, which can be extremely generous on a cheap stay.
Last year there was an offer for 5,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles per stay. Due to a quirk in the way Accor processes bonus miles (they credit them as Accor points to your account first and then transfer them over to the frequent flyer scheme), this resulted in a single stay at a cheap Ibis being enough to get Gold status. 5,000 Aeroplan miles meant that 10,000 Accor points had to be deposited first, before being automatically transferred to Aeroplan. Platinum status could be earned in 2.5 stays.
I don’t expect to see anything quite as generous as that in the foreseeable, but you just never know in this game…
- Excellent coverage across a range of price points in Europe
- Good promotions and sales
- Solid loyalty recognition – with status relatively easy to achieve.
- Generous cashback opportunities.
- Can’t redeem points until you have 2000 or more.
- No opportunity to get ‘outsized value’ from points, as they are worth a fixed Euro Amount
- Lack of coverage in some regions, particularly North America.