Despite going to considerable lengths to build up a stash of IHG reward points at the end of 2013, I had barely touched them since. When flathunting I made a substantial saving via ‘points break’ by swapping 10K instead of over £200 for a two stay, plus I got a better room in the process. But whilst that represented genuine value (I needed to be in that location at that time), it’s hard to get excited about financially-efficient visits to Slough. It’s far easier to daydream about the top-end Intercontinental properties, and the New York IC is an oft-cited example of how points can unlock a destination that would be impossible out of pocket. I was able to book a deluxe room for 50,000 points – the same rate as a superior room, but with a claim of either more space, a city view, or a higher floor – versus a cash price of $509. Unlike Slough, this is not all genuine saving – but it’s hard to put a price on convenience, and this is an excellent location just off Times Square. With little over a day between my flights, I certainly didn’t want to waste time trekking too and from a more remote yet affordable location.
I suspect that accounts for much of the price tag, as this was neither the largest nor most opulent room I’ve stayed in, but I was more than happy – certainly it’s the nicest I’ll see for a long time! The bed turned out to be extremely comfortable, and there was a general sense of quality without excess.
Moreover, the deluxe room definitely delivered altitude-wise, as I found myself assigned to the 24th floor. I’d argue I got doubly lucky, as there was an excellent view too:
Also of note was the bathroom – refreshingly non-cramped, and the rainfall shower would have impressed anyway, but was an absolute delight given the sweltering 30C+ conditions encountered whenever I ventured beyond the air-conditioned embrace of the hotel.
Post check-out I spent a couple of hours in the lobby bar awaiting my flight and dodging a threatened thunderstorm- I neglected to take any photos of the communal areas, but they were very agreeable too. Although a free drink voucher, pro-actively offered to make up for the great inconvenience of my first keycard not working, probably helped – I dread to imagine the prices. Similarly I can’t offer any insight into the breakfast/dinner offerings – my tastes and budget being more suited to the dollar-per-slice pizza joint located on the back of the block! But just as with BA1, I’d be happy for this to become the first of many instead of a once-in-a-lifetime experience – so I’d better get chasing those points again…