London, Baby!

 

 

Hello Dear Readers!

Now, if you’ve been following my saga, you know that our flight cancellation led to a complete desertion of our plans (do you know how many hours I spent on those??) and the snap decision to head down to London for four days instead of staying in Scotland. Joni had already visited Scotland, you see, but still had never been to London.

So it was that after our very long day in Inverness, we again woke up at oh God help me o’ clock, and started the train ride from Edinburgh to London King’s Cross. In all actuality, it wasn’t so bad, as traveling by train is decidedly less stressful than flying. We merely showed up a few minutes early, got on, plugged in, and watched an entire season of Outlander. Easy peasy.

I’ve been to London quite a few times before, but somehow there’s still always so much to see. This trip I took Joni all around to the usual tourist things, but this time was also the first time we ever had a London Citypass, which meant we actually ended up doing tons of stuff I’d never done before.

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Such an astonishing view of Big Ben.
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On the city bus tour
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Westminster Abbey, where we got to skip the line. Thanks, Brit!
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Pictured: world’s most cultured dog.
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We even did a Harry Potter walking tour!
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Carlos (from University of Edinburgh) came into town to see us 😀
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We checked out the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London.

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I’m not even sorry.
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Have you guys heard of Choccywoccydoodah?
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And my favorite part? Business class back home!
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I’ve literally never been happier.

-Classy Carissa and Business Class Brit

 

Ambassador Status- Elite on the Cheap

Hello Dear Readers!

Today I want to talk to you about the Intercontinental Ambassador program. Like I’ve mentioned before, it’s unique in that it’s a loyalty status you can purchase rather than earn. This is good for people who want to be treated like royalty without having to spend a lot of money/nights at hotels. The program’s benefits are pretty cool:

 They also gift you with 5,000 bonus points, which is enough for a free night at any of IHG’s PointsBreak hotels. The program costs $200 to buy into, but having that free night certificate can easily save you that much or more, depending on where you stay.

For instance, the Intercontinental Thalasso Bora Bora will run you $1000/night for a room, but using the certificate will snag you the second night for free, saving you a full $1000. You can also redeem reward points with this, so you can stack offers and create a longer stay for yourself.


I know, that sounds expensive. You can stay wherever you’d like, though. The Intercontinental San Francisco will usually run about $200/night, so even just using it there will save you the cost of the membership. Intercontinental’s hotels span the globe, so there are a lot of choices for you.

I also find a lot of value in the room upgrades. As I said in my post about the Intercontinental Moorea, I was upgraded to an entire bungalow, at a cost difference of over $1200 for three nights. That’s awesome!

Even better, when you go to renew your status, the price drops to just $150. Or, you can pay $200, receive 15,000 bonus points (instead of 5,000) and get 10% back on all points redemptions. This stacks with the IHG credit card’s 10% back, so you’ll receive 20% of your points back on every single booking.

Is It Worth It?

It’s not hard to find value in this program- though if Intercontinental is not somewhere you’d usually stay, or you aren’t looking to travel to one at least twice within the year, I wouldn’t recommend it. Otherwise, I think this is a fantastic way for those who don’t normally earn hotel status to be an elite without a lot of commitment.

-Carissa

 

The Suite Life

Hello Dear Readers!

I have lots more trip things to tell you about, but today I have something awesome to share with you. Remember how I’m always talking about getting status (whether airline or hotel), and how much it can benefit you?

Weeeeell yesterday I checked (back) into the Hilton Dead Sea, to find out that they had upgraded me to their best available room!

I had booked the cheapest rate available for $184/night, using my Citi Prestige card to get the 4th night free. After taxes and all, my total came to $871.53, of which $197.39 Citi refunded back to me. Thus, my total for a 4 night stay was $674.15. A quick look at the rate for a 4 night stay here in this room shows a total of $1784.99.

Yes, they gave me an $1100 upgrade. Simply because I had status with the chain. I’m over the moon about it! And not to sound like a broken record here, but I also get free breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, extra bonus points just for being me, and this totally awesome welcome amenity:

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They were all peanut butter filled??

Status is so worth it! If you guys want a quick refresher on how I got it (without staying in the hotels because come on, that’s expensive), simply click here.

I’m off to enjoy my balcony.

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-Carissa “I’m basically a celebrity” Ragland