AMEX Fine Hotels Delivers Again! This Time in Downtown San Diego

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AMEX Fine Hotels Delivers Again! This Time in Downtown San Diego

KeithAMEX Fine Hotels Delivers Again! This Time in Downtown San DiegoMillion Mile Secrets Team

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Keith:   I think access to AMEX Fine Hotels & Resorts is often an overlooked perk for AMEX Platinum cardholders.  When you book paid hotel stays, this program can get you hundreds of dollars worth of valuable benefits.

I keep The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN in my wallet.  And I recently used AMEX Fine Hotels to book a stay in San Diego for a weekend getaway with my wife.  The room rate through AMEX was the same as booking directly through the hotel.  Plus we got a $200 room upgrade$100 credit toward dinner, and free breakfast (worth $75!)

AMEX Fine Hotels Delivers Again This Time In Downtown San Diego
Having the AMEX Business Platinum Card Came in Handy for Amazing Travel Perks on a Recent Trip With My Wife to Downtown San Diego! I Captured This Shot of the Hotel on My Drone!

We stayed at The US GRANT, a Luxury Collection Hotel, which is part of the Starwood brand.  It’s the only hotel in downtown San Diego that’s part of the AMEX Fine Hotel & Resorts program.

If you collect Starwood (or Marriott) points, you can book a free night at this hotel for 12,000 to 16,000 Starwood points per night.  This will change August 1, 2018, when the Starwood and Marriott loyalty programs officially merge.

Benefits of a Booking Through AMEX Fine Hotels & Resorts

To book a stay through the AMEX Fine Hotels & Resorts program, you must have one of these cards:

You don’t have to pay for your reservation with your AMEX Platinum card.  But you will have to use a card that’s linked to your AMEX account.

AMEX Fine Hotels Delivers Again This Time In Downtown San Diego
I Keep the AMEX Business Platinum in My Wallet Because of Great Perks Like Access to AMEX Fine Hotels & Resorts!

When you book through AMEX Fine Hotels & Resorts, you’ll get:

  • Early check-in (if available)
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi
  • Daily resort or hotel credit (if available)
  • Free daily breakfast for 2
  • 4:00 pm guaranteed late check-out
  • Room upgrade (if available)

In the past, I’ve used this program to book stays at the Bellagio in Las Vegas and One & Only Palmilla in Los Cabos.

AMEX Fine Hotels Delivers Again This Time In Downtown San Diego
When You Book Through AMEX Fine Hotels & Resorts, You’ll Get a Summary of Benefits at Check-In

Just because you get extra benefits booking through AMEX Fine Hotels doesn’t mean you have to pay a lot more.  For our stay, the nightly rate direct through the Starwood website was ~$315, which includes taxes & fees.

AMEX Fine Hotels Delivers Again This Time In Downtown San Diego
Booking Directly Through the Hotel’s Website Would Have Cost ~$315

And through AMEX Fine Hotels, the nightly rate was $299 plus taxes & fees.  The AMEX website doesn’t show taxes & fees when at the time you book.  But the total price for my stay was essentially the same direct or through AMEX.

AMEX Fine Hotels Delivers Again This Time In Downtown San Diego
AMEX Fine Hotels Doesn’t Include Taxes & Fees, but the Nightly Rate for My Stay Was Essentially the Same As Booking Direct

Here’s my review of The US GRANT hotel!

US Grant Hotel Review

  • This historical hotel opened in 1910 and was built by the son of Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th President of the US
  • The hotel is within walking distance to popular destinations like the Gaslamp Quarter, USS Midway Museum, PETCO Park, and Seaport Village
  • The hotel is home to The Grant Grill, an excellent fine dining (yet slightly overpriced) restaurant
  • Parking at the hotel is ridiculous at $49 per night
  • In 2017, there was a significant renovation at the hotel and the lobby and rooms are in great condition
  • The hotel doesn’t have a pool, but guests can use the pool at The Westin Gaslamp Quarter hotel, which is within a ~5 minute walk.

Here’s a little more about our stay!

1.   The US Grant Is a Historic Hotel

If you’re a history buff, you’ll really enjoy your time at this hotel!  It was built by President Ulysses S. Grant’s son and opened in 1910.  It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

AMEX Fine Hotels Delivers Again This Time In Downtown San Diego
The US GRANT Hotel Is Listed on the National Register of Historic Places

If you stay through the weekend, you can join in the Saturday morning guided tour.

AMEX Fine Hotels Delivers Again This Time In Downtown San Diego
You Can Take a 30-Minute Walking Tour Through the Lobby of the Hotel

We didn’t get a chance to do the official tour.  But I picked up a self-guided tour booklet from the concierge and walked through the popular points of interest on my own.

AMEX Fine Hotels Delivers Again This Time In Downtown San Diego
There’s Magnificent Attention to Detail in the Hotel’s Lobby, Including Numerous Chandeliers

The hotel has welcomed 15 US Presidents and 5 First Ladies.  At the entrance to the hotel’s ballroom, there are official portraits of those that have visited.

AMEX Fine Hotels Delivers Again This Time In Downtown San Diego
Near the Entrance to the Presidential Ballroom Are the Official Portraits of the Presidents and First Ladies Who Have Visited the Hotel

The hotel was a hot spot during Prohibition with one of the dining areas transformed into a popular Speakeasy.  Alcohol was smuggled in from Mexico through underground tunnels that carried saltwater from the nearby San Diego Bay.

When Prohibition ended, the Speakeasy evolved into a night club that hosted 1940s big band and jazz musicians.

2.   US Grant Room

When you book through AMEX Fine Hotels, you’ll get a room upgrade based on availability.  So instead of a standard room with a queen or king bed, we were upgraded to a suite that a separate living area with a sofa.

I have Starwood Platinum status, so I likely would have received a similar upgrade if I booked directly.  But booking through AMEX can be great for this type of perk if you don’t have elite status or are booking a stay at an independent hotel.

AMEX Fine Hotels Delivers Again This Time In Downtown San Diego
The Room Was Comfortable and Connected to a Separate Living Area With a Sofa

Booking this same suite directly before arriving at the hotel would have increased the price of our stay by ~$200.  I don’t consider this savings because we would have been comfortable in the standard room. But it’s definitely a nice upgrade!

AMEX Fine Hotels Delivers Again This Time In Downtown San Diego
The Separate Living Area Was a Nice Addition, but I Wouldn’t Necessarily Pay More for This Room Type at the Time of Booking

3.   US Grant Food and Drinks

This is my favorite part of the review! 🙂

Because we received a $100 food & beverage credit and free breakfast, we mostly ate (and drank) at the hotel.

There was a bar cart in the lobby during happy hour serving specialty cocktails.  I went with an Old Fashioned, which has been my go-to drink as of late.  I had never tried one until a few weeks ago.

AMEX Fine Hotels Delivers Again This Time In Downtown San Diego
Did Someone Say Happy Hour?

Although the hotel appeared to have a lot of guests during the day, the lobby area wasn’t full during happy hour.

AMEX Fine Hotels Delivers Again This Time In Downtown San Diego
Liz and I Enjoyed Our Cocktails, Which Were Offset by the $100 Food & Beverage Credit

We made dinner reservations at the Grant Grill, which is a fine dining restaurant accessible from the hotel lobby.  This wouldn’t be the first restaurant I’d recommend on a trip to San Diego.  But if you’re staying at or near the hotel, the food and ambiance are both great!

For dinner, my wife had grilled bison and I had the ribeye.

AMEX Fine Hotels Delivers Again This Time In Downtown San Diego
I Ordered the Ribeye for Dinner and It Tasted Even Better Than Expected…Probably Because the Dining Credit Offset the $50 Entree Charge

I order dessert whenever dining out.  You only live once, right?

AMEX Fine Hotels Delivers Again This Time In Downtown San Diego
I Ordered the Chocolate Pot De Creme for Dessert and Enjoyed It by Myself Because Liz Doesn’t Eat Desserts

I’ll admit we splurged a bit on the meal and went over our food & beverage credit because we were celebrating my wife’s new job offer.  But if you’re smart, you can definitely use the credit to completely the cost of a meal or two.

We ate at the same restaurant for breakfast.  Free breakfast for booking through AMEX was separate from the dining credit.  We could order up to $75 worth of food.  Between coffee, 2 egg dishes, and the tip, the bill came close to $70.  So the free breakfast perk was truly a savings.

AMEX Fine Hotels Delivers Again This Time In Downtown San Diego
I Ordered a Really Heavy Breakfast Option, Which Held Me Over for Most of the Day. And It Was Completely Free.

AMEX Platinum Card Offers

If you want access to AMEX Fine Hotels & Resorts and other valuable credit card perks, consider these offers!

1.   AMEX Platinum

Link:   The Platinum Card® from American Express

Link:   Our Review of the American Express Platinum Card

With The Platinum Card® from American Express, you can earn 60,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account.

You’ll also get:

2.   AMEX Business Platinum

Link:   The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN

Link:   Our Review of the American Express Business Platinum Card

I chose the AMEX Business Platinum instead of the personal version (The Platinum Card® from American Express) because the welcome bonus is larger and the annual fee is $100 cheaper.  Keep in mind, you’ll have to spend more with the business version to unlock the bonus.

When you apply for the AMEX Business Platinum card, you’ll earn:

That brings the total bonus to 75,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points vs. 60,000 points on the personal version.  Although, the tiered spending requirement is quite hefty!  You can check out this post for ideas on how to meet minimum spending requirements.

With the AMEX Business Platinum card, you’ll also get:

Bottom Line

My wife and I traveled to San Diego and used the AMEX Fine Hotels & Resorts program to book a paid stay at the The US GRANT, a Luxury Collection Hotel.

The room rate was essentially the same as booking directly through the hotel.  But just by booking through AMEX, we enjoyed extra perks, including:

  • Noon check-in
  • $100 food & beverage credit, which came in handy at the Grant Grill
  • Free breakfast for my wife and me (worth $75)
  • 4:00 pm late check-out
  • Room upgrade to a spacious suite

We really enjoyed the history of the hotel, which is more than 100 years old.  It was neat to see the official portraits of the Presidents and First Ladies who have visited the hotel.  If you’re planning a visit to downtown San Diego, the hotel is within walking distance to lots of major attractions.

You can get access to AMEX Fine Hotels by being an AMEX Platinum (personal or small business) cardholder.  I keep the AMEX Business Platinum in my wallet because the annual fee is $100 cheaper than the personal version.  And I think it offers more perks.  Here’s our full review of the AMEX Business Platinum card.

Have you visited The US GRANT?  Let me know about your experience in the comments!

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The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN

The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN

  • Welcome Offer: Earn up to 75,000 Membership Rewards® points.
  • Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership.†
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.
  • Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's 1.5 points per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year.
  • 35% Airline Bonus: Use Membership Rewards® Pay with Points for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 35% of the points back, up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year.
  • You can also receive 35% points back on all First and Business class flights, with all airlines available through American Express Travel.
  • You can enjoy access to The American Express Global Lounge Collection℠ offering access to the most lounges across the globe, when compared with other U.S. credit card offerings. As of 11/2017
  • Terms Apply
  • See Rates & Fees
Terms Apply | Rates & Fees

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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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