In late 2015, Starwood Hotels announced a partnership with Design Hotels, making it Starwood’s 11th global hotel brand.
Since then, the portfolio has grown to 143 hotels, including one Australian property, The Old Clare Hotel in Sydney’s Chippendale neighbourhood.
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It’s worth discovering a bit more about Design Hotels in case your travels do take you near a partner property, and on the assumption that we will gain access to more of them as Starwood earn partners in the near future.
What are Design Hotels and their properties all about?
Each member hotel is carefully selected to cater to modern travellers searching for the unusual, the individual and the unexpected.
Design Hotels may not be a household name like other Starwood brands such as Sheraton but they do have a property portfolio worth getting to know.
Design Hotels have unique and luxury hotels around the world, with two-thirds (97) of all participating Design Hotels are located in Europe, with around 20 each in Asia and North America.
Not all Design Hotels are under in Starwood portfolio, as shown in the case of Australia, where only one of the four properties comes under SPG.
With this new partnership, Starwood have not added another run-of-the-mill chain experience, with the same coffee maker and nightstand pens regardless of whether you’re in San Francisco or Venice.
The new additions are individually-run and -operated, with each offering a unique and memorable experience. Design proudly advertise that of the 400 properties that apply for Design Hotel membership annually, only 5% are approved.
Design Hotels pride themselves on presenting unique and often luxurious properties.
Many of these properties are in breathtaking locations, such as the Ion Luxury Adventure Hotel in Iceland. This geologist heaven features a ‘northern lights bar’ where guests can enjoy not only the northern lights but also a nearby partial lava flow.
With only four offerings and all on the East Coast, Design Hotels have a relatively minor presence in the Australian hotel market.
Here are the Australian hotels in the portfolio now:
The Old Clare Sydney (the only Design Hotel under the Starwood brand)
The QT Sydney is one of a few hotels with their own loyalty program (Priority Guest Rewards), so it’s unlikely they would join SPG, unfortunately.
There are 21 participating Design Hotels in Asia, including three in Hong Kong, two in Singapore and one in Bali.
So should I use cash or points for my stay at a Design Hotel?
First, have a look at the cash rates for your desired dates.
If you can get 3.0 cents per point value, then that generally represents good value and using Starpoints for your stay makes sense.
If the value you’d get out of using points is less than that, then I would recommend using cash.
What SPG benefits can I expect from this new partnership?
For the hotels that have signed up, there are multiple benefits to SPG members, including:
- Redemption of Free Night Awards without blackout dates
- 2 Starpoints per dollar spent (plus bonus points for Gold and Platinum SPG members)
- Elite Status credits
- On-site internet access and bottled water
- Bonus points for SPG Gold and Platinum members in lieu of the usual SPG welcome gift
These benefits, and earning qualifying stays or nights for Starwood status, only kick in if you book through Starwood (website or app, for example).
This makes the partnership somewhat limited when compared to a stay with full SPG partner properties where members would also be eligible for late check-out or room upgrades.
- Enhanced room or best available room upgrades at check-in
- 4pm late checkout
- Choice of Welcome Gift for SPG Gold and SPG Platinum level members
- Guaranteed room availability
- Club- and Executive-level lounge privileges
- Suite Night Awards
The inclusion of some Design Hotels in the Starwood portfolio is a neat development.
It allows SPG members to enjoy some of the benefits of a loyalty program while also enjoying unique and independent accommodation not usually seen in generic hotel chains.
Hopefully, some more Australian properties sign up soon!
Supplementary images courtesy Design Hotels.