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Why Does Hilton Even Bother with Executive Lounges?

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Devaluation: More Hilton Honors Increases Hotels Cost Over 100K Points

Hilton Executive Lounges

I’m largely a loyalty program free agent, opting for redemptions across various loyalty programs aligned with my goals.  But I probably lean on Hilton more than any other hotel program.  I enjoy their generous footprint, excellent free night certificates, and no-fuss top tier Diamond status with the Aspire, among other aspects.  Hilton also offers my favorite hotel brand.  But Hilton isn’t perfect, and I’m focusing on one such annoyance today.  What’s the deal with Hilton Executive Lounges?

A Recent Experience

My older one and I just finished a delightful trip to Roanoke, VA.  We stayed at the Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center, previously branded as Doubletree and now Curio.  Before our trip, I noticed the property offers a lounge, but that aspect didn’t play a role in our decision to stay there.  This historical property has long been on my list to visit.  Regardless, I naturally wanted to check out the lounge.

After settling into our room, we decided to explore the property, including the lounge.  Upon entry, we noticed we were the only ones there.  The lounge offered plenty of seating, and a couple TV’s blared on each end.  We noticed two fridges holding bottled water and Coke products.  A truly terrible coffee machine (believe me, I tried its product multiple times) sat on the far side of the counter.  Sitting atop the island next to apparently-long-unused stove burners, the following sign provided a huge clue why this lounge is more fit for tumbleweeds than people.

Lounge Policy

A lengthy message on a large sign in any lounge probably doesn’t bring good news.  The Hotel Roanoke again confirmed my belief with their version:

Welcome to the Executive Lounge.  The lounge is available at your leisure throughout your stay.

For guests staying on the Executive Level that have paid the upgrade fee, you should have received credit vouchers upon arrival which are good for room service and any food & beverage outlet at the hotel.  This credit is the food amenity portion of your upgrade.

We thank you for choosing the hotel and look forward to serving you throughout your stay.  Please stop by the front desk with any questions or concerns.

Long story short, I read this as guests with lounge access get their “lounge food” at restaurants/room service instead of in the club.  While this sign is immediately directed at guests paying for Executive Level amenities, it naturally applies to certain elites, as well.  Indeed, Gold and Diamond members receive a daily food and beverage credit.

At check-in, the rep mentioned that we’d receive our $30 daily food and beverage credit in addition to lounge access.  Props to the Hotel Roanoke for allowing easy use of this credit – all restaurants participate, and room service is also an option.  But a bigger picture issue exists, in my opinion.

Hilton Executive Lounges
Tables for what?

Hilton Executive Lounges – What’s the Point?

I’m convinced Hilton Executive Lounges, at least ones adopting a “no food provided” policy, seem increasingly obsolete.  We’re being sent the message that food and beverage credits, whether for elites or ones who pay for them via room rate (as described in the above sign), now accomplish a substantial part of what lounges previously did.

What remains for guests in this lounge?  Crappy coffee, unnecessary plastic, dusty furniture, and a couple TV’s.

Meanwhile, optimistic travel planners and Hilton elites are on the receiving end of a deceptive bullet point.  Conveniently for Hilton, these individuals connote idealized and increasingly erroneous definitions of Hilton Executive Lounges, perhaps based on what they previously experienced.

And they’re hardly any lounges left.  Currently, Hilton offers 30 domestic Executive Lounges.  Not surprisingly, Hilton doesn’t make finding all lounges very easy.  One must select each country individually to then filter by hotel feature on the Executive Lounge amenity.

In my view, by continuing to offer Executive Lounges like the one at Hotel Roanoke, Hilton plays on the ignorance and/or past experiences of Hilton guests to shill higher rates with a more hollow benefit.

Hilton Executive Lounges
I can watch TV in my room.


Like an old shopping mall left to rot with a few tenants left, the Hotel Roanoke lounge seems to receive minimal attention – from guests or workers.  I suspect many clubs are trending the same way.  I’ll move forward with Hilton properties largely like I have before, though.  I won’t focus on those with lounges but may visit if I end up staying there for other reasons.  And I’ll always set a low bar.  How do you currently feel about Hilton Executive Lounges?

Disclosure: Miles to Memories has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Miles to Memories and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

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Benjy Harmon
Benjy Harmon
Benjy focuses on the intersection of points, travel, and financial independence (FI). An experienced world traveler, husband, and father, he currently roams throughout the USA close to expense-free. Benjy enjoys helping others achieve their FI and travel goals.

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  1. I am no longer a ‘Diamond’ member with Hilton. It was a joke and not a funny joke at that. Hilton plays off of its reputation in decades past.

  2. I stayed at the Roanoke property pre Covid. Like you said, it is one of those grand old hotels from another era. As a Diamond I do recall being treated very well. We were upgraded to a huge room with period furniture, easy chairs, sofa, a dining table and separate bedroom. We were also given tickets for 2 breakfasts as well as drink tickets for the bar. It was a great stay. I can’t recall if there was a lounge there at the time, but we wouldn’t have used it anyway since we were visiting friends. That was September 2018.
    The US lounges, when you can find one, are a joke these days, nothing like I experienced in Europe.
    Because of the cutbacks, I have given up my Aspire card and it’s $450 Annual Fee and kept my Business Hilton Card and it’s $95 AF. I also get Gold but I will easily spend more than $60K on the card which will maintain my Diamond status plus get me 2 additional complimentary nights.
    Nowadays, when I’m looking for an upgrade to a larger room, I will usually opt for some of the properties that offer 1 bedroom suites as a standard room.
    As long as Hilton and a couple of the major players continue to force their “enhancements” on me, I have opted to seek out other brands and been quite happy with most of my stays.

  3. I spent 10 days at the Hilton Manila. The lounge was fabulous! I held meetings with employees, had evening drinks and a personal chef for breakfast everyday. Concierge services were offered, and a higher level of care was provided.

    The lounge concept isn’t the problem, it’s the lack of service and care by US managed properties. The Hilton Hotels in the US have a lot to learn from their brethren outside the states!

  4. There are a few exceptions domestically. The executive lounge at the Hilton Rochester, MN is exceptional and closer to what we’ve experienced in Asia and Europe.

  5. In May we stayed at the London Waldorf. It had a wonderful lounge open all day and replenished with different options as the day winds down.

  6. Shiny bits of plastic (and those endlessly pimping them) killed elite status. Enjoy your Aspire “benefits”.

  7. “We” are the problem. It’s like reelecting 95 percent of all members of Congress and then complaining how rotten they are. We put them there. The average consumer wants the cheapest airline ticket and the cheapest hotel room. The average consumer doesn’t want to pay for an “elevated travel experience,” whether that’s an airport lounge or a hotel lounge. Providers have essentially responded in kind: “You want the cheapest? Here you go.”

    • Lee, I definitely agree with your assessment. When I was a kid (60’s) and we travelled on a plane or stayed in a hotel, there was an expectation that you would dress appropriately.
      I stayed at a HGI Saturday night and this is what I witnessed during my stay. At breakfast, there was a whole family of 5 that came down in their pajamas sitting at a table staring at their phones. There was a dog owner who’s beloved pet defecated just outside the entrance of the elevator. Instead of cleaning it up, they just entered and went up to their room.
      The US hotel properties notice the differences between countries and the people they serve and realize what they can get away with. Now they hit you up with fees, no room cleanup, removal of toiletries to name a few at the same time they have jacked up room rates. I laugh nowadays when I hear someone say (brag) that they stayed at the Hilton or the Marriott while actually staying in a FFI or Hampton Inn.
      I don’t expect things to get better soon.

  8. I was very lucky at Executive lounges in Iceland and recently Toronto. Iceland was small but fun. Toronto was nice but not great food but great to have a free food option for breakfast and dinner snacks when traveling.

  9. Except in premium hotels or abroad Exec lounges in the US more and more are becoming a thing of the past resembling the quality of a bad limited service property or gas station dining .Once upon a time prices were fair and amenities were rich for elite and premium paying guests.Now you get ripped off for sky high prices and a meager dining credit that wont buy you much.And even if it might the quality there too in domestic properties are typically disappointing.Worse HH Diamond phone lines are mostly outsourced? abroad with clueless agents . Should you have a problem you are screwed as they barely speak the language let alone know anything about the company or its program.
    Yet point redemption and cash rates keep climbing
    Sad.I’m losing trust in them as they shoot at fish in a barrel profit wise with those just accepting the decline.I had more faith in them not long ago.I’ll be moving my business after decades with them away to other chains especially in the US

    • Lifetime Diamond and Lifetime Platinum Marriott – My advice is 1. Stay Home and 2. Use Hilton overseas and Marriott domestically(USA). Hope that helps – Lt. Dan.

  10. Hilton LAX lounge virtually a waste of space – nothing like it was but even that was not much.

    I moved from Marriott (lifetime Platinum) to Hilton years ago when Hilton gave miles and points and elite breakfast. Plus only 28 stays to reach Diamond each year (13 year diamond member with 600 nights – not nearly enough for lifetime)

    Now, I’m back to Marriott and enjoy great breakfast for two (*and they always comp our granddaughters) so Hilton have become misery and other than on occasion will lose most of my stays.

    IF I want to get back to Diamond to use my 1,100,000 points I’ll just get their Amex and ‘buy my way’ in – so much for loyalty.

    • Richard,
      There’s no additional Diamond breakfast benefit beyond the $30 daily credit at this property. There was a buffet, but we ordered a la carte.

  11. I agree with both of the observations that the lounges are better in Europe and even better in Asia … regardless if it’s a Hilton, Marriott or Hyatt.

    The United States is much more “ bean counter” profit oriented versus Europe and Asia.

    The fact that most USA properties are now franchises and not corporate owned also contributes to the temptation to cut corners and ignore what corporate promotes to the frequent traveler.

    The Covid-19 era created a temporary reason for cutbacks, but, unfortunately now franchises are trying to make that permanent even though the Covid-19 restrictions and challenges no longer exist.

  12. Lounges tend to be better in Europe and vastly better in Asia. I’m not sure why domestic lounges are generally so bad.

  13. I am staying at Hilton Midtown right now and the lounge is great. Plenty of food (mostly good) and even a happy hour between 5-7 pm. Must be one the few good ones left.

    • Lukas,
      Great to hear you’re having a solid experience. Hopefully, I’ll hear about more great lounge examples and be proven (somewhat) wrong!

    • I was at that hotel last August (2022) and the lounge was booked for a “private event” for our entire stay 🙁


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