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My Frustrating Run In With IHG Customer Service

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IHG Clean Promise room

IHG Clean Promise

A few weeks ago I needed to stay at a Holiday Inn by the Cleveland Clinic because I had an early morning procedure. If you listen to the podcast then you know what I am talking about. I normally book the Intercontinental attached to the hospital. It is a nice hotel, with good service and it has super convenient access. Well, with IHG going to fully dynamic they regularly price the hotel at 41,000 points, or more, just high enough that I can’t use a free night certificate (FNC) there anymore. Sadly, before the change the hotel was always available for a FNC redemption in the past. That led me to the Holiday Inn Cleveland Clinic right down the road.

My Booking

I had a weird booking for this trip. We were not going to get to the hotel until after 10PM, since we had to leave when my wife was done with work. The kids were also coming along for the trip because we couldn’t find anyone to watch them.

I had a night full of pre-procedure prep ahead of me which meant I would be up until early morning. Since I didn’t want to keep everyone up all night with me I booked two rooms for the first night. I also booked a second night on one of the rooms because the procedure wouldn’t be completed until late afternoon. I knew we would need the room until like 5PM and didn’t want to rely on the grace of a late checkout. We both have IHG Platinum from their credit cards but I knew that was worth about the same as booking with Expedia to IHG.

Issues With My Room

Check in went fine and we got two rooms next to each other. We walked into the room my family was staying in first and it looked to be in good order.  I then went next door into my room and the first thing that hit me was the smell. I couldn’t quite place it at first, was it a repair and some paint etc. or what? The room looked pretty recently remodeled so I figured it was something like that. Since it was already 10:30PM at this time, and I had a few hours worth of prep to do, I didn’t want to bother with heading downstairs to try to find a new room.  I figured I would get used to the smell after a few minutes and just moved on with life.

IHG Clean Promise tub

A few hours later I finished up with everything and decided to hop in the shower.  That is when I saw the source of the smell.  The shower surround had some mold around the tub. That isn’t the worst part, I have seen that before, but the shower curtain was a Jackson Pollock painting of mildew and mold. It was caked all across the bottom of the curtain.  I was pretty shocked. How does someone miss this when cleaning a room?

IHG Clean Promise shower


The interesting thing was I went next door and saw their bathroom had a glass shower, not a curtain.  I also noticed at this point that their fridge was behind a cabinet door instead of in a cubby with the door ripped off. It appears my room had not received the full remodel yet.

IHG Clean Promise fridge

At this point it was after 1AM and the last thing I wanted to do was go downstairs to discuss this. I figured I would take care of it upon checkout and went to bed in the other room.

Check Out Rep Quotes IHG Clean Promise

In the morning I headed to the checkout desk and talk with the front desk agent. I explain the situation and showed him the pictures that I put in this article.  The very first thing he asked was if I notified anyone about this last night? I said no, I didn’t notice it till the middle of the night and didn’t want to come downstairs.

He said that is why they have the IHG Clean Promise. He informed me that I had two hours after check in to alert them to issues and they would have moved me or corrected it. Only after they fail that will there be compensation.

I said that is fine and all but I didn’t think I needed to do a thorough inspection of my room before accepting it. Most people don’t even look in the shower until the morning after so what good does two hours do for them? I also mentioned that I don’t know how anyone in their right mind would release that room after “cleaning” it. I then brought up the point that I was paying for 3 nights and essentially only using 1. Surely there was something he could do. At least he could show some understanding and embarrassment for the cleanliness of the room. He stonewalled me and said there was nothing he could do.

At this point I had to get to my appointment, and a line was building up behind me, so I didn’t want to wait for a manager etc. I told him I would take it up with corporate.  This is where my foolishness came into play. I assumed IHG Twitter was empowered like Hilton, Hyatt or Marriott when it comes to customer service.

twitter logo

Reaching Out To IHG

I fired up Twitter and reached out to the IHG Twitter team. In the past I have found Twitter teams for hotel and airline loyalty programs are pretty resourceful and can usually fix things for you.  I have received compensation from the Hyatt and Hilton social media teams in the past when things went awry and the hotel refused to properly handle it.

I sent the IHG Twitter team all of my reservation info, explained the situation and sent pictures of the shower area.  They responded 24 hours later saying they didn’t have the ability to actually do anything but that they would send my info to hotel to discuss with me at checkout. Unfortunately I had already checked out so that wasn’t going to help me.

IHG Clean Promise – Final Thoughts

The fact that the hotel was unwilling to do anything for me wasn’t a huge deal, the room was only 28,000 points a night. My bigger issue was the fact that not one person even apologized for one of the nastiest things I have seen in a hotel room. Sticking to the IHG Clean Promise and refusing to admit any wrongdoing left a bed taste in my mouth. I mean I went down there just a few hours after discovering the problem, it wasn’t the end of a 3 night stay or something.

If we were all staying in the same room I most likely would have headed downstairs in the middle of the night. Since I didn’t really need to use the room, or shower, I decided to handle it in the morning. It never crossed my mind that a hotel would refuse to even discuss it because it wasn’t within the first two hours of check in.

I would have been happy with someone going up to check the room with me and apologizing about the situation. Some type of confirmation that they will get it handled before anyone else stays in the room would have been nice too. If they were willing to throw me 10,000 IHG points, or even credit the night back as they should, that would have turned an annoying situation into something understandable.

That isn’t how it played out though. And the fact that every hotel is supposed to do extra “covid cleaning” puts a real cherry on top of it all.

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Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann is a father, husband and miles/points fanatic. He left the corporate world after starting a family in order to be a stay at home dad. Mark is constantly looking at ways to save money and stay within budget while also taking awesome vacations with his family. When he isn't caring for his family or taking a weekend trip, Mark is working towards his goal of visiting every Major League Baseball ballpark.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. Where is it published that you have 2 hours to inspect the room and report any issues after arrival?
    I spent 4 nights last month in the Rancho Mirage Holiday Inn Express for the Indian Wells tennis tournament and have no complaints. The room was clean, comfortable and spacious and the public areas were equally clean. The toilet got a small clog one morning but the maintenance worker was up within 5 minutes to fix it. My only real complaint was that there were only doing housekeeping every 5 nights although you could request towels any time and I suppose could have requested a special clean. Because the waste baskets are so small, the trash over time built up and we had to leave them outside for cleaning.

    • That is what he quoted and I believe that there was a sign on the desk talking about it. I couldn’t find it online though.

  2. I had a horrible problem with mold and other filth at a NYC Holiday Inn Express this summer. I did notice it right away, and took lots of pics. They gave me 5000 points and moved me into another filthy room, and the funniest part was that the IHG CLEAN PROMISE card on the nightstand was….filthy. Sticky, full of dirt and hairs. I took a pic of that too. Asked them to come up and clean everything that was gross. There was also mold in the ac unit, which just distributes the dangerous spores throughout the air. How do I know so much? The whole reason I had to stay in a hotel that week was because my apartment was being remediated after toxic black mold was discovered from a leak in the bathroom. So I moved from one unhealthy situation to another. Then, the TV stopped working, and they had to bring another one in from a different room. I got to know the maintenance guy very well, and he wasn’t really very happy about it. When I checked out they gave me another 5000 points, and then later I wrote and called corporate, and got another 20,000 points. But yes, the IHG Clean Promise is a scam. I try to collect points to use at Kimptons internationally. Oh, and the following week, I decided to try a Hilton Garden Inn near my apartment, and you guessed it – MOLD all over the shower. Full house, no other rooms. I had a few email exchanges (with pics, of course) with the manager later, who was very nice and gave me some points, too. Much more responsive – and appropriately horrified – than anyone at IHG. More remediation starts tomorrow – I’m going to try an EVEN hotel in the city. Will report back if there’s mold there, too!

    • Talk about unlucky in mold 🙂

      Hope the EVEN hotel is actually cleaned properly. It is crazy how dirty hotel rooms are right now and they just keep renting them out like it isn’t a problem.

  3. IHG’s price guarantee is also a scam. If you find a published rate (i.e. Travelzoo) that’s less than the hotel’s retail rate AND offers you extras (dining credit or spa credit), it automatically doesn’t qualify because “it’s a package”.

  4. I had a similar problem with a stay this past summer at at Holiday Inn Express. I used my free night certificate because room rates were astronomical for a Saturday night. My flight got delayed to arrive after 1am, so I called ahead to let them know I was still coming. Even with supposed Platinum status they put me in a room by the breakfast and the parking lot that smelled like mildew. I was up most of the night due to people partying outside in the parking lot after coming from the bars, yelling in the hallways going back and forth to their rooms, then the early breakfast crowd arriving around 7am. I tried calling the front desk multiple times, but no one picked up. I let the staff know at checkout about all the issues and unresponsiveness of the phones. The most they would do was apologize. I reached out to IHG and asked for assistance with refunding my free night certificate or equivalent points, and I got the same canned response about forwarding to the hotel. The hotel manager email me to apologize and state that they hope to see me at a future stay. I am closing the card when my AF hits and saying good riddance to IHG. I am glad I burned all my points from the signup bonus on a fourth night free stay at a Kimpton this past summer. I have been much keeping most of my stays with Hilton and Hyatt. Their customer service teams are more responsive customer than IHG.

    • Sad to hear it but not surprised that there have been similar issues. For a brand trying to get into the higher end properties with Kimpton and AI additions etc. they need to figure out better than budget service if they want it to work.

  5. “I didn’t think I needed to do a thorough inspection of my room before accepting it.” From the guy who claims he always checks his bed for bed bugs and made a video of the process.

    • I did the bed bug inspection for sure 🙂 – I rarely inspect the shower before getting in in the morning though

  6. IHG has never been a top tier program. Elite benefits have always been laughable and outside of Intercontinental properties, aspirational hotels were pretty limited. What the program did have going for it was PointBreaks, fun earning opportunities, a free night at any hotel with their card, and a favorable set award pricing structure where no hotel cost over 50,000 points. Fast forward a few years and every one of those advantages have been killed off. Now, they not only can’t manage to clean a room but blow you off for not giving them grief in the middle of the night? Wow.

  7. My biggest problem with that room is that they left the hinges for the door. It looks terrible if you are going to take a door off take off the hinges too or find a smaller fridge. The mold is bad too though.


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