How to get the most out of a hotel loyalty card from free stays to birthday gifts  

From free stays in luxury accommodation to birthday gifts and discounts on days out: How to get the most out of a hotel loyalty card

  • The New Forest Hotels scheme offers discounts on visits to local attractions 
  • The Jurys Inn loyalty scheme pays you points for every pound spent on bookings
  • The IHG Rewards scheme offers discounts or free stays in nearly 6,000 hotels 

Every week, our Holiday Hero Neil Simpson takes an in-depth look at a brilliant holiday topic, doing all the legwork so you don’t have to. This week: How to earn free stays in Britain’s best hotels.

British hotels have been the holiday hits of the summer, surprising first-time guests with the kind of upgraded accommodation, food and style that can put overseas rivals in the shade.

Better still, they offer a raft of loyalty schemes to win us back for future stays. Play the loyalty cards right and it’s easy to cut the cost of your next staycation. Here are six of the best schemes to consider.

British hotels offer a raft of loyalty schemes to win customers back for future stays

The 40-room, country house classic Bartley Lodge Hotel near Lyndhurst and glorious gastro pub The Drift Inn nearby are part of a small family of hotels and businesses around the New Forest in Hampshire that offer a free ‘points make prizes’ loyalty scheme.

Sign up to get upgrades, early check-in, late check-out, birthday gifts and discounts on hotel stays as well as bar and meal bills.

Scheme members can also get money off at local attractions including Marwell Zoo, with its snow leopards and white rhinos, Beaulieu National Motor Museum and Exbury Gardens and steam railway (

History and luxury join forces at venues in the Hand Picked Hotels group, ranging from the romantic 70-room Rookery Hall in Cheshire to the elegant 83-room Norton House in Edinburgh, which was once owned by the family behind Glenlivet whisky.

Sign up to the firm’s Privilege Rewards scheme and as well as discounts on room rates and spa treatments you can claim benefits such as classic afternoon teas and free champagne at dinner (

With the Privilege card from Bespoke Hotels, take a holiday at London’s trendy 90-Room Bermondsey Square hotel, in the Cotswolds at Chipping Campden’s ancient 28-room Noel Arms hotel, or in equally stylish sites across the country, and get up to 15 per cent cashback plus room upgrades. Spending points is easy. As well as free stays, the scheme offers discounts everywhere from bookshops and florists to chocolatiers and car rental firms (

The Hand Picked Hotels group runs a rewards scheme that offers discounts on spa treatments (stock image)

The Hand Picked Hotels group runs a rewards scheme that offers discounts on spa treatments (stock image) 

Golfers with spa-loving partners often turn to the Macdonald group, which contains hotels offering the perfect mix of top-notch courses and treatment rooms.

The company’s countrywide sites include the 120-room Macdonald Windsor hotel in Berkshire that puts you in prime position for the town’s Changing of the Guard ceremony.

Sign up to the ‘Fans of Macdonald’ scheme for 15 per cent off bookings, free stays,  plus other offers (

Mix a prime city centre location, a vast late-Victorian building and a glorious garden and you get the 155-room Principal York hotel, one of the UK’s many Principal hotels that are now under the umbrella of the global IHG chain. Joining the IHG Rewards scheme offer discounts or free stays in nearly 6,000 hotels and resorts worldwide as well as members-only access to concerts (

Free nights are also available from many of the country’s more affordable hotel chains. Jurys Inn is a great example, with city centre locations from Plymouth to Inverness plus a new range of airport sites under its Leonardo Hotels brand.

The loyalty scheme pays you points for every pound spent on bookings. At the last count, guests needed only five stays to qualify for a free night. In the meantime, scheme members can also claim free drinks and coffee vouchers (