peninsula beijing lounge

The Club Lounge at the Peninsula Hotel in Beijing.

When we book hotels, most of us tend to base our decision on a couple of key criteria: the hotel’s location, the kind of room we’d be getting, whether there’s a gym or pool, and of course, the price.

However, there’s one other factor that I think is worth considering, and that’s whether your hotel offers the use of a club lounge.

These executive lounges are usually available to guests staying in upgraded rooms, those who belong to the hotel’s points program, or occasionally, for a daily fee. They typically offer comfy sofas, free food and drink, internet access and newspapers – and according to CNN, they’re becoming more and more common as hotels attempt to distinguish themselves from the competition.

“These lounges are a great place to wind down without hanging out in a large hotel lobby bar area where it can be noisy, and also a bit of a singles scene sometimes… If you just want to catch up on e-mail, relax, maybe have a snack and a cocktail, it has a more homey feel, which is often so much nicer then locking yourself up in your hotel room and ordering room service.”

While you might think lounges like these are where all the business travelers go to hang out, I think leisure travelers can make great use of club lounges too. During a visit to Cairo, we stayed in a hotel with a club lounge that not only served free wine every evening (not super easy to get in a Muslim country), but had amazing views of the Pyramids to boot. That club lounge also saved our butts during mealtime: we were visiting during Ramadan and unable to find a single restaurant open despite a lot of wandering through the city – we returned to our hotel famished, but thrilled to enjoy the free food in the club lounge.

So are the lounges worth it? I think it all depends on your situation and how much you’ll use the facilities. In countries where costs are high, transportation is inconvenient, access to alcohol is limited, internet is unreliable, where you are traveling alone and are concerned about safety or simply want someplace to chill on your own, lounges can definitely prove handy. Not to mention that if your hotel room is facing a brick wall, the views from the lounge can be priceless.

What do you think? Have you used a hotel club or concierge lounge? Was it useful?