No, Hilton is Not Closing Its Executive Lounges Systemwide — But…

After a long day of being with a client in a location far from home, sometimes there is nothing like repairing to the executive lounge of a hotel at which you are staying as a guest, partaking in some of the snack offerings and imbibing in a few drinks — and perhaps catching a game on the large flat-screen television, using the computer and printer, admiring the view of the sunset outside the balcony, or reading a magazine — before heading off to your room to relax for the evening…

No, Hilton is Not Closing Its Executive Lounges Systemwide — But…

Hilton Sharjah

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

…so when trying to use an executive lounge at the Hilton Atlanta Airport recently — only to find that it was closed and locked — FlyerTalk member cfariss claims to have been told by an agent at the front desk that “Hilton was phasing out Executive Lounges chain wide and they were ‘focusing on new business’.”

That concern was quickly addressed by HonorsRepresentative, who is the official company representative of Hilton on FlyerTalk: “There are no plans at the Hilton Honors level to remove Executive Lounges from our hotels. We know the lounges are an important benefit to our members and help to ensure we deliver the best experience possible. Any changes at the property level would be an individual hotel decision.”

Hilton Nairobi

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

If you enjoy using executive lounges whenever staying at Hilton hotel or resort properties, that is good news — which really means nothing if management at individual properties decide to eliminate the executive lounge anyway.

Other members of FlyerTalk have reported on other hotel properties under the Hilton brand with executive lounges which have been closed recently. For example, FlyerTalk member markko reported that “The Hilton Tucson East just underwent a renovation, and when it reopened recently the lounge was gone, replaced by guest rooms.”

Adding guest rooms may likely mean an additional source of revenue — unless use of an executive lounge is important to a potential guest of the hotel, who may ultimately decide to stay elsewhere. Other economic decisions can come into play with the decision of closing an executive lounge — including paying a member of the staff to keep food and beverages in supply for guests, which requires funding.

Grand Hilton Seoul

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

Some executive lounges can be lavishly appointed and provide enough food to comprise a meal — especially ones in Asia and Europe. FlyerTalk member arlflyer opined that “The different in quality of lounges more likely comes from expected standards, level of competition, and cultural norms, especially with respect to the service culture in some regions.” FlyerTalk member eponymous_coward posited that “A chain that has much lower presence outside the US has to work harder to get non-US business (and frankly Hilton has a much larger footprint of non-limited service hotels outside the US as opposed to inside the US).”

Hilton Helsinki Strand

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

However, other executive lounges can be small, crowded, dimly lit, and offer few choices in terms of snacks and drinks — or, as FlyerTalk member mnredfox asked, “Seriously, chips, soda, and pretzels?”

FlyerTalk member Athena53 once was in what she calls “the worst excuse for a Hilton lounge” which clearly “was a regular room that they attempted to set up as a lounge. No open bar, pitiful snacks, and people were practically sitting on top of each other.” FlyerTalk member jrx loves the lounge concept, “but I wouldn’t lament Hilton closing tired, crappy lounges.” That is one of the things which causes FlyerTalk member StayingHomeIsBetter to wonder if there is no such thing as a brand standard. “Seriously, why can we not have reasonable expectations of what we are going to find when we arrive at a Hilton property?”

Summary

Hilton Helsinki Strand

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

Even if it is a poor excuse for a lounge, I am usually thankful that one is even open at a hotel or resort property where I am staying as a guest. I realize that a hotel property is not required to offer an executive lounge; so even a snack or drink is appreciated by me. Every little bit helps, as far as I am concerned…

…and then again, I have been to executive lounges in which I was the only guest, with one or two members of the staff tending to every whim. That other extreme can tend to make me feel a little uncomfortable, as I generally prefer not to be the center of attention.

On the other hand, a brand standard for executive lounges would be helpful — even if only to satisfy the expectations of guests — as simply booking a reservation at a hotel or resort property which is part of a brand that is known to offer the executive lounge experience does not guarantee that you will have one.

I would like to know your thoughts and experience pertaining to executive lounges. For example, what do you prefer or enjoy most about experiencing an executive lounge? Are they an important part of your decision as to which hotel or resort property to book your reservation? Should the lounge experience adhere to minimum standards by a lodging brand?

All photographs ©2014, ©2015 and ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

15 thoughts on “No, Hilton is Not Closing Its Executive Lounges Systemwide — But…”

  1. Steve says:

    Hilton should close the Lounge at Tampa Airport. Total junk.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I have not been at that hotel property in years, Steve — but although I barely can remember the last time I was there, my impression was that the overall experience of staying there was mediocre.

  2. Vet&Banker says:

    It matters as a secondary consideration for me. But the better the property, the more it matters. We won’t spend large amounts of time in a lounge when we are traveling, but the spare hour in the evening is a perk we look forward to when we pay for a nicer hotel or resort.

    Lounge access is, however, is a major consideration for us to switch from Marriott to Hilton next year. If that becomes a “maybe” situation, then we will potentially skip chains altogether and look for individual properties providing good experiences.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      You do bring up a good point, Vet&Banker: unless I have traveled to a destination which is unexciting, an executive lounge can be a secondary consideration.

      One thing that I do like about some executive lounges is that local fare may be in there for guests — but the downside is that it is still not experiencing the local flavor as found outside of the hotel.

      Not once have I ever had access to a lounge at Marriott properties when I had elite status with its membership program…

      1. Rick says:

        Same here, as my loyalty is moving from Marriott to IHG and Hilton.

  3. Ryan says:

    99% of Hilton lounges are junk in the US. Last thing I want to do after a long day is sit in one of those absolutely depressing lounges filled with junk food. Chips and salsa , stale crudités and soggy chicken wings. What lounge in the US have you been to in the Hilton chain that you look forward to relaxing in after a long day. I’ve just never felt the need to go near those places.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      This was years ago, Ryan; but I used to enjoy the executive lounge at Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City.

      When the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Fort Lee – George Washington Bridge hotel property was still known as Hilton Fort Lee, I enjoyed the use of that executive lounge.

      I know that there were some others which I used to enjoy within the United States; but I cannot specifically recall them at this time. I suppose they were not that memorable after all…

  4. Thomas K says:

    If Hilton really does this system wide it would be a reason for me to stay elsewhere. Lounges in Asia and sometimes Europe can be great. I would stay with other international hotel chains.

  5. Ric says:

    SAme is true for many Sheraton Hotel lounges IN the USA. Pale in comparison to the non-US lounges in Europe, Asia and South America. I’ve never understood WHY these US hotel chains have expanded and well stocked lounges outside the USA as a marketing. tool. Then when foreigners come to the US and expect the same type of lounge experience at the chains’ US properties – they are so shocked at the dismal look of the US lounge. I’ve been told by management of Hiltons and Sheraton hotels in the USA that franchisees have to adhere to a “just basics” list. Some offer just the minimum and others offer a lot more. I agree that there isn’t an across the board benchmark at US properties. Once I stayed at a Sheraton that had slowed their nice Club Lounge and literally moved it to a corner in their outside-managed restaurant. It was literally a table with a tub containing sodas, a bowl of chips and some cold chicken wings. All the while continuing to sell rooms at the “Club Level” category!!!

  6. Rick says:

    The finest executive lounge I’ve experience was at the Hilton Cavalieri in Rome. The food, service and decor were outstanding. Today the property is branded as a Waldorf. I hope the lounge is still as nice.

  7. MaverickNH says:

    Closed a very nice lounge at the Boston Logan Hilton this year – sadly…

  8. Td smit says:

    Just checked in to BOS Hilton airport and found lounge was closed. It was nice and was the tipping point for me to stay here. Will now pick another place. Hotel chains are turning to chintzy airline tactics it appears. Sad.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I have stayed at that hotel property, Td smit, and found that executive lounge to be good.

      Staying there is usually not inexpensive.

      Thank you for sharing that information.

  9. mick says:

    Yesterday on check in at Hilton Logan I was informed that the executive lounge was permanently closed. The reason they gave was “this was not our decision, it is corporate policy from Hilton, all exec lounges are being phased out.” It seems like somebody somewhere is not telling the truth, my guess is that a holding company that has a bunch of Hilton branded hotels has made a corporate wide decision to do this

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I suppose we will find out in due time what exactly is the truth, mick.

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