How To Book Virtuoso Hotels Online

Filed Under: Advice, Hotels

We’ve written in the past about the huge value to be had with Virtuoso, which typically requires booking through a qualifying travel advisor. What many people don’t realize is that you can actually make Virtuoso bookings online as well, so in this post I wanted to outline how that works.

I wrote a similar post last year, though there are some updates to that process, which is why I am updating this post.

What is Virtuoso?

Virtuoso is a network of luxury travel agencies, with a total of over 15,000 advisors worldwide. Virtuoso advisors can get you extra perks when staying at over 1,300 luxury hotels around the world.

The concept is simple — hotels use all kinds of techniques to sell rooms, and one thing they do is offer Virtuoso advisors special perks for their guests.

Typically for booking through a Virtuoso agent you get the following additional benefits:

  • Daily breakfast for two
  • Room upgrade subject to availability
  • Early check-in and late check-out, subject to availability
  • A special Virtuoso amenity (usually a $100 property credit, free massage, car transfer, etc.)

How much more does a Virtuoso rate cost?

As a general rule of thumb, the Virtuoso rate is the same as the best flexible rate offered directly by the hotel (this typically excludes pre-paid rates, promotional rates, and member only rates). So in most cases you’re not paying anything extra for booking through a Virtuoso agent.

Virtuoso advisors typically get paid a commission by hotels, so most of the time they won’t charge any sort of a fee for you booking through them. Some agents may charge a planning fee based on the complexity of the trip.

Can you still earn points when booking Virtuoso rates?

Since this is a points blog, this is a natural question. 😉 Yes, for those major chain hotels that belong to Virtuoso, you absolutely still earn points, elite credits, etc., when booking a Virtuoso rate. This is considered an “eligible” rate for all practical purposes.

How to book Virtuoso hotels online

In general you have two options for booking a Virtuoso rate:

In this post I wanted to walk through the step-by-step of how to make Virtuoso hotel bookings online.

Virtuoso displays hotel rates online, though in order to actually book, you need to go through a Virtuoso advisor’s page. This has to be an advisor who has opted into this specifically. For example, you can find Ford’s Virtuoso page here, through which you can book (other advisors who participate in this are welcome to leave their page links below).

Just enter the name of the city, country, or hotel you want to travel to, along with the dates (you don’t actually have to enter dates if you just want to browse).

Let me use the real life example of a hotel that I recently booked through the Virtuoso portal. Specifically, the InterContinental Ljubljana, Slovenia. Once you get to the search results page, you’ll see all the Virtuoso amenities listed there.

This hotel has especially good amenities — a $100 food & beverage credit, restaurant breakfast, a room upgrade, and access to the club lounge. That’s spectacular.

Then on the next page you’ll see the room types that are available.

Once you select a rate and push “book” you’ll be prompted to create an account, which is easy — you just have to enter your email address, choose a password, and country.

The next page will just ask you to confirm your advisor.

Then you’ll be on the booking page, which will display the entire cost of the stay, the amenities, the cancelation policy, and more. Read through this carefully to make sure it’s accurate.

You’ll then receive an email confirmation directly from Virtuoso. I can’t speak for other Virtuoso advisors, but if you book through Ford he’ll also follow up to see if there’s anything else you need (or you can contact him directly — [email protected]).

Note that while you’re booking through Virtuoso, you’ll be charged directly by the hotel, in case that impacts which credit card you pay with (for example, which card offers the most points, which offers a hotel credit at the brand you’re staying at, etc.).

How was my Virtuoso stay at the InterContinental Ljubljana?

The value was pretty incredible. For booking through Virtuoso I received an upgrade to a junior suite…

An excellent restaurant breakfast…

Access to the club lounge…

And a $100 food & beverage credit…

Oh, and the points posted correctly, as expected.

Why you may want to book Virtuoso rates online

A lot of people prefer just to make reservations instantly and not to interact with humans. I know that because I’m one of those people. 😉 So being able to book Virtuoso hotels online in just a few clicks is awesome.

So if that’s the priority, booking through the Virtuoso website is a great option. You can still reach out to your advisor (or they’ll reach out to you) if you have any special requests.

Things to know about booking Virtuoso hotels online

Here are a few things to be aware of:

  • You must be connected to an advisor to confirm a booking online; you can’t do it if you’re not connected to an advisor
  • There is a field to add your loyalty program number to the reservation during the booking process, if applicable
  • If you want to book multiple rooms, you’ll need to make separate reservations for each room
  • If you want to cancel, you can’t do so through Virtuoso; you can either call the hotel directly if you need to cancel immediately (or go to their website, if they allow that), or you can contact your Virtuoso advisor, though you’ll want to leave some time if you choose to contact your Virtuoso advisor to cancel for you

Do book through Virtuoso’s website if:

  • You’re booking two or fewer guests
  • You’re booking at least one business day in advance
  • Booking a Virtuoso rate that you’re not combining with a Virtuoso promotion that is also offered (for example, a third night free) — if you see the promotion listed in the rate description you can book online, but otherwise contact your advisor

Don’t book through Virtuoso’s website if:

  • You’re booking a room for more than two guests
  • You’re booking the same day you’re traveling
  •  A rate isn’t bookable or available through Virtuoso’s website; not all hotels make their inventory available through the website
  • You want to combine a Virtuoso rate with a promotion, such as a third or fourth night free promotion, unless the free night or promotion is accounted for in the Virtuoso rate description and price

Bottom line

There’s a lot of value to be had in booking through a Virtuoso advisor, and if you’re someone who wants to book instantly or avoid human interaction, being able to make a Virtuoso booking directly online can be a great option.

If you have any questions about the above, please let me know!

Comments

  1. Virtuoso’s lack of a map feature on their search page is enormously annoying. Any suggestions?

  2. @ Dan — Virtuoso’s IT isn’t amazing, unfortunately. The best I can recommend is to just use the search bar to enter the destination. You can search by country and not just city, if that makes things easier. It sometimes then displays a map.

  3. @ GL — They’re largely very similar, though there are some minor differences. FHR has the benefit of having guaranteed 4PM check-out, while Virtuoso doesn’t. Virtuoso is open to everyone, and you have a dedicated contact who can help.

    Furthermore, while there’s a lot of overlap, Virtuoso and FHR often do have different hotels. They also often have different promotions and benefits for hotels. So it can pay to compare the two.

  4. ” So in most cases you’re not paying anything extra for booking through a Virtuoso agent.”

    So since they don’t offer prepaid rates, you’re actually almost always paying extra for booking this way. Because prepaid rates are most often cheaper.

  5. @ Mark — Sure, but a majority of people don’t book prepaid rates for hotels. So if you’re someone who would otherwise book a prepaid rate then you’re potentially paying more, yes.

  6. @lucky, is the Starwood Luxury Privileges program still at thing? I haven’t seen it written about since the merger.

  7. @mark @lucky Looking on the IHG app for the Intercontinental Ljubljana on 9 Nov as shown in the example, a King Room with Club lounge access is 187 euros, so much more than the $179 you quoted here. I was sceptical, but it seems Virtuoso can be a good deal even compared with booking direct and in advance.

  8. Everytime I click through your Virtuoso link it lets me search but never provides prices. It only says “contact advisor for prices”. What am I doing wrong?

  9. @ Willy — Some hotels don’t display prices online, so it sounds like that’s the issue. May I ask which hotels you’re looking at, so I can double check that’s the issue?

  10. @ Greg — It sure is, and very little has changed. Unfortunately they haven’t kept up with adding hotels, so really it’s the same former Starwood hotels that belong to the program. But it absolutely is still a thing.

  11. Please disclose if you/Ford get a financial benefit from folks using this link (which I assume is yes)

  12. Lucky, you mentioned that the InterContinental Ljubljana has especially good benefits. Have you come across any hotels that offer even better value?

  13. @ Amanda — As I explained in the post, travel advisors get paid a commission when people book hotels through them (and this includes booking through a specific agent’s portal).

  14. Seconding what @Mitch asked, and would add:

    Have you ever stayed at a Vituoso property where the value proposition just flat-out didn’t exist? Since it seems that the benefits can vary by property, and that a lot of them are “subject to availability”, there appears to be large potential for variance between properties or that benefits of elite loyalty are more guaranteed or just better overall.

  15. I know I shouldn’t get annoyed by people like Amanda but is it really that hard to read the post? Lucky even suggests other advisors leave their info here.

    Jeez.

  16. @ Mitch — I’d say it all depends what you’re looking for. There are some situations where hotels in Las Vegas are so cheap that you’re almost getting more in added perks than the room rate, but other than that I’d say the IC Ljubljana is among the best offers I’ve seen.

  17. @ AdamR — There are certainly situations where I choose not to book a Virtuoso rate. For example, sometimes it’s a better value to book a Hyatt through Hyatt Prive, a Four Seasons through Four Seasons Preferred Partner, etc. Similarly, sometimes the pre-paid rate is sufficiently less expensive that it makes sense to forgo these perks to lock in the lower rate.

  18. classictravel.com does the same thing as Virtuoso with no need to connect to an advisor. Same perks and all.

  19. Can one book cruises online through Virtuoso where, as with Ritz Carlton Cruises, they have negotiated a preferred provider agreement with the cruise line (similar to American Express)? I am assuming that this is a reason you selected Ritz Carlton for your and Ford’s cruise, unless he was entitled to a lower fam or travel advisor fare.

  20. @chatter totally with ya. I also shouldn’t get annoyed by peeps like Amanda… I imagine she’s reciting her post in a tone containing passive aggressive moral outrage. Read the dang post. And it’s Ford for God’s sake of course there is a preferable arrangement between he and Lucky, and that’s OK. Ha.

  21. I second what @Willy said some hotels don’t display prices online and you can’t book it or even see the price or amenities just as an example both the Four Seasons Chiang Mai and the Andaz Singapore for stays in September this year show ‘contact advisor’.

  22. No, it doesn’t work. The rates can’t be seen online without going to an advisor, at least for the properties I looked at ( in Rome, Vienna, Paris, London and Bangkok). I would be quite happy to do the booking through an advisor but only if the rates are visible, if not bookable, online first. I’m not going to go to an advisor every time I have an idea that I might want to go somewhere, it would be a PITA for all parties.

  23. As much as I’ve used Virtuoso in the past, Amex for the win.

    If you have an issue with a FHR property while you’re there, Amex handles it beautifully. I can’t say the same for Virtuoso. They have left me hanging a few times.

  24. Does not work for me. Seoul and it also does not show any prices. But a Hotel in China?

  25. My experience booking hotels through a Virtuoso agent have not been great. More often than not the hotel has not delivered the benefits advertised. At 3 of my last 4 Virtuoso stays this has resulted in a delayed checkout process trying to get items such as breakfast removed from the final invoice. At my last stay this delay was half an hour trying to get breakfast charges removed and the $100 F&B credit applied, having to dig out my emails to prove to the hotel I was entitled to it. This almost resulted in me missing my flight. Have I just been unlucky or should I try booking through a different Virtuoso agent?

  26. For those who have had issues seeing prices and being given an online booking option, make sure you try the desktop site. On my phone, I could see the hotels but no prices or booking options short of contacting an agent. When I used my computer, however, those same hotels had online booking available.

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