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Kimpton is my favorite hotel brand for many reasons. I’ve always had great experiences interacting with their customer service, social media, and hotel teams. And I love that their properties are so unique. Each property is so different and there are little touches throughout the hotels that reinforce the property’s theme. There aren’t any cookie-cutter properties like you may experience at other hotel brands, which makes me want to visit all of the Kimpton properties!
History of Kimpton
Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants was founded in 1981 by Bill Kimpton with his purchase of the Bedford Hotel in San Francisco. Bill’s passion for hotels started as a young child while playing Monopoly. The Kimpton strategy is mostly focused on buying old buildings and giving them love and attention so they can become a “boutique hotel.” Most properties are owned by independent owners, but market under the Kimpton brand name. When I went to San Francisco, I learned a little more about the history of “wine hour.”
Wine hour originated as a way for Bill and his sales team to meet after a day of sales activity. They would meet in the lobby and discuss the day. Eventually, guests started to mingle in and Bill would offer them a glass of wine as well, so it became a tradition that guests would partake in the evening glass of wine.
Bill passed away in April 2001 in Houston, TX after a battle with leukemia. He leaves a strong legacy with the Kimpton brand and the charity that he founded that helps people dealing with depression and other mental health issues, the Mental Insight Foundation. The Kimpton family has asked that any memorial donations be made to the Mental Insight Foundation, in care of Kimpton Group, 222 Kearny St. Suite 200, San Francisco, CA 94122.
In December 2014, Kimpton was purchased by IHG for $430 million in cash. As a result, about 10 properties left the Kimpton brand. Since the acquisition, Kimpton has continued their efforts to expand, with many new locations opening and many more in the queue to open, both domestically and internationally.
What is unique about Kimpton?
Besides the aforementioned wine hour, Kimpton is very dog-friendly. It all started with Bill Kimpton bringing his dog, Chianti, to work knowing that pets have the innate ability to lift peoples’ spirits. Bill encouraged others to bring their pets.
Kimpton does not charge extra when you have your pet stay at one of their properties, and there are no limitations on the size of the dog. The staff is very welcoming to pets, to the point that they welcome your pet by name on little signs in the lobby or at the entrance. Some Kimpton properties even have a Director of Pet Relations on staff!
From the Kimpton website, here are some of the ways that they encourage guests to bring their pets:
- A selection of hotel amenities and extras including plush pet-bed loaners in your guest room, food, water bowls and mats.
- A concierge list of nearby pet-friendly restaurants, parks, groomers and pet boutiques.
- Door hangers alert other hotel guests and staff that your cat, dog, or other beloved pet is in the room.
- Courtesy bags for walking your dog.
- No additional charge for pets, no deposit required
- No size/weight limit
- No limit on number of pets allowed
- Nightly wine reception — pets are welcome to join the party!
Favorite Stays at Kimpton
Here are 4 of our favorite stays at Kimpton:
- Mother’s Day at Kimpton Canary Hotel
- How I earn 3 free nights after 10 stays
- Timmy’s 5th birthday at Kimpton Shorebreak Hotel
- $1100 upgrade to the Kimpton Donovan Presidential Suite
Click here to see all of our other Kimpton posts.
Kimpton Karma Rewards Loyalty Program
I initially became an Inner Circle status through a status match of my Hilton HHonors Diamond in the Summer of 2014. Inner Circle is the top level status in the Kimpton Karma Rewards loyalty program. You earn Inner Circle after either 14 stays or 40 nights.
Not everyone will reach top-level status with Kimpton, but even first-tier members get some great benefits. The benefits start with free wifi, $10 to raid the minibar, and a special offer during your birthday month.
But the really awesome benefits come with top-tier, Inner Circle status. As an Inner Circle member, I’ve been upgraded to one of the best rooms at the property almost every time.
And when a new property opens, Inner Circle members can stay one night for free (for example Shorebreak, Tideline, Cardinal)
and get $50 to spend at the on-site restaurant (the $50 dining benefit was eliminated effective January 1, 2017). Click here to see the latest Kimpton Inner Circle free night offers available.
And whenever you dine at the hotel’s restaurant, you’ll receive a Chef’s Surprise, which is something special that the chef whips up to say thank you for being such a loyal guest.
Which card to use at Kimpton hotels?
Although Kimpton was acquired by IHG in December 2014, they still haven’t fully integrated. Kimpton and IHG properties have been showing on each other’s websites for months, but you cannot book stays at the other brand’s website at this time.
Kimpton does not offer a co-branded credit card, and there are no benefits when using the Chase IHG credit card at Kimpton properties.
My choice when staying at Kimpton properties is either the Barclay Arrival (for short stays) or the Citi Prestige (for 4th night free benefit). Another option is the Chase Sapphire Reserve for the 3x on travel spend and $300 in annual travel credits.
Tips to maximize rewards at Kimpton
In my opinion, the Kimpton Karma program is one of the easiest to reach top-level status. Inner Circle is the highest level you can reach in the Kimpton program… and you can reach it in as few as 7 stays if you make reservations during their double stay credit promotions, which seem to occur twice a year (October annual sale and in the spring).
For every 7 stays (3.5 stays when booking during double-stay promotions) you will receive another free night! This tracking continues from one year to the next, so don’t fret if you haven’t completed the next cycle of stays to earn this free night benefit.
What I like to do is book enough one-night reservations during these double stay promotions so that I can both reach Inner Circle status and stay at 10 unique properties. Whenever you stay at 10 unique properties in a calendar year, you will receive 2 free nights on top of the other benefits you receive for normal stays!
So, if you book 10 unique stays during the double stay credit promotion periods, you would be one stay away from receiving 5 free nights!!! Two free nights from the 10 unique stays and 1 free night from every 7 stay credits (you would have 20 stay credits from the 10 unique stays).
The Bald Thoughts
To me, the Kimpton Karma Rewards program is the most lucrative program available. It is very easy to get upgraded to a better room and you get great benefits even if you have just the basic loyalty level. And I love how quickly I can rack up free nights from relatively inexpensive stays for stays at their higher end properties, like the Canary in Santa Barbara.
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