HotelChatter Annual WiFi Report 2010
The famed Algonquin Hotel in New York offers free WiFi to guests with an access code, which is typically the name of the housecat, Matilda.
Best Hotel WiFi 2010
What was absolutely amazeballs in culling this year's list of Best Hotel WiFi is that there are now more options than ever to get free WiFi at hotels. In years past, it was such a novelty that a hotel would have it for free, let alone actually have said WiFi work! But hotels have finally realized that this is something that everyone wants--from the Real Housewife who needs to update her Facebook profile pic to the business traveler filing TPS reports, the celebrity unleashing vitriol on Twitter and the um, blogger needing to file stories for the next day--with photos and video.
With hotels making such a big improvement this year both on reliability and availability of free wireless, it was hard to select just five but we managed.
1. Andaz Hotels: Andaz is a new-ish boutique brand from Hyatt Hotels, which has had icky WiFi options in the past, like connecting through T-Mobile Hotspots. But Andaz has realized travelers doesn't want to be nickel-and-dimed at every turn so not only is the WiFi free but so are the snacks and non-alcoholic drinks in the mini-bars . Andaz also places a high priority on guest convenience. Thus when you check-in, there's no front desk but rather a hotel staffer waiting with a small laptop to run the check-in process for you. For a long time, we only had Andaz London and West Hollywood to visit but this year, Andaz opened in San Diego and on Wall Street with another NYC location coming in August. So while at the moment the pool of Andaz hotels is small, it will be interesting to see if the brand can keep providing free, reliable wifi as they add hotels, needless to say we have seen other brands fail to do this so we hope Andaz is different.
2. Standard Hotels: Sexy hotelier Andre Balazs prides himself on setting trends whether it be with hotels, nightclubs, restaurants, fashion or crazy grunge rock stars and he has always had free WiFi at his hotels. While he's made some adjustments in his portfolio (bye-bye QT, bye-bye Raleigh), free, reliable WiFi has been a constant. And we just have to applaud that. Not to mention, The Standard NYC is probably one of the hottest hotels in the world right now and the WiFi there just works -- boot up and get on. So for the boutique hotels who worry about downgrading their brand, or increasing their overhead by offering it for free, think again.
3. Peninsula Hotels: In the hotel world, the saying goes, "The nicer the hotel, the more they charge for internet" but the Peninsula is the blissful exception to this axiom. Rooms at these hotels cost a pretty penny but your internet connection don't cost a thang. Say what, Four Seasons? The only downer is that there are just three Peninsulas in the U.S. (New York, Chicago and Beverly Hills.) But you won't have to deal with crazy international WiFi pricing should you stay at the Peninsula Tokyo--it's also included in the room rate! Bravo to the Peninsula for showing luxury hotels you don't have to gouge your guests for wifi access.
4. Holiday Inn Hotels: So the previous three call-outs for free WiFi offer an experience to go along with your internet habits from the rooftop nightclub peppered with celebrities to the wine-tasting in the hotel lobby to the personalized pillow cases on your bed. But let's be real, everyone needs a tried and true every-other-exit-off-the-highway option. No matter how deep into the fly-over zone you go, there will be a Holiday Inn to shelter you. Once in the lobby of an HI, the hotel will allow reconnect with your internet friends for free, quickly and easily. Even better news? Holiday Inn has been refreshing their look throughout their collection so a night with free WiFi in a budget hotel no longer necessarily means a night sleeping in an room straight out of the 80s.
5. The Little Guys: While the bigger hotels brands are doing more and more to get their hotel guests free WiFi (and for which we have to recognize this step in the right direction), they still can't guarantee consistency of wifi at *all* their hotels. Most of the big brand hotels are actually franchised out to real estate developers and owners who are only concerned with the bottom line. These are the folks setting the prices for WiFi and you can never be sure how much it will cost. One hotel could charge you $12.99 but when you visit that brand in another city, the price could jump to $15.99.
But if you patronize a smaller hotel collection your chances of WiFi consistency increase. In addition to Andre Balazs' hotels, we're partial to Ace Hotels (New York, Seattle, Portland, Palm Springs), Gansevoort Hotels (New York, Turks and Caicos), AKA Hotels (New York and Philadelphia), Desires Hotels (New York, Miami, San Juan, St. Louis and Milwaukee) Luxe Hotels (Beverly Hills and Los Angeles), Personality Hotels (San Francisco) and BD Hotels in New York which include The Bowery, The Maritime, The Jane and The Greenwich Hotel. We know it might be hard to pass up an opportunity to earn rewards points at a branded hotel but you may just discover something new at one of these properties.
Always Free, All The Time
· Hotel Indigo
· Courtyard by Marriott Hotels
· Residence Inn Hotels
· Best Western Hotels
· Four Points by Sheraton
· Hyatt Place Hotels
· Element Hotels
· Aloft Hotels
· Red Roof Inns
· Hampton Inn Hotels
· Wyndham Garden Hotels
· Wingate By Wyndham
· Drury Hotels
Always Free, For Members
· Kimpton Hotels: Simply become a member of their Kimpton InTouch loyalty program and you're on your way to free internet.
· JDV Hotels: The majority of Joie de Vivre's properties offer free WiFi in the public areas and guestrooms. But for the few holdouts that still charge, all members of the Joy of Life Club (JDV's loyalty program) get complimentary internet access, regardless of status level.
· Omni Hotels: Most Omni properties charge a fee for WiFi access; however, signing up for the Omni Select Guest loyalty program which is free to do earns you complimentary WiFi at all levels.
· Hyatt Hotels: Hyatt offers free WiFi for guests of certain loyalty program status (Diamond and Platinum) at all Hyatt-owned hotels, from Park Hyatts to the Hyatt Flagship properties. WiFi is also free for all guests at Hyatt's Hyatt Place hotels as well as Amerisuites, Hawthorn Suites and Springfield Suites.
· Fairmont Hotels: There is a fee for internet in guestrooms, but if you are a member of the Fairmont Presidents Circle (membership is free) you can get complimentary internet access during your stay.
· Loews Hotels: Most Loews hotels have it free in their lobbies but it becomes free in-room for members of their YouFirst loyalty program who reach the Blue level which is two to four stays a year.
· Wyndham Hotels: Wyndham's ByRequest program is free to join and offers complimentary internet to members.
Mostly Free, Depending on the Brand
· Choice Hotels: The biggest brands under the Choice umbrella are Comfort Inn and Comfort Inn Suites. The other brands are free as well except Clarion, Rodeway Inn and the Ascend Collection. (The GEM hotels in New York, however, are free even though they are Ascend hotels.)
· Intercontinental Hotels: All brands, including Holiday Inn (domestic) except for Intercontinental Hotels and some Crowne Plazas.
· Wyndham Hotels: It's free in the Wyndham Garden brands but some other hotels flagged with the Wyndham name may still charge.
And now you may be wondering, "Where is Starwood? What about Marriott? And can you write something about Hilton?" Never fear, we've got them covered...right here.
Have you logged on in a hotel recently? Let us know your Best and Worst Hotel WiFi Experiences Here.