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Best WiFi Hotels 2004

November 3, 2004 at 3:07 AM | by | Comments (56)

A HotelChatter exclusive.

We have cracked the hotel WiFi code and put together a list of the five must stays, if free wireless is a req for your hotel stay.  We checked out many of the online "Best Hotels For WiFi" lists, and you know what, many of them were just dead wrong.  The reason these lists missed is twofold.  First, many of these lists are fairly old, and base their findings on projections; we all know how that can go.  Second, wireless access is still new, and many hotels are tweaking their access situations.  Of course, wireless access varies from property to property, however, you can learn a lot about a hotels attitude from looking at how the hotel deals with WiFi access.  So how do we see the hotel WiFi landscape?   Free is good, fees are bad.  It is that simple.  Of course, one should approach free WiFi with cautious optimism; you may find some blockage on certain networks.  If so, alert us, as well as the hotels themselves, as we have found, many hotels are just unsure how to run their own wireless systems.  With that in mind, here is a list of the top five hotel brands that we find to be the best, when it comes to wireless access.

1. Kimpton

All 40 Kimpton properties nationwide offer free wireless in their lobbies.  At every Kimpton we have visited (ten or so) the lobby signal has been strong and fast.  Kimpton has partnered with Eleven Wireless and offers free and easy wireless access.  What is more, many Kimpton properties offer WiFi access in the guest rooms as well.  

What really impresses us about Kimpton's WiFi service is how one particular Kimpton hotel, 70 Park Ave, handled our in room wireless issues. We had a terrible in room WiFi signal and called down to the front desk ready to let them have it.  The front desk immediately sent up an engineer who came bearing gifts, in the form of a Linksys wireless bridge.  Our sketchy in room connection was now at full strength.  Now that is service.

So free wireless, coupled with outstanding service, earns Kimpton extremely high marks for WiFi connectivity.

(HotelChatter Best WiFi Hotels 2-5 below)

2. Omni Hotels

Omni is the Godfather of hotel wireless Internet access.  Omni is reportedly the first chain to offer free wireless access in both the lobby and the guest rooms (though not every guest room at every hotel), but somehow they get overlooked.  Well if free, working wireless access is near the top of your hotel checklist you need to take a close look at the Omni properties.  Furthermore, many Omni's have great lobbies for congregating, meeting, and checking email, and many of these lobbies have restaurants that are also hooked up with excellent wireless access.

If you are looking for reliable free wireless from a popular hotel brand, the Omni should make your short list.

3. Marriott Residence Inn

Helpful staff, free WiFi in the lobby, and a great place to surf the `net, send off an email, or check your favorite sites.  Marriott Residence Inn does a great job of making folks feel comfortable in their lobby, which goes a long way when a guest wants to tap into the free wireless access.  The rooms, however, do not all have free wireless, though they are all equipped with high speed Internet.  If your room tethers you to an ethernet cable, the staff is usually good about getting you a cable, if you don't have one, oh yeah, and the wired access is free as well.

4. Best Western

Best Western boasts free wireless in both the lobby and all of their guest rooms.  Back in January Tom Higgins, CEO of Phoenix based Best Western stated "High-speed Internet for free is going to be where it's at".  Right on, my man.  The best part is Higgins went ahead and wired all the Best Western hotels in US, Canada, and the Caribbean.

The service is reliable, of course, as is usually the case with "in room WiFi" Best Western is not promising a signal in every room, but they will guarantee you will have some sort of free Internet access in every room, whether through the WiFi router, or through a hardwired connection.  Oh, did we mention the Internet access is FREE.  Yah, that is what counts, so you might have to struggle a bit to get a signal, at least they are attempting to give you the service for free.

5. Holiday Inn/Holiday Inn Express

"Hidden Gem", isn't that what all those guidebooks like to say?  Well that is the case at most Holiday Inn's, if WiFi is a priority for you.  Sure you are going to get a basic room, but usually at a low price, and if you throw in free wireless then most people can be happy, at least for a night.  Most, not all (check before you go) Holiday Inn's have free wireless in the lobby and some sort of free broadband in the guest rooms.  Depending on the Holiday Inn you may run into port blocking, and in general, a good rule of thumb is expect most of these free Internet services to come with some sort of limitations.

Tomorrow, we will follow this story with a story on the worst hotels for WiFi access.

Related Stories:
·    Worst WiFi Hotels 2004 [HotelChatter]

Comments (56)

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sheraton

last coupld of weeks i was travelling round the usa for work.  the four points sheraton i stayed at had free access in the room, but the (no extra name, more expensive) sheraton was pay-for-use.  neither was wifi, but that's less important than whether it's free or not for me.

an omni place i stayed at had free wifi in the lobby, but nothing in the room (useless for phoning home over the 'net when you're travelling round the world...)


Four Points

Cool.  Yeah, some of the best free access comes from the less expensive hotels, like Four Points.  WiFi in the rooms is really hit or miss, it is not consistent across the board.  Some hotels worry that adding WiFi to rooms will keep guests in their rooms and out of property restaurants and lounges, thus they will lose that income.  Plus, even when hotels have WiFi in the rooms, strength of signal can be an issue, depending on the room you are in.


Holiday Inn connectivity

To me, H-I seems to be just starting their big broadband push. Around July or August I started to notice more and more connectivity, but just last week stayed in one (Provo, Utah) that had bupkis. I'm usually staying out in the counties when I travel, though, not in the Metros (or by the airport).


Millburn Hotel in New York, NY

We recently took a trip to NYC with our PowerBook and stayed at the Millburn Hotel ( http://www.milburnhotel.com/ ) on the Upper West Side.

Excellent WiFi service in both rooms. We were very pleased.

The only negaitve was that we had to call the WiFi provider and give them our Mac address before we could send email using our standard (Entourage) email program.

But, hey, for $173/night (inc tax) in NYC, this was a very good deal.


False Advertising

During a recent business trip I booked a hotel specifically based on the advertised in-room Wi-Fi. This was at the Four Points by Sheraton in Denver Cherry Creek.  They had hi-speed access -- just that it was accessible via Ethernet.  Is anyone else noticing that Wi-Fi is coming to mean "we have internet, maybe wireless, maybe wired"?


Farifield Inn

We had good free wireless access in a Fairfield Inn N. of Pittsburgh (Cranberry), and mistakenly thought they all had it, since I'd seen a Marriott add about their chains getting it.  The next one I stayed at in Columbus Oh. hadn't heard of it.


Excellent WiFi service in both rooms

We recently took a trip to NYC with our PowerBook and stayed at the Millburn Hotel ( http://www.index.org.cn/ ) on the Upper West Side.

Excellent WiFi service in both rooms. We were very pleased.

and mistakenly thought they all had it, since I'd seen a Marriott add about their chains getting it.


All hotels should offer internet.

Personally, I feel that internet access in hotels should always be present.  In fact, many hotels that cater to business professionals in NYC and Chicago, for instance, could benefit from IP PBX.  Fast, cost effective, and important for business.

If you are unaware...

IP PBX is a great internet solution that often reduces long distances charges, and combines both telephone and internet service.

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