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Best WiFi Hotels 2007

April 30, 2007 at 12:31 PM | by | Comments (51)

A HotelChatter Exclusive
It is time for one of our most popular features, HotelChatter's annual look at hotel brands with the Best and Worst WiFi experiences.

This year, we are going to boldly say that hotel WiFi landscape has reached an impasse. When we first started doing this report, hotels made our best list for offering up free wireless internet access. The next year, hotels made our best list for offering up free wireless internet access with a high degree of consistency across brands and locations. So we assumed that by 2007, more hotels would be offering free wireless and with greater consistency, seeing that guests love, need and want free WiFi. Alas, that is not what we found.

Instead of finding more and more hotels offering free WiFi, we are finding more restrictions are being added to free hotel WiFi. For instance, you can get free WiFi in the lobby, but in-rooms it's ethernet and it starts at $9.95. Or you can get free WiFi in your rooms but you need to belong to a hotel's loyalty program or be assigned a code with a special password. So while wireless networks in hotels has reached near ubiquity, it is amazing that consistent wireless internet access, pricing, and service, is not a given across hotel brands, small hotel groups, or even from the lobby to your room.

Yet, free wireless is still what many hotel guests are after, and hotels still have a great opportunity to gain a loyal following by doing hotel wireless right.

Who is doing hotel wireless right and who isn't? That is what we are here to tell you. Today we present our Best WiFi Hotels for 2007. Tomorrow we will publish our Worst WiFi Hotels for 2007. Finally, on Wednesday, we will take our premiere look at International Hotel WiFi Experiences.

2007 Best WiFi Hotels List

Residence Inn, Courtyard, Springhill Suites by Marriott

Marriott is so close to doing WiFi right. Residence Inns, SpringHill Suites, and Courtyard all have strong, free, fast, working wireless in the rooms and the lobbies.

Furthermore, the rooms at the above hotel brands will give you an ethernet cable, and a free tethered connection if the WiFi in your room is spotty or not preferred.

The lobbies at the above mentioned Marriott's are also perfectly outfitted for meetings--meaning they offer plenty of power outlets and places to sit down and log on. The above video was shot at a Residence Inn and it shows you the mood and situation that is featured in most Residence Inn lobbies.

Finally, in our WiFi hotel testing, we have noticed that newer construction hotels, and low lying hotels, are much more apt to have strong wireless signals. Those old, multi-story buildings can be hard to optimally configure for wireless access.

What does all this mean? Marriott, you are so close. Just offer free wireless access at every Marriott property and you will be the first and only hotel brand to have a consistent free wireless policy.

André Balazs Properties


Hotel QT

For those of you who need a bit more of a scene than a Residence Inn can offer, and find yourselves traveling to urban centers like New York, LA and Miami, André Balazs has consistently good, free, strong WiFi.

AB Properties offers complimentary wireless in-rooms at several of his properties in Los Angeles (the two Standards and the Chateau Marmont) as well as at the Mercer and Hotel QT in New York and the Raleigh in Miami. Often, you will need a code but the extra effort to call the front desk for it, is worth it. This is one instance where handing out a code for free WiFi access really fits the hotels scenester profile.

Jeff Klein Hotels, another upscale boutique hotlier well worth mentioning here, takes it one step further and offers complimentary WiFi with no code or agreements to all their guests. The WiFi experience at both Klein hotels, Sunset Tower in LA and City Club in New York, is some of the best we have experienced. However, even though we admire his wireless policy, Klein needs to start opening up some more hotels around the world so we can enjoy the wireless experience in more than two locations.

JDV Hospitality

JDV Hospitality, a California-only hotel group with about 25 operating hotels, has made free wireless a point in all of their hotels. Sadly they have no plans to leave the state of California.

Many JDV hotel offer free, fast, reliable "click and go" WiFi. Meaning no fees, no passwords, no log ons, just a quick reliable WiFi connection. Excellent.

JDV offers this type of connectivity in their guest rooms as well as their lobbies. Many JDV lobbies tend to be small, so you won't see many people surfing aimlessly in the JDV lobby. However, the fact that you can expect a free reliable WiFi connection whenever you're at a JDV hotel is a huge plus.

Omni Hotels

While Omni makes guests pay $9.99 for twenty-four hours of in-room access, there are two ways around it. First, you can join their "Select Guest Program" and get complimentary web access. Second, you can go down to the lobby and use the free wireless.

While we feel strongly that Omni should go all the way and not charge their guests for in-room access, we absolutely love that they offer free wireless access to all in the lobby. Omni, even takes it a step further, they have a free wireless philosophy--the below quote is from their lobby access page:

We're pleased to offer WiFi Internet access in our hotel lobby and designed public areas. Relax in our lobby while you surf the Internet for business or pleasure.

Back in the day lobbies were gathering areas for business folks, local folks, guests, and passerbys who would pop into a grand hotel lobby to have a cup of coffee, read the paper, or conduct a quick business meeting. Fast forward to 2007. Hotels that offer up free lobby WiFi access to all can make a huge statement in what "kind" of hotel they are. Furthermore, if people are hanging out in your lobby they are more likely to eat in your restaurant, where they may also make use of free WiFi, stop in your bars, and even, book a room at one of your hotels.

Finally, some hotels are of extremely old construction and it is not always easy, or practical to wire every room in a big old hotel for in-room WiFi. Offering up free, easy lobby wireless connections is a decent compromise.

Two other brands with similar WiFi policies are W Hotels and Kimpton Hotels. While W has made huge WiFi strides in the past here, Kimpton has regressed:

W Hotels
Last year, W was on our worst list for not offering wireless at most of their hotels. And they called themselves a hip boutique chain! This year, W has improved by offering free wireless in most of their lobbies...excuse us, living rooms. The downside is that in-room internet is more often than not, ethernet instead of wireless and starts at around $14.95 a day. Although, the W Westwood offers the option of three hours for $6.95.

Kimpton Hotels
Kimpton Hotels was always our favorite go-to for hotel wireless because it was always free and free of hassle. However, this past year Kimpton did away with free WiFi access at their two New York properties. Furthermore, most Kimpton properties now require a sign-in code that is for guests only, and then guests are met with complex wireless options (want to use VPN? That is $11.99). Like Omni, Kimpton offers their loyal guests, who are called InTouch members, free WiFi. We used to identify Kimpton Hotels with free wireless access, but that is no more.

Holiday Inn Express


[Photo: The Consumerist]

No surprise here, these low-budget hotels are tried and true when it comes to free WiFi. Why? Two major reasons. First, these hotels are use to offering guests items like free breakfasts and free parking to compete, thus offering free wireless to their guests was a complete no-brainer. Next, many of these budget hotels are newly constructed, small, low lying structures, which means outfitting the property with a wireless network is not a difficult task. So who cares if your room isn't luxurious or hip?

Holiday Inns aren't the only ones offering free WiFi for their guests. Places such as Best Western, Wingate Inn, Days Inn, and Hampton Inn have all been doing this for quite some time now. And any of these budget brands could have been our pick here, however Holiday Inn Express gets the nod because of their reliable free wireless network year in and year out. Now if Holiday Inn Express could just offer free WiFi Internationally as well.

Some Final Thoughts
Hotels are altering their wireless deals all the time (*cough* Kimpton *cough*) which means connectivity experiences continue vary greatly from hotel to hotel, depending on when you visit, so please leave comments below letting us know what sort of WiFi experience you are experiencing out in the world, or send us tips.

We couldn't do this report with out you. Your consistent input helps your fellow travelers who need reliable, stress free hotel WiFi. We collect your tips, techniques, questions, and input throughout the year and go over your input with a fine toothed comb, which greatly helps us publish this list--for that we thank you.

2007 Report Details

Related Stories:
· Best WiFi Hotels 2006 [HotelChatter]
· Best WiFi Hotels 2005 [HotelChatter]

Comments (51)

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A Note on Free WiFi in Hotel Lobbies

I have to say that when we first started putting this report together I thought hotels that offered free WiFi only in the lobbies was still a great thing.

Then I remembered my experience working out of the Westin Times Square lobby. I was down there for hours and all I wanted to do was crawl back up into my bed and work. Or at least sit at the desk in my pajamas.

So I am not such a fan of free WiFi in the lobbies. It's like, why don't you just put in the rooms then? But that is just what hotels do. Try to pump you for as much money as they can during your stay. (Hello, $8 bottle of coke!)

Yet having it free in the lobbies is better than nothing. So I can't knock that. Just don't ask me to get excited about it.


Hotel WiFi

What I like about free WiFi in the lobbies is you know that a hotel is going to have reliable access somewhere when you book it.

Plus, I really like knowing that if you need to go to have a meeting in lobby, or quickly check email, etc, you can do so at certain hotels.  Like "oh, there is an Omni, I know I can get WiFi in the lobby."

That said, having reliable free access in both the lobby and in your room is the way to go.


Re: Best WiFi Hotels 2007

Which JDV lobby is that? Looks cute.

Re: Hotel WiFi

@markj: I have to agree. I was at a Drury Inn--don't ask--and the in-room WiFi was on the fritz. (It was fixed by morning.) But having the lobby available was a life-saver. I didn't like working there, but it was better than running around town trying to find a hot spot.

Re: Best WiFi Hotels 2007

@djk: Galleria Park Hotel in SF.

Speaking of Galleria Park

I am looking at the network menu and there is Kimpton on there! Did you try it?

Re: Best WiFi Hotels 2007

@juliana:  yes.  it worked.  Most Kimpton's have pretty strong signals.  I think it was two bar.  But I needed a Kimpton room number to log on.

Re: Best WiFi Hotels 2007

Nice. I am staying at my first JDV hotel this week, but not the Galleria Park. Hotel Carlton. Which I was quite tickled to get at under $100/night. I will have to return to this thread on Monday to weigh in on the WiFi experience.

Re: Best WiFi Hotels 2007

During a recent trip, I got great reception in both the Ace Hotel in Portland and the Hotel Oregon in McMinnville.

Re: Best WiFi Hotels 2007

Since when did requiring a log in become a negative? I think it is important that hotels require a log in. There are two reasons for this...To limit the network usage to guests only and to keep out people up to no good. If you don't limit the amount on the network to guests only then nothing stops Johnny Q Public Jr sitting out in the parking lot in his car on his laptop downloading on a P2P and sucking down everyones speed on the network. I also think that as a matter of security it is good to require a log in as a way to keep out those up to no good. The hotels that do it should be applauded. I think the same people who complain about having to log in are the same ones huffing when asked to see their ID when using a credit card. It always amazes me when they complain when something is done for their protection.

Re: Best WiFi Hotels 2007

Holiday Inn Express required a guest log in (at many locations) and they made the list.  Ditto for AB Hotels.  So not sure what you are talking about, unless it is Kimpton.  Kimpton totally changed their policy--charges for some features now (VPN), and on the whole performed much worse than last year.  We still put them on here, because their service is free for guests, but downgraded them.

Re: Best WiFi Hotels 2007

Informative and interesting article indeed.

I am sorry to be picky here, but there were some terribly obvious grammatical mistakes.  Incorrectly using the word "your" just irks me.  It's a contraction folks - "you are" (you're) is much different than "your."  

---"However, the fact that you can expect a free reliable WiFi connection whenever your at a JDV hotel is a huge plus."

Please, for the sake of the English language, try to limit this propagation of erroneously utilized words before it sprawls across the internet.  

To be sure, it's very nice that one can read about these things and have some idea of what to expect where.

I only meant to comment on the grammatically annoying facets of this article for a moment.

So, speaking from a recent experience, I was very glad to find that the Holiday Inn I stayed at had free wi-fi.  No hassle whatsoever, just free internet!  It's hard to believe that some places will charge so much for a WIRED connection!!!  While it's better than nothing, I agree w/Juliana - it sounds like they just want to juice you for every little thing.

Again, sorry for the nitpicking, I just wanted to vent.

Nice site.  Nice article.  Good times.  

Hope some hotel people read this and understand that people just want free wi-fi.


Re: Best WiFi Hotels 2007

@pickyperson: Fixed.

i will never use "your" improperly again

thanks for letting us know, picky person. it's just one of those things where you read it a million times over and it all looks the same. working on it at 7am doesn't help either. but i do know the difference and i will be more careful.

Re: Best WiFi Hotels 2007

juliana burns through grammar exercises in her sleep. online. while using $24 Four Seasons wifi. which she manages to secretly expense to Pomeranc. but I can't explain how that last part works...

Re: Best WiFi Hotels 2007

This is a very useful article and I hope you'll update it from time to time.

Depending on where my room is located, I have often had success in using the free lobby wireless from my hotel room. Just this past week, staying at the Doubletree Guest Suites in Orlando, I was pleased to find that I could connect for free instead of having to pay that $9.95/day. So always check it out before opting for the for-fee connection.


Re: Best WiFi Hotels 2007

You state above:

What does all this mean? Marriott, you are so close. Just offer free wireless access at every Marriott property and you will be the first and only hotel brand to have a consistent free wireless policy.

Please confirm--don't all Carlson Companies Inc. brands (Country Inn & Suites, Radisson, Regent hotels, etc.) have a consistent fee wireless policy now? If you confirm that's the case, can you update this article?


Radisson internet policy

Well, we haven't tested Radisson in a while but we looked at their Free interent policy and it looks like they charge you for the phone connection. Not cool. We'll investigate further but that's what we know for now.

Re: Radisson internet policy

Free interent? Where? Hehe.. gotta get me some of that free interent!

But seriously, it's a heck of a lot of work to provide business-grade Wi-Fi to all parts of a hotel property, especially in older buildings that have concrete and reebar walls that are 2 feet thick. It's not much easier getting wired to the rooms through old copper wire either.

I'm in Hawaii, and I'm so tired of hearing "it's free at every hotel I've stayed at" when 90% of the properties I know that offer it, charge for it. People expect that getting free Wi-Fi at a Courtyard means a Marriott Resort is going to give it to them free too. Usually, it's people who are at a Marriott Resort using points that they got by staying at low end Marriott properties all year long.

Anyway, free Wi-Fi is great, unless you are the one that has to provide it. And then, since it's free, who cares if it doesn't work? The hotel's sure don't seem to care.


Re: Best WiFi Hotels 2007

I bitch about this ALL THE TIME.  WiFi only in the lobby is so outdated! How do these supposedly upscale and expensive hotels justify charging for this?  It's not just about the money, it's about the image - you're hip and savvy and luxurious but I have to ante up $15 a day to get hooked up in my room?  And it's not even wireless?

I totally agree with your thoughts about the W chain - if they're really for the young hip tech crowd they need to get with the program.  We stayed at the Ritz-Carlton in Jamaica in February and also had to pay about $15 a day, I think. (Which somehow didn't surprise me, the whole thing seems like an afterthought to this stodgy great-aunt of a hotel.)


Re: Best WiFi Hotels 2007

What?  No mention of Choice Hotels (Comfort Inn, Quality Inn, Sleep Inn)?  I thought they were all 100% free wireless now.  Admittedly not in the same class as "W" but worth a mention don't you think?

Re: Best WiFi Hotels 2007

I've been staying at Hampton Inns for quite a while and the WiFi service in the lobby has been excellent. I always felt a little more secure in the rooms with an ethernet connection, so I've never had a problem with the lack of wireless in the rooms. If I want to work in bed I bring along an inexpensive wireless router and set up my own local network with WPA2 encryption.

On one occasion, the whole local network went down and the hotel had to reset its router. Other than that, it's been fast and reliable. I've no complaints. Signing in is simple and persists for your stay.


Re: Best WiFi Hotels 2007

I stayed at three hotels this summer. a quite expensive NH Hotel in Berlin: Extremely expensive WIFI, the Hotel Jurine in Berlin: Free Wifi in their Business section (next building, but it worked from my bed too), The hotel tri Prstrko in Prague - rather expensive hotel (for Prague): Free and good wifi.
I heard about that SAS Radisson have gone from paid to free Wifi for guests: Brilliant, I will do my business travel there next time I have a chance. Just the nuissance to get out your credit card after you got to bed and want to check your mail and chat with your beloved at home is a disaster for a place that claims to care for you.
With regards to login: if it is done well, it is okay, but if you have to login every single time you open your computer, it will be a pain. (oh yes, I forgot the Hotel Koldingfjord in Denmark, best rooms for a long time and free wifi, although with a pretty decent login-system) a very good place for conferences IMHO.

Re: Best WiFi Hotels 2007

The Best FREE wi-fi hotel in Boston, MA is the Best Western Terrace Inn!
1650 Commonwealth Ave.
Boston, MA 02135
617-566-6260
http://www.bostonbw.com/

I am sooooo tired of paying for wireless internet when I travel.  This hotel offers free parking and continental breakfast as well!


Re: Best WiFi Hotels 2007

Would you expect to pay for WiFi in a B&B? I am investing in WiFi and feel that I should be able to charge for it but all your comments seem to indicate that it should be free? I charge £35 pppn in a double room for B&B

Re: Best WiFi Hotels 2007

interTouch, a hotel internet access provider, is a premier provider of fast, reliable and secure wired and wireless broadband connectivity services to the hospitality industry. Our one-stop-shop solution, round-the-clock network monitoring and multi-lingual customer support enable more than 400 hotels in 45 countries to offer a superior guest experience. We manage over four million connections every year, allowing travelers and conference attendees to enjoy communication, information and entertainment services from multiple locations. We welcome any enquiries from hotels seeking for a hotel broadband provider!

Re: A Note on Free WiFi in Hotel Lobbies

lobby free to guest wifi is just shortage of hospitality with big H

guest need inroom connectivity

whatever free or chargeable

if market goes free then great

Still what does mnean free ?

low bandwith ,no service,poor guest interface

Premium services have a cost that is certainly more taken into account by chargeable wifi (at least we can complain if not the case)

The best of both worlds seems free to guest in room wifi !!!

I just love this one

MagiNet launched those kind of services across europe/asia/afica/middle east !!

please feel free to contact me and forget about staying in the lobby late at night in the cold just to download your emails

rgs

remy


Re: Best WiFi Hotels 2007

Hello

Just one little remark.

To install WiFi, it costs a lot of money.
So in my opinion it's quite normal that you get charged for using this.

Admitted, asking 15 dollar, is way too much, asking let's say, 2.5 dollar is reasonable.

About needing a log-in for using WiFi, again, that's very normal as well.
I don't think hotels feel like paying for internet for their neighbours and random people just passing by.


Re: Best WiFi Hotels 2007

Try all of the Ocean Properties Ltd. hotels and resorts (over 100+) all types of brands (Marriotts, Westins, Sheratons, Holiday Inn's and a bunch more plus independents) all over the US and Canada and Caribbean for FREE.  Thats right FREE internet in room and common areas at ALL of there hotels and resorts. www.oplhotels.com

Re: Best WiFi Hotels 2007

I agree, it takes much more today to deliver a QUALITY wifi service. If you want Wifi to be free, it will be crap, slow and bad coverage.
Otherwise the hotel room will be more.
Some one is paying for the internet, and now with more usage, more bandwidth demands it is even more expensive.
The travelers today are using more bandwidth.
It is like using more water.. Some one is paying for it. It is buried in your bill.
I feel that a low level of internet bandwidth or serice that is protected, secure and works should be included in the room.
A higher speed service should be available for price.

Hotel Wi Fi

I have been staying in the UK on business the last few weeks and the apartment block i have stayed at for business travellers has a nifty wi fi service that I dont know if it is UK wide or just in the London location I am at. The login takes you to www.airbox.uk.com whereby you can pay to use the internet. Its great as I dont have to travel to an internet cafe to reach home and work, its tonnes better than my 3G, and the speed of connection is great. Guys you should check it out. Totally wicked

wifi hotels

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While looking for NO wireless internet hotels

When I go to hotels, it is usually for a vacation... so my main concern is getting some rest in a beautiful setting. People main not be aware of the effects of high frequencies on the body and central nervous system, but like 15% (according to statistics) of the population, wi-fi signals disturb me A LOT, hurts all over and make my heart beat too fast and in a irregular manner. So I suggest REVIEWS or CHARTS about those few hotels that can give their customers really deep rest with WIRE INTERNET ONLY facilities. Electromagnetic fields and microwave signals are a growing concern in every country now...we are only beginning to see the results of that technology.

wireless internet

I think it is a very interesting point of view that indeed not everybody wants wifi on vacation. But I think that people need to have the choice. The effects on health are not yet sure for long term exposure. We will defenitly hear more about this in the future.

Greetings,
HP

What about cell phone coverage

Can you believe I stayed at a 5 star hotel with free WiFi and NO cell phone coverage! I've no idea if the walls were too thick or what, but nothing came through.

wi-fi

for wi-fi problem's just Try http://wlancontroller.com

I disagree

I hate to be a synyster gates keeper...but I disagree with this list.  Omni is way better and should be #1.

wifi is cool

I agree with your comments. Most of the time, the best electronic cigarette technology was came from Technic.

I am also using my laptop at the hotel using the hotel wifi.


Wifi Hotal

I appreciate when I see well writen material. Your time isn't going to waste with your posts. Thanks so much and stick with it No doubt you will defintely reach your goals! have a great day! sat test

WiFi Getting Better

I think that most hotels have finally upgraded to good wifi service.  Over the past year I've stayed in 5 star down to $50/night hotels and have not had an issue with wifi at all.

Jeeler, refinance mortgage rates specialist


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Wifi Next Gen

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