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Worst WiFi Hotels 2007

May 1, 2007 at 1:08 PM | by | ()

A HotelChatter Exclusive

While getting two-bar WiFi reception, or having to go through multiple log-in screens to access hotel wireless is certainly not preferred, that doesn't hold a candle to what some hotels put you through when you try to log on while on the road.

Spotty service, incredibly high access fees, separate networks and even separate payments for accessing the web in-room as opposed to in the lobby, and some hotels think it is there God given right to block access to certain sites while you are surfing, and paying for access we might add.

The most venial sin on the hotels listed below is that they are inconsistent in their access policies across their brand, while the most mortal sin is having guests spend more time, and more money figuring out a hotels' confusing wireless network policy than actually using the network.

Worst WiFi Hotels 2007 List

Kor Hotel Group

Again Kor makes the list for having what seems like eight separate and distinct WiFi policies at each of their eight hotels in the U.S. Most recently, we hit up the Viceroy Santa Monica and we were excited to see the option of either wireless or wired internet in the rooms.

Yet when we attempted the wireless (as seen above), the signal was so weak Google wouldn't even open in our browser. Meaning we couldn't even get to the Viceroy pay-for-wireless page. There was also some other network that said "Viceroy_$7.95" but that's not affiliated with the hotel and didn't work either. We called the front desk who told us to keep on trying and if that didn't work then to sign on using the wired internet and then sign back on to the wireless network. Huh? Whatever it was, it didn't work. But to their credit, the $11.95 wired in-room internet access was fast and without problems.

At the Delfina Santa Monica (once the Sheraton Delfina) the internet access is wired only and is also $11.95. (This is also the same hotel that makes you pay for iPod use after two hours.).

At The Avalon in Beverly Hills, there's wireless throughout but it's $10.95 and the passcode you get to use in your rooms, should work by the pool as well. We had a disastrous time at the Chamberlain in West Hollywood last year in which the lobby WiFi was $9.95 a day but there's not much of a lobby to work in, and the wired room internet was busted. This year, the fee is still the same but there's wireless now in the rooms as well.

At the Viceroy Palm Springs, in-room wireless is included in the $24 a day resort fee which also includes valet parking. Then down at the Tides in South Beach, it's complimentary wireless throughout.

There have been a lot of changes happening at Kor Hotels lately. Namely they have been dropping some hotels and picking up new ones (Sheraton LAX for example) so maybe when they are done with all these mergers they can come up with a company-wide WiFi policy, hopefully modeled after the Tides.

Intercontinental Hotels

Intercontinental owns Holiday Inn, so they have their wireless internet access act together right? Wrong. If you plan on staying at an Intercontinental Hotel, you won't actually know what the WiFi situation is until you arrive at the hotel.

Some Intercontinental Hotels do have free wireless in the lobby (New York and Puerto Rico), while others charge by the day, hour, or even the week.

Intercontinental Boston, one of the highly-touted new Intercontinental Hotels has what has to be the worst wireless policy we have ever seen.

For $10.00 an hour lobby guests and visitors are treated to sixty minutes of access, if you can get past all the Intercontinental upsell screens. Need 24 hours of access? That will cost you $15.00.

What about up in the room, you say? Same deal, except you will most likely be tethered to the wall via ethernet. Our studies showed Intercontinental charges ranged from $6.95 to $10.00 an hour and $12.95 to $15.00 for the day. Furthermore, the lobbies that offered free WiFi were hit or miss as far as signal strength goes.

A word to hotels out there: Inconsistently overcharging, with some of the biggest charges coming from your newest hotels, will land you on this list every time.

Four Seasons Hotels

[Photo: Alan Light ]

The Four Seasons has long been notorious (at least for us) for overcharging for ethernet internet access. There is really no other explanation for their lack of free wireless except that they think if you can afford a $400 a night room, you can afford a $10 or in some cases, $20 internet fee.

But we were appalled with this luxury chain after an incident by a guest at the Four Seasons in Palm Beach where the $10 a day WiFi wouldn't even work. Checking out some of the other locations, we found that Four Seasons Atlanta offers wireless in-rooms for $10 a day and The Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire in Los Angeles offers wireless at $12 a day. Let's hope those networks were working.

Yet the Four Seasons in San Francisco doesn't have wireless in the guestrooms and the ethernet fee is $12.95 for 24 hours. There is wireless in the lobby but that's also a special fee. When we asked the hotel front desk if we would have to pay twice he told us that "Yes, guests would pay by credit card through a special internet page," before handing us over to someone who knew more about the situation. Essentially, it's a double-pay so you better decide where you would rather your internet for 24 hours--in your room or in the lobby.

Also, scary is the Four Seasons New York which has wired internet for $10 a day in the rooms which doesn't sound that bad. But if you want wireless, you can only get it in the lobby and you have to fork over $32 a day. The hotel front desk here was quick to point out that it's not a Four Seasons network but "some other company's" that you sign onto for the day.

Now that Bill Gates has bought the chain along with some other investors, perhaps they will consider wireless? Still, we won't count on it.

Morgans Hotel Group

[Photo: Jilles]

It is a sad state of affairs when paying $9.95 for twenty-four hours of Internet access in your $250 a night hotel room doesn't seem like a terrible deal.

While Morgans Hotel Group should no doubt free the signal, their two major sins are not tying together the in-room and lobby wireless plans and the fact that most staffers are absolutely clueless when it comes to what the hotel's wireless situation is.

No, we aren't asking desk clerks to be our network administrators, however, staffers should be able to tell guests how much wireless access will cost and what the limitations are. In some cases, if you purchase WiFi for $9.95 in a Morgans Lobby, you will have to pay an additional $9.95 to get online in your room, where the access may be WiFi, or it may be tethered.

We do give Morgans credit for consistently charging $9.95 at all their hotels, though again, free is unquestionably best. Furthermore, one of Morgans newest hotels, the Mondrian Scottsdale is offering free, working WiFi in the lobby. Our hope is that Morgans continues the trend of freeing WiFi at their new hotels and gets off this list next year.

Marriott Flagship

[Photo: jajah]

Again, it is important to note that the Marriott hotel brand comes closest at getting wireless access completely right--offering good, reliable, strong, free signals at all Residence Inn, Courtyard, and SpringHill Suites locations.

Because the above Marriott brands provide such a great working atmosphere it makes the failings of wireless at Marriott flagships so difficult to understand.

Yet something is horribly wrong with the hotel WiFi policy for the Marriott flagship brand. Some sort of I-Bahn access screen pops up, multiple payment methods are suggested--from T-Mobile to $9.99 and beyond. Adding to that, Marriott staffers seem to know very little about whatever wireless access they provide and simply offer a support number to guests for questions and concerns.

Similarly, Marriott's luxury brand Ritz-Carlton rarely offers wireless, only ethernet and the word free is never uttered in these hotels. To be fair, club floors do offer wireless but of course you have to pay for club floor access.

Marriott, we beg of you, become the first brand to offer free wireless at all your locations. There is no reason wireless internet access should get more difficult and more expensive as the hotels' luxury level increases.

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 2007 [HotelChatter]
· Worst WiFi Hotels 2006 [HotelChatter]
· Worst WiFi Hotels 2005 [HotelChatter]

Archived Comments:

Re: Worst WiFi Hotels 2007

My family and I just finished virtually an entire month long tour of the southeastern US.  We stayed a variety of hotels from family owned Bed and Breakfast's to large scale 'full service" hotels.

The only hotel which charged for internet access was Embassy suites.  Evidently a corporate wide decision has been made to start charging $9.95/day for wifi access.  It's a shame as my family and I have stayed at the Memphis Embassy suites a number of times in the past with great results.

The manager of the Embassy Suites in Ashburn, VA and I had a "spirited" discussion about the usuriousness of this charge.  He was unapologetic and insisted that WiFi cost his hotel $15k a year.  LOL!

Thanks for this page.