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HotelChatter's Annual Hotel WiFi Report 2009

May 6, 2009 at 1:22 PM | by | Comments (70)

Using the complimentary Kimpton Hotel WiFi in the lobby and poolside at the Hotel Palomar Westwood

A HotelChatter Exclusive

When we did our first HotelChatter WiFi Report back in 2004, we focused on the few hotels and hotel chains that were offering free, reliable hotel wireless and those who weren't. Over the next couple of years, more and more hotels began addressing the issue of adding dependable wireless for their guests, both in-room and in-lobby. However, what we are seeing in 2009 is a trend towards the corrosion of the upkeep, reliability and "freeness" of hotel wireless services.

To our dismay, some hotels that boast free WiFi in their guestrooms offer the worst kind of WiFi you can get: the slow kind. Worse yet, just because you've forked over a daily fee for the internet service in your room, doesn't mean you're guaranteed a fail-safe, four-bar connection.

This year, we'll be looking at the hotels and chains that are putting a new spin on free and reliable service as well as those hotels that have fallen off the reliable WiFi wagon. We'll also touch on International hotel WiFi gems and rip-offs. Remember, just because your favorite brand gives it to you for free here at home doesn't mean you'll get it on your next trip abroad.

In short, our message to hoteliers in 2009 is this: don't make us rely on our iPhones, Blackberries, and 3G cards; we still rely on hotel WiFi. Offer us the dependable wireless connections we need for getting on our laptops, checking out online videos, stalking old friends on Facebook, tweeting, buying music and movies for the trip home (or even for the hotel room) — and maybe even getting some work done.

· Best Hotel WiFi 2009
· Worst Hotel WiFi 2009
· International WiFi Hotels 2009
· Connecting In-Room
· 2009 WiFi Chart

These reports were compiled by HotelChatter editors and information gathered came from in-person trips to these hotels and member and reader emails and comments between May 2008 and May 2009.

Comments (70)

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Awesome chart!

I think free in the lobby should be mandatory!

Finally, WiFi Hotels You'd Want To Stay In

Sorry to "dis" you Best Western, but Aloft and Hyatt Place are actually fun places to stay--WiFi is just icing on the tech-cake.

Looking at the awesome wrap-up chart finally made me realize something: The worse the hotel brand the cheaper the WiFi. C'mon Ritz and JDub Marriott, not all of us can just expense it on the Platinum!


W WiFi Wondering

I still don't get the W hotel WiFi policies.  It is free in the lobby in SF, use to be free in Union Square in NYC, and was never free in Times Square.  Seems you never know what you are going to get with W.  

However, aloft, hyatt place, marriott residence inn + courtyards -- all free and clear all the time.


i think

I think all the W's are free in all the lobbies, but like, I don't really want to be sitting amongst the zebra print pillows and the whole mess trying to get my work done. Especially in the event that there is "nnst nnst nnst" music playing. Although my pink macbook would look cute next to the pink martini i'd be drinking, I guess.
I do remember them telling me at the W hoboken that they charge guests to use the biz center though, which is kind of weird.

Great Chart!

What an awesome resource!

I second kjb and was also surprised that the pricier the hotel, the less likely they are to offer free wifi. Mybe they figure if you can afford their rooms you can afford to cough up the extra for internet access.


Embassay Suites - Free

I was just at the Embassy Suites in Charleston SC a few weeks back and the WiFi in the rooms/lobby was free. The front desk said all Embassy Suites have free WiFi - but I cant verify that other than her comment and what this particular hotel had.

five star guide

I just printed this guide out and threw it in my wallet. I'm sure it will come in handy with my frequent travels and avert the damned if I, damned if I don't, $20+ daily internet connection fees I find myself paying over and over again. Thank you.

Wireless router

Does anyone carry around those little wireless routers that you just plug in? I've had some success with carrying around full-sized routers and using them to get wireless access. Just logging in through the router works - I've never had to spoof a MAC address or anything like that. I'm wondering if the less robust small ones work.

Airport Express, etc

Hmm. Some tech people also recommend the Airport Express to, like, get around paying-per-computer when you have to connect multiple computers in a single hotel room. Check out this story.

Bellagio Vegas is Aweful!

Tech support was useless. They had no idea how to work with a Mac. Will NEVER stay there again.

New York Helmsley

Went first to a Kimpton in the city and, although they claim free, it was not. Next trip in stayed here and it was free in the room, lobby and restaurant.

Another cool product for WiFi junkies

Anyone else see this in the NYTimes this morning? This is kind of glorious: The MiFi; $40 a month, good WiFi ANYWHERE off Verizon's 3G network.
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/07/technology/personaltech/07pogue.html?_r=2

kimpton

i didn't even notice i had to sign up to their programme, but that would explain why i got a nice little card through the letterbox after i stayed there. think US is better than europe for not charging generally - am sick and tired of english country houses whacking £10 on the bill every time i go..

so useful!

This is one of the best guides ever! Nothing more disappointing than a bad connection on the road...now I can avoid it!

Other WiFi Workrounds

All of the major US Wireless companies have their own version of MiFi (Verizon)...T Mobile has one and Sprint and AT&T do as well.  They are little pocket devices that look just like thumb drives and plug into a USB port on your laptop.  They are in most major cities, every bit as good as the WiFi you get in most hotel properties, and Sprint just announced they are launching 4G around the country. You can use them while moving in taxis or while waiting in airports too. Just about everyone charges $30-$40/month.  And they are portable, so companies can sign up for them and lend them to employees so they can be shared among workers who are travelling when others are not.
In Europe (where nothing is free, and WiFi is the Euro equivalent of $35+/day)you can buy them from most European carriers as well. (BT Cell and Orange in the UK; Orange & SFR in France).  If you commit to 12 months of service, you can get unlimited portable service for €30/month, which is less than a hotel would charge for a day!  The catch:  most European service providers will only sign up residents of their countries, so you may need to enlist the aid of an overseas co-worker or friend who will sign up on their behalf. (Oh, and don't roam from country to country with them, because unlimited plans often don't cross national borders).   A little inconvenient, but it sure beats being gouged.

Great report!

Also interesting to report would be whether or not hotels throttle bandwidth.  Here at The Clarendon in Phoenix we don't, so our free wifi is usually getting speeds at around 4000-6000K on speedtest.net - always a great site to go to when you check into a hotel.  The interesting bit - we're seeing more and more people commenting on check-in that they have their own aircards, which is a welcome trend.  

Perhaps one day in 5-10 years, you'll see:

  • more and more hotels without wi-fi (everyone will have their own 3g/4g/5g or wi-max cards),

  • no phones (everyone seems to have a mobile these days, and even though we offer free worldwide calls, people rarely pick up their phones in their rooms!  we're even getting more and more people calling from their mobile phones to the front desk because they're too lazy to get up and pick up one of the two cordless telephones in their rooms - seriously!),

  • no TVs (hey, I tell you what, so many people tell me now that they don't even turn on their TV when they stay in their room, and we have nice 42"-50" TVs - they're using hulu and websites to watch their shows - oh, and by the way, we don't have any pay per view, and no movie channels, and rarely even get a question from a guest if we have them).

  • no radios/alarm clocks/cd players/stereos.  People bring their laptops/phones along with their headphones/earbuds.  People are trained to waking up to their phone alarm... they can't even figure out most alarm clocks these days.

  • power strips at every bed and desk.... we already have them in almost every room, both at the bed and at the desk.  nobody should ever have to crawl around.

As technology becomes more portable and "attached to the person" rather than "attached to the room", it's going to be interesting to see how this affects the bottom line... imagine hotels that don't have to install and maintain phone systems, wi-fi networks, tv's... that's a lot of saved wiring, and only helps hotels become more and more green.  Even light switches are becoming wireless so you don't have to run copper wire to and from every switch.

When articles are written about the "future guest room" it always seems to be from the perspective of companies trying to sell products and use more resources.  I'd love someone to ask me as a independent hotel owner with a bit of geek in me what I think the future will hold.   I think it'll be about  comfort and appointments, not technology, because people will bring their own technology with them.

Thanks/Ben
Owner/GM
The Clarendon Hotel
Phoenix, AZ


no free wifi but free swimming...sure!

I find it really funny when a hotel says they are charging for wifi because its a service not everyone uses (Thompson) and therefore they shouldn't build it into the rates to provide it "free" to all guests.  What about all those swimming pools that hardly anyone uses.  With this reasoning they should really start charging for the use of the pool since I know most guests never use the pool.  As a matter of fact I would bet that a lot more guests use the wifi than use the swimming pool.

Caesar's WiFi Failure

Yet another Las Vegas Hotel wifi fail:  Caesar's Augustus Tower.  Your internet will be tethered, though at least the ethernet works.

Firmdale Hotels London

still can't get over they charge close to 40 $ a night for wifi usage (per computer!!)

You wouldn't believe some of the calls we get

From many, many comments on-line, I know that we are one of the few companies that operate truly reliable Internet services for hotels - and I understand just how bad many of the contractors AND franchise operators are.

Of course everyone reading this is reasonable and competent, but in general we get:

  • 50% of calls are for help turning built in wireless cards on, or just connecting to a network
  • 10% of callers simply need to reboot
  • 10% of calls are for non-PC devices, including iPhones, PSPs, PS3, Wii, XBox 360, and even TiVos
  • 5% of callers need to exit/restart Internet Explorer (or get a better browser)
  • 5% tried to start another application before their browser and didn't get the user agreement
  • 5% have background apps or spyware taking up 40 or more sessions, killing legitimate traffic (that's 90% of all complaints about network speed)
  • 3/4 of all Mac users can't look up their current IP (DHCP) address
  • 5% of calls are generated by problems with the ISP, which no one else can resolve or prevent (Qwest being the worst by far)
  • 1% are problems with the guest's PC that we cannot fix over the phone (like replacing a hard drive)
  • 1 guest in 20,000 will have a problem connecting that is not related to their PC and cannot be resolved remotely
  • Callers over 50 take twice as long on average, over 65 is 4x (I don't mention this flippantly, I'm coming up on 40 quickly)

So what gives us hope? For every guest that refuses help (0.5%), we hear thanks and appreciation from 5 times that many.

And even though the front desk staff at every hotel will say 'several' guests are having trouble when they mean one, and 'all' or 'every' guest when they mean two (I wish I was kidding!), we never hesitate to check all the connections.

If I were only given the option of talking to in-house staff with limited training (and probably no admin access to the network) instead of a phone number, I would know not to return to that hotel.


Tripadvisor Reviews about this ammenity

You know what amazes me is I was reading some reviews particularly for the Sheraton on Cocoa Beach and I found that people though that hotel "sucked" because the Wifi was down for a day.  My biggest problem with this is you are on a beach, a beautiful beach, with fantastic tempratures and all you have to make you happy is WIFI?  Put the laptop down for a few hours and walk on the beach and listen to the ocean.  I can't believe how important this has become.  10 years ago you were lucky to get dialup in a hotel, and nobody used it!

Free Wifi in Four Points by Sheraton

I'm currently staying in a Four Points hotel and I don't see anything that has changed. They still charge for in-room wifi and internet access. But lobby and restaurant wifi access is free.

Is it WiFi or is it fake dial up ?

I recently had the grave misfortune to stay at the Comfort Inn Central Park West in NY. It's a super location, but a dump of a hotel. They advertise free wifi.  IF, IF you can connect to it, the speeds are slower than dial up.  Hotel management is well aware of the long existing problem, but refuses to do anything to remedy it. Needless to say, I would never stay at this horrible hotel again.  Sure would be nice if hotels advertised their broadband speeds.  For those of us who work constantly on the web, it would be nice to know for biz travel.

Shame on you Comfort Inn / Choice Hotels.


Westin St. Francis Lobby FAIL

Just tried to log onto Westin St. Francis lobby WiFi. it was so miserably slow--the landing page couldn't even load. i dont care if the beds are heavenly, the westin WiFi is crap.

Common thing

Unfortunately, that's a common thing And there's no chance to solve the problem, as new people will always come to such hotels. I travel with my digital piano and have to send tracks to different places. It's very annoying when you cannot do what you paid for.

I don't really want to be sitting

I don't really want to be sitting amongst the zebra print pillows and the whole mess trying to get my work done. Especially in the event that there is "nnst nnst nnst" music playing. Although my pink macbook would look cute next to the pink martini i'd be drinking, I guess. I do remember club penguin telling me at the W hoboken that they charge guests to use the biz center though, which is kind of weird.

London Free Hotel WiFi

Found free, reliable, wifi @ Hotel Zetter, http://bit.ly/3Ml54 in London today.  Wahoo.

Thompson hotels are struggling

to provide good wireless service to its customers. Not only did they make it a pay-for service this year, they also made it a non-working connection. Grrr. I had problems the other week at Smyth Tribeca and JetSetCD had a network fail the other day at the Hollywood Roosevelt. Perhaps they should go back to offering it for free?

All Philadelphia Marriotts - Awful WiFi and Wired

So, I travel to Philadelphia each week and so far have stayed at the Courtyard, Residence Inn, and Executive Marriott (all within 2 blocks).  The Residence Inn offers free WiFi.  It has to be the slowest I've ever experienced.  The Courtyard and Executive Marriott have equally awful wired broadband at a whopping 90kbps... downloads drop after a few minutes.  It is absolutely awful.  I have called Network Helpdesk in all three hotels and none of them have been able to do anything but reset the slow connection to a new slow connection.

Wifi rip off

It doesn't cost much to offer free wifi, and if you are on a business trip at the end of the day you are going to go for the hotel with the free wifi, not that one that makes you pat for the privilege!
Jason hotels cheltenham

This is brilliant!

Thanks so much.

There's nothing worse than going somewhere on business and finding that the WiFi on offer is worse than dial-up. I'll definitely be making use of this resource in future. Thanks again. Dale Yacht Charter.


I Love Wifi

I really like a hotel provides Wifi Internet connection to use free of charge.

WiFi

I agree with what the 5th commenter said (cmb). I've always found that the more expensive hotels do not offer free WiFi, but the cheaper ones do. The most reasonable explanation is that the expensive hotels know guests have more money, thus they are more likely to pay for WiFi.

great info

I travel extensively and appreciate the report.  I'll post links on my Computer Help Forum and PC Tips and Tricks blog.

I believe Hilton/HGI/Hampton has the best wireless from the properties I've visited.  


Free WiFi

As a magician (Zauberer) I travel a lot and spend a lot of time in hotels. Of course I want to use the WiFi but most of the time the bandwidth is very poor. This usually results is me grabbing a book and reading some pages instead of complaining about the connection. Greets the Zauberkünstler

Quality matters

In my opinion quality matters when it comes to hotel WiFi. I have traveled extensively for many years and have seen excellent and worthless WiFi. One thing that is important to me is some sense of security.

I was in a hotel in Hua Hin Thailand a few weeks ago that ran everything through an offsite squid proxy. The proxy blocked, and surely monitored all online activity making work almost impossible. Use a VPN if you have one, and check for proxies before entering sensitive information and passwords.

Bangkok Cheap | Pattaya Cheap | Phuket Cheap


Not a hotel but...

Don't use Starbucks WIFI, it sucks and it's expensive. LAME! Denny's actually has a free WIFI setup and as long as you're drinking coffee, they will loet you use it.

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About the cost...

I found the most expensive hotels does not offer WiFi for free! They charge for it.

If all the hotels make it free for the guests, that would be really nice!


All Hotels should have free WiFi

I think sooner or later all hotels will be forced to offer free WiFi to compete. As the number of travelers with laptops increases, more and more guests will base their decision on the availability and price of in-room internet service. Surprisingly, there are still a number of otherwise high quality hotels that seem to drop the ball when it comes to WiFi. Hopefully competition will prevail, and prices will slowly come down.

The other factor is support. If a hotel is going to charge a hefty fee, then they should also have some quality support to go along with it. Hotels are often understaffed in this regard and the price should reflect this fact. If it's a five star resort, and a helpful tech comes to your room to resolve any issues you may be having, then charging a reasonable fee is acceptable.

Bangkok Cheap hotel | Hotels Bangkok


Hotels wi-fi

Surely all hotels should have free wi-fi, not only in the lobby but in the rooms as well. It is pretty natural considering that it is the end of 2009. Austria hotel In most European countries even the majority of 3star hotels have, although the connection speed might not be so great...

Free Wifi Manila

You can find here the list of free Wifi in Metro Manila

Would be a great perk

I though that wifi was pretty much standard in all hotels now

Element Las Vegas

Element Las Vegas has free WiFi. No code, no nothing. Just select and surf.

Security...

Wireless networking standards and gear wasn't specifically created with public applications in jenter mind. Thus, as you may know too well, there are many annoyances that come along with using Wi-Fi hotspots. Most hotspots don't offer encrypted connections, so security should be one of your main concerns when using Wi-Fi hotspots. Anyone within range of the signals can see the raw traffic of your connection. This isn't a big deal if you're just browsing the Web. Connections to encrypted sites (such as banking and other sensitive accounts) using SSL/HTTPS are completely secure.

This is great

Our new site can locate via WiFi where you are, and can show you the nearest car results!

Try it!
Christian


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 This is a really good read for me. Must agree that you are one of the coolest blogger I ever saw.
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wifi = deciding factor

Wifi is definitely one of the deciding factors for a lot of business travelers like me. The amount of technology and interactive intelligence available at hotels now is amazing! Thanks for publishing this report to help out wary travelers like me!

Free WiFi

Traveling quite a bit I would like to remark to the world of hotels: Please! Let WiFi be for free, it doesn't cost you anything. You don't have to be magicians (Zauberkünstler) to realise that...
Kind regards,

Magic Dean - www.magicdean.ch


Peace

Free WiFi would add quite a bit to the peace of hotel guests. Check out this: Zauberkünstler Schweiz

Wifi Hotel

Best to be cautious when using wifi in a hotel enviroment as it not normally secure. Always have  antivirus software like norton antivirus - this piece of software can give you anonymity on an open network

Hi

I recommend starting smaller yet many perfect strangers are solving problems.
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Terrible

I was in a hotel lately and they charged me extra for WiFi... How can this still be??!! (<a href="http://www.filz-accessoires.ch" title="Filz">Filz</a>)

Terrible...

And then when I checked out,the bill was abnormally high... (<a href="http://www.filz-accessoires.ch" >Filz</a>

Its a crying shame

surely all hotels these days should offer free wifi, those that dont are going to lose out to the hotels with wifi. <a href="http://www.duracellchargerpad.net">duracell charger pad </a>

cooking classes

WiFi connection in the hotel is like a double bed in one room.

Owsame


Goochelaar

this is really great! i hope every hotel si going to have it!

Wifi

this is really great! i hope every hotel is going to have it! i visit lots of hotels, and i always need to check my mail or my website http://www.magicsteve.nl so this is awesome!

What about airports

We have a contract with a hotel at the airport on Schiphol for 10 roooms and still they charge us 4 euro an hour rediculous

NH hotels

I heard the same from www.nhhotels.com

short cut to hotel wifi

I got a <a href= "http://leasedeals.nl/artikelen/alles-over-leasen/shortlease" title="short lease">short lease</a>contract with Hotel Europe too

wifi

fantastic news getting wifi  report on hotels helps me choose where to stay thanks for the share

This is awesome!

Everyone should know about this. I really love this blog. :D

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How right!!!

Travelling as Zumba instructor (www.zumba-st-gallen.ch) I really feel that WiFi should be free!

Interesting to look back on this issue

Well right now how many hotels do you know that don't offer complimentary WIFI? I am of the opinion that this is just the beginning and before the end of this year, we will start seeing desktop computer in more <a href="http://www.gardeninnjfk.com">hotel rooms</a> due to travelers using more tablets and smartphones and access to a desktop is more in demand then ever.

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