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HotelChatter's Annual Hotel WiFi Report 2010

April 28, 2010 at 12:00 PM | by | ()

A HotelChatter Exclusive

This year marks HotelChatter's sixth annual hotel wifi report. Over the years we've documented the progression of hotel WiFi, from blatant disregard, to price-gouging for WiFi access, and reliable WiFi for loyalty program members, through guests taking matters in to their own hands with wireless lap top cards and 3G access. A year ago, we thought guest demand for free, reliable, hotel WiFi might just go away, thanks to 3G.

Well guess what? The demand for hotel WiFi has not gone away, quite the opposite, a growing number of hotel guests not only demand the hotel they book have proper wireless access but most will consider *not* staying at a hotel that can't meet their basic access needs. That's right, WiFi is a make or break amenity for many hotel guests that can sway booking decisions -- and that isn't going away.

How did this happen? Wasn't the new decade supposed to be all about getting off the hotel's WiFi grid and relying on own wireless 3G cards? It was. But it seems that the cellular networks are woefully unprepared for all the Foursquaring, Twittering, Facebooking, Tumblring and old-school emailing that we need to do. And don't think this is just an early adopter phenomenon.

More and more business travelers need to access their documents in the cloud, family travelers need to stream children's movies for their kids on their devices and laptops, and we probably don't have to mention the fact that the iPad and other popular media consumption devices focus on WiFi connectivity and not 3G.

However, if hotel general managers are licking their chops thinking they can charge guests exorbitant amounts for providing free, fast, reliable WiFi, not so fast. Remember all those side of the road motels that trumpeted "Free HBO?" Well the majority of guests view WiFi the same way--as a must-have amenity, not something they should pay for. This is the conundrum for hoteliers today, how can all this demand for more access translate into a revenue source, without alienating guests?

Today, the hotel landscape is firmly divided into those who follow Best WiFi Practices and those who do not. And while old stalwarts will probably never change their policies (cough, Four Seasons, cough), many up and coming hotel brands realize free, reliable, basic WiFi is an easy way to earn guest happiness and loyalty.

As to how hotels will be able to please their guests, deliver stellar free wifi, and turn their services into a revenue stream, might we suggest hoteliers Google "Freemium".

HotelChatter's WiFi Report 2010


Archived Comments:

There is a ton of info in this report

So be sure to spend some time with it. Otherwise, just click the 2010 WiFi Chart for a quick hit.

As for me, my absolute favorite Hotel WiFi experience of the past year was Element Las Vegas. It was fast, it was free and it was every traveling blogger's fantasy come true.

My worst is also in Vegas at The Palazzo where my wireless card was throttled due to some strange internet vortex and when I finally coughed up money to pay for the hotel's wireless (around $12), the service was not so much better.


In the FAQ section, you note Verizon's annual WiFi card. I have the VirginMobile stick, and it's month-by-month pick-a-plan. I paid $40 for a HUGE plan for a month and ended up using only 3/4 of it, and I'm online A LOT.

Also, other hotels: Park Hyatt Chicago has free wifi, surprisingly.
L'Hotel Nina in HK charges per computer for WIRED internet. OMG I HATE TO PAY FOR HOTEL WIFI. Make it stop!

Late Entry for Worst International Hotel Wifi

Has to be the Hilton Arc du Trimophe in Paris.

The Hotel has outsourced their access to iBahn.

21.99 Euros per DAY (about $30) with No Discount for Long Term Stay or Diamond Honors members - I was there for the week.

It was cheaper for me to go the the Champs Elysee and get a Local Prepaid 3G USB wireless conneciton and access.

The Hotel is aware that this is a problm and said they plan to do something about it, email me, I can do a report, its a great hotel otherwise.

iBahn sucks

Marriotts use iBahn too! Which is why their internet is so prohibitively expensive. At the Marriott Berlin and JW Marriott in London, I found myself going to neighboring hotels that had free wifi. Would rather have been enjoying room service in bed.

Soon to be free (once we get our doors open!)

We're not the nickle-and-dime type.  We love free wifi.


Totally agree @jetsetcd.  When I boot up and see iBahn on my screen at a hotel I close my laptop and head to Starbucks.

Dreading trip to Australia

I haven't been back to Australia since becoming dependent on WiFi and I'm scared. I've heard horror stories of people getting $300 internet charges on their hotel folios there.

Here's hoping they see this report and take major note.

On another note, I of course love free WiFi but I would love it more if I didn't have to click through numerous screens to activate it -- or call down to reception to get a code first. On the go, people... On the go! Make it easy.

Trump Int. Miami

Just stayed two nights at the Trump International in Sunny Isle (Miami). 300+ per night. WiFi is 9.95 per day. Inexcusable.

Bali: free WiFi at Villa Sabandari

A small boutique hotel in the middle of the rice fields, yet with (fast) WiFi all over the premises (yes, also on the pool deck :-)

And it is free. As it should be.

Greetings from Ubud - Bali


Two frustrating experiences

I was in two different hotels and paid for wifi in my room.  I was at conferences at the hotels.  My room wifi (that I had paid for) did not work in the conference rooms.  The conference room wifi was separate.  That meant I had to go back to my room to do email, and could not look at it while I was at the conference, or look for documents mentioned by the speakers.

Very frustrating.

Shawnee Inn & Golf Resort

This isn't one one of the big chains, but it's only about an hour from NYC so I thought I would mention it.  

We have free Wifi in all public areas of the main hotel and all the other guest buildings.  

I built it back in 2004 and the coverage is far better than any other hotel I have ever visited.

Our next phase will be to have WiFi for all the outdoor areas of the property, including the 27 hole golf course.

The reason is because we found that the WiFi coverage inside was solid enough for walk around VOIP phones so our goal is 100% free WiFi everywhere.

Malcolm Waring

Market Pavilion Hotel Charleston SC

The hotel advertised internet connection in rooms.  There was no wi-fi, and only after an hour or so of tinkering with my computer and my wife's by someone from the hotel staff did they say that the hard-wired connection was down because of pending installation of wi-fi.  In response to a comment I posted on a web site reviewing hotels, the manager said:

You are correct, we did not have our hard-wire internet connection for a short time. During your visit we were responding to our guests' request by re-wiring the entire hotel so our guests would have complete WIFI throughout the property. It is unfortunate, but true, that many times while change is in process there is some inconvenience to get to the desired result. Whether it is highway construction, a short detour or enhancing hotel amenities, while the change is in process, there will be some dust. In this case, the dust was in the form of no internest for a short period. I am deeply sorry that you were slightly inconvenienced for a short time, but was glad to hear that you were able to access the internet in our Business Center.

I wonder what he would have said if the bathroom didn't work while they were upgrading the plumbing.  What bothered me most was not just that the internet connection was out, but that they wasted all that time before coming out with the truth.

Gatlinburg WiFi

Gatlinburg, Tennessee:
Free WiFi internet is available at
The Gatlinburg Lodge at SmokyMountainViews.com
(WiFi works well throughout cabin, on decks, sunroom, etc.)


It never ceases to amaze me that some large brands can have free wi-fi in their budget brands but charge the earth in their up market brands! Why?????

In this day and age of free wi-fi in many diverse outlets why do hotels still think that one will pay??? And to the ones that offer free wi-fi in the lobby...get real!

Long live Kimpton hotels who ask for a little loyalty (and deserve it!) and give you benefits...free evening drinks yadda yadda yadda....

Hawthorne Suites/Springfield Suites

Are not part of the Hyatt chain... Hawthorne is part of Hilton and Springfield is part of Marriott.

Guess I expected more from Hotel Chatter.

Hawthorne by Wyndham, not Hilton

I guess I should take my own advice and proof-read.

Worst Hotel WIFI

   Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida has
over 23 hotel properties.
   They charge $9.95 a night for Internet access.
There are no other WIFI networks.

   It's about time WDW stops gouging it's


Mis-classifications should be fixed.  Thanks.

Not all wi-fi is equal

Thanks for the views - useful feedback. From our point of view in iBAHN EMEA, not all wi-fi is equal and we work to provide a business-grade service with highest levels of security for hotel guests that ensures your laptop hard drive stays fully protected. This is not the case with many wi-fi hotspots, where people can freely access the contents of your hard drive if they choose to. We also provide seamless, secure connections to corporate networks through our VPN services that ensure business travellers can access the data they need with complete peace of mind. Our 24/7 network monitoring and multilingual freephone support is also valued by hotels and guests. So "best vs worst" is not simply a case of "free vs for fee".

hotel free/included in price wifi-Europe

May 2010: Hotel Carillon in Haarlem, Holland. Wifi was slow.
Hotel Vijaya in Amsterdam, Holland. Blazing wifi.
Both of these are budget hotels. The prices include breakfast, all taxes, and free wifi.

So how should the major hotels charge for wifi? They should factor it into the room price. it should not be more than a dollar or two.

Travelers DO expect wifi these days because it is very valuable in doing research for an immediate outing or to check one's mail. I have found it useful for museum research and for directions. I don't become a wifi potato when I'm traveling...I'm more of a guerilla computer user--just use it when I absolutely need it.

But hoteliers could make a small, reasonable profit by simply factoring the wifi cost into the room cost and simply describe the wifi as "included in room price." Add maximum three dollars to the room price but not this $15 per day baloney.  200 rooms X $3 = $600 in one day...that is way more than the cost of wifi per day. That's a tidy profit!

FREE Wi-Fi in London

Bandwidth in London is getting cheaper but is still expensive if you require enough to handle bandwidth hungry guests and business users.

One Hotel offering Free Wi-Fi is The Corus Hotel next to Londons Hyde park Corner.

Will keep you informed of other hotels!

Luxury Collection

The chart for Luxury Collection is incorrect - some properties offer free Wifi in the lobbies and other public spaces.

Bed & Breakfast

I was so happy to have stayed in a B&B and had the wifi connection.  Thanks to the Lazy Cloud.  It was very romantic and close to O'Hare and Chicago.

Charged at a Hilton Property

8 bucks plus change per day for mediocre wifi.
Silly me forgot to check before we booked.
Free wifi is almost a given in most of the places I stay at including the coffee shop and restaurants around the corner.
Well get me once shame on Hilton, get me twice....wait, that's not gonna happen. Moving the booking next door next time I'm in town.

Great report.

Very useful information!
When you go to live to hotel, or to another country for a weekend with your children, you have to be sure that for them everything is comfortable. Gyro bowl is great product for your children. No spilling everywhere. And you don't have to clean floor in hotel rooms and cars after your children take a dinner.

Guy Kawasaki vents about crappy Wi-Fi in hotels

"Free Wifi. I cannot understand why hotels that cost $100/day provide free Wifi and hotels that cost $500/day charge you for it. When you couple this with the fact that the Wifi I'm paying for is slow, it makes me crazy."


WiFi nightmare at Hyatt Regency, Santa Clara, CA

I just returned from a WiFi nightmare at the Hyatt Regency in Santa Clara, CA. Realize where this is. This hotel is in Silicon Valley, within three miles of Yahoo HQ, McAfee HQ, Intel HQ, Verisign HQ, Google HQ, and hundreds of other high-tech companies. It's attached to the Santa Clara Convention center and the Techmart. One might expect that WiFi would just work. No.

Until a few weeks ago, this hotel had T-Mobile WiFi. Two weeks ago, they threw out T-Mobile and put in their own in-house system. Not only do they charge far more than T-Mobile, at about $15 per day per device, but there is no WiFi in conference rooms unless the conference pays for it. The conference I was associated with was quoted $1000 per day per conference room for WiFi. (This is apparently discounted to $500 if you order in advance.)

Demos wouldn't run. Presenters couldn't present. Convention registration couldn't accept credit cards. This being Silicon Valley, within hours attendees had brought in enough phone tethering devices and WiFi boosters to bypass the hotel's system. This was expensive, wasted time, and we had better things to do.

If you have to stay in that area and want a hotel with a clue, consider the Avatar Hotel down the street.

Which is why their internet

Which is why their internet is so prohibitively expensive. At the Marriott Berlin and JW Marriott in London, I found myself going to neighboring hotels that had free wifi. Would rather have been enjoying room service in bed.

Family vacation with no free wifi:(

I'm going on a two week family vacation to Fuerteventura this summer, and the hotel does not only charge you 10 euros per day, but the WiFi access is only available in the lobby area... How ridiculous!

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Hi everybody,
In Italy, the Grand Hotel des Iles Borromees in Stresa, on the shore of lake maggiore is one 5 star hotel that offers FREE wifi to the guests .
The service is avalaible in the hotel's lobby. You can surf for free sipping an Hemingway special (the house cocktail)


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