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The 2012 HotelChatter Hotel WiFi Report

April 10, 2012 at 8:34 AM | by | ()

A HotelChatter Exclusive

If you take the Way Back machine to view HotelChatter's first annual Hotel WiFi Report in 2004 you will quickly realize we were merely looking for hotels that offered WiFi in the guest rooms or lobbies, and of course, offered it for free. Back then, WiFi was in its infancy, only a handful of years removed from being invented by the Australians (um, sure) and providing it to hotel guests was cutting edge. Heck, some hotels were still making guests walk down to the basement business centers to get online.

Fast forward to 2012 and pretty much every hotel worldwide has WiFi from the communist confines of Beijing to the hemp hammocks in Costa Rica. Success!

Alas, the problems that we had eight years ago, remain today. It's not always free and it's not always reliable. New problems have popped up too. Guests are getting dinged with internet charges per device (cellphone, tablet, laptop, etc.) because hotel WiFi networks are too antiquated to handle multiple devices per room.

Hotels have also complained that streaming digital media services like Netflix are sucking up precious bandwidth forcing the hotels to invest more money into their networks and (so they claim) to keep on charging guests per day (and per device) for internet access.

But we've got the numbers on how much it costs a hotel to install and maintain a decent network and there's no reason why hotels should be charging us for this service, which is just as important as air conditioning and working toilets, other than it's an easy revenue source.

True, the hotel WiFi landscape is not all doom and gloom. In looking at our 2012 Hotel WiFi infographic, the good definitely outweighs the bad. And in our many conversations with hotel general managers, owners and brand executives, we are hearing that they are hearing us and our calls for free WiFi.

But hotels are still in the business of making money and so while they may cave in and offer "basic internet" options for free like email and surfing the web, they won't tolerate bandwidth hogs.

Thus, we expect more tiered payment plans to be introduced in the very near future and you know what? That's alright with us. But just promise us that those basic options will actually work. Oh yeah, the "working" part of free, working WiFi is still the dream.

Have you logged on in a hotel recently? Let us know your Best and Worst Hotel WiFi Experiences Here.

HotelChatter's WiFi Report 2012


Have you logged on recently? Let us know your Best and Worst Hotel WiFi experiences here!

This report was compiled by HotelChatter's staff of contributors and network of tipsters, far and wide.

Archived Comments:


I have stayed in a Microtel before. Not ashamed to admit it. Ya gotta do what ya gotta do for WiFi.

another hotel makes the switch!

actually it's two hotels--both The Metropolitan in London and Bangkok have made the switch from pay to free. We put the prices for the Bangkok hotel in the International Section but have updated to mention the free switch. Can't wait for more hotels to do this!

Mind Is Blown With Easy To Read Data Overload

Love the circle-o-rama at the bottom with the different types of loyalty programs and what they're offering.

I've been to that Hilton in Paris, and thankfully had enough HHonors hullabaloo to score it for free. Ugh, so many Euros and just for wired...

Hilton Surfer's Paradise is $29.95 AUD a day

A Twitter follower just let us know about that charge. Looks like Australia still has some catching up to do...

Gold at SPG now gets free WiFi

Just made an update to our Worst section in that if you are Gold level at SPG, complimentary internet is one of three options to choose from when you checkin. (The other two are bonus Starpoints and a free drink at the bar.)

WiFi in Vegas

As you mentioned, we're working on a WiFi report centering exclusively on Sin City over at VegasChatter. On the travel boards, it's a frequently asked question because it's just so hit and miss. Pay for in-room WiFi and it's slow and miserable, but go downstairs to a snack shop and it's fast and free.

Also, a lot of your standard locations for hotspots don't necessarily offer free WiFi in Vegas. For example, many Starbucks on The Strip don't offer it as visitors may expect.

Hate getting suckered in

In any other situation, when I'm out and about, I have no problem going a few extra blocks to find somewhere with free WiFi.

But in a hotel, the whole point is that you're supposed to have everything you need right there in the room. So yeah, I traipsed down to the lobby at the Renaissance New Orleans last month at 6am to do work, since the WiFi wasn't free in the room. But I wasn't happy about it!

The Time Has Come

So many hotels I've talked to say that this is the trend but it is still to early for them to jump on the "bandwidth" wagon. My reply has been why wait to be another follower and do something different.

It's always the same cliche. The service provider sees an emanate change in the market but doesn't take advantage of the opportunity until everyone else has jumped in. Then feels like they are being innovative when they  do come around.

To thier defense, it is currently a huge revenue stream that they count on in a tough market. They would have to come up with another source to replace this and that's the easy one.

The more challenging issue is you can't simply flip the switch. You have to have a network and bandwidth that can handle the higher demand because it's now a service that is included in the rate. Think of it as previously offering breakfast for a premium and now you throw it in to anyone who stays. They will eat a lot more than just juice and fruit.

5 star vs 2 star.

Wifi is exorbitant At certain 5 star hotels. But if you walk along the road you will see signs for free wifi at 2 star hotels which leads to the question. Why is the price of wifi in a 5 star hotel more than the cost of accomodation in a 2 star hotel with free wifi?

WI-Fi availability as normal hotel service

Just back from a wonderful long Belgium weekend (short week?) in Bruges-Brugge where we found the Wi-Fi provision good (both my wife and I were often each hogging quite a considerable bandwith) at Hotel De Duinen. It's on the 4 and 14 bus routes from the central railway station (park and ride available nearby) about 5 minutes north of where most of the tourists stop and turn back, family-run on the main canal out to Dammeport (paddle steamer to old Damme). We found being able to cross check where we had just been and where we might go (sights and dining) very useful. We also watched the gangster-caper film In Bruges for a somewhat different take on the city experience on our laptops.


Any hotel without wi-fi would not be considered in the Western world but it is still quite common in less developed countries.

Novotel St Kilda in Melbourne

Service is intermittently fast, intermittently slow.  But they're charging me $10 for a 2 hour window from first logon (just a window in which I have the opportunity to go online, NOT total time used billed by the minute) with a cap of 30 MB (yes, you read that right, megabytes) before they start throttling it.  If I'm really a glutton for punishment I can pay $27.95 for a 24 hour window and a cap of 100 MB befor they start throttling it.  If I want to get rid of the throttling, they're going to charge me $0.10 per MB to keep downloading at slightly less than sucky speeds past the cap.  I've been online for half an hour and I've used up almost 8.5 MB and all I've done is check out the Slashdot main page, do two google searches for "worst hotel wifi", find this site, and set up an account to post this comment.

Beware the Novotel!

Good for mobile apps

Thank you for this info! App development has made reliable Internet connections essential, and I can't always count on my phone's 3G or 4G to work in foreign countries.


For me personally, I need wifi in every hotel I visit.


Nice report