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How Fast Is Your Hotel Internet Connection?

May 1, 2013 at 3:34 PM | by | ()

As we showed you yesterday in our 2013 Hotel WiFi Report, getting free WiFi during your hotel stay is now a reality. Nearly two-thirds of hotels offer free WiFi, whether it be free outright, free if you join the loyalty program or free if you simply make your reservation directly with the hotel.

But as more and more hotels do away with internet charges, we're starting to wonder: how are the hotel internet connections holding up?

We've long railed against hotels that charge for WiFi and then deliver piss poor signals where you have to stand near the door holding your laptop and balancing on one leg to get a signal (if this happens, immediately ask for a refund, and never book with that brand again.)

Yet if you book your hotel because it has free WiFi only to check-in and find that websites are slow to load and you are having trouble downloading or sending email attachments, then what good is that to you? And if the hotel doesn't offer a tiered WiFi plan where you can pay extra to have more bandwidth and a faster speed then really, that hotel touting its free WiFi is completely useless.

Yet until hotels start to standardize their internet offerings, finding good hotel WiFi speed, not just free hotel WiFi, will always be a bit of a crapshoot. We'll be doing our best to document the best and worst hotel speeds but for now (see below), here's what sort of internet activity one can expect to do on a hotel's WiFi network:

According to Andrew Yorra, co-founder and vice president of Eleven Wireless, which helps hotels build and manage their WiFi networks, a standard amount of bandwidth in a hotel with free WiFi is usually about 1mbps per each room. So you can check your email, surf the web, update your social media and maybe stream some music.

If a hotel has bandwidth somewhere between 2 and 5mbps per room, that will allow you to upload/download photos and videos, stream music and do some video Skyping. Beyond 5mbps, the internet is your oyster (pretty much.)

Of course, these speeds vary wildly from hotel to hotel and at this point, it's pretty impossible to say which hotel brand is doing it best. But what we've been doing over the past year (and for the forseeable future) is testing hotel speeds. You can do this on a speed testing website like Speedtest.net. Here are a few examples that we've found.*

* (Note: pay attention to the upload and download measurements, not the letter grade. We've seen hotel speed test results that are faster than our home network yet they have a C or worse grade.)

The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas: Included in the $25 resort fee and is good for two devices.

Public Chicago: Free!

Hotel Lincoln, Chicago (a Joie De Vivre Hotel): Free!

The Muse Hotel, Times Square (a Kimpton Hotel): Free!

Venetian Las Vegas (At the food court) Free!

And for comparison:

A Starbucks in Malibu, CA

McCarren Airport in Las Vegas

Our neighborhood bagel shop

Are you in a hotel and curious about the WiFi speed? Test it and share the results with us!


The Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas (included in the $25 per day resort and includes up to four devices. WOW.)

The Four Seasons Los Angeles (free, but if you need premium internet it's $18.95 a day.)

Red Roof Chicago, Northbrook/Deerfield (free but not very good.)

New York, New York (Las Vegas) Part of the $18 resort fee and clearly not worth it.

Orlando World Marriott Center: $14.95 a day but it's actually working rather good. Streaming some "Scandal" episodes right now.


Archived Comments:

Drury Inn, Albuquerque, NM

I just did the Speedtest.net benchmark to gauge how fast the free Internet is in my room and I got the following results:

Ping:  31ms
Download Speed:  24.84 Mbps
Upload Speed:  27.99 Mbps

I'm not sure why upload is faster than download... I've never seen that before.