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Hotels, If You Advertise Free WiFi, Please Make Sure The WiFi's Free

July 23, 2014 at 9:40 AM | by | ()

The business center at the Atlas. At least this internet is free

One of the most important questions to take into account when picking a hotel? Whether or not there is free WiFi. You know how we feel about this at HotelChatter. It is imperative to our stay. We would not stay in a hotel with paid for WiFi.

But what’s almost worse than charging for WiFi? Advertising it as free, but actually imposing limits. We already told you about one reader’s encounter with a Fairfield Inn that had a limit of one device per guest, but we can go one better with our stay at the Atlas Hotel in Brussels last week.

The Atlas is a really nice, fashion-themed three star hotel in a great area of the city. It has OCD-friendly disposable coffee cups. It’s lovely. And it trumpets its “FREE Wireless High Speed Internet Access in ALL ROOMS, the Lounge, the Breakfast room and the Conference room” (sic) on its homepage.

The Atlas doles out the WiFi via individual codes at the front desk. We were given one, which we immediately tapped into our phone. We asked for another for our computer. And were told that there was a one code per room policy.

One device per room in one of the business centers of Europe? One device per room when you’re selling doubles, twins and duplexes? One device per room in 2014? Non non non, c'est pas possible!

After some bafflement (mais wtf, monsieur) and some pleading (you should give me another code because I’m in a double room, but there’s only one of me taking the breakfast that's been paid for two), he gave us another code (valid 15 hours, rather than the other’s 24), but warned us that this was against the rules. When we asked for another code the next day, we were handed one no questions asked, so the first guy might have been being officious. But still – one device per room appears to be the rule at the Atlas.

Device limits are nothing new of course, even though we’ve not come across one as extreme as this before. But they’re sneaky, they have a touch of the bait and switch about them, and they leave a very sour taste in the mouth. Is it worth pissing off your guests that much, hotels, just to make sure we don’t surreptitiously post that Facebook photo from our phone when we're already on our computer?

As we said, the Atlas is a great hotel with a huge amount to recommend it, but next time we’re looking for somewhere in Brussels, we’ll pick a place that we know will offer free WiFi for our laptop, our phone and, in case we wanna go crazy, our kindle. Surely that’s not too much to ask.

Feel strongly about device limits? Think there’s a reason for having them? Chime in in comments below!

[Photos: Hotel Atlas Facebook]

Archived Comments:

Poor Reasoning

First, the hotel advertised free wifi. The hotel provided free wifi. End of story.

Second, this is one of the silliest things I've read in a long time: "We would not stay in a hotel with paid for WiFi".

It's a no-brainer

The term "free WiFi" should be read with caution because, as with any sales technique, "free" normally comes with some sort of small print.

That being said, more and more guests are expecting some form of free WiFi at hotels to be provided as standard.

We started a discussion on LinkedIn with hospitality professionals to see what their take was, and wrote our findings in a blog post which can be found here:

<a href="http://www.hotelcontractbeds.co.uk/blog/2014/07/should-hotel-wi-fi-be-free-industry-insights-from-linkedin">http://www.hotelcontractbeds.co.uk/blog/2014/07/should-hotel-wi-fi-be-free-industry-insights-from-li nkedin</a>

There's no such thing as free wifi.

The cost is either already included in the price of the room (as is the cost of heat, light, TV etc) or a supplement is charged to those who wish to use it.  You pay for it either way, and it could be argued that while every guest will use the heat, light and TV, not every guest will use the wifi.  Nevertheless, you seem to believe every guest should contribute to its provision.  Is that reasonable?