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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!
In our Annual WiFi Report the other week we called out 10 hotel brands that still have the nerve to charge for WiFi in 2014. We also gave big-ups to the hotel brands and individual hotels who've made free and working WiFi a priority for their guests.
Yet what a hotel brand aims to give their guests doesn't always get executed in real life, especially amongst such a heavily franchised brand like Fairfield. About a week after we praised Marriott, we received an email from a guest while staying at a Fairfield Inn. According to her, the hotel had free WiFi but they also had a limit of one device per guest. To hook up an extra device to the WiFi would cost another $3.95 a day.
We've heard of device limits at hotels before, but usually for more than two. So you can usually hook up your laptop and your phone, but then your tablet would be an extra charge. However, this guest claims that all Fairfield Inns are going to start implementing the extra device charge after one device. She writes:
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Some like it hot. But more people like it free. We're talking about WiFi here.
In the wake of all of our WiFi news from last week, we've got some great news from the land Down Under, where getting free WiFi or even cheap WiFi is never easy. In fact, it's almost impossible. But not anymore.
Starting this week, Amalgamated Holdings Limited will be offering guests at all their hotels complimentary WiFi to browse the web, check email and Instagram the cool rooms (or so the hotel group hopes.)
Take it from us, WiFi doesn't come cheap at hotels in Oz. We've been offered up some connectivity if we forked over anywhere from $15 to $29.90 per day. Yes, we said per day! Now, you see why this is such a big deal for an entire portfolio of over 40 hotels to ante up some WiFi as part of the nightly rate.
Let this be a little message to other hotels, just do it already! Offering this service can't be that hard, can it?
Is this chick a basic (internet) bitch?
But if you're staying in a hotel, it's good to be basic. By that we mean, you only use the internet for basic tasks like checking your email, updating your Facebook status, and reading your favorite websites. If you aren't basic, then you're probably going to have to cough up a few dollars to get some high-speed, high-quality internet so you can download you're favorite TV show or movie.
But if you don't mind that Buzzfeed or the Daily Mail takes a minute to load, then go on with your basic self!
Are you a basic internet user? Or do you often pay to get the higher bandwidth option? Tell us what kind of internet user you are in comments below!
To all the hotels out there that still insist on charging for WiFi, consider this comment we just received:
Earlier this month I stayed at the San Diego Marriott Mission Valley which provides WiFi in the room for $12.99 a day!
When I questioned this they told me that I had the option of using the free WiFi in the Lobby, which didn't help me when I needed to check my email while still in pajamas at 6:00AM.
Other than the WiFi situation the hotel was great, but it's the only reason I need to ensure I never book this hotel again.
It's a shame that they will lose my future business over a ridiculous WiFi fee, but I'm guessing I'm not the only one.
The flagship Hilton brand and its luxury properties (Conrad and Waldorf Astoria) still charge in the guestrooms as do Embassy Suites and DoubleTree by Hilton, while the "focused service" and extended-stay brands--Hampton Inn & Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Homewood Suites and Home2 Suites-- typically have it for free. Hilton has also introduced a tiered WiFi structure for guests who need more than just basic internet.
But beyond the actual physical WiFi offerings, Hilton has also introduced a personal service--The StayConnected Program which includes a 24-hour dedicated call center to help guests with their WiFi issues while traveling.
The program also allows owners and operators access their bandwidth usage so they can better understand the needs of guests coming into their hotel. Which should be pretty simple--we all need fast, working WiFi. So give guests the best network that you can.
For more on who's still charging for WiFi and why, read our 2014 Annual Hotel WiFi Report.
"Go to the hotel across the street" is actually not an excuse we've heard from a hotel but rather, other hotel guests.
While the hotel industry has made great strides in recent years with free WiFi, there are still quite a few major brands that are charging for WiFi. We gave you a run-down of the biggest offenders yesterday with a list of 10 hotels that still charge for WiFi.
We also explored one of the major reasons why hotels have been slow to get on the free WiFi train--the owner/operator struggle. But we thought you'd like to see some of the other reasons various hoteliers and industry folk have given HotelChatter in the past years about why they charge for WiFi.
1. "It's expensive to build a WiFi network and we need to make up for that cost somewhere." (Note: you can read our 2012 Hotel WiFi Report infographic to see just how "expensive" it is for hotels to build and maintain a WiFi network.)
2. "Our building is a historic building and it's hard to outfit the hotel with WiFi."
3. "There are privacy and safety concerns with having free WiFi."
4. "It's a revenue stream and we'd be stupid not to tap into it."
5. "If you're paying $400 a night for a room, what's another $15 or $20?"
Meanwhile, these hotels seem to be making free WiFi work for them.
Whether you’re a frequent traveler or a once-a-year vacationer, there’s one amenity you’re probably counting on during your next hotel stay--free, working WiFi.
You're not alone. Hotels.com released a recent survey where hotel guests ranked free WiFi as the most important in-room amenity. See ya, minibar Snickers!
Fortunately, free WiFi has become more commonplace these days (at least 64 percent of hotels!) especially at hotels that caters to business travelers like Courtyard by Marriott and ones that hang with millennials like Ace Hotels. Even traditional brands have let their guard down, like Loews Hotels, who went free at all 19 hotels earlier this year.
Yet there are still a few
greedy grinchy hold-outs, typically the luxury hotels and the heavily-franchised brands.
In past editions of our Annual WiFi Report, we’ve done extensive research, lists, diagrams, infographics and the like, all of which you can scroll through here. But this year, we’re taking a "Scared Straight" tactic.
Here are 10 hotels that are STILL charging for WiFi. You can make your booking decision accordingly*.
*Some of these brands offer WiFi free in the lobbies or public spaces and some individual properties even offer it free everywhere or as part of a resort fee. But more often than not, you can expect to pay for internet at these hotels. See even more brands that charge for WiFi here.
Keep reading for more on why hotels charge for WiFi and how you can get it for free.
UPDATE: The free WiFi is in effect at all Loews Hotels. "Prompt, reliable Internet access has become a necessary and expected hotel amenity. We're delighted to be one of the first hotel brands in our category to offer complimentary Wi-Fi access to each and every one of our guests," said Paul Whetsell, President & CEO of Loews Hotels & Resorts." AMEN.
Ladies and gentlemen and kids of all ages, start your laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc.,: Free Wi-Fi is available at Loews Hotels beginning January 22, 2014.Has hell frozen over? It feels like it with recent weather we're having and with this little bit of news that we just got--Loews Hotels is now offering FREE WIFI in all of its 18 hotels. Yes, that even includes the Orlando hotels.
There's a big announcement on the home page of LoewsHotels.com today and we hear a press release with the full info will be coming soon.
What we want to know is if the WiFi will be outright free or if you have to be a member of the YouFirst loyalty program. Not that it matters. All that matter is that WiFi is free. Our years of pleading for free WiFi are finally starting to pay off. A round of drinks on us!
[Screengrab: Loews Hotels]
It's time for a walk down memory lane with a HotelChatter flashback!
Way back in 2004, HotelChatter put together its first ever WiFi Report. Check out who made the first annual Best and Worst Hotel WiFi lists.
· Kimpton Hotels (still doing it free for their InTouch members)
· Omni Hotels (still doing it free for their Omni Select Guest members)
· Marriott's Residence Inn (still free!)
· Best Western (still free!)
· Holiday Inn/Holiday Inn Express (still free!)
· Marriott Hotels (free in lobbies, most charge in-room, except if you are an elite member of their loyalty program)
· Fairmont Hotels (free for members of their President's Club)
· Hilton Hotels (free in lobbies, most charge in-room except if you are an elite member of their loyalty program)
· Hyatt Hotels (still charges for WiFi except if you are an elite member of their loyalty program)
· Any other hotel that charges for WiFi in the lobby (plenty of hotels still do this, particularly if you aren't a hotel guest.
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Ever since HotelChatter's first annual Hotel WiFi Report in 2004, we've insisted that in-room WiFi was as essential as a working shower or air conditioning and that it needed to be offered free, fast, and reliably.
Hotels often gave us the run-around, blaming the costs of installing WiFi networks, the contracts they signed with the hotel owners or network security. But as more and more travelers book their hotel stays based on free WiFi, hotels have begun to drop their nickel and diming ways.
Today, at least two thirds of hotels have realized that offering free WiFi is in their best interests. Progress! Furthermore, many of these hotels have doubled down to put in reliable, fast WiFi networks for their older hotels, even if it means a big capital investment.
However, the battle cry for free WiFi should not die out just yet. One third of hotels out there are still charging for WiFi, including many luxury brands who charge premium internet fees on top of their pricey room rates. But if the nefarious one third don't start offering free WiFi at a basic level (checking email, surfing the web), potential guests will make a reservation elsewhere.
Even when the WiFi is free, there are still some caveats such as requiring guests to join the hotel's loyalty program, offering it free only in the lobby or having it free for just a limited time (anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours) before a charge is incurred. Furthermore, the WiFi fees can vary wildly from property to property within a hotel brand. These gimmicks are just another reason for guests to join together and demand better standardization for hotel WiFi.
Now, if you are a hotel currently offering excellent free WiFi, congratulations! You have made it to the next round of the games. In this round, which has already begun, guests will come to your hotel armed with multiple devices and expect to use those devices as remote controls for everything. Clearly, the end game in the battle for precious guest dollars is free, reliable and capable WiFi. So, let's see who the top contenders are in here in 2013. Shall we?
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**A HotelChatter Exclusive**
Chances are, you are probably reading our seventh annual WiFi Report right now on your iPad. Or your iPhone. Or your Blackberry, Droid, Kindle or Galaxy Tablet, if anyone actually uses those.
Much like cellphones have practically put land lines out of business, mobile devices are fast changing the way we sign onto the web when we’re on the go. And that includes when we're staying in hotels.
While the hardware we carry into hotel rooms is changing seemingly from one month to the next, our demands free and reliable WiFi have not wavered a bit. And as more and more of us start to travel with cellphones, laptops and tablets, the call for free WiFi is more urgent than ever.
Yet hotels around the world, especially those luxury ones, are still charging daily rates of $10 or more for WiFi. Worse, some are even double-dinging us for our mobile devices.
This leaves guests the choice of navigating the always, ever-changing WiFi fees at mid and high-end hotels, or spending the night at budget places just for the internet.
So you better know the lay of the free hotel WiFi land before you book your room. After all, the one thing we can do as loyal, frequent hotel guests is vote "free WiFi" with our credit cards.
Once again, we’ve broken down the Hotel WiFi landscape into Best Hotels, Worst Hotels and the best and worst from the International Hotel Scene. We’ve also added a couple of new sections; picking out the Best and Worst cities for free hotel WiFi, tips on getting secondary devices on for free when the hotel wants you to pay per device, and where to stay in stylin' and free WiFin', to name a few.