I hate paying for Wi-Fi or wired Internet access in hotels. If it were up to me, I’d add an amendment to our constitution guarantying free Wi-Fi in all hotels. The only thing I hate more than paying for Internet at hotels is forking over the money and then enduring connection problems. If you call down to the front desk at most large hotel chains, they’ll transfer you to an off-site help desk. My experiences with these off-site help desks ranges from problem solved in no time flat to “there’s not much we can do about it, sir,” after killing nearly an hour on the phone.
I recently stayed at a high-end chain hotel in Orange County, California, and my wife and I actually couldn’t bring ourselves to pay $13.95 each to get online. I complained about the price at the front desk and asked if there was free Wi-Fi in the lobby or any other common areas. I was told that there was not, only to find out after checking out that all we needed to do was sign up for their free rewards membership program in order to get completely free Wi-Fi. It would have been great to know that while I was there but the experience motivated me to check on the Internet policies of other hotel chains (see list of hotels with free Wi-Fi or wired Internet below).The good news is that the list of hotels that offer free Internet is growing. And if we continue to patronize these hotels and not those that charge for Wi-Fi, the trend will intensify. I can’t vouch for the quality or speed of service at these hotels but, in my experience, if you pay for wired or wireless Internet and the speed isn’t up to snuff, complain about it. Most hotels will give you a refund. Whether you bother with the off-site tech support depends on how desperate you are to get online and how much time you have on your hands.
Feel free to tell us about your experiences with wired or wireless Internet at various hotels in the comments section.
Hotels Offering Free Wi-Fi or Wired Internet Access
Ascend Hotel Collection
B Hotels & Resorts
Baymont Inn & Suites
County Inn & Suites
Courtyard by Marriott
Doyle Collection Hotels
Element by Westin
Fairfield Inn & Suites
Four Points by Sheraton
Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham
Holiday Inn Express
Holiday Inn Resort
Holiday Inn Club Vacations
Joie De Vivre Hotels (most locations)
Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts
Sofitel (except their Washington, D.C. location, which is free only in lobby)
Soho House Hotels
Spring Hill Suites
Towne Place Suites
TRYP by Wyndham
Wingate by Wyndham
Sort of Free
Accor Brand Hotels– About 1700 of their 3,500 hotels have free Wi-Fi. Accor claims they are “working toward the goal” of free Internet at all of their locations. Come on guys, it’s not that hard, let’s do it!
Fairmont– Free Wi-Fi for members of the Fairmont President’s Club, which is free to join. If you’re too lazy to sign up or don’t know about this offer, the cost is $13.95 per night.
Hilton– free for gold or diamond Hilton HHonors members.
Hyatt– platinum and diamond members of its Hyatt Gold Passport program receive free in-room Internet access. (Travelers can attain platinum status after five separate stays or a total of 15 nights completed in a year.) For Hyatt Regency, Grand Hyatt and at some Park Hotels (many Park Hyatt hotels in North America offer complimentary Wi-Fi in the guest rooms), the cost for Wi-Fi is generally anywhere from about $9.95 to $14.95 a day. These hotels also offer packages for 24 hours of service, two- to three-day packages, or seven-day packages.
Kimpton Hotels– free Wi-Fi if you join their free In-Touch guest loyalty program.
Loews Hotels– if you sign up for their You First Rewards loyalty program, you can begin to get free Wi-Fi in after two stays in a year.
Marriott– Gold and Platinum members receive free high-speed Internet.
Omni Hotels– free if you sign up for their free Select Guest loyalty program.
Starwood Hotels– free Internet for platinum reward members. Gold members can choose to receive bonus Starpoints, free Internet or a free drink upon check-in.
Wyndham Hotels– free Wi-Fi in the lobby and public spaces of all hotels, free Wi-Fi in rooms at some locations.
Not Free at All
Crowne Plaza– most locations charge $9.95 per day but many also offer free Wi-Fi for platinum Priority Club Rewards members.
Motel 6– most locations charge $2.99 per 24-hour period, some offer free Wi-Fi.
Night & Dream Hotels (Wyndham)- Wi-Fi costs about $10 per day.
Studio 6– Wi-Fi costs $4.99 per stay.
[Photo credit: Mr. Theklan on Flickr]