Hotel Wireless: Fee Or Free?

I stayed in the Hilton Boston Logan Airport last weekend and paid $12.95 for 24 hours of wireless Internet access. I stayed in the Omni San Diego Hotel over Labor Day weekend and got it free.

It’s still a bit of a crapshoot, folks.

USA Today reports that there’s a big scramble among almost all the hotel chains to offer wi-fi in public areas and in guest rooms. And the prices are all over the map, with variation sometimes among hotels in the same chain. (There’s a useful chart at the end of the article.)

If you’re like me, and you want it free, check out the Hotel Chatter blog. Every year it releases its Best WiFi Hotels list. The winners this year included Marriott’s Residence Inn, Courtyard and Springhill Suites brands, as well as the Omni chain and Holiday Inn Expresss. They all offer free wireless pretty much across the board.

The losers included Marriott’s flagship hotels, the Intercontinental chain and the Four Seasons.

I don’t always travel with the laptop but when I do – or when the wired kid is with me – I gotta have that wireless access. And it absolutely honks me off to pay that stupid fee.

Oh, and if you have to have that wireless on your way to the hotel, the airlines are all scrambling, too. Alaska Airlines is the latest to announce plans to test in-flight wireless. Oh, and the airlines – they’re definitely not planning to give it away.


3 thoughts on “Hotel Wireless: Fee Or Free?

  1. Bill J.

    One way or another, a hotel guest is paying for WiFi or Wired Internet. Nothing is “free” in this world. The Internet connection at the hotel is not free and they pass that cost on to the guest in some way, whether it’s a higher rate or a fee for its use.
    I use to ask the hotel before I traveled so I knew what to expect… no surprises. That was until I bought an EVDO Wireless card from Sprint. Sure, it costs $ per month but it’s predictable and I now don’t have to rely on the hotel’s WiFi.

  2. Craig Stephen

    I find that “Hi Speed” internet access, even when it’s free can be pretty variable in terms of quality. Dead zones in the hotel limited access when lots of people are using it can drive your “High Speed” access down to the point where it’s slower than dial-up.
    As you said, nothing’s really free and when you’re paying fairly substantial fees to hotels you should be able to get, at least, decent service.
    Since I started using my 8525 as an access point I find it’s service faster and more dependable. Granted, I’m a business traveler and my company’s paying for the data plan, but it also frees me up to find better and cheaper hotels without limiting myself because they do or don’t offer internet access.
    PS. Isn’t it funny how the more expensive and prestigious the hotel, the fewer services they throw in for free?


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