HotelChatter Annual WiFi Report and How to Get it With Elite Status
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
The annual HotelChatter WiFi Report came out yesterday with its usual lists of the Best and Worst hotel chains for WiFi (both in terms of fees and quality) as well as lists of some international properties where you’ll be able to connect, the best US cities for free WiFi access, and some Frequently Asked Questions that anyone who has ever been forced to pay $15 for super-slow hotel connection will want answered.
For a quick breakdown, check out this handy infographic the site created with interesting figures like the average cost of installing WiFi in a hotel, the average cost of WiFi at Park Hyatts ($9.95) and a couple cities across the globe where you’re likeliest to find a free signal.
Best Hotel WiFi
Not too many surprises here. Topping the list is business-oriented chain Kimpton, with free WiFi for their InTouch loyalty program members and other business-friendly perks, while in second place is Peninsula, a small luxury chain that nonetheless takes special pride in its technology programming and also offers free WiFi in all its rooms. Rounding out the top 5 are Fairmont, where WiFi is free for President’s Club members, hipsterific Ace Hotels where the signal is broadcast throughout the rooms and public areas, and another small chain called Swire with just two hotels in Hong Kong, one (soon to be two) in Beijing, and three in the UK.
Beyond that, there’s an awesome list of which brands in which chains offer free WiFi—so for instance, you can find that Andaz, Hyatt House, Hyatt Place and Summerfield Suites in the Hyatt family, or Four Points, Element and Aloft in Starwood are the brands to target for your stays if free WiFi is a key factor for you.
The list also points out a few smaller luxury chains like Montage and Shangri-La as well as boutique hotels like the James in New York and the Standard Hotels that offer free WiFi standard to guests.
Though it doesn’t single out too many individual properties, this list is very comprehensive in terms of talking about the major chains, and who exactly gets free WiFi—whether it’s loyalty program members like at Kimpton, Fairmont, JDV and Omni—or elite members like at Hyatt, Marriott, Hilton and Starwood, as well as various boutique properties that give you the good stuff.
Worst Hotel WiFi
Just as useful and much cattier (which is entertaining), is the list of Worst Hotel WiFi offenders. Here, Starwood gets slammed with the two top spots going to Westin and W Hotels, while Marriott brand hotels, Hard Rock Hotels and the Hilton brand round off the list. This page also has a useful general list of which brands in the major chains do not offer free WiFi. So, for instance, you won’t find it at InterContinental or Crowne Plazas in IHG; or Conrad, Waldorf Astoria, Embassy Suites or DoubleTree in the Hilton family.
It’s actually kind of interesting that the lower-end brands within each family. Like Holiday Inn and Candlewood Suites for IHG, or Hilton Garden Inn and Hampton Inn for Hilton, offer free WiFi, but the high-end properties in these families do not. Come on Ritz-Carlton and Park Hyatt (not to mention little luxury brands like Mandarin Oriental and Langham), stop gouging your guests!
Probably the most interesting section, this page answers a bunch of questions that always frustrate me about hotel WiFi, including what it really costs a hotel to install WiFi throughout the property, how much it costs to route it to each room per month (it’s shocking what the mark up is!), why the signal is often glacial—as it was for me this weekend at the W South Beach—and what you can ask to be refunded if the WiFi situation sucks. Very useful information.
Where Loyalty Matters
More than anything, to me, these lists only reinforce how important and valuable attaining elite status (or even just joining the loyalty program some cases) in your hotel family of choice is because of the money you can save on WiFi.
Here is a list of the main hotel programs and at what level they start giving free wifi.
Club Carlson: Silver (10 stays/ 15 nights)
Fairmont: All President's Club members (free enrollment)
Hilton: Gold (16 stays/ 36 nights/ 60,000 Base points or comped with the Hilton Surpass Amex)
Hyatt: Platinum (5 stays/ 15 nights or comped with the Hyatt Visa)
Marriott: Gold (50 nights)
Priority Club: Intercontinental Ambassador ($200 upgrade fee)
Starwood: Gold (10 stays/ 25 night or comped with an Amex Platinum card)
Wyndham: All ByRequest members (Free enrollment)