One would think that by now hotels would consider Wi-Fi an amenity that should be free. Guests do. Free Wi-Fi consistently appears as the #1 guest want.
Although the majority of hotels have taken note, there are several latecomers to the free Wi-Fi table.
While the majority of hotels seem to have tossed in free Wi-Fi as an amenity, particularly those at the more budget-friendly end, many hotels still see Wi-Fi charges as a money maker.
For example, when I stayed at the Westin in downtown Cleveland a year ago (Dec. 2014), I headed to the business center to use a computer because of the guest room Wi-Fi charge. This still costs $12.95 per day.
Although flagship Marriott hotels– like the Marriott we used for my daughter’s wedding guests this past June, also charge for Wi-Fi–$9.95 per day, there is a way to get around the fee. Become a Marriott Rewards member and book through the website.
This members perk also works for HHonors members of Hilton. Again, you need to book directly to get the free Wi-Fi perk.
It’s not just higher end brands that charge for Wi-Fi. The day after I stayed at the Westin in downtown Cleveland, I headed to Middleburg Heights, Ohio to Motel 6. There was a Wi-Fi charge.
What?!!! That’s what I thought, but I forked over the $6 anyway. A year later, the motel still charges for Wi-Fi.
The Motel 6 Wi-Fi charge is out of the norm since less expensive chains, particularly those in the budget range are the most likely to consider free Wi-Fi an included amenity. The Super 8 where I stayed in Walnut, Iowa last July is an example.
The Big Chains Drop Their Charges
Budget hotels aren’t the only hotels on the free Wi-Fi kick. Marriott select brands: the Courtyard by Marriot, Fairfield Inn and Suites, Springhill Suites, Residence Inn and Townhill Suites have Wi-Fi as a freebie.
Each year, more hotels have let their Wi-Fi charge become a thing of the past. Loew’s Hotels was one of the first business chains to bow to customer demands in 2014. Fairmont Hotels started the “if this then that” freebie by giving complimentary access to anyone who signed up for a (free) loyalty card.
As mentioned before, that’s now the approach from Hilton and Marriott, but only if you also book direct. If you go through Expedia or Hotels.com, you’re out of luck. It’s the same story with Mandarin Oriental and
Last year most of the rest fell like dominoes. In February 2015, Hyatt hotels added free Wi-Fi as an amenity worldwide.
In October the holdout everyone loved to complain about changed course. At the end of October, Four Seasons Hotels scrapped its fee for basic wireless internet and even opened it up for guests visiting the bars or restaurants.
Even though Wi-Fi may be free at the hotel where you’re staying, that might not mean speedy. Or even if you pay for Wi-Fi, you may not have paid enough.
Fast might mean extra cash for a bigger bandwidth and higher speed. An example is the Ritz-Carlton in downtown Cleveland. Regular Wi-Fi is $12.95. “Enhanced” which allows for streaming and large files costs $16.95 a day. At the Ritz-Carlton at Central Park in New York City, high speed Wi-Fi is $14.95 per day.
Still a Few Last Holdouts
Here are other brand name hotels where you will still have to pay for Wi-Fi if you want to connect in your guest room.
- W Hotels (free in some locations for loyalty members booking direct)
- Sheraton Hotels (free in some locations for loyalty members booking direct)
- Waldorf Astoria Hotels
- Nearly all Las Vegas Hotels (bundled in a mandatory resort fee)
- Belmond Hotels (often bundled in a mandatory resort fee)
Remember that being a loyalty program member can pay off. Most hotel brands, like the ones listed, have one. Also, you don’t have to be all that loyal to be loyal–spread your loyalty around and join several.
For stellar ideas about how to put free Wi-Fi in your hotel landscape in 2016, check out editor Tim Leffel’s tips for 2015. They still apply.
**Here’s a sampling of hotel groups with free Wi-Fi. With this many from which to choose, I don’t know why I stayed at that Motel 6.**
- Accor Hotels: ibis Hotels, Novotel, MGallery, Mercure, Pullman, Sofitel
- Best Western Hotels
- Carlson Rezidor Hotels: Park Plaza, Country Inn and Suites, Park Inn, Radisson
- Choice Hotels: Cambria Suites, Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Clarion, Sleep Inns, Econolodge, Quality Inns, Ascend Collection
- Hilton Hotels: Hampton Inn, Hilton Garden Inn, Home2Suites, Homewood Suites
- Hyatt Hotels: Andaz Hotels, Hyatt House, Hyatt Place Hotels, Park Hyatt Hotels, Summerfield Suites)
- InterContinental Hotel Group: Candlewood Suites, Even Hotels, Holiday Inn Hotels, Hotel Indigo, Staybridge Suites
- Marriott Hotels: Courtyard by Marriott, Edition, Gaylord,· Fairfield Inn, Residence Inn, Springhill Suites, Towneplace
- Starwood Hotels: Aloft, Element; Four Points by Sheraton
- Four Seasons Hotels
- Peninsula Hotels
- Wyndham Hotels: Baymont Inn and Suites, Days Inn, Hawthorn Suites, Howard Johnson, Knights Inn, Microtel Inns and Suites,Night Hotels, Ramada, Super 8, Travelodge, Wyndham Garden, Wingate By Wyndham
Looking for an update on this subject? See a newer version here: “Wi-Fi Update. Some Hotels Still Charge for Internet.”
Post and photos courtesy of Jamie Rhein