I needed internet to access email messages, research plans for each day, and my current writing projects. My mobile phone would let me do all that, but it’s not a comfortable tool for writing and there is a daily data limit when roaming under my current contract.
The first was a boutique hotel in central London. Wifi was free throughout the hotel, but password protected. The room rate was high, and every luxury is included so it’s not surprising that wifi was also included.
I then moved to a more budget friendly option, still in central London – walking distance from the district line. Wifi was considered an additional service and charged at 10 pounds per day. And that’s 24 hours of availability, not 24 hours of use. Plus it was for a single device – I was carrying three devices that could use a wifi network. But the staff are obviously sick of discussing the wifi charges, the concierge gave me an extra login when I needed to send a quick email related to my booking.
Tourist City, Business Hotel
I left London and went to a tourist city, staying in a hotel geared to business people. The charge there was 15 pounds per day. But free in the public areas – for one hour.
It made me regret my booking. I’ve done some research and come up with half a dozen hotels in the town with free wifi for a range of room rates – often lower than I paid. I complained via twitter and was told “it’s hotel policy”.
Fair enough, now that I know I won’t book there on my next trip.
I stayed at an airbnb place for two nights, where wifi was free. I’ve stayed at Airbnb places in several cities now, wifi has been included for no extra charge at all places. I realise there is a different level of complexity providing wifi to 100 rooms rather than one, but it does show that there is an expectation for wifi that airbnb hosts are meeting.
For my last night in the UK I stayed at the Yotel at Gatwick airport; wifi free. The room rate is less than half that of the Central London or Tourist City hotels. The room is very basic, in fact they call them cabins. There’s another hotel, a more upmarket version of the same concept called Bloc Hotel at Gatwick, which also provides free wifi – and boasts of its speed.
So the places at the top and bottom ends of the price range include wifi; they know their guests need it and they’ve responded to that demand. Two and a half years ago I predicted that there would be a growing demand, for wifi, in that I was right. I wouldn’t have guessed that the customer demand would take so long to shift the policies of mid-level hotels.
There are of course plenty of other options for wifi; cafes, bookshops -even McDonalds in London provides free wifi. I used it even though I wasn’t a customer (probably not their intention!).
But if McDonald’s will provide free wifi for the price of a hamburger what is the issue for those mid-level hotels? Given the growth and growth and growth of internet access via mobile relative to desktop why aren’t hotels changing their policies? Why am I asked to pay a 10% surcharge for what should be a standard feature? After all they don’t charge me based on water used or TV watched.
It’s going to be a selection criteria from now on. I bet that decision saves me money.
What’s your take on wifi in hotels?