Why Hotel WiFi should be free


Free Wi-Fi I spend a lot of time travelling for business and spending time in hotels. One of my pet peeves about staying in hotels – especially the more expensive, brand-name hotels – is that there is no free hotel WiFi provided. In fact, not only is the WiFi not free, but it’s insanely expensive – £6 for an hours access or a “deal” of £20 for 24 hours access is not unusual.

£20 for a days worth of Internet access. Are you kidding me? Most of us pay less than that for our unlimited Broadband Internet at home!

The frustration of expensive Hotel WiFi

UK hotels are the worst for this, although US and European hotels aren’t above charging for WiFi either. There is nothing more frustrating than checking into your hotel room after a long trip, ideas of work on your mind and then firing up your laptop to see that if you want to do any work – you need to pay for the privilege. Also, I’m sure I’m not alone in noticing expensive WiFi access seems to come hand-in-hand with a poor mobile ‘phone signal, meaning you can’t even tether your Smartphone to your laptop or tablet to avoid the charges.

Walk 5 minutes out of the hotel in any direction and you’ll find a Starbucks, McDonalds or a local Coffee Shop that’s offering WiFi for free with a cup of Latte costing next to nothing. Why though, should you be forced to leave your hotel room to get any work done?

WiFi has never been more crucial to hotel guests

Due to the rise in popularity of Smartphones and tablets, reliable, free WiFi has never been more crucial to hotel guests as they want to connect to the Internet from anywhere. The GB Hotel Guest Survey 2013 report by BDRC Continental has found that hotel guests believe a good WiFi service is just as important as a good night’s sleep.

I understand that hotels need to make money, but in this day and age, charging for WiFi feels akin to charging for the water used from your hotel bathroom taps, or paying extra for your room to be heated. And if budget hotels and B&B’s can offer free WiFi, why can’t more upmarket hotels offer the same?

BT WiFi now available for free at all Thistle Hotels in UK

Thistle Hotels recently announced they are one of the first to break with the pack and offer free BT WiFi in their hotels across the UK. BT was the first supplier of public WiFi over 10 years ago, and the Thistle Hotels service, in partnership with glh., is free, fast and unlimited to all Thistle Hotel guests across the country. What’s more, logging on is a “one-click” service – allowing guests to log on to the Internet instantly, without the hassle of signing up and giving their details.

For me, as a regular traveller, this news means I’m more likely to book into a Thistle Hotel knowing I can access free WiFi above using other hotel chains.

Free Wi-Fi in all UK hotels please!

I genuinely hope this news is a catalyst for a change in how upmarket UK hotels view WiFi. For the vast majority of travellers, free, reliable WiFi is no longer a “nice to have” when visiting a hotel, it’s an expectation.


photo credit: FutUndBeidl via photopin cc


  • Richard Tubb2014-02-14 19:43:13

    Gareth - the topic of why most Conference venues aren't capable of offering Wi-Fi to large numbers of visitors is probably a full topic for another blog post! I will say this though - many an IT Conference I've attended has been crippled by the poor Wi-Fi on offer, whether it's free or paid for. Hotels, in particular, typically need to do better with the Wi-Fi facilities they offer guests.

  • Gareth Brown2014-02-12 11:11:59

    Not long ago I attended a conference in a very smart hotel in Orlando; you know the type, everything included, food, accommodation, entertainment, everything! However, being full of people all connected to the WiFi, I can only imagine the hotel's connection was saturated; frequent drops to the extent that it was in effect unusable. I asked at reception if I could access a lower congested network, and glad to pay extra, but beyond a network cable in my room, nothing on WiFi was available. I took a cab, $20 each way to a nearby mall and bought a $30 local T.Mobile SIM card. The trouble with free: you often get your money's worth.

  • Richard Tubb2014-02-12 10:41:50

    Jakob - that's a great video from CNN and interesting to hear the Radisson Blu boss echo my own thoughts when he said "Wi-Fi is like the air you breathe or the water you turn on".

  • Richard Tubb2014-02-12 10:33:21

    Jakob - I'd agree that chargeable Wi-Fi should be a thing of the past. Most travellers, from young to old, have some sort of Internet connected device. Charging for Wi-Fi is a sure fire way to irritate customers and suggests the hotel is putting additional income ahead of a good customer experience.

  • Jakob Thusgaard2014-02-10 21:31:42

    By the way, just came across this video - from 2012: https://edition.cnn.com/2012/04/18/business/hotel-internet-wi-fi-cost/

  • Jakob Thusgaard2014-02-10 21:05:12

    Hear, hear ! For the past few years I've checked the specifics around WiFi before booking - steering away from establishments without proper infrastructure. Hotels charging for WiFi is (should be) a thing of the past. The only explanation must be that hotel owners and managers are entirely out of touch with demands from customers.

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