The research found that there is a big difference in hotel Wi-Fi fees with internet access costing £6 an hour in Hilton and Guoman and Thistle hotels while chains such as Best Western and Malmaison don't charge at all for wireless.
Guests at 85 per cent of Days Inn hotels also get free Wi-Fi but the charges for their other venues vary from £2.50 to £6 an hour.
Hotels moving towards customers' views
Chris Gray, acting assistant editor for Which? Travel, said more hotels were now considering waiving their charges: "There is increasing expectation among consumers that Wi-Fi should be provided free. I think there is evidence hotels are moving towards reflecting customers' views on this. Inter Continental Hotels Group has said it wants to introduce free Wi-Fi across its three brands but say that will take time because of existing agreements with internet service providers."
"Best Western, Britannia, De Vere Hotels, Malmaison and both Radisson Edwardian and Radisson Blu chains already provide free Wi-Fi," revealed Gray.
Highest hotel Wi-Fi charges
Of the hotel groups and chains that were approached by Which? Barcelo charged the highest hourly wireless rate of £6.50 while the most expensive hotel Wi-Fi in London of the hotels surveyed was at The Ritz where access for 24-hours costs £26.
However some of the hotels and hotel groups offer other options such as loyalty programmes or upgrades to avoid the charges.
The Ritz executive assistant manager for marketing and development Ruth Jones told BigHospitality: "As The Ritz is a member of The Leading Hotels of the World, guests who are Leaders Club Members are offered complimentary Wi-Fi access whilst resident. For non-Leaders Club members we offer residents complimentary use of our internet booth."
Last month BigHospitality reported that a survey of hoteliers from Choice Hotels Europe revealed a majority believed free Wi-Fi was the priority for their business travellers.
Which? Travel surveyed a number of UK hotel chains and London hotels about Wi-Fi charges. Some of the findings show:
- Barcelo charge £6.50 for 1 hour but offer 30 minutes free in the lobby
- 85% of Days Inn hotels offer free wireless
- Hilton charge £6 an hour or £15 for 24-hours
- Travelodge made Wi-Fi free in 130 cafés in their hotels in September 2011 but continue to charge £5 an hour elsewhere
- In London Claridge's, Connaught and The Berkeley offer free Wi-Fi