Free hotel Wi-Fi debate continues following Which? survey

By Peter Ruddick

- Last updated on GMT

Free Wi-Fi remains a debate for UK hotels with some waiving charges while others charge up to £26 for 24-hours, a Which? survey revealed
Free Wi-Fi remains a debate for UK hotels with some waiving charges while others charge up to £26 for 24-hours, a Which? survey revealed
A number of UK hotels continue to charge guests up to £26 a day for Wi-Fi while many chains give free wireless internet access in their venues, according to a new survey published by Which? Travel.

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

Related topics: Business, Trends & Reports, Hotels

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Quality in hotel free wi-fi decision

Posted by Graeme Powell,

The pressure on hotels to provide free wi-fi continues to build and the Which? Travel survey echoes the findings of every survey conducted into this question in 2011. The need for fast, secure and robust internet connectivity in hotel guest rooms and public areas is essential, particularly given the rapidly growing use of mobile connected devices such as smartphone and tablets, as well as the ubiquity of laptops and notebooks.

I’d argue, though, that in the rush to press all hotels to offer free wi-fi, the question of quality is not addressed fully. “Free” always comes at a price and in my experience, connectivity without charge often means very poor and slow internet connectivity, barely enough to send and receive emails.

The idea of loyalty-based schemes, where club members gain access to free, fast services has merit and also brings in the idea of a range of service levels, from free (shared bandwidth, just enough) through to paid-for platinum-grade, which provides more than enough bandwidth for video streaming, music, large file download and upload, and so on.

Wi-fi is a service and within the hotel context, there is no reason not to segment the offering and provide maxmium guest choice and satisfaction.

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Free Wi-Fi in Bed and Breakfasts

Posted by Caroline Anderson,

Most of the bed and breakfasts in my area offer free wi-fi, if they have it, to their guests. We no not see any need to charge for this service and most of our guests now expect it.
Wye Valley & Forest of Dean Tourism Association

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