Product Reviews

Welcome to Consumer Reports.

We’re so glad to have you as a member. You now have access to benefits that can help you choose right, be safe and stay informed.
SMART TRAVELER

Hotels with free Wi-Fi

Even some fancy hotels are now offering free or low-cost Internet connectivity

Published: July 11, 2015 06:00 AM

With summer travel season in full swing, it’s time for vacationers to hit the road. That likely means a hotel stay, either en route to your destination or once you arrive.

First, the bad news. If you thought hotels nickeled-and-dimed guests in the past, get ready for even more brazen fees now that business is the best it's been in nearly two decades and hotel chains are less worried about getting stuck with empty rooms.

Last year guests forked over an estimated $2.25 billion in fees and surcharges—a record. The add-ons range from mandatory gratuities for staff, bag-storage fees, and early arrival penalties. There are also increased charges for canceling a reservation, staying at a resort (whether or not you use the amenities), and parking at hotel lots in the suburbs, a traditional freebie.

Now that almost everyone has a smart phone, it’s difficult to remember how outraged consumers once were at the exorbitant fees hotels charged to place a call from a guest room. Today, many consumers are nearly as incensed when hotels charge for Internet access.

Though most chains offer complimentary wireless, it remains a profit center. “Expensive hotels, usually at the luxury level, have a higher propensity to charge and to charge more,” says Bjorn Hanson, clinical professor with the New York University Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism. The Sheraton Hotel & Towers in Chicago, for example, says the fee for Wi-Fi in its guest rooms run $14 per day.

Think twice before you log on to public networks. Read "Hackers Infiltrate Hotel Wi-Fi" for more details.

Some blue-chip chains are changing their tune. Last year, Loews became one of the first to offer freeWi-Fii; Virgin took the same approach when it opened a new property in downtown Chicago. And both the Grand Hyatt in San Antonio Texas and the Four Seasons in Atlanta provide guests with standardWi-Fii for free. The Hyatt charges a fee of $5 and at the Four Seasons you'll pay $16, but those fees apply only for high-speed service.

The trend toward tiered service—free basic Internet with a fee to upgrade—is evident at budget hotels, too, such as Extended Stay America, where we encountered a premium of $4.

The table below lists the general Internet policies at many major chains, though specifics can vary from one location to another. You should also remember that fees are sometimes waived for guests who enroll in a chain’s loyalty or rewards programs. Most don’t charge for membership. Also, coupon websites such as retailmenot.com frequently have vouchers for free Internet and other perks.

 

Hotel chain

Wi-Fi policy

America’s Best Value Inn

Free internet at most locations

AmericInn

Free Wi-Fi

Baymont Inns & Suites, Days Inn & Suites, Howard Johnson, Microtel Inn & Suites, Super 8, Travelodge, Wingate by Wyndham

Free Wi-Fi

Best Western

Free Wi-Fi

Comfort Inn, Sleep Inn, Quality Inn, MainStay Suites, EconoLodge, Rodeway Inn

Free Wi-Fi

Country Inns & Suites, Radisson

Free Wi-Fi

Courtyard By Marriott, Residence Inn Marriott, SpringHill Suites Marriott

Free Wi-Fi

Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts

Complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi throughout the hotel, including guest rooms at most locations. Free access for all IHG (Intercontinental Hotel Group) members.

Drury hotels

Free Wi-Fi

Hilton, DoubleTree by Hilton, Embassy Suites

Free Wi-Fi for Hilton Honors members when booking direct. Fee for enhanced service.

Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Inn, Homewood Suites

Free Wi-Fi

Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Candlewood Suites, Staybridge Suites

Free Wi-Fi

Hyatt (all brands including Hyatt Regency, Hyatt Place, and Grand Hyatt)

Free Wi-Fi in guestrooms and social spaces at all Hyatt brands. Hyatt Gold Passport, Diamond and Platinum members receive complimentary upgrade to premium Wi-Fi, where available.

Marriott

Free standard in-room Wi-Fi for basic Marriott Rewards members. Enhanced service for Gold and Platinum members.

Motel 6

Wi-fi available, but fee may apply

Ritz-Carlton

Free Wi-Fi for Ritz-Carlton Reward members at participating hotels when booking directly online, through RC mobile app, by phone, or in person. Gold and Platinum Elite members qualify for free enhanced Wi-Fi.

Sheraton

Free Internet access for basic and Gold Starwood Preferred members when booking online or via Starwood's mobile app, SPG. Complimentary high-speed access for Platinum members. Lobbies have fully-wired workstations and free Wi-Fi.

Walt Disney World Resorts

Free Wi-Fi in guest rooms and most public spaces including the theme parks.

Note: Hotel brands grouped in the same box share common ownership.

—Tod Marks


E-mail Newsletters

FREE e-mail Newsletters! Choose from cars, safety, health, and more!
Already signed-up?
Manage your newsletters here too.

Money News

Cars

Cars Build & Buy Car Buying Service
Save thousands off MSRP with upfront dealer pricing information and a transparent car buying experience.

See your savings

Mobile

Mobile Get Ratings on the go and compare
while you shop

Learn more