hotel laptopHave you ever noticed that the cheaper the hotel, the better the odds are that it will provide you with free Internet access?

Over my years of travelling since the Internet became a mainstream utility, I have had the opportunity to stay in hotels of just about every price level.  When Internet access first started to appear in hotels, all of them charged for it, but as time wore on, it came to be viewed more as a necessity and was given away just like in the old days when you would see hotel signs that said “Free HBO!”  Well, now those signs say “Free High Speed!”, but it seems to only happen at lower tier hotels for some odd reason.

When speaking with a friend of mine yesterday, she made a passing joke that next time I visited her I should book a room at a fancy hotel that had opened near her just so she could stay with me and enjoy the fancy room.  Wanting to see just how much of my money she had just spent, I looked up the hotel and it was in the range of $329 to $419 a night per room.  One thing leaped out at me:

Wireless High Speed Internet Access in All Guest Rooms (Charge)

Yes, they were willing to let me stay in their rooms for hundreds of dollars a night, but by golly they wouldn’t let me on the Internet for free!  Mind you these rooms have 37″ – 42″ flat screen HD TVs, iPod docking stations, dual-line cordless phones and so on, but yet giving me free access to the Internet would somehow break them?

Mind you my friend and I were just joking about staying at this place, but free Internet has actually become a deciding factor for me in where I stay.  The Internet has become an essential tool in the lives of a good number of people, and as a professional blogger, I can not go without it.  Even while I was on vacation this past August, my first in 13 years, I had to spend time each day writing, having to pay to access the Internet would have not been fun.  Luckily my hotel offered free Wi-Fi and I was able to get work done while sitting out on the dock, with a gorgeous backdrop of private yachts and fishing boats to look at over the top of my screen.  I may have been working, but at least I got to enjoy it.

Why the higher-end hotels feel the need to charge for Internet access is beyond me.  Considering what people already pay for these rooms, and all of the amenities that they give you for free, the charging for Internet access just comes off as greedy in my eyes.  They know you want it, they know that most likely you will use it, so why not make an extra couple of bucks?  And, you know, I probably wouldn’t mind it if it was around $1 or $2 dollars a day, but no, most of these places charge you $9.95 for 24-hours of access.  That’s highway robbery in my opinion.

Are they going to start charging you for electricity as a separate fee next?

Categories: Opinion, Travel   

14 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. Jolene
    October 25th, 2009 at 12:15 pm #

    Good post! When Dan travels for work, he stays at Extended Stay Hotels (obviously since he will be there 4-5 weeks). I haven't asked about it on this trip, but usually the internet is $5 for the 30 days. Not sure if its $5 for everyone (ie: shorter stays), but if he (the company) were going to fork over $300+ per night for his room, free WiFi better be included.

    Then again, if you can afford to pay $300+ a night for a room, what's a little extra for internet? On second thought, with that much money I'd have access via my cellphone service and wouldn't need that option.

  2. Kyle
    October 26th, 2009 at 7:04 pm #

    The only time I usually stay in rooms that expensive are when I am traveling to a "corporate" event and the company is paying. Those trips do seem to be when I need to be connected the most. I have paid their dastardly fees twice but only because I could not find another free connection close. My favorite moment was at an unnamed chain hotel where they were charging a hefty price for their wireless internet yet the Starbuck's located in the lower lobby had a large sign out front advertising their "free" wi-fi. When I went there to use it, the employee told me they never turned it ff so I had connectivity any time of the day.

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