Hotels make 'extortionate' charges for wi-fi access

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The Independent Online

Once, it was the great telephone rip-off, when hotels charged business travellers huge amounts for calls made from their room. Now, according to a new guide, they have found a fresh way of fleecing guests - by adding high charges for wi-fi access to the internet.

According to the 2007 edition of The Good Hotel Guide, some hotels have been charging up to £5 an hour for wi-fi access, even though it costs less than £150 to install a router and thereafter there are no maintenance costs. It believes that the "extortionate" charges may have arisen because the increase in mobile phones means that hotels have been deprived of the income from telephone calls.

The Guide says that one hotel in Cambridge was charging £5 an hour - or £20 a day - until the bill was challenged. It then reduced it to £4.50 an hour or £14 a day, which it said was in line with its competitors in the area.

In London, the Savoy Hotel on the Strand charges its guests £9.95 for 24 hours' access while the Knightsbridge Green Hotel in west London charges £3 for one hour and £12 for 24 hours. Yet many other hotels, the Guide points out, charge nothing.

Adam Raphael, one of the co-editors of the Guide, said: "We know that hotels are in the business of making money, but people do not like the feeling of being ripped off. Hotels don't charge extra for heating or water, so why not just incorporate these kind of fees in the overall bill?"

Other sources of irritation, says the Guide, are the use, like in restaurants, of chip and pin terminals to solicit extra gratuities from customers, the disruption caused to other guests by rowdy wedding parties and the indiscriminate use of piped music.

The Guide, which does not charge hotels for inclusion, names Combe House hotel, at Gittisham, Devon, as the best country house hotel and Hart's Hotel, in Nottingham, as the best city hotel.

Clow Beck House, at Croft-on-Tees in Co Durham, is also awarded a special prize for what the Guide describes as its "utterly enjoyable, mild eccentricity".

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