Revealed: the heroes and villains of hotel wifi

Despite the internet now being a basic necessity for just about everything, getting hold of it while traveling can prove frustrating and expensive.

Many hotels around the world, safe in the knowledge that business travelers with expense accounts will shell out ludicrous sums for just an hour's worth of connection, continue to charge exorbitant rates - sometimes over €20 daily - despite the fact that surveys show that travelers are crying out for free connections.

HotelChatter, a hotel news site, which this week released its seventh annual Hotel WiFi Report revealing the best and the worst when it comes to US and international hotels and the worldwide web, believes free WiFi is on the rise as hotels listen to their customers.

"Compared to just a few years ago, hotels have really taken notice of the guest demand for free WiFi," HotelChatter's Juliana Shallcross told Relaxnews.

"We're seeing more and more brands offering it at their properties whether it's totally free, free in the lobbies or if you have to join their loyalty program to get it."

However, it seems many hotel companies still have a long way to go, especially in the luxury segment - the report suggested that luxury hotels are clinging onto exorbitant WiFi charges while their budget sister brands go free.

Mid-to-upscale brands Marriott, W Hotels and InterContinental were named as having the worst hotel WiFi, along with a host of other top-end names such as Sofitel, Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental and Ritz-Carlton.

At the other end of the scale, those which topped the HotelChatter "Best Hotel WiFi" list included Hotel Indigo, described as a "hotel version of a perfect date," Kimpton ("the long term relationship") and Aloft, "perfect for the tech connected road warrior."

But despite the big names which are setting an example, getting WiFi from a hotel remains something of a minefield - free WiFi still varies from brand to brand, city to city and even property to property, said Shallcross.

Read the full report at: http://www.hotelchatter.com/story/2011/4/18/214035/608/hotels/HotelChatter_s_2011_Hotel_WiFi_Report

Five top tips for dodging expensive hotel WiFi :

1. Join the hotel's loyalty program - many major chains now offer it as a perk for members
2. Check the upgrade program. On some booking sites, an executive room costs little more than a standard room and in some hotels, they include free wifi.
3. Check HotelChatter's guide, or use a booking site which can search for free WiFi - PriceLine added it to their "hotel freebies" search recently
4. Join a WiFi program. Companies such as Boingo offer monthly subscriptions which include access to some hotspots that would otherwise be chargeable, and the plans generally work out much cheaper than paying per stay.
5. If you're a regular visitor to one country, buy a 3G dongle and local SIM card. It may seem drastic, but if you're staying for a while it will work out cheaper (and you can use it anywhere).

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