Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Pamela Wade writing in the New Zealand Herald Travel magazine, 10 May, 2011.
The very first thing I do when I enter a new hotel room isn’t to go straight to the window to check out the view, test-bounce the bed a couple of times or look into the bathroom to see whether the toiletries are Molton Brown or Gilchrist & Soames. It’s the boring old Hotel Services directory I snatch up the moment I drop my suitcase, to flick through to ‘Internet’ and find out whether my memories of this place are going to be fondly rose-tinted, or suffused with a red mist.

Mostly, it’s the rage. With some noble exceptions, exorbitant connection charges are still standard in most of the hotels I’ve stayed at in this part of the world, and it makes me go fuzzy at the edges with anger and frustration. Access to free, fast, reliable WiFi ought to be as standard in hotel rooms as the provision of toilet paper. It should be like electricity and water: factored into the room rate as a normal facility, and unthinkable not to provide it. Personally, I would give up the 1000-count sheets that, being asleep, I’m mostly unconscious of, the fluffy robe and silly scuffs that I never wear, and the huge noisy spa bath that takes forever to fill, if I could instead settle down to reading my emails, posting to my blog, checking up on the news at home and generally behaving as though I live in the 21st century and not some 1980s outpost where the closest thing to email is airmail.

I find it impossible to understand why budget hostels and five-star luxury lodges have seen the light, while mid-range hotels still seem to think that business travellers on expense accounts are the only ones who might need access to the internet. At these places it’s generally necessary to buy, at eye-watering expense, some kind of card or to sign up for a chunk of time that has to be used in one go; and even then as often as not you have to be anchored to a desk by a LAN cable instead of comfortably surfing in bed. And when WiFi is available, there’s a Basil Fawlty attitude to problems: patchy access? Fitful operation? You’re lucky we have it at all! And no, there’ll be no discount or repair if it stops working altogether. Come and camp in the lobby hotspot with your laptop and be grateful!

To say, as a Hilton representative once did when I got testy about his shoulder-shrugging attitude to free WiFi, “Oh, it’ll come one day” is incomprehensible to me in a business where competition is the air that they breathe. For goodness sake, why not be first?

Pamela Wade has been travel writing for the last eight years, during which time she's been lost in Lima, slept in a swag beside a crocodile-infested river in Australia and - just for balance - rattled round in a six-room suite in the Hong Kong Peninsula. Her stories regularly appear in a wide range of newspapers and magazines in NZ and occasionally in the UK and Australia. She was recently re-elected President of NZ Travel Communicators, won the Cathay Pacific Travel Writer of the Year award in 2009, and writes a travel-related blog.

Further Footnote:
The Bookman would like to strongly associate himself with Pamela Wade on this one. I totally endorse her sentiments.
I am fed up with paying NZ and Australian and other hotels outrageous sums of money to gain Internet access. Most recently I stayed at the Four Seasons in Sydney where the charge was $A20 a day. Outrageous.Then at the Crowne Plaza Changi Aiport a similar charge was in place. Talk avboutt ripping off their clients. I will not be staying in either estblishment again.
Hats off though to Twin Plams Resort in Phuket, Thailand where fast unlimited Wifi Broadband was supplied free of charge.

I plan to start a register of all hotels who do not make a surcharge for WiFi which I will post on my blog from time to time so if any of my readers have experienced free WiFi at hotels then let me know by way of comment and I'll add to the register.
Let's stamp out this unfair practice and reawrd those who are being fair.

And my warm thanks to Pamela Wade for her succinct and timely story and for her permission to reproduce it here on my blog.


Anonymous said...

Hear hear to both of you. It drives me nuts that hotel owners think it's not part of the service - and maybe it's another money spinner for them.

jules said...

Count me in, too.

In North America, the cheaper the lodging, the more likely WiFi is free. The more expensive, the more you'll pay for what SHOULD be free.

And the observations about slack & slacker service applies here as well.


Rosetta said...

I absolutely agree.

We were in Hawkes Bay last weekend and I complained about this very thing. $25 for one day of internet. I could go sit in McDonalds for an hour and access it free. But I shouldn't have to. Thank you for writing about this issue.

Bookman Beattie said...

First hotel on my register. Please feel free to send me more names by way of a comment on this page;

Hotel Goldener Hirsch
Bahnhofstr. 13
95444 Bayreuth
Tel. 0921/15044000

kerry said...

I've just spent a few weeks in Argentina & Uruguay with free wifi available everywhere we stayed, seemed to be standard to have free access in most hotels/cafes there.

Kelly said...

My Dad was recently in Wellington hospital for a week and I travelled from the Waikato to be with him and my family. The hotel charged $5 for an hour of internet - and of course we were keeping in touch with all our worried friends and family via email so we chewed through a fair amount. The hotel office closed at 8.30pm so if you ran out after hours it was tough luck til the morning. Grrrr!

Sally said...

I've also started only using hotels that offer free WiFi. I never used to worry but now I think it should be a standard rather than an additional extra.

Sally said...

I've also just started choosing hotels based on whether they offer free WiFi. I agree that it should a standard service rather than an additional extra.

Gordon Dryden said...

Too many hotel to recall make those unnecessary charges.

On the good side: Singapore’s International Airport at Changi, is brilliant, both for WiFi everywhere for your own laptop, but also for the high quality of their own free computer facilities.

Fortunately I’m a touch-typist; otherwise I’d have great difficulty using most of the public computer keyboards at Sydney International Airport. Last time through there they were so old most-used letters had been rubbed off.

Gordon D

Rene said...

I have basically given up on using wifi unless it is free or dirt cheap. If you are being charged more than the price of a 3G data plan, why not get your own and not be at the mercy of unscrupulous hospitality providers?

I think they could be well advised to consider one of the hotspot network systems, where you can buy time and data and use it at any hotspot in the network. I traveled around the south island a few years back and the vast majority of motorcamps I stayed at all belonged to the same hotspot network.

Hotel Search said...

With guests checking in not only for pleasure and relaxation but also for business, the stakes are raised much higher nowadays as far as how high tech a hotel could be with its tech features. And it would be much sweeter if such luxury hotel amenities are highly accessible and free of charge.

Nick Jacobs said...

I'm planning to travel to London for a business meeting and I'm trying to decide where to stay. I got cheap tickets, but the hotel fees are so expensive!