Photo: Vivian Giang – Business Insider
This post is part of HotelChatter’s Annual WiFi report.Best Hotel WiFi 2012
1. KIMPTON HOTELS: Another year, another “Best” accolade for the boutique hotel chain, Kimpton. True, the WiFi isn’t waltz into the lobby with your iPad free but so long as you join the Kimpton InTouch loyalty program (which is free to join), you can get online painlessly.
From New York to Boston to Chicago and Los Angeles we’ve had consistently good WiFi experiences at Kimpton. The one time the network did go down during a stay (it was a hotel-wide issue, even for the front desk), Kimpton kicked in a couple of “raid the minibar” tickets for our troubles. And it doesn’t hurt that Kimptons have free wine-tasting hours every afternoon either.
2. PENINSULA HOTELS: Sure, Peninsula only has 9 (soon to be 10) hotels in their collection but we love how serious they are about their WiFi offerings. Not only is it free for every guest (no loyalty program membership necessary), but it’s some of the most cutting-edge technology out there. For instance, each room at the Peninsula Bangkok has its own WiFi network.
Peninsula is also installing gigaspeed internet which will guarantee 99 per cent internet coverage–no black holes or dark spots–in their Beijing property. Yet before any of this technology arrives in the guestroom, Peninsula employs a head geek to make sure everything works perfectly. Not just ok. Perfectly. Finally, a luxury hotel that’s not trying to nickel and dime you.
3. FAIRMONT HOTELS: Fairmont has 64 hotels all over the world (19 in the U.S.) and guess what, all of them offer free WiFi for members of the Fairmont Presidents Club loyalty program. A special few–Fairmont Royal Pavilion in Barbados; Makkah Clock Royal Tower, A Fairmont Hotel in Saudi Arabia; Fairmont Heritage Place, Ghirardelli Square; and Fairmont Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten in Hamburg–even offer WiFi completely free, FPC membership or not.
But the real clincher here is that regardless of where Fairmont opens in the world, free WiFi is always an option for guests. So whether your skiiing in Banff or on safari in Kenya, you can get online without paying extra.
4. ACE HOTELS: The Ace is a small brand of hotels–just four locations in the U.S.–but Silicon Valley denizens, artists, digital nomads and other hip sorts have long favoured the Ace for its laid-back, dorm lounge/lobby, Stumptown coffee offerings, and free WiFi in the guestrooms and public spaces. If we could bottle up and sell the Ace New York lobby ambience where using the internet for work while socializing and the free flow of information is not only allowed but encouraged, we’d be very rich.
So many hotels these days force a lobby hangout to happen but the Ace is the only succeeding and free, painless WiFi is a big part of their success. As Ace Hotels says themselves, “We think the future of wireless is free and we like doing our little part to accelerate that process.”
5. Swire Hotels: Swire Hotels is another small company with just two hotels in Hong Kong, soon-to-be two hotels in Beijing and three in the U.K. Yet they’ve made free WiFi a top priority for guests. Their hotels use wireless devices to streamline guest arrival and departure experiences thus eliminating paper waste and carbon emissions. (Unfortunately, they still can’t help the filters on Mainland China which prevents you from getting on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and certain Wikipedia pages.)
Staying at a Swire Hotel, like the East Hotel Hong Kong, also comes with another bonus–each room is equipped with an iPod Touch which replaces the traditional printed hotel directories and from which you can explore city guides, look up the weather and even order room service. If you’re looking for the future of free hotel WiFi, it can be found in Asia.
WHO ELSE OFFERS FREE WIFI?
· Standard Hotels
· Ace Hotels
· Andre Balazs Hotels
· Joie De Vivre Hotels
· James Hotels
· Kimpton Hotels
· Gansevoort Hotels
· Desires Hotels
· B Hotels
· Soho House Hotels
· Swire Hotels
· Gem Hotels
· COMO Hotels
· Greystone Hotels
· Citizen M Hotels
Always Free, For Members
· Kimpton Hotels: Simply become a member of their Kimpton InTouch loyalty program and you’re on your way to free internet.
· JDV Hotels: The majority of Joie de Vivre’s properties offer free WiFi in the public areas and guestrooms. But for the few holdouts that still charge, all members of the Joy of Life Club (JDV’s loyalty program) get complimentary internet access, regardless of status level.
· Omni Hotels: Most Omni properties charge a fee for WiFi access; however, signing up for the Omni Select Guest loyalty program — which is free to do — earns you complimentary WiFi at all levels.
· Fairmont Hotels: There is a fee for internet in guestrooms, but if you are a member of the Fairmont Presidents Club (membership is free) you can get complimentary internet access during your stay.
· Loews Hotels: Most Loews hotels have it free in their lobbies but it becomes free in-room for members of their YouFirst loyalty program who reach the Blue level which is two to four stays a year.
· Wyndham Hotels: Wyndham’s ByRequest program is free to join and offers complimentary internet to members.
Always Free, For Elite Members
· Hyatt Hotels: Hyatt offers free WiFi for Platinum and Diamond members of the Hyatt Gold Passport program. The Platinum level requires 15 eligible nights in a calendar year.*
· Marriott Hotels: For the Marriott brands that don’t offer free WiFi (Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, Renaissance and JW Marriott), Gold and Platinum levels of the Marriott Rewards program can sign on for free. But it takes 50 nights to achieve Gold status. (Gold and Platinum members of Ritz-Carlton Rewards also get free internet access.)
· Hilton Hotels: Hilton offers free WiFi for Gold and Platinum members of their HHonors loyalty program. It take 36 nights to achieve Gold level.
· Starwood Hotels: Starwood Preferred Guests loyalty program offers Platinum members free WiFi at all Starwood Hotels. Platinum level takes 50 nights to reach.
*There are other ways to reach the elite levels of these loyalty programs from signing up for credit cards to participating in different promotions throughout the year. We’ve chosen just to represent the amount of nights you would have to stay in the brands’ hotels to break into the upper echelon.
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