High-Speed Hotels

by Jonathan Hassell

After a long day of traveling (up at 5:15 AM is not this writer's idea of a good way to start a day), I arrive at my hotel and proceed to check in. As I hand my American Express to the clerk, I notice a sign to my left that reads "Complimentary High-Speed Internet Access."

Wonderful, thinks I, now I can catch up on e-mail and put the finishing touches on my presentation for Saturday, and I won't have to pay for it.

I wander to my room--up and left and then right and then left again and straight for a mile but turn at the vending machine and go northeast at the housekeeping closet and then left and right again and it's just right there, room 257--and scour the room, looking for a CAT5 data port. Nothing.

Perhaps this free access they speak of is wireless access, which is even better, I ponder. I open my notebook and Windows XP courageously samples the airwaves and returns two available but unsecured wireless networks--SDBay and iDockUSA.

Neither work. I fiddle for half an hour, and then I go back down to the front desk. I stopped off in Los Angeles on the way; it was more of a straight shot. The clerk sees me coming and pastes her grin on.

"How can I help you?"

"I'd like to know about this free Internet access," I say, pointing to the sign. "I've fiddled for a while and I think you need to activate it or something."

"Oh, that is only for our Harborview guests."

"Come again?"

"We can give you the Internet access, but it's $10 extra per day." She smiles a bit harder now to emphasize the deal I am getting.

"But the sign says 'complimentary Internet access for guests,' and I'm a guest. You just billed me for a nine-night stay; I think I qualify." This is a $95/night hotel, not some Days Inn truckstop.

"I'm sorry, sir, but would you care to have the $10 billed to your room?"

"Give it to me for one night and I'll decide," I retorted. The clerk disappeared into the back room for a second, and then returned with a bunch of equipment in a Ziplock bag.

"Let us know if you need help setting it up!"

I retreat to my quarters and unpack the bag, which consists of a cable modem, a splitter, three coax cables, and an impossibly short CAT5 patch cable. They gave me a modem?

I look out the window across the street, to the Dolphin motel. The billboard beckons: "$39/night - FREE WIRELESS HIGH-SPEED INTERNET"

Next time.

What are your experiences with high-speed Internet access in hotels? Do you share in my frustration or do you have a happier report?


Jonathan Gennick
2004-05-27 04:57:32
Internet = extra profit
While I do run across free Internet access from time-to-time, most hotels seem to equate "Internet access" with "extra profit".

Wireless in a hotel can sometimes be sketchy. One place I stayed at gave free wireless in the lobby, but from my room, which was also 10 miles from the desk, I had to plug in and pay by the day. After making a number of trips back and forth to the lobby, I finally decided to just pay.

A hotel I stayed it in Minneapolis last year was next door to a coffee shop. The hotel had no Internet at all, but if I set my laptop very near the window, I could just barely get signal good enough to send/receive email. I bought lots of coffee at that coffee shop too, so they made out ok.

2004-05-27 05:22:59
Hampton Inn in Castle Rock, CO
Free internet was advertised from the highly visible sign on Interstate 25. Since I was staying for three days to ramp up for a new project and had other work still to do, it was the obvious choice. When I asked about it, the clerk told me there was an ethernet cable on the desk, just plug it in, set the control panel to use DHCP and I should be good to go.

It was actually that easy. No complaints, plenty fast and can't wait to stay there again. Pretty decent complimentary breakfast, as well.

2004-05-28 07:15:42
I will only stay in hotels that have free high-speed, and I travel pretty frequently. Avoid anything that says 'data ports' - that usually means pay+dial-up. Every hotel I've been in has the ethernet port right on a desk and my powerbook is ready to go in seconds. Marriott's Web site does list their brands' ammenities nicely, including online access. I always check that out and the generic Yahoo yellow pages for hotels in the area before using a travel site. I find that if I research places and then go to reserve later, the price goes up...