/ Technology, Travel & Leisure

Hotels – stop ripping us off with high wi-fi charges

Man working on laptop on hotel bed

Not long ago free hotel wi-fi was a nice-to-have perk, but not something to get too annoyed about if it wasn’t offered. But, with such an increase in portable technology, shouldn’t hotels be making it free?

The mood at this week’s Abta Travel Convention suggests all that has changed and free wi-fi is now of comparable importance to hot and cold running water.

The speaker who went down best with the crowd (apart from ex-politician and ex-convict Jeffrey Archer, strangely) was the editor of Wired magazine, David Rowan, who called for a boycott of hotel chains levying high internet charges.

Why charge for wi-fi?

Rowan had been annoyed by his hotel charging 18 euros for a day’s wi-fi connection, which rose to 24 euros for a faster connection. To him, that was the equivalent of asking people to pay for cold water, and then asking for another payment if they requested hot.

Pointing out that airports and cafes were able to provide wi-fi for free, Rowan suggested we were being ripped off and should refuse to pay.

Many people at the conference – me included – thought he had a point. Charges might have been acceptable once, when wi-fi was relatively new and not so widely used. But with the explosive rise in the number of people with smartphones, tablets and e-book readers, wi-fi is something that many people use almost constantly.

And, looking around the conference hall during the debate, this was obvious – half the audience were checking their phones and giving their verdicts on the speakers on Twitter.

Wi-fi is a modern day essential

So if wi-fi is used by guests more often than they use the shower, why shouldn’t the service be free? And even if it’s not free, surely hotels should have to justify the charges they levy for using what has become a modern day essential.

Have you been taken aback by the size of the bill for using hotel wi-fi? Do you think charges should be reduced, scrapped, or included in the price of the room? Is having wi-fi as important as having hot water?

Robert says:
7 October 2011

I can’t see the problem here, as long as the charges are clear and visible up front.

(Even if it is ‘free’ to provide, this does not mean that it cannot be sold, if people are willing to pay. Otherwise how could you ever justify the price charged for a cup of tea?)

If you want wifi, you just need to include the cost of it in the day rate when comparing with other hotels.

Andrew says:
7 October 2011

I don’t think it should necessarily be free as there is a cost for the equipment that the hotel needs to recover but I do think the charges are way too high. A reasonable fee would be a nominal £1 or £2 per day for example. At the moment I (and I assume many others) refuse to pay high fees but at that sort of rate I’ve no doubt everyone would do it without thinking twice.


That’s a good point, Andrew – I’m sure the numbers would rise if the cost lowered. When you consider how many other establishments (pubs, cafes, libraries etc) offer free wi-fi nowadays, though, I think hotels look old-fashioned for not doing the same.


Re Hannah

But you could be staying in your hotel for days on end doing serious profitable business on your device and accessing the internet 24/7 unlike the case of a pub or cafe where wi-fi use is ancillary to the main purpose of your going there.

Hotels are, of course, for-profit outfits but they could do with a significant reduction in the charges made.


Yes, but if the hotel had a good deal with the broadband provider it shouldn’t cost them much more regardless of usage. Electricity costs are another matter though! But still, they don’t charge per hour on other electrical items like TVs so I still agree with Chris on this one.


From TripAdvisor, I read a certain outfit by the Thames charges £20 plus VAT per day for internet access, burger and chips £22.50 (maybe an extra on top) but in a cafe just across the road it costs a mere £3.95 all-in.

Standing corrected if this is not in fact the case…. maybe its General Manager does read this and respond…he usually does as to stuff said about his hotel, whether complimentary or otherwise.


The cheaper hotels ( and those abroad) manage to offer free wifi so cant see why the more expensive ones have to charge £15 or more for a few hours use !


Mobile broadband is incredibly useful and provided that there is a signal it is the answer to expensive wi-fi charges. I use free wi-fi where it is available because it is usually much faster.

Will says:
10 October 2011

Today WiFi is like running water, heating and TV. All these are basic services that needs to be included in the room fees. It is outrageous that hotel charge for that a large amount, especially since they pay for this a fixed price anyway. Before booking an hotel, I always check if they have free WiFi, and only stay at hotels that offer this basic service free.
Also, when abroad and looking for a restaurant, I will always prefer a place with free WiFi.
If more people will do that, we’ll force the hotel and restaurant owners to provide this service, basic at the 21st century!