On Hotels

Over the course of my life, I have stayed at a wide range of hotels, motels, B&Bs, hostels, from high end luxury hotels for extended family holidays all the way to roach motels in Lost Wages with punk friends. Over the last two years, I have done a lot of traveling and have stayed in a fair share of hotel rooms for business purposes where an internet connection is not desired but necessary.
The Hampton Inn Downtown in Austin, Texas, has spoiled me for all mid-range hotels. The hotel is fun, nice and roomy, and best yet FREE wifi and FREE ethernet. Yes, free. Not $9.95 a day or £5 an hour. Free. Thus, when due to circumstances, I find myself at a Marriott, Westin, or other mid-range business class hotel and I am charged a minimum of $9.95 a day for the internet, I get cranky.
On the other hand, I have had the opportunity to stay at several Best Westerns and a few lower end Microtels as well. While Best Western tends to be about $50 dollars cheaper a night than Marriott, Westin (at its cheapest), and Hilton properties, the rooms are nice, decor a little chintz-y, but the wifi at Best Western is FREE. Now, if you don’t mind yellow & white rooms with ugly bed spreads, Microtel will deliver a nice clean sleep and FREE wifi all for about $59 a night! And you get to share the parking lot with trucks!
In May, while in Denver, I could not see why I was paying the Marriott $159 a night plus $9.95 for a bad internet connection, when I could move over to the local Microtel and save $100. I did move and the wifi connection was faster at the Mircrotel.
Expecting the lower end hotels and motels to have free wifi doesn’t always hold true, as while I was working on our entry for the Rails Rumble, I stayed at an Extended Stay America. The rooms where cookie cutter, even more so than Microtel, the bed was concrete block hard, and the internet connection was for charge. A recent stay at the Travelodge in San Jose, while the wifi was free, the environs were not so nice.
The upswing is that unless my family is kindly paying for high end accommodation or I am in Austin at the Hampton Inn Downtown, I will be choosing my hotel options based off of whether the wifi is free or not. Sorry Marriott & Westin, your beds, rooms, and in hotel restaurants do not add that much more value to my stay that I will be grateful to pay for an internet connection. Instead of adding value, the for charge wonky internet connection adds anger. Do you charge a surcharge for the FluffyWhiteBed™? No. Do you use the FluffyWhiteBed™ as a way to pull in customers? Yes. Do the same with consistently good internet connection that is complimentary to your paying guests as a distinctive.
Until the mid-range hotels see the wisdom in complimentary wifi in the rooms to accent the FluffyWhiteBed™, Best Western and Microtel have my business for their combination of good value, clean rooms, and their free wifi. La Quinta Inn’s have my business for the fact that they are consistently one of the few pet friendly hotels.
Since I will be traveling to London twice this fall and finding decent priced accommodation in a safe neighborhood is a difficult task to start with, I was shocked to find that the mid-range business hotels start their wifi prices at £5 an hour (nearly $10) not a day and even the budget hotels charge a minimum of £5 a day for wifi or internet connection. After much searching, I found a nice studio stay place in Bayswater with free wifi on a street I know is safe and within walking distance to the two Tube stations in the area. I will let you know how it goes…