When it comes to choosing a hotel, the availability of free Wi-Fi is an increasingly important factor for business travellers and holidaymakers alike.
Now a new website is providing help in the search for free and fast wireless internet access. Hotelwifitest.com lets hotel guests test the speed of their internet connection, and then stores the results for others to view. It also records whether the Wi-Fi is free or comes at a price.
Once tested, the hotel is listed on the website with an “expected speed” in megabytes per second (mbps). The range, also in mbps, is also displayed, as are room rates and reviews courtesy of Hotels.com. The result can also be shared on social media.
Hundreds of hotels have already been rated, including 51 in London, 160 in New York, 42 in San Francisco, 35 in Singapore and 21 in Amsterdam. It is relying on travellers to expand its coverage.
According to the website, of the 51 hotels listed in London, Ham Yard Hotel offers the most rapid connection – with a speed of 84.2 mbps recorded, and a range of 0-179. Less impressive were the W London Leicester Square, Holiday Inn Express London-Royal Docks, Novotel London West, Ibis London City and The Stafford London by Kempinski, each of which scored 0.72 mbps or less.
Most hotels offer free Wi-Fi, the website suggests, but many do still charge for access, or for access to a faster “premium” connection. In London, they include the Courthouse Hotel, Atelier EC1 by Bridgestreet, Park Plaza Victoria London, W Leicester Square, and branches of Ibis and Holiday Inn.
“The promise of free Wi-Fi is a big draw in today’s age of constant connectivity,” the website explains. “Nothing could be more disheartening than turning on your laptop, only to realise that the hotel’s Wi-Fi is so slow it will take four hours to view the thirty-minute video.
“You can be instrumental when it comes to persuading hotels to invest in fast and reliable Wi-Fi. When you stay at a hotel, simply connect to in-house Wi-Fi and run a speed test at www.hotelwifitest.com. Then, you can share the results via a number of social media sites with one click. Because social media is such a big part of everyday life, the value of a tweet or venue tip on foursquare should never be underestimated.”
While the website relies on travellers to collect data, it claims “smart algorithms” are employed in its verification process. “This is very important when it comes to locations with a high concentration of hotels in a small area, because the close proximity of several providers could affect the outcome of the test. In order to ensure that our results are fair and accurate, we never use them in reports until they are verified,” it adds.
However, Telegraph Travel was quickly able to find an error when it fact-checked a handful of hotels on its London rankings. The Cavendish is listed on the website as offering paid Wi-Fi; but a spokesman for the hotel insisted that all Wi-Fi access at the hotel comes free of charge.
Although free Wi-Fi is available in most bars and cafes – and even branches of McDonald’s – hotels – particularly those in Britain – have been more reticent to offer the service.
A survey of thousands of hotels across the Continent carried out earlier this year found that around 90 per cent now offer free access, but, of the 10 worst cities for free Wi-Fi, three – Liverpool, Birmingham and Manchester – were British. On average, just 64 per cent of hotels in Manchester were found to offer it. Research by Telegraph Travel found that hotels still charge guests as much as £6 for a single hour’s access, or £20 for 24 hours.