Then there are those who go only where the Wi-Fi speeds are fastest and free. If that’s you, Prague is the place to be, according to Hotelwifitest.com, a website dedicated to helping travelers find the best Internet speeds at the fairest rates — and motivating hotels to upgrade their offerings.
Although the Emblem Hotel in the Czech Republic ranked No. 1 with a data transfer rate of 153.2 megabits per second — or three times the speed needed to host a different videoconference in each suite of the hotel’s fifth floor — the United States leads with five of the top 10 fastest hotels and 51 of Hotelwifitest’s top 100 resorts.
Using data compiled between October 2013 and February, the site looked at how many individual hotels in each chain featured Wi-Fi download speeds exceeding 5 mbps, enough to stream HD movies and shows on Netflix or Amazon Prime.
Debt.com spoke with the Hotelwifitest staff to seek their advice on the best hotel Wi-Fi…
1. If Wi-Fi is your priority, stay at one of these chains
When you look at Hotelwifitest’s Top 10 chains and their nations of origin, feel free to chant U-S-A. (see chart below.) And even though a luxury brand tops the list, a Hotelwifi spokesman wants you to know: Expensive doesn’t mean fast.
“Paid Wi-Fi in an expensive five-star hotel can be really bad, but free WiFi in relatively cheap hotel can be really good,” Hotelwifitest’s Yaroslav Goncharov says.
|1. Andaz||Hyatt’s luxury hotels||U.S.A.|
|2. La Meridien||A hotel chain started by AirFrance, now owned by Starwood Hotels||U.S.A.|
|3. Radisson Blu||A Minnesota-based chain that’s offered free Wi-Fi since 2005||U.S.A.|
|4. Four Points by Sheraton||Another Starwood Hotels chain||U.S.A.|
|5. Scandic||A Swedish chain that operates mainly in Scandinavia||Sweden|
|6. Sheraton||Yet another Starwood Hotel chain||U.S.A.|
|7. Crowne Plaza||Crowne Hotels are owned by InterContinental Hotels Group, a British multinational company||U.K.|
|8. Marriott||An international chain headquartered in Bethesda, MD||U.S.A.|
|9. Hyatt||The everyman parent company of the elegant, first place Andaz brand||U.S.A.|
|10. Residence Inn||An extended-stay hotel chain owned by Marriott||U.S.A.|
2. Search for better hotel Wi-Fi
Hotelwifitest has created a search tool that users can filter by the city they’re traveling to. It’s still a work in progress — since it doesn’t include every city in the world (yet) — but you can visit this page and scroll down to “Hotel Recommendations” to give it a try.
3. Skip the paid “premium” options
If you’re staying at a hotel with crappy free Wi-Fi, you might be prompted to pay for a faster connection.
“It says ‘Free Wi-Fi’ on a booking site, but in reality, that free WiFi is so slow and unstable that you need to pay for the premium Wi-Fi service,” Goncharov says. “It is not really a ‘scam,’ but it hurts and happens quite often.”
Scam or not, Goncharov says some hotels hate when his site draws attention to it. “Sometimes we get angry emails from hotels after their bad Wi-Fi quality is exposed via our service,” he says.
Solution: Depending on the price and your time, it may be cheaper to just head to the lobby — where most hotels offer free Wi-Fi.