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London Hotel Free Wi-Fi Touchdown is Launched!
Nov 28, 11 | 12:07 am
We've just launched our free WiFi "touchdown" campaign: we'll tweet and blog live from "good guy" London hotels that provide free WiFi to their guests
This blog has been campaigning intensely for free WiFi at hotels for quite a while. We've been supported by a network of leading travel bloggers and tweeters across the world including the likes of Velvet Escape, Top Travel Content Europe, Elliott.org, Travel Rants and many others.
The hostility to hotel WiFi charges across the blogosphere is almost universal and yet many hoteliers choose to ignore it, while hypocritically pretending they're "in" on Twitter and Facebook. They're acting like embarassing dads - inappropriately dressed and showing off dated moves in a club they don't belong in. Because charging guests extra for WiFi at expensive hotels goes against the whole grain of how people live today.
Hotels in London impose some of the highest charges in the world for internet use, despite operating in one of the world's most profitable hotel markets in a generally tech-friendly city. Why should guests at The Ritz pay £26 per day extra for WiFi when patrons of McDonald's get it for free?
The Ritz charges handsomely for luxury rooms and amazing afternoon teas but will then slap on a huge extra fee for internet access...but this grand old hotel is by no means the only culprit
The worst culprits are in the luxury sector and we've been naming and shaming several recently - largely because they often don't have the guts to be transparent about such charges on their websites. At least budget operators like Tune Hotels list the costs before you book.
As social media, mobile working and smartphones become ever more pervasive in everyday life, the trend in the London luxury hotel sector seems to be perversely moving in exactly the opposite direction. This appears to be particularly the case when hotels are taken over by a new owner (and presumably one who has his head buried in the sand).
Examples of this worrying trend include the otherwise brilliant Stafford London (which had free WiFi until its takeover by Kempinski) and potentially also Claridge's, The Connaught and The Berkeley which were recently taken over by the Barclay brothers - although the WiFi policy of the (previously free WiFi) former Maybourne Hotels is yet to be confirmed either way.
Even the former Mint Hotels (the entire business model of the group was based on being fresh and tech-savvy with free iMacs in rooms) may start charging for WiFi at some hotels after recently being bought out by Hilton.
While even cheap Travelodges now offer free WiFi in Bar Cafes (despite rates usually below £100/night), several big-name hotels prefer to profit from a basic necessity
Old 5 star stalwarts like The Ritz and The Dorchester - where you might easily pay upwards of £400 for a room - still recklessly charge for WiFi. As do the big upscale chains like InterContinental (though internet is perversely free in its cheaper Indigo brand) and Hilton...shame on you!
Even boutique groups like otherwise well-managed Firmdale Hotels - which runs the Soho Hotel, Covent Garden Hotel and Haymarket Hotel - have a shortsighted WiFi policy even though their TripAdvisor reviews complain about it. Firmdale apparently has an average room rate more than double the London average so there's really no excuse (thank goodness at least Red Carnation Hotels offer free WiFi across its six London boutique hotels and Radisson Edwardian in about a dozen central London hotels).
Some hotels like the gorgeous 5 star Sofitel St James and The Langham have a confusing "dual" system where a slow free connection is offered alongside a paid-for fast one - wasting their guests' time in trying to figure out what they need (probably with a view to persuading them to pay as much as possible for the premium version). Why would anyone who aspires to stay in a 5 star hotel be happy with a slow internet connection?
So we've now decided to fire a fresh salvo in our London hotel free WiFi campaign which we've called "London hotel free WiFi touchdown" to promote the good guys - hotels that actually "get it" in our view and deserve a wider audience to be aware of them.
We hope that our London hotel free WiFi campaign will help to get the word out on "the good guys" with free WiFi as opposed to hotels which deliberately omit to mention their steep internet charges on their websites
In the next month or so, a colleague and I will personally visit different London hotels and test out their free WiFi. While there, we may also do a quick tour, take photos and tweet and blog about anything funky or interesting we discover at the hotel we're visiting on any given day.
In short, we'll do all the stuff that guests staying at free WiFi hotels will naturally do to give a hotel free publicity and which the ones that bizarrely charge for WiFi are missing out on (many paradoxically invest in setting up frequently-updated Twitter accounts but will charge their guests more than £20 a day to give them a positive mention while staying in their hotel!).
We already have a quite packed schedule but if any London hotels with free WiFi would like to get involved, they should contact us by email or via Twitter - we'll be happy to promote them and further embarass those shortsighted and expensive London hotels which choose to inconvenience their guests with sky-high WiFi charges. Watch this space!
Finally, if you're about to reserve a London hotel and not sure if it has free WiFi (largely because the charging ones often don't mention it), just email or tweet us and we'll be happy to check and let you know the truth!
Photo credits: Travelodge, The Ritz.
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