Most people find it hard to be away from the internet these days, whether they’re checking train times on their phones or emailing colleagues and friends in the evenings. But the BBC’s Watchdog programme recently investigated several major hotel chains, from expensive luxury brands to budget hotels, and discovered many were still charging over the odds for internet access.
The hotel brands contacted by Watchdog said that offering rates inclusive of internet access would lead to an unfair rates increase for those who didn’t use it. However, the programme found that internet access is rarely a significant expense. Sinclair Beecham, the owner of a London hotel which does offer free access, told the show that it costs around £300 a month for 200 rooms – working out at £1.50 per room, per month.
The show’s presenter, Rick Wakeman, suspects that these charges are put in place to compensate for the fact that guests no longer make calls from their bedside phones. Whatever the reason, the show uncovered a confusing variation of costs: charges vary from hotel to hotel, even within chains; hotels sometimes charge by the hour rather than by the day; and some even charge per device.
Some hotels do offer free internet access, including some major chains. But in the serviced apartment industry it’s far more common: of the 2,000+ apartment buildings on the SilverDoor website, for example, 70% offer free internet access.
Perhaps this contrast stems from the fact that serviced apartments are more often geared towards web-savvy business travellers. But as the internet becomes a more and more vital part of our everyday lives, fewer people will be prepared to pay extra to spend time online.