1. WESTIN HOTELS: Ahhh...step into a Westin Hotel and the hotel’s signature white green tea scent wafting through the lobby is meant to put you at ease. And for a little while it might work. Until you decide to get on the internet in your room and you’re faced with a $9.95 a day average charge, per device. For a brand that’s supposed to be about relaxation, charging for WiFi seems counterintuitive and also, stupid. If a hotel can install workout gear like yoga mats and treadmills into the guestrooms then why not free WiFi? (Yes, we know some Westins offer WiFi access for free in the lobbies but time and time again, we’ve rarely been able to make it work.)
2. W HOTELS: We debated putting W Hotels on our Worst list yet again but we feel so strongly that a brand that’s as cosmopolitan and savvy as W should be offering free WiFi to its “cultured” guests, not charging them $14.95 a day, per device. And even though guests who earn platinum status of Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty program can get free WiFi during the stay (same with Westin), that still requires at least 50 nights of paying for internet.* Perhaps W should forget about their Global Fashion Director and hire a Free WiFi Ambassador instead. *As part of an SPG program overhaul in February 2012, complimentary internet is now one of three options offered at the Gold level which takes 10 stays to achieve.
: Speaking of old faces on our Worst WiFi list, Marriott's flagship brand is still charging an average $12.95 a day for a so-so WiFi signal. Guests who hit the gold and platinum levels of Marriott Rewards loyalty program can get complimentary internet during their stay but is it worth to slog through 50 nights of paying for iffy internet? You're better off hitting up one of Marriott's value brands like Courtyard, Residence Inn and Towneplace Inn for their free WiFi instead, unless of course, they end up injecting advertising into your wifi, ugh. If you want to chance it, we hear there's even a Courtyard by Marriott in Bali.
4. HARD ROCK HOTELS: Let's face it. Hard Rock hotels are in the business of offering guests a rockin' experience. In Las Vegas, it's all about getting drunk at Rehab, the raunchy Sunday pool party. In Orlando, it's all about continuing the action from the nearby theme parks. So it shouldn't surprise us that free WiFi is not on the list of amenities. Yet there's just something totally uncool about charging guests $14.99 a day per device. We think Hard Rocks can be a little more badass by offering free WiFi.
5. HILTON HOTELS: The other year, Hilton's HHonors loyalty program finally started offering free internet to member who achieved gold and platinum status (it take 36 nights to achieve the gold level.) So there's been some improvement there but it's still a bummer to check into a Hilton, Conrad, Waldorf-Astoria, Embassy Suites or a DoubleTree (all under the Hilton umbrella) and get charged an average of $12.95 a day. Especially when Hilton's other brands (Home2Suites, Hampton Inn, Hilton Garden Inn and Homewood Suites) all offer it for free. We guess the only way to get free WiFi at Hilton is to find a same sex partner before the year is out.
Did we mention spring was here? Well, along with spring comes a rather important annual event for fun-loving LGBT travelers around the world: pride season!
If you've already got plans to try out the new gay-themed Out NYC in Manhattan, or be shepherded around Miami by the Lords South Beach's specially-themed iPhone app, fair enough. But one other thing you might want to keep in mind: 140 Hilton Hotels are offering a "Stay Hilton. Go Out" package for LGBT travelers celebrating pride, which includes, among other nifty perks, free Wifi.
As part of "Stay Hilton. Go Out," the participating Hilton properties, a list of which can be found on the Hilton website, plan to offer: reduced room rates, Double HHonors points, late check-out, free WiFi, and a free subscription to OUT magazine. And best of all, the deal is good through the end of 2012! It's no wonder Hilton made it onto our Top 7 Gay-Friendly Hotels list back in January.
Sure, you could lie and say your best friend is actually your significant other, or make up some story about how you plan to hit all the pride events in all the cities—whatever your tactic, just make it believable. You'll be saving at least $12 a day on WiFi charges, and you're guaranteed to make (at least) a few new friends.
And if Orlando in particular is calling your name, then that's as it should be, because Hilton is also running a contest where winners get VIP passes to Gay Days Orlando, a six-night stay at Hilton Orlando, and roundtrip airfare for two. Entries are being accepted here now through April 29.