No Wi-Fi at the hotel? Seriously?

Henri IV Paris
The Hotel Henri IV offers an incredible location, cheap rates, and cool history. It does not, however, offer Wi-Fi.

How would you react if you arrived in your hotel room, plopped down your bags, and tried to join the hotel’s Wi-Fi network, only to find… (spinning, spinning)…. nothing.

We’re not talking about having to hang out with your laptop in the lounge downstairs because the Wi-Fi doesn’t reach your room. And it can’t be blamed on a frozen modem or a confused router.

The hotel, it turns out, doesn’t have an internet connection, Wi-Fi or otherwise.

You experience (pick one): Panic? Confusion? Relief?

It’s incredible how something that was presented just a few years ago as a new amenity is now considered almost a right. (In fact, an Estonian tourism official recently told me that in her country free Wi-Fi is, in fact, considered a “human right.”)

Rewind a decade or so, and hotels were eagerly embracing the new Wi-Fi technology, especially as it represented a new revenue stream. Some charged by the hour, others by the day. But almost everyone charged. In the years since, as the cost of offering Wi-Fi has dropped and online hotel bookings have become more competitive, hotels have found that they could also win over travelers by offering the service for free.

Not every hotel, of course, offers it for free. I’ve written before about the tendency for upscale chain hotels to charge for Wi-Fi, even as smaller budget hotels give it away for free. Many of the most popular hotels in our Paris guide, for example, offer free Wi-Fi, including the Tiquetonne, the Esmeralda (really only works in the lobby), Hotel Jeanne d’Arc and even the super-duper cheapo, the Hotel Rivoli.

But there are still a very few hotels that don’t offer it at all.

A few days ago I was updating our review of the Hotel Henri IV, a super cheapo sleep located on the Place Dauphine at the tip of the Ile de la Cité in Paris. (Given its extraordinary location, doubles going for €60 are indeed considered “super cheapo.”)

When I visited the hotel last month, the friendly receptionist reminded me that the rooms are rather basic, and don’t have TVs. Fine. (This isn’t actually that unusual for small hotels and pensions, as one room’s blaring TV can echo down the hallway, disrupting the mood.)

But then he came to the clincher: “And we don’t have Wi-Fi.”

Ah, right. I scribbled down the note and didn’t think much more about it until I updated the review and made a point of calling this out. But it didn’t have Wi-Fi last year either, and I hadn’t felt necessarily compelled to point it out then. Are we, in fact, now seeing Wi-Fi as a right? Is that fair, or even a good thing?

I took to Twitter, mentioning that, after all these years I’m still impressed by the hotel’s low rates:

 

Minutes later, a follower responded:

 

Right.

I certainly understand why we think it indispensable. We rely upon Wi-Fi to check email, find restaurants, search maps and fire up Skype to call loved ones. Not to mention keep up with work.

So what about the incredibly shrinking list of hotels that not only don’t offer it for free, but actually don’t offer it all?

It sounds almost like, well, a vacation.

What do you think?

Do you think that Wi-Fi should be offered by all hotels? Would you stay at a hotel without a connection? Do you think this entire conversation is foolish and that everyone needs to unwire themselves and get a life? Leave a comment below!

About the author

Tom Meyers
About the author: Tom Meyers created and launched EuroCheapo from his Berlin apartment in 2001. He returned to New York in 2002, set up office, and has led the EuroCheapo team from the Big Apple ever since. He travels to Europe several times a year to update EuroCheapo's hotel reviews. Tom is also a co-host of the New York City history podcast, The Bowery Boys. Email Tom. [Find Tom on Google Plus]
Posted in: Paris Hotels
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Cheapo Comments

22 Responses to “No Wi-Fi at the hotel? Seriously?”
  • Hans says:

    Is it really the case that “most hotels offer wifi”? Surely not. Cut off the tourist trail and surely most hotels in Europe are wifi-free. On a global basis, I doubt that ten per cent of the word’s hotes have wifi.

    • Thanks for your comment, Hans. You make a good point — I should change that to “most European hotels,” which is what we write about (but I should have been clearer).

      Having said that, I still think that most hotels in Europe, even off the beaten path, these days offer Wi-Fi (whether you have to pay for it or not is another question). Would you assume otherwise?

      • Elizabeth H. says:

        I guess I’d expect it (in the sense of ‘think it would be provided’) in chain hotels or hotels catering to business travelers, but I wouldn’t necessarily expect it in a pensione or B&B-type establishment. Either way, I wouldn’t care–I don’t go traveling to hunch over a computer. I usually don’t even take my tablet overseas. If I need to check in with family or work, I go to an internet cafe and pay a euro. One of the best things about traveling is being free of the electronic tether, as far as I’m concerned.

  • Virginia Stone says:

    I wouldn’t tend to stay at hotels without wifi but see it as an amenity rather than a right. It is far more important to me than TV, hairdryer or toiletries, almost as important as having my own bathroom, which is not a right. I see it as part of my comfort. I like to spend my evening reading and sending emails, posting photos of my day on facebook and adding to my blog with perhaps a little FaceTime as well. The cost of using my phone overseas for the internet plus the fact that I am alone and old enough not to feel too comfortable going out at night makes wifi, not vital, but quite important to my bookings.

  • Sarah says:

    I can understand a rural property not having internet and therefore wifi, but I can’t understand a property located in the city not having it available. Then again it there are internet cafe’s local to the hotel then it doesn’t really matter.

    I do, however, object when upmarket hotels charge you for the privilege!

  • It is sure that now wifi is a must have for an hotel.

    But on the other hand the tarifs that are proposed by the hotel are so low that we can excuse this missing point.

    Customer have a lot of solution. They can for example buy a prepaid Data bundle, activate a data option on their mobile plan (a lot of mobile operator in Europe have it).

    They also can go in a bar, restaurant close to the hotel that will offer a wifi connection.

    In some cases , some customers are happy to have an hotel where there is no wifi (health concerned for example).

    I am working for a mobile operator that propose today solution for customer who need Internet while they are travelling in France. lefrenchmobile.

    If Henri IV hotel does not have a solution we may have it

  • Jade O'Neill says:

    I hate it when hotels don’t offer basic services like providing wifi. I know you’re meant to be enjoying your holiday but it is still nice to be able to email family back home to let them know what you’re getting up to etc.

  • shoz says:

    These days, you can find free wifi almost everywhere in Paris.

  • Patricia says:

    Just returned from Kathmandu where my $25 a night hotel and many cafes had free wifi. At lodge in Chitwan there was wifi. Travel a lot and my experience is most places have wifi, including entire cities provided by tourist bureaus, but then maybe that is because I only choose hotels with free wifi. Found that as the price of hotel rises, exponentially so does cost of wifi. I get around paying by adding AT&T international data plan to iPad for 30$ for 30 days. I usually come back with data to spare and never go unconnected, even in remotest of places.

  • carrico says:

    Would be delighted, especially, to stay at an hotel which out-lawed cell phones.
    Wi-Fi? Can always use it at the library, at least in Amsterdam.

  • RMF says:

    The only way I get wifi in hotels is if the hotel offers it at no extra charge, or if it is a hotel where I have sufficient loyalty status to get it without extra charge. In the US, I use my iPhone to get online, or do what I do around the world, which is head to McDonald’s or any other place offering free wifi. I won’t pay extra for wifi in any hotel.

  • Paul Heymont says:

    The wi-fi issue is very important for me; not only because we use it constantly for reservations, next-day planning, connecting to work, but also because we spend some down time each evening on the road using the internet to answer the questions we asked ourselves all day as we visited museums, churches, cemeteries…whatever!

    Being able to do that, rather than returning home after two weeks with an endless list of questions is one of the big changes in travel over the past two decades. It’s true that we have more and more capability on smartphones…but for really doing this, a bigger screen is needed. And, I back up the day’s pictures to “the cloud.”

    So, I always check for wi-fi, and if it’s not available I adjust the true cost of the lodging by what it will cost me in mobile data charges. I know there are options in bars and parks and so forth…but it’s just not the same as having a place of your own.

    Incidentally…I’ve posted three parts so far of a 4-part blog on making economical sense of phones for visitors to Europe on http://travelgumbo.com

  • Dan says:

    Wow – I am kind of shocked at this topic as well as the responses. Seriously, you can’t live without Wi-Fi? I have spent hundreds of nights in Europe without it – admittedly, most of those in the days before Wi-Fi was invented. But my God people, who stays in a hotel room when in Europe except to sleep? Are you really going to sit in your room and surf the net or check email when you could be at the Louvre, or exploring the Acropolis, or hiking through the Alps, or taking a canal ride through Venice? Get out and experience the cultures of the places you are visiting! Live your life!

    • carrico says:

      Exactly, old man–except we also stay at hotels which have a nice little table at the window where we can drink wine, enjoy the view and recuperate from our wanderings.

  • Hey Tom,

    Great article. I have to point out that you always refer to the “Grand Hotel Jeanne d’Arc” but you really mean the “Hotel Jeanne d’Arc”.

    The “Grand” is located in the 13th and I am sure not a hotel you would recommend. However, the “Hotel Jeanne d’Arc” (without the “Grand”) is in the Marais and the hotel the link connects you to.

    Regards,

    Steve S

  • Jude says:

    I would definitely not eliminate a lodging just because it did not have wifi. I stayed off the grid recently in Marin County California. I survived being “unconnected”and psurely connected more with the locale since I was 100% present right there.

  • Kiki says:

    At such ridiculously low prices I certainly wouldn’t complain; BUT I’d like to know in advance. You can always go to a nearby Internet Café!

    On the whole I would believe that WiFi should be available – and that it should be free. On the other hand, when I’m off for a weekend or so, it’s a test of willpower NOT to be connected… :)

    I was however rather upset when going to a VERY posh, upmarket, cool & trendy hotel in Leipzig that I would have to pay heavily for accessing internet (as were other items I couldn’t believe that they would charge extra)

    In some hotels there is only one or two free computers in the entry hall – that’s ok when I’m holidaying. In a sport/family/holiday hotel in Switzerland I had to buy ‘cards’ for 30CHF for a certain duration of use of my own equipment. This year it was free… Bravo!

  • KC says:

    I do more traveling in the US than Europe, and general expect the hotels to have wifi. I often forget to check.

    For my last two European trips, I stayed in apartments and WiFi was a must. We ate breakfast at home and planned our day. We usually came back before dinner to cleanup, have a snack and glass of wine, and plan our evening. I used the Internet to look up schedules, read reviews, look at the map etc. I also kept up with email so I wasn’t buried when I got back.

    If I was looking for a European hotel room, there would need to be something superlative to make up for lack of WiFi.

    BTW, I did get a European data plan for my phone, but don’t have tethering to my laptop or tablet and I had to be careful to conserve the limited MB of download.

    KC

  • Pirate says:

    Arrgh,

    Shiver me timbers, but wouldn’t it be a lot more interesting to do your interneting from a cafe with wifi? ESPECIALLY in Paris with amazing people watching. Been doing this at home and abroad for the last few years, it’s great. Usually get better coffee this way too.

  • Dfrishman says:

    In any city in a developed country, I would definitely not stay in a hotel without wifi – and, actually, I wouldn’t stay in one without FREE wifi. It doesn’t even matter if the cost of the service was offset by a cheaper per-room price. I just don’t buy the notion of paying for wifi in a hotel where it is generally available.

  • Casey says:

    I have stayed at this hotel and it was wonderful! I didn’t care one bit that it didn’t have wifi. As soon as I got into the city I bought a SIM card for my phone anyway, and you can always get data! I will definitely stay at Hotel Henry during my next visit to Paris!!!

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