Finding Hotels Around the World

With Computer Internet Access

Laptop? Check. Airline ticket? Of course. Wireless Internet access? Well, maybe.

More and more hotels the world over are offering Internet access, but finding a properly wired hotel property hasn’t gotten any easier.

Keep in mind that Runway Traders are a different breed of mouse potato. Sending emails and downloading the latest photo of a cousin’s new baby are the last things on a trader’s agenda. You’re on the road for two reasons: (1) to have fun traveling to exotic ports around the globe and (2) to pay for some or all of your travels by trading stocks on the Internet.

What that means, of course, is that you’re likely to be online for "extended" periods, and you’d probably like to do so with a minimum of interruptions and a modicum of privacy. I know the last thing I want when I simply must be online trading is to be fumbling at the “take a number” dispenser in some hotel lobby while I exchange stares with six other people who are waiting in line to surf a couple of circa 1990 computers. That doesn’t even rise to the level of “it sucks.”

During a daytrading trek to Las Vegas, I stayed at Wynn's. Nice digs. Internet in every room (for a price). And in-room safes large enough to lock up your laptop when you skip out to hit the slots.

Online Travel Agents are Years Behind the Curve

But can you imagine? None of the search functions at the major online travel sites I’ve visited allow you to search for hotels that offer in-room Internet service, whether free or for a price. Not Expedia, not Orbitz, CheapTickets, Priceline, Travelocity, or even Hotels.com, Lodging.com, OnlineHotels.com, or RoomSearch.com.

What they do offer is that cutesy, catch-all phrase, “Internet service available.” And that could mean anything from a card table in the basement boiler room, to Wi-Fi access in the lobby, a meeting room, your hotel room, or that tiny closet on the third floor where the ice machine is located. You’d think they’d get wise and start including Internet menus and search features such as “in-room high speed Internet.” But of course, I’m asking for the moon, aren’t I?

So what to do? Well, you’ve got a couple of choices.

Your first choice is what I call the “universal solution” because it works at any hotel anywhere in the world (just about). Using the Net, scope out the hotel(s) where you’d like to stay. Incidentally, for my money the ambience of the hotel trumps everything. I mean, why stay in a second-rate rat-trap just because they have high speed Internet. I want (nay, I demand),  in-room Internet access AND  the absolute best hotel room I can afford.  After all, would you rather stay at the oceanfront Moana Hotel in Honolulu or some low-rise shack 6 miles from the beach?

Next, send them an email inquiring about what sort of Internet service they provide. Is it:

  •   Wireless or Ethernet? Both?

  •   In-room, lobby, or where? (Please, not the little room with the ice machine!)

  •   Is there an additional cost?

  •   How much?

What you get back, of course, is an email commitment in writingof their offering.  No surprises. No sleight of hand. No BS. And if you like their setup, “book it, Dano.”

 

The second choice is to bring your own wireless service by purchasing broadband service from one of the well-known (U.S.) providers like Verizon or Sprint. Frankly, at this writing, that solution leaves a bit to be desired. First, their more reliable services are strictly a stateside phenomena and none of them covers all American ports of call. Second, if you opt for the “anywhere in America” solution you’ve stuck yourself with two-year contract. Geez Louise, in two years computers might be equipped with personal satellite dishes that no longer need a Verizon or Sprint solution. I mean, "beam me up, Scotty."

 

A third solution is to browse for an Internet hotel through in one of these links:

 

JI-Wire Wi-Fi Hotspot Finder. This is undoubtedly one of the best Internet sources I could find for sniffing out Wi-Fi hotspots most everywhere in the world. J-Wire is the same folk who sell you their Internet security system that I discuss in my Charlie’s Gear section on this site. Natch, if you buy their system you automatically can sniff out all the hotpots with their built-in sniffer. Anyway, when I last checked, they claimed to catalog some 118,504 free and paid WiFi hotspots in 128 countries.

 

And if that's not enough, here are some other hotspot resources:

WiFiFreespot.com. The Wi-Fi-FreeSpot™ Directory is a listing of Wi-Fi enabled locations such as hotels, airports, restaurants, etc., that offer Free Wireless High Speed Internet Access. USA State-by-State listings come first with Europe and other regions of the world are also included.  

Top 10 Hotel Chains with Internet  Here’s another of those Internet sites that bites off a bit more than it can chew by trying to keep up with who’s got hotel Internet service and who ain’t. Admittedly, that's a difficult challenge, but hey. Still, they do a better job that I do, and, if your playing Runaway Trader in the U.S., this is as good as source as any for finding a hotel.

Best Wi-Fi Hotels 2006 Just like the entry above, Hotel Chatter.com indexes what it believes are the latest in Wi-Fi hotel availability. Check it out. If you happen to find one of these hotels in a (mostly U.S.) city where you’re running away to trade, you’re in luck.  If not, well, there's always Step #1.

Wi-Fi Hot Spot Directory for both paid and free access is another of those mostly U.S. based hotspot location. But, in this day and age with so many locations offering free Wi-Fi, I hardly thing there’s much necessity to pay for access---unless the location is so fetching (maybe the nudist beach le Cap d'Agde on the French Mediterranean?) as to warrant throwing around that kind of cash. 

Tips for Booking Hotels with High-Speed Internet

Lastly, but by no means leastly, here are some tips to keep in mind as you trade your way around the world:

Do Your Research Online. As I said before, don't expect the online travel sites to help you find a wireless (or wired) hotel room. It always help to get it in writing. That's why I love the Internet. 

Never Assume. Just because a hotel advertises wireless access doesn't mean it will be available in your room. Wi-Fi is still sometimes confined to lobbies and meeting areas, while guest rooms have Ethernet connections. Before booking, email the hotel to make sure Internet access is available in all guest rooms (and print-out their response and bring it with you to the hotel. Better safe than sorry). The best option, of course, is Ethernet, since it’s hard-wired and that offers greater security and it’s free from the vicissitudes of bad signals, unexplained fadeouts, and the like (just the usual ISP screwups.)

Have a Backup Plan. Misunderstandings abound in the world of hotel Wi-Fi. On several occasions I’ve been assured that Wi-Fi access was available in my room, only to discover that the signal was so wimpy as to be unusable. When that happens, you’ll have to get another room—if one is available. And, of course, you may have to go to another hotel or motel altogether. I can't tell you how many times I've checked in with the promise that wi-fi works in my room, only to come up with nothing. I even blogged about it here.

Always Pack an Ethernet Cable, Just in Case. If you don't have a strong Wi-Fi signal in your room but do have an Ethernet connection, great. Many hotels offering high-speed wired access supply a cable in each room. But to hedge your bets, pack an Ethernet cable—a previous guest might have “accidentally” packed up the cable with his luggage (and a few of the hotel’s towels).

Make Sure You Log Out. If you use a fee-based wireless service, be sure to properly sign off if you’re being charged on a “till forbid” basis. Actually, most of the fee-based systems I’ve used charged by the day, and you must renew the service for the second and succeeding days. But, if your hotel uses some other system, be sure to log out. If you neglect to do so, you could be in for a nasty surprise at checkout time.  

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