Hotels.com facilities - free WiFi

Check If A Hotels WiFi Sucks Before It’s Too Late

Heated pool? Cable TV? Ghosts in the reception hall?

There are lots of factors you can use to rank hotels thanks to online reviews, but for both business and leisure travellers alike WiFi download speed is often one of the most important.

The problem is that many hotels don’t really seem to care about connection quality. Slow WiFi is arguably worse than no WiFi. As long as a hotel can display that little “WiFi Available” box on the amenities list, they’re happy. And travellers think they will be too… until they arrive and realise that anything more than checking email is going to be a problem.

Thankfully HotelWiFiTest is continually crowdsourcing data on hotel WiFi speeds so you can be confident you’ll be able to stream the latest TV series from your room.

So which hotels should you avoid?

Methodology

Using a Python script I scraped data from HotelWiFiTest. Data was collected for the following cities: London (384 hotels), New York (321), Bangkok (242), Paris (240), Berlin, Barcelona (196), Singapore (136), and San Francisco (134). In total WiFi data from 1890 hotels was collected.

HotelWiFiTest provides an expected speed in Mbps for each hotel. This indicates the speed you would likely get at a randomly chosen time of the day.

Hotel WiFi Speed Confidence Percentage Distribution May 2016

Download chart.

The site allocates a confidence score to each result, that is a value showing how thoroughly the WiFi has been tested at the hotel. The confidence value depends on several factors, including the number of speed tests taken, how recently the tests occurred, and the diversity of tests in terms of the time of day, day of the week, and point within the travel season.

Out of the 1890 hotels, the mean confidence score was slightly less than 25%. Only 828 hotels had a confidence score above 25%. More than 450 hotels had a confidence score less than 7.5%. For the purpose of this analysis we only considered hotels with a confidence score greater than 30% — 644 hotels in total.

Hotel Wifi Speed Expected dl Mbps Distribution May 2016

Download chart.

Of the remaining 644 hotels, 412 had download speeds slower than 10 Mbps.

In addition to HotelWifiTest data I used Akamai’s, “Q4 2015 State of the Internet” report, that contained average internet download speeds by country for comparison.

Hotel room rates used are the cheapest available based on average rates for a standard room on Tripadvisor.

Analysis

Cities with best hotel Wifi Speeds

Rank (Mean d/l speed) City Mean Hotel WiFi Download Speed Mbps Median Hotel WiFi Download Speed Mbps Country Mean Download Speed Mbps Q4 2015 Hotels Tested
1 London 20.88 11.30 13.90 384
2 Barcelona 17.23 11.85 12.10 196
3 Berlin 12.02 6.95 12.90 237
4 New York 11.67 5.60 14.20 321
5 Paris 10.56 4.40 8.90 240
6 Singapore 9.06 6.70 13.90 136
7 Bangkok 8.91 6.50 9.30 242
8 San Francisco 6.88 4.30 14.20 134

See calculations.

London comes out as the best city for hotel download speeds (by mean d/l speed) of those considered with a mean figure of 20.88 Mbps (median of 11.30 Mbps) for the 384 hotels considered.

San Francisco, a city bubbling with some of the latest and greatest internet technologies fares worst with a mean download speed of only 6.88 Mbps. To put that into comparison, the average download speed within the United States is 14.20 Mbps.

Did you know? The country with the fastest average download speed can be found in South Korea — 26.7 Mbps (Akamai Q4 2015).

Best hotels for Wifi download speeds

Rank (Hotel WiFi Speed Expected d/l Mbps) Hotel Name Hotel City Hotel WiFi Speed Expected d/l Mbps Hotel WiFi Speed Confidence Percentage
1 The Mark New York 235.00 59.70%
2 every hotel Piccadilly London 201.00 57.30%
3 Amba Hotel Charing Cross London 178.00 58.50%
4 Thistle Marble Arch London 145.00 53.00%
5 Sofitel London St James London 119.00 58.80%
6 Hotel Costes Paris 112.00 53.90%
7 Ham Yard Hotel London 88.70 60.00%
8 Hotel Crowne Plaza Berlin City Center Berlin 80.50 51.00%
9 Barcelona City Centre Hostal Barcelona 71.30 54.40%
10 San Francisco Marriott Marquis San Francisco 67.10 57.90%

Full table.

Confidence is relatively high for the top 10 hotels, all above 50%. 6 hotels have reported speeds of above 100 Mbps, 4 of which are in London, UK.

The Mark, New York and every hotel Piccadilly, London have estimated download speeds of over 200 Mbps — plenty of bandwidth to stream video (even at 4K resolutions).

Download speeds drop off quickly though — for hotels ranked below 25th speeds are below 50 Mbps.

Worst hotels for download speeds

Rank (Hotel WiFi Speed Expected d/l Mbps) Hotel Name Hotel City Hotel WiFi Speed Expected d/l Mbps Hotel WiFi Speed Confidence Percentage
635 Hotel Observatoire Luxembourg Paris 0.37 37.30%
636 Hotel Xenia London 0.35 31.90%
637 Hotel Paris Louis Blanc Paris 0.32 30.50%
638 Holiday Inn London Kensington Forum London 0.31 41.00%
638 Journeys London King’s Cross Hostel London 0.31 35.50%
640 Park Plaza Wallstreet Berlin Mitte Berlin 0.30 41.60%
641 Novotel London City South London 0.29 33.00%
642 Victor’s Residenz Hotel Berlin Berlin 0.21 30.40%
643 Hotel Air in Berlin Berlin 0.15 33.50%
644 InterCityHotel Berlin Hauptbahnhof Berlin 0.08 36.90%

Full table.

The slowest hotel tested, the InterCityHotel Berlin Hauptbahnhof (rank 644) in Berlin (ranked 3rd), had a download speed of only 0.08 Mbps — only slightly faster than dial up (0.056 Mbps). At this speed checking (a few) emails is about the best you’ll manage.

41 hotels have an expected download speeds slower than 1Mbps that would make even basic use of many sites frustrating (although YouTube recommends a minimum download speed of 0.5 Mbps).

Speed benchmark

10 Fastest Hotels May 2016 vs Country Download Speeds Q4 2015

Download graph.

To put this in comparison, you can see how much faster the hotel connection speeds for the top 10 are compared to the average connection download speed for each hotels respective country. The hotel with the fastest expected speed, The Mark (New York), has a download speed that’s over 220 Mbps faster than the average download speed in the US according to Akamai (Q4 2015)!

10 Slowest Hotels May 2016 vs Country Download Speeds Q4 2015

Download graph.

In contrast, the hotels with the slowest download speeds are in some cases well-over 100 times slower than the hotels with the fastest download speeds (and all significantly slower than their countries average download speeds).

Cost per Mbit

Top 10 Hotels With Fastest Download Speed Cost pMbit May 2016

Download graph.

Top 10 Hotels With Slowest Download Speed Cost pMbit May 2016

Download graph.

If you’re paying hundreds of GBP per night for a room you’d likely be expecting good WiFi speed as part of the service. You might even assume a linear relationship between money spent and download speed.

The average nightly room rate for the top 10 hotels with fastest download speeds is £212 GBP (range £62 – £331 GBP), and £71.50 (range £16 – £122 GBP) for the bottom 10 hotels. Although a small sample (only 20 hotels), this does indicate a relationship between hotel room rate and WiFi download speed.

At the hotels with the fastest download speeds the cost per Mbit (expected WiFi speed / average cheapest room rate) ranges between £0.83 – £4.24 GBP. At the slowest hotels the lowest cost per Mbit is, at best, £16 GBP and, at worst, £122 GBP!

Neighbourhoods

Looking at this on a slightly more macro level, I wanted to know if the neighbourhood of a hotel had any bearing on the speed. For instance; would hotels found in business districts typically offer better download speeds?

London

Hotels with Wifi confidence greater than 30pc heatmap London

Download full map.

New York

Hotels with Wifi confidence greater than 30pc heatmap New York

Download full map

In the city with the largest number of hotels analysed, London (384 hotels), there is a spread of speeds across the capital. Although some of the fastest speeds are to found in the more traditional tourist areas of the West End, Victoria, and Marble Arch.

Similarly in New York (321) the fastest download speeds can be found in areas with hotels geared mainly towards tourists — around Broadway. However, in New York the hotel spread is more dense when compared to London. This is because the layout of Manhattan being more compact than the urban sprawl of London.

Improvements

HotelWifiTest download speed data points are: “the speed you would likely get at a randomly chosen time of the day”. Clearly more detailed data on WiFi speeds would increase the accuracy of any analysis.

It would also be interesting to compare average room rates for all hotels and see how strong the correlation between room rate and hotel WiFi download speed really is.

tl;dr

  • If you want a blazing fast connection go to The Mark, New York, where the expected WiFi download speed is 235 Mbps. You’ll pay for it though. Prices from £332 per/night (TripAdvisor – checked May 2016).
  • London hotels offer the best average WiFi download speed at 20.88 Mbps.
  • Generally you’re probably best staying in hotels located within a cities tourism district for the best WiFi download speeds.

Acknowledgements

  • HotelWiFiTest for putting together a great public resource for checking hotel WiFi speeds (you should contribute when you can)
  • Akamai for their brilliant “State of the Internet” quarterly reports (I used Q4 2015 for this post).
  • …and finally TripAdvisor for hotel room rate figures.

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