Forget the pool and free continental breakfast because all that really matters while staying at a hotel is how good the internet is. No matter what they say, you need to do your own digging because for some hotels, simply having Wi-Fi equates to “good Wi-Fi.” That’s not always the case, and many travelers have been burned before. Whether you actually need Wi-Fi in order to work while traveling or simply want to make sure your Buzzfeed readership is up to date, you deserve Wi-Fi like home.
First, find out exactly what kind of “internet” is available at the hotel. Some reputable hotel sites will clearly state the connections available while others leave it vague. That brings us to our first red flag, but there are many others to follow.
1. Vague “internet language” on the website
If the hotel can’t or won’t tell you what kind of internet access is available, that’s a red flag. Either it’s not fast, it’s not Wi-Fi or (worse yet) they’re not really sure what they have. Call and ask.
2. It’s free
Unfortunately, free internet means absolutely everyone at the hotel will be all over it from kids playing on iPads to vacationers uploading Facebook albums. If you pay for a service, even if it’s a very minor fee, you can guarantee that not as many people will be using it and causing virtual bottlenecks.
3. It’s not highlighted as an amenity
Hotels highlight the features that are most attractive and also the ones where they spend the money. That’s why you’ll see pillowtop mattresses and a sauna at the top of the list. If internet isn’t on display, that’s not where their focus is.
4. There’s no business center
Hotels that cater to business travelers know that solid Wi-Fi is a must. If there’s a business center on site and preferably meeting rooms, you know that this hotel is all about serving those who need to be online.
5. There are negative reviews about the internet access
While even the best hotels won’t have 100 percent positive reviews, if you do your homework and find people complaining about the slow internet speeds, consider yourself warned. If someone takes time out of their day to explicitly post about poor internet service, that means something.
Of course, you can also always get a travel hot spot yourself, but why not choose the right hotel from the beginning?