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Hotel internet/wifi

I'm sure I'm not the only person who frequently struggles to stay online while traveling. Hotel business centers have limited hours that often don't coincide with my co-workers' time zones. Net cafes are full of cigarette smoke and the keyboards are encrusted with years of snot and grime. Using the mobile phone as a modem works sometimes, but in many countries the cost is prohibitive, especially when roaming.

So I'm always on the lookout for hotels with in-room broadband. I don't like the big global hotel brands, for a number of reasons: They're expensive, they're boring, and while they usually do offer broadband, in my experience it tends to be much less reliable than a simple ADSL wifi router in a small family-run hotel. The Sheratons and the Marriotts have contracts with "connectivity solution" vendors who fit the rooms with cumbersome, flaky, shockingly expensive internet access schemes that end up being much more trouble than they're worth.

What follows is a list of hotels I've personally stayed at, where I was able to get online and get work done. I hope it's useful to someone.

Australia - Sydney

Billabong Gardens: Located in the poetry-reading, vegetarian-food-eating, lesbian-film-watching alternative ghetto of Newtown, Billabong Gardens is home to a mixture of European backpackers, and fresh Sydney University students who haven't managed to find a place to live yet. The communal kitchen is nicely social, as is the bathtub-sized pool. When I stayed there, the wifi router crashed several times a day, probably a result of all the BitTorrent downloading going on. If the desk clerk was busy or in a bad mood, it could be hours before internet access would be restored. Private rooms about US$60/night. Last visited 2006.

Cambodia - Siem Reap

The Villa Siem Reap: Friendly, conveniently located. The cleaners always leave the windows open, so if you get back in the evening you will have to do a mosquito hunt before going to sleep. Wifi is pretty decent, though their router locks up daily and you'll have to convince the skeptical desk clerk to reset it. About US$20/night. Last visited 2007.
FCC Angkor: Unless you have a desperate need for recessed lighting and a DVD player in your room, stay at The Villa instead. Wifi is a little flaky but fundamentally works. About US$120/night. Last visited 2007.

Egypt - Cairo

Cairo Khan Hotel: Technically they don't have broadband in the rooms, but I was able to convince the guy in the business center to run a LAN cable out the window and up to my room, for about US$10. Only problem was that my window didn't fully close with the cable sticking through it, so there was a lot of traffic noise. The rooms are nice and extremely clean, and the location is convenient, smack-dab in the middle of downtown Cairo. All staff very helpful. Breakfast decent, typical mid-eastern buffet style. US$50/night. Last visited 2007.

Israel - Jerusalem

New Palm Hostel: I was unexpectedly stuck in Jerusalem overnight (long story) and needed a place on short notice quite late in the evening. Right outside the old city at Damascus Gate, this place got the job done. The room was extremely spartan (TV, plastic chair, tiny bed, white tile floors, miniscule bathroom with dubious hot water) but the price was right and the wifi was solid. I have heard that the dorms are not very clean, but my private room was. US$25/night. Last visited 2007.

Korea (South) - Seoul

Golden Pond Guesthouse: Located in a bustling area (Daehangno), this is a small, simple place to stay, but a friendly one - on a couple occasions I was invited to have home-cooked Korean dinner with the owner and some of the other guests. Rooms are plain but clean. Wifi works well. US$25/night. Last visited 2007.

Lebanon - Beirut

Beryte Hotel: Nice hotel just a few minutes' walk from the corniche. Mini-fridge provided. Wifi normally worked pretty well, though for about a day the internet link was inexplicably really slow. US$70/night. Last visited 2007.

Morocco - Fes

Dar Roumana: A delightful hideaway in a quiet corner of one of the world's most fascinating cities. The courtyard, rooms, rooftop, and panoramic view of the old city are spectacular and have to be seen to be believed. Breakfast is gorgeous. Wifi works well. US$160/night. Last visited 2006.

Morocco - Marrakech

Riad des Arts: The rooms are anything but soundproof, but the owner is kind and friendly and the location is about the best you could ask for - within a few minutes' walk of Djemaa al Fna but just far enough away to be peaceful. Wifi signal can be a bit iffy in the upstairs rooms but if you move around you can normally get it working. There is a very comfortable lounge on the ground floor with perfect signal reception. Rates vary by season, but typically about US$175/night. Last visited 2006.

Netherlands - Amsterdam

Hotel Flipper: Situated across the river from Amstel Station, it's a bit out of the way, about half an hour's walk to the museums. Rooms are quite small. Breakfast is Dutch standard - bread and lots of cold things to put on it. But for Amsterdam the price is good, and it's cosy and well run. Wifi fast and always works. US$80/night. Last visited 2007.


Perak Hotel: Excellent location, right on the edge of Little India which is by far the most vibrant and interesting part of Singapore. Great food all around. 5-10 minute walk to two different MRT stations, including Bugis which is a straight shot from the airport. Several wifi hotspots ensure pretty good coverage in all the rooms. Normal rooms are about US$100/night. If you have 3 or 4 people, check out the suites - really more like apartments - at US$200/night. Last visited 2007.
Haising Hotel: Very basic accommodations in a somewhat expensive city. Wifi costs an extra US$5/night, but it works well on the lower levels - on the 3rd floor, not so much. The aroma in the closet-sized rooms is a unique and potent blend of mildew and disinfectant. Any food left out will quickly attract fearless legions of ants. US$35/night. Last visited 2007. Contact +65 6298 1223.

Thailand - Bangkok

Cozy At Ten: Located across from Chuvit Garden on Sukhumvit Soi 10. Internet access via ethernet (LAN) jacks located at the desk in each room. Patch cables provided (check the desk drawer). Connection speed is good (enough for reliable VoIP). About US$40/night. Last visited 2008. Contact +66 2 653 3934.

Thailand - Chiang Mai

Three Sis Bed and Breakfast: One of the best-kept secrets in Chiang Mai, this place is a bargain for what you get. It's just one minute from Wat Chedi Luang, the city's principal historical monument. At the corner is a down-home open-air Thai restaurant where you can get great food for under US$1. The hotel itself is brand-new, with very clean rooms, mini-fridge, and wifi that works well except in one room on the top floor. US$30/night. Last visited 2007.

Thailand - Krabi

Phranang Flora: About 15 minutes' walk up the main road from the beach in Ao Nang. Staff are exceptionally friendly, and the wifi works well - though the signal really only reaches to the second floor; if you're higher than that, plan on sitting in the lobby to get online. The hotel is spotlessly clean, very well maintained, and in general a great place. US$40/night. Last visited 2008.
We moved to Phranang Flora from the Scandinavian Residence, which advertises wifi but unfortunately has a highly unreliable router. In the 24 hours we were there, it only worked for about 6. As I had a major project due, we had to leave.

Thailand - Mae Sot

Rujira Bed and Breakfast: Not nearly as glamorous as it looks in the photos. If you have a room without private bath, expect to dodge swarms of mosquitos in the unscreened shared bathrooms at night. Rooms are tatty but comfortable. Slightly outside the center of town, but only a 10-minute walk to the main market. Wifi normally works and two access points provide good coverage; router locks up one or twice a week but the person who runs the place is very understanding and prompt about resetting it. US$15/night. Last visited 2006.

Turkey - Istanbul

Antique Hostel: Has a number of private rooms with private bath. Excellent location, just 2 minutes' walk from the Aya Sofia and Blue Mosque. Rooms are a bit on the tattered side but fundamentally clean. Wifi coverage is mostly good but you may have to experiment a bit to get a signal on the upper floors. Most of the desk staff are very friendly and some of them are remarkably helpful, well beyond the call of duty. US$50/night. Last visited 2007.

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