Has IHG backtracked on their 'free internet for all' promise?

(EDIT:  Free internet in Europe was eventually introduced in July 2014)

When Priority Club – the Holiday Inn, HI Express, Crowne Plaza, InterContinental etc  reward scheme – was relaunched as IHG Rewards Club last year, the biggest change was the provision of free internet.

From last July, all Gold and Platinum members of Priority Club / IHG Rewards Club got free internet access on their stays.

The long-term plan was more ambitious, though.  From January 1st 2014, ALL IHG Rewards Club members were to receive free internet.  Since IHG Rewards Club is free to join, this effectively meant that everyone in the hotel would get free internet.

(Not necessarily high speed internet, though.  I expect a lot of properties to offer a slow speed for free but still require payment if you want something fast enough for video.)

IHG Rewards Club

There was no doubt about this.  Take a look at this old page on the IHG website.   There is no disputing what it says – free internet for all in 2014.

And yet, this is what the terms and conditions on the IHG website actually say:

Internet Access for Members: Beginning January 2014, standard internet access will be available to all IHG® Rewards Club members at no additional cost at all IHG hotels located in the Americas, Greater China, Asia, Middle East and Africa with or without a hotel reservation and/or qualifying stay. Furthermore, IHG® Rewards Club Elite members will be provided standard internet access at no additional cost at all IHG hotels in Europe. Internet availability and accessibility in common areas vary by hotel. Internet accessibility, speed, and connectivity in common areas and guest rooms vary by hotel. Details regarding a property’s internet accessibility will be available at the hotel’s registration desk. Please note that The Venetian® and The Palazzo®, an InterContinental Alliance® Resort, do not offer the Free Internet Access benefit, which is instead included in the daily resort fee.

So …. if you are at a hotel in Europe, you will NOT be getting free internet unless you are Gold or Platinum.

This is not a typo.  If you look at this page on the IHG site, there is a tiny mark next to the line “All members will be able to stay connected at no charge” and in the small print at the bottom it says “May not be available in all regions”.

Well, call me fussy, but excluding THE WHOLE OF EUROPE from something you are advertising deserves a little more than a tiny footnote.  Heaven knows how many people will book rooms on the back of this and then find out that they aren’t getting free internet after all.

What is IHG playing at?  How can you spend 8 months saying you going to bring in global free internet, and then decide at the last minute to exclude a huge chunk of your hotels?!

I don’t know at the moment if European hotels have been given a short-term temporary reprieve or whether this will be the permanent position.  IHG may be getting a visit from the advertising standards people sooner rather than later, however.

(To see our complete list of all current hotel promotions for the major chains, click here to visit our ‘Hotel Promos’ page or use the link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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  1. Sam wardill says:

    Glad to see a post on this. I’ve just been caught out too and wondered what was happening. Do you have an advert showing free internet access for all ihg members in 2014? I might take it up with the hotel.

    • The first link in the post takes you to a page with free internet for all on it. Even the 2nd link, with the disclaimer, is written in such a way that I believe it to be misleading.

  2. The con here is the ‘standard’ internet offering to elites. It’s useless in my experience. They are just milking us for ‘premium’ internet payments. A scandal.

    • Ironically, I was a the Holiday Inn Express in Croydon before Christmas on a Big Win mattress run and I got a ludicrous 18MB – twice as fast as Sky gives me at home!

      Two more UK stays coming up soon for Big Win 2 purposes so I will see what happens there.

    • Yes over the past 2 months when staying at HIE and Crowne Plaza I’ve been told that I get the free “standard” internet, like everyone else, and that my Platinum status doesn’t get me anything more. But the free service is almost unusable at peaks times (during the evening), forcing you to pay for the premium service if you actually want to do anything productive….

      Not been impressed

  3. I got Gold via the HP offer, and I was not offered free internet at a stay in Australia in December – the welcome pack described how to pay for wifi though I didn’t bother challenging them on it since I didn’t need it.

    However in Belfast and Berlin, before triggering Gold, I was proactively offered free wifi “as a (statusless) Priority Club member” (sic – they don’t seem to have told staff about the rebrand to IHGRC)

  4. Just back from a stay with Mrs Volker at HI Glasgow Theatreland. I am Gold while she is Club level only, and it was her booking in her name. The reception staff were very friendly: “Your Priority Club Membership number is linked to your booking. Well, it is now called IHG Rewards Club…”
    When I asked for Internet access on the room, we were told that it was now free to ALL IHG Rewards Club members, and we received a printed voucher. Streaming HD video was no problem at all.
    Now, was all that based on their knowledge of the (outdated) IHG website or is it not more likely that reception staff acted upon internal instructions?

    • HI Theatreland is owned/operated by Chardon/Interstate they provide it for free in most (the ex a Chardon ones anyway) of their properties IIRC it was in place before IHGRC was even introduced last year.

      Their own website is hoteldeals.co.uk – it’s worth signing up to for their promotions as a lot of them including the 50% off offers are qualifying.

  5. Well I’ve had free Internet in the UK this year as a Plat and I’m most properties I’ve stayed at the speed of the free offering has been absolutely abysmal! If they opened it up further it would be totally unusable. Being an optimist this reprieve for European properties might be to give them time to get proper Internet connections in place ?

  6. HI Express seem to offer free internet to everyone, and its usually been good.
    Holiday Inn free wifi has, for me, been unusable. Was offered the premium internet and advised the cost of this would then be deducted from the room bill as a Platinum member. Same applied with a stay at Crowne Plaza.

    In the UK free wifi isn’t much use to me as the 3G connection is usually good enough for my needs and allow tethering for iPad/laptop. Where i really need free internet is for stays abroad.

  7. I’ve noticed that in many IHG European hotels, you get free (slow) internet anyways. Member or no member.

  8. Just back from Amman – IHG’s InterContinental was NOT free for non-elites. Free speed with partner’s gold card was fast though

  9. Exitcontrol says:

    The lack of free internet is something that really annoys me ( this is all hotels ) why not just bundle it in the price of the room and up the price of the room if they have to. Making another transaction doesn’t do anything to improve the goodwill I have towards the hotel / brand .

    On another note I’m note worried about the trend of offer codes disappearing and ‘the big win’ now being the only show in town ? Is this right or does this happen every new calendar year . My
    Offers page is almost empty !

    • Jlev1986 says:

      Stayed in Crowne Plaza Bucharest Monday, free internet was indeed for Elite only. I wasn’t happy.

    • Despite My Offers being empty, points are still posting for people. Seems more like an IT error on the My Offers page.

      That said, we are only 11 days into January and as stays take 5 days to post, we don’t have many data points yet.

  10. I’ve recently been travelling in Australia and New Zealand. Both my wife and I are Platinum members. Whilst we received free internet at all of the different IHG hotels we stayed in, we found that there was a download limit. Speed very much depended on usage. For example, if the limit was 500MB then the first 50MB was a decent speed, but after that we received a message saying that the speed would be slowed between 51-500MB. To continue with the speed we had been used to, we’d have to upgrade to a premium package. Pretty poor IMHO.

  11. olybeast says:

    Holiday inn express in Manchester East. Normal member, free internet 4th jan

  12. Interesting piece, I’m a platinum ambassador and have ways gotten free wifi however have to stay the free wifi at the Intercontinental Westminster was bloody slow however they did extend all my ambassador benefits to my parents room when we stayed so can’t complain. Its a shame if they are excluding Europe as ALL travellers now expect free wifi, you get it in campsites and hostels so why isn’t it free in hotels especially the luxury ones for all customers! Loving your website xx

  13. I’m a Gold member my partner isn’t (just joined) I’ve made a booking for us on her account for Berlin in Feb to take maximum advantage of the codes, could we still get internet access on the basis of my membership, even though the booking is in her name ?

    • Technically not, but I think if you showed your IHG card they would probably do it. Put yourself down as 2nd Guest in the booking so you are named on it, that might help.

      • Ok thanks Rob, will do, it wouldn’t be in the end if the world only there one night for a flight home this next morning, after a bargain trip thanks to Avios and this site, to Dubai and then Phuket via Air Berlin

  14. This has now been clarified and the free internet for all rolls out across Europe from July 2014.