I’m currently sitting by a roaring fire in the lobby of The Priory (click here), a small hotel in Beauly, north of Inverness.
I’ve been in the capital of the Scottish Highlands for a couple of days and, while the surrounding countryside is gorgeous, it’s the kind of remote place where satellite navigation and mobile phone signals are often blocked out by the surrounding mountains… and yet I’m here with full wi-fi connectivity.
The Priory is a small basic but clean family-run hotel with just 39 bedrooms and Beauly is a very small tourist town around three streets by five that is famous thanks to the ruins of a medieval abbey and the fact it gives easy access to the north Highlands tourist trails and Loch Ness.
The wi-fi connection isn’t blindingly fast, I couldn’t stream X Factor or Strictly Come Dancing last night (some would say mercifully) but it is adequate (I can read email, see the headlines and blog) and, crucially, free in all areas of the hotel from the lobby to the furthest bedroom.
Now, I appreciate there is a low-cost airline pricing style argument for hotels where you strip away non essentials and get guests to pay if they want them, but connectivity is such a basic part of our lives now, it would seem to me to now be an essential.
And if they did decided to knock the price off the cost of the room, what kind of a saving would it really be? I doubt the service costs the hotel anywhere near £39 a day, in which case the most they could knock off would be £1 per room – hardly worth the effort.
Instead the hotel manager Blair Sinclair and his excellent staff realise that low-cost with added value is the way forward and gives them a crucial advantage when there are only two hotels in town. The provision of free wi-fi is great added value: massive hotel chains, take note…