Hotel Wi-Fi VPN: 5 Best to keep you Protected

We all have to spend time in hotels, whether you are jetting off to a 5-star resort for that hard-earned luxury holiday or tolerating a business hotel on yet another work trip.

But while hotels can differ a lot, there is one thing that unites them all; their insecure Wi-Fi networks.

Hotel Wi-Fi, like all public Wi-Fi is notoriously insecure.

But Why?

Because it is designed to allow people to connect to it as quickly and efficiently as possible, this means they have limited or no security protections.

As a result, it simple and easy for hackers to intercept, read, and steal your internet data on hotel Wi-Fi. But still, 60% of people think their data is safe on public Wi-Fi, but more on that later.

In this article, we are going to tell you about the best tool to use to stay safe on hotel Wi-Fi; a VPN (Virtual Private Network).

We’ve researched a whole bundle and rounded it down to five leading choices. While ExpressVPN is our clear winner, we’ll tell you the pros and cons of all to help you make a decision.

Top VPNs for Hotel Wi-Fi

  1. ExpressVPN
  2. NordVPN
  3. CyberGhost VPN
  4. IPVanish
  5. Surfshark

1) ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN apps on multiple types of devices

The best VPN to use on hotel Wi-Fi networks is ExpressVPN. It has everything you need to enjoy the best possible internet experience while on the road.

In our tests, we found their connection speeds are among the very best available. This ensures that you won’t get bogged down with a slow connection. Their kill switch is handy to ensure you remain safe even if your connection drops.

ExpressVPN also offers robust, secure encryption for all users, which means everything you do online is safe. Their no-logs policy also means that your online privacy is guaranteed too.

They have a vast server network which can also help you unblock geo-restricted content and access websites from your home country anywhere. This is great for streaming services like Netflix, BBC iPlayer and many others.

There are dedicated apps for all the main devices. With five simultaneous connections available with every subscription, you can protect all your devices and those of your family while travelling.

Our #1 Recommended VPN for Hotels

30-day money back guarantee

2) NordVPN

NordVPN Deal

NordVPN is another secure VPN which offers a great all-round package for hotel users. Like ExpressVPN, their encryption and no-user-logs policy mean you can be sure your data is private and secure. This is the case no matter how weak your hotel Wi-Fi network might be.

NordVPN has many server locations allowing you to unblock and access content from all over the world. They also offer six concurrent connections which should be enough even if you’re travelling with your extended family.

Their speeds are fast enough to allow you to do just about anything online, and there are also multiple apps for almost every device imaginable.

NordVPN also comes in slightly cheaper than most providers when taking their annual package.

3) CyberGhost VPN

Cyberghost Website

CyberGhost VPN looks like a fun provider, but behind the well-designed apps and fun logos is a seriously reliable VPN.

Their VPN apps are easy-to-use and available on just about any device. CyberGhost offers even more simultaneous connections than our top 2 recommendations with seven available for every subscriber.

Their connection speeds are not quite as fast. But for regular everyday internet use, you will find the more than sufficient. Their encryption and privacy protections are as robust as any other provider on this list.

CyberGhost VPN’s server network is also not the biggest, but it does cover most countries. So not only will you be able to stay secure locally while you travel but also access content from your home country too.

4) IPVanish

IPVanish website

IPVanish is another decent option for Hotel Wi-Fi users. Their download speeds are up there with the best of them, and while they’re not quite as quick as our top choices, they’re more than suitable.

Their encryption is up there with the very best too. We believe their privacy protections and no user logs policy remains sound also, this despite some issues a few years back.

They offer a large range of apps and allow up to 10 simultaneous connections, which is a considerable number and useful for busy businesspeople or big families.

What IPVanish is not so great at is unblocking geo-restricted TV content, and their server network is not as big as it once was.

But overall, IPVanish offers everything most hotel guests will need.

5) Surfshark

Surfshark Website screengrab

Surfshark is a relatively new arrival on the market but is already making waves.

They offer unlimited concurrent connections. That means once you sign up, you can connect to their VPN on as many devices as you like.

For a new VPN, they offer a decent server network, although there is still room for growth. But they can unblock most geo-restricted content including US and UK Netflix.

Their connection speeds are generally impressive although a little inconsistent at times which might be frustrating.

Their encryption is on a par with any other VPN on this list, which means your online security is assured. There are a few concerns over their privacy policies but if this isn’t a big concern for you, they do tick all the other boxes.

How to choose a VPN for use in Hotels

We know that everyone uses VPNs for different reasons. Your personal circumstances might mean that the best overall VPN isn’t necessarily the best one for you.

So, to help you choose the best VPN for your individual needs, here is a breakdown of the best VPNs for different requirements:

Our top choice: ExpressVPN

Why? The best all-round package. Fast speeds, robust security, multiple apps and connections, and a huge server network.

Great for beginners: NordVPN

Why? The most cost-effective on this list. A great range of apps that are easy to use and look great plus all the benefits of a first-rate all-round VPN provider.

Large Families: IPVanish

Why? Ten simultaneous connections with every subscription means you can make sure all your family devices are secured with a premium VPN service.

Unblock TV services: ExpressVPN

Why? Gives you the fast speeds needed to stream TV shows and movies online. Also unblocks just about any streaming service including US Netflix and the BBC iPlayer.

What are the dangers of Hotel Wi-Fi?

Hotels specialise in hospitality, not online security.

Their staff will take your bags to your hotel room and mix you up an excellent Margherita, but they may not know all the ins and outs of setting up a secure Wi-Fi network.

Security is also not the main focus of their Wi-Fi networks.

Hotel reception icon

They want to enable their customers to get online as quickly and easily as possible. But this ease-of-use often comes at the expense of security precautions.

And that means hotel Wi-Fi users are vulnerable to several different online risks:

  • Steal your data

More often than not, hackers are after your data.

Weak security on hotel Wi-Fi means it is easy for them to monitor and intercept users’ data. Any data transmitted in clear text would be easy for even the most novice hacker to read.

In this way, it is easy for hackers to steal your usernames, passwords, bank and credit card details, and just about anything else about you.

If you are staying in a high-end hotel, you are likely to be even more vulnerable as thieves target high-net-worth individuals.

  • Impersonate you on Social Media

It is easy for hackers to intercept login details for your social media accounts. They can then either use your account for nefarious or embarrassing reasons or even set up fake accounts using your details.

  • Using man-in-the-middle attacks

Man-in-the-Middle attacks involve hackers redirecting your data before it reaches its intended destinations.

This is particularly easy to do when hackers can compromise an insecure hotel wi-fi access point and is a simple way to steal personal and financial information.

  • Install malware

Weak Wi-Fi networks provide hackers with an opportunity to dupe users into downloading malware onto their devices.

This can turn your device into a surveillance tool, allow hackers to steal your data at their leisure, take over your device, and even use it to mount further cyber-attacks. 

  • Fake Wi-Fi hotspots

A popular tactic used by hackers is to set up a fake Wi-Fi network. They will give that network a name that looks real, such as ‘Hilton Free Wi-Fi’.

Once you are connected, this Wi-Fi network will work but will also let hackers see everything you are doing online. This could include your passwords and personal information.

Our #1 Recommended VPN for Hotels

30-day money back guarantee

How to stay safe when using Hotel Wi-Fi

The risks of using hotel Wi-Fi are significant. But there are a few simple steps you can take to protect yourself:

  1. Use a VPN – Never use hotel Wi-Fi or public internet without first connecting to a VPN. VPNs will encrypt all of your data and protect your online privacy. With a VPN, even the most insecure hotel Wi-Fi network is safe to use.
  2. Switch your password – Before you visit a hotel, change your passwords to something complicated or else a passphrase which is hard to hack. After you have checked out, change your passwords again.
  3. Update before you travel – Before you head off to your hotel, make sure all your software is up-to-date to ensure the latest security patches are in place.
  4. Check URLs and attachments carefully – To avoid falling victim to phishing scams, check all URLs, links, and attachments carefully before using them. If in doubt, don’t click on them.
  5. Avoid sensitive sites – If you want to be sure details from your sensitive sites are secure, the safest thing to do is not use them on hotel Wi-Fi at all. Plan ahead, so you don’t have to take the risk.

Can I unblock websites, apps and services?

Yes. If you use a VPN, you will be able to unblock any site from your own country which might be geo-restricted.

You will also be able to access any site that is restricted on your hotel’s Wi-Fi network.

With some VPNs, you can also unblock streaming services like Netflix and the BBC iPlayer regardless of which country you are in too.

Will a VPN give me free Wi-Fi?

Sadly, no.

Using a VPN will hide what you are doing online from the Wi-Fi provider, but it will not hide the fact that you are using the network altogether.

So, if your hotel charges for its Wi-Fi connection, unfortunately, you will still have to pay.

Our #1 Recommended VPN for Hotels

30-day money back guarantee

Hardware VPN solution

An alternative to using a regular VPN and downloading their app onto your devices is to use a hardware VPN solution such as the Invizbox Go.

Invizbox Go is a portable VPN router with VPN and Tor functionality.

It essentially allows you to connect all of your devices to a single, always-on, VPN-secured Wi-Fi connection by creating its own hotspot for you to connect to.

It is a portable, lightweight, VPN solution that makes using hotel Wi-Fi safe and secure at all times.

Can hotels see what you do on the internet?

Yes. It is quite possible that, if they wish to, a hotel could see what you are doing online when using their Wi-Fi network.

All ISPs can see which websites their users are accessing, and when they offer Wi-Fi, hotels are essentially acting as ISPs.

A VPN negates this risk by encrypting all your data and hiding your actual location from the network provider.

This is thought to be one of the reasons why the Chinese-owned Waldorf Astoria Hotel has recently tried to ban VPN use from its Wi-Fi network.

Hotel VPN block China

Source: IDCQuan

Is 5-Star hotel Wi-Fi safe?

No. Any hotel Wi-Fi network can be insecure regardless of how much you pay to stay there.

Indeed, as we mentioned above, 5-star hotels can be even more at risk because their wealthy guests are a more attractive target for hackers.

Our #1 Recommended VPN for Hotels

30-day money back guarantee

Is hotel Wi-Fi as insecure as you say?

If you suspect that hotel Wi-Fi might not be all that bad, recent incidents will make you reconsider.

The risks of hotel Wi-Fi are unfortunately all too real. Pretty much every hotel chain has fallen victim to cyber-attacks in recent years.

Just last year, Marriott International confirmed that its systems had been compromised since 2014. An estimated 500 million guests are thought to have been affected by the breach.

While a VPN wouldn’t have saved you in that particular case, it goes to show how lax security can be.

Beach umbrella

The Chinese hotel chain, Huazhu Hotels Group also reported last year that around 130 million users had been affected by a significant data breach. The Radisson Hotel Group also announced a significant breach last year with their Radisson Rewards database thought to be the principal target.

Other hotel chains to have announced major data breaches over the past few years. These include Hilton, Hyatt Hotel Corporation, Intercontinental Hotel Groups, and Trump Hotel Collections.

Summary

If you are staying in a hotel this summer or at any time of year, it is vital to be wary of their Wi-Fi network.

As we have illustrated in this article, these Wi-Fi networks are inherently insecure, and without taking precautions, your personal and financial data could be at risk.

The best way to use hotel Wi-Fi safely is to connect to a VPN first to access the internet securely.

ExpressVPN is our number one recommendation, but any of the five listed in this article will do the job.

Depending on your needs, another of our recommendations might be best for you. We have made some specific suggestions as well as outlined the main risks and some other tips for using hotel Wi-Fi safely.

 

Try our recommended VPN service provider.

  • Stay safe on Hotel Wi-Fi
  • Unblock restricted content
  • Easy to set up and use

Illustrations © Blankstock | Dreamstime.com

David Spencer

Author: David Spencer

David is VPNCompare's News Editor. Anything going on in the privacy world and he's got his eye on it. He's also interested in unblocking sports allowing him to watch his favourite football team wherever he is in the world.

Away from writing, he enjoys reading and politics. He is currently learning Mandarin too... slowly.

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