Originally Posted by Joykins
I do a lot of business travel and find it more common than not to have free wifi. But the fancier the hotel, the more likely they are to charge for it. The one hotel I stayed at that did that, I just used the 3G on my cell phone and forewent the laptop until I needed it for work (at which point I could expense it).
I travel a lot with work, and generally stay in 4* or so hotels (Hilton, Holiday Inn, etc). They almost always charge for internet access - the typical charge in the UK is about £15 ($25) for 24h. Generally, though, it's free once you reach a certain level in their loyalty programmes. Eg, I'm a "Gold" member in the Hilton loyalty programme, and that gets me free Internet.
In small hotels in the UK, internet access is almost always free.