Possibly My Favorite Hotel Amenity Ever

On average I spend more than half my time outside the US. Despite that, I suck at staying connected, and typically don’t use data when abroad, instead relying on wifi hotspots. I know that I really should switch to T-Mobile’s Simple Choice International Plan, which seems right up my alley. But in general I hate cell phone providers so much that I can’t bring myself to make the change. I know I should just bite the bullet and do it, though.

When I stayed at the Hyatt Regency Tsim Sha Tsui in Hong Kong a bit over a year ago, I noted how the hotel offers all guests complimentary smartphones for the duration of their stay. These can be used as a wireless hotspot with unlimited mobile 3G internet access. Furthermore, you can make complimentary phone calls to the US, UK, Australia, Singapore, and China.

Hyatt-Regency-Hong-Kong-25

Hyatt-Regency-Hong-Kong-26

I thought this was an epically awesome perk, as it was easy to use and allowed me to have a hotspot and make free calls no matter where I went.

Well, I’m presently at the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, which is one of my favorite Hyatt properties, and they now have a similar offering. Except it’s even better.

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I don’t know how long they’ve offered it, but the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong offers a complimentary smartphone with 4G coverage. Here’s how they describe it:

Experience ultimate convenience during stays at Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, as all guestrooms are now equipped with a handy complimentary smartphone. Whether guests are travelling on business or leisure, this phone will be the ideal companion.

With the handy smartphone, all registered guests staying at Grand Hyatt Hong Kong can enjoy:

  • Complimentary 4G Internet access
  • Ability to share 4G Internet access with multiple devices via a Wi-Fi hotspot
  • Unlimited local calls and international calls to the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Singapore and China
  • Popular pre-set travel information, including Hong Kong city guide and interactive maps
  • Full access, just like with a personal handheld device, allowing guests to download and install their favorite apps

Guests can take the complimentary smartphone out of the hotel to stay connected with friends, family and business partners while exploring beautiful Hong Kong.

A wifi hotspot and free calls to the US? Deal!

Grand-Hyatt-HKG-Hotspot

I can’t even begin to say how much of a value-add service I find this to be. I’d certainly go out of my way to stay at one of the two Hyatts in Hong Kong over similar options from competitors because of this feature.

Presumably it doesn’t cost the hotel that much, yet it’s something which really sets them apart, as this is something I’ve only ever seen at the two Hyatts in Hong Kong.

Anyone else find this feature to be as awesome as I do? Or am I just insane for still not having T-Mobile/using data internationally?

Comments

  1. The IC Hong Kong also has this amenity, though the phone seems a bit cheap. The Sheraton Walkerhill in Seoul had an iPhone as of a year ago when I last stayed there

  2. Had the same this summer at the W Istanbul – it made our stay so much more convenient! I hope this will be copied by hotels around the world asap

  3. Oh, that’s great! What model of phone is that? It looks like an android device from some not famous Chinese maker.

    I wonder if it’s possible to remove the sim card from it and use it in your personal phone. That would be an interesting way to take advantage of this amenity 🙂

  4. Used it this summer at the IC in Hong Kong – kept thinking “what’s the catch?” lol. It was fantastic…. Agree 100%…

  5. Awesome amenity, but I’d be careful about the websites or what not you check. You don’t know if the phone has been tampered with and has malwares or keyloggers. This is especially if important in HK and CN.

  6. I agree with Ben!
    I was just at the W Hong last week. I have been there before as well. They also have an Android phone for your use at no charge. They dont mention it at the front desk. They should. Last year it took me a day to realize it was free for my use.
    Mar-I never thought about removing the SIM. The phone has a good interface for erasing all your data etc when you are done.

  7. Stayed at the Hotel Icon in TST in April, and they also have the free smartphone/hotspot (only 3G, though). Mira Hotel offers it, too. Very useful perk.

  8. You could also get a cheap sim card from one of the local HK providers, think about USD 20 for data and phone.

  9. I made the switch to T-Mobile at the beginning of the year and I’m thrilled. Reliable and works exactly as advertised in Asia, Middle East, and Europe. Where it struggles is in Africa, which for me is one of the places I need access to data the most – Joburg and Cape Town, which T-Mobile specifies as cities where 4G should work, are incredibly sluggish, even though “4G” is the supposed connection.

    That said, for the all inclusive/unlimited talk and data, and cheap global rates, you really should look at T-Mobile.

  10. You really should just make the switch. Being able to turn your phone on when landing anywhere in the world and hit the ground running really is unbeatable. And for what its worth the customer service at T-Mobile is SLIGHTLY better than the big two–they’re trying to steal share after all.

  11. I switched to T-mobile about a year ago and it has really changed my whole experience while traveling. I know use data all the time when I’m out and about. Either finding my way around with the GPS or looking at reviews and ratings of nearby attractions, bars, and eateries. I used to always do my research while hooked up to the hotel’s Wifi and then turn my data off when on the street. T-mobile has given me so much freedom.

  12. I mean a prepaid tourist sim with 1.5gb data at 4G speeds in HK is $10 for 5 days, which you can buy at any 7-11. And then you get to use your own iPhone (which I prefer over a loaner android).

  13. I love HK though O fear I may not survive it. I stayed at a great hotel near The Peninsula they to had phones I was there for a 50th dubbed ‘The 7 Deadly Sins’ party followed by a beach brunch then The 7’s thank god for Delta Lie flat beds

  14. Lucky, “Handy” is capitalized…its the name of the company that provides the service. They’re a HK-based tech outfit which offers custom, unlimited data and calling smartphones for guests in hotels. they’re also currently present in Singapore, Macau, Istanbul, Paris, and launching in NY apparently at a few hotels.

    They are present in about 60pct of HK hotel rooms, and have a global deal with Hyatt that is rolling out at select properties.

    They are also in select Starwood properties globally, including the W Istanbul as mentioned above.

  15. I’m not sure if it is the same company, but my friend used to work for a start up (in HK) which was behind a lot of the smartphones placed in hotels around the city. At first you rented these from the airport, but now they are partnering with different hotels around the city to push the service around. That might be why you see more of this in HK (presumably many of these are from the same company?).

  16. You’re definitely crazy for not having T-Mobile’s international plan. I couldn’t imagine traveling without it, and I don’t travel nearly as much as you do.

  17. This is a standard practice in HK. I stayed at a Crowne Plaza (HK) in 2012 and even back then they had it in the room, where all your calls were forwarded to your handset automatically. Did not notice the calls to USA and other countries were free, at least back in 2012.

  18. The Part Hyatt Tokyo have this as a diamond benefit however the guest is responsible for all call charges .

  19. So which Hyatt property would you recommend. I plan to stay over NYE and will apply a DSU. I will have my wife and baby and we plan to do some sightseeing and eat a lot. We’ve both been to HKG many times and love it. Grand is about $100 USD more than TST. Also points+cash is a lot cheaper due to category difference. Thoughts?

  20. I found it hard switch to T-Mobile mostly out of habit, after having been with Sprint for many years and dealing with Sim cards when traveling. Made the switch in February and no looking back. It’s saved me time and money dealing with buying Sims and activating them. Make the switch and let us know how it goes.

  21. Just bite the bullet and get T-Mobile. In the last month, I’ve been to Germany, UK, Holland, China, UAE, Hong Kong, China, and Thailand and as soon as the plane lands, I turn my iPhone on and it just works instantly. So much easier than getting a sim card in every location. Although the speed is 2G, you can pay extra for the faster connection. 1000000% worth it IMO.

  22. I picked up T-Mobile a couple years ago for a different reason but have enjoyed the complimentary coverage over the entire UK with my Android. It was wonderful for work and play. My wife switched to it before our last trip and it worked great for her iPhone. They also have some of the best customer service is experienced, and I am in customer service. They send out free household extenders as well in case you have low coverage at home. Go for T-Mobile.

  23. You are definitely crazy for not having the T-Mobile plan. I activated my phone on T-Mobile in five minutes, and I didn’t even have to talk to anybody. But, if you do have to talk to someone, their customer service reps are actually knowledgeable and friendly. Coverage is just as good as Verizon, I’ve found, and I live in a small town in Michigan. Switch! You won’t regret it.

    Seriously, why are you still reading this, you should be switching!

  24. Sheraton Hong Kong also has the Handy phone benefit. Seems to be fairly standard for upper range hotels in HK. Used it mostly as a hotspot and quite convenient.

  25. This has been an amenity of the Nathan Hotel in HK for a while. Of course if you overlook the more modestly priced hotels to stay at chain hotels at 3 times the price, you wouldn’t know this.
    While a perfectly pleasant hotel, some may not think it fit for a queen.

  26. If you really hate cellphone companies that much, how can you stand paying them more of your money than necessary?

  27. It’s funny because T-Mobile prides itself on having much better customer service than a regular telco. Doesn’t switching to T-Mobile make sense for blog content? Do they have a referral link? There’s gotta be a way for you to do the common sense thing

  28. We had this at the IC HK. It is an awesome amenity! I was the phone-less one on our last trip. So, when we arrived in HK, I finally had a device that really worked. I have done the local SIM card thing, not a fan. But, if you travel a lot, then T-Mobile does seem to offer the most international service with the least cost.

  29. I had this at the W Hong Kong earlier this year and loved it! I did have my work mobile with me which had service, but it was nice to have the pre-loaded content/sites from the hotel’s phone.

    With all of this in mind…why is it so many foreign hotels, airlines, etc seem to have such higher standards of service and amenities? I stayed at both the Le Meridien Arlington and W DC this last week, and they’re light-years behind their European or Asian counterparts. I practically lived at the W DC in 2014 (~20 weeks) and felt like I ended up schooling their entire “talent” team on room cleanliness, service consistency, and food prep. It got so bad I moved several stays to the Park Hyatt DC just to get a reprieve. 🙂

  30. Agree this is a great amenity, but I would prefer to have this in a city that has higher IDD rates and less wifi connectivity than say Hong Kong, where everything tech related is easy peasy. I guess there’s a catch 22 somewhere.

  31. I’ve mentioned this on other posts where you’ve talked about switching to T-Mobile, but I’ll say it again: Make sure you get a clear explanation of their T&C’s before committing. Per the fine print on their website, “Not for extended international use; you must reside in the U.S. and primary usage must occur on our U.S. network. Service may be terminated or restricted for excessive roaming or misuse.” I’m not sure what constitutes “extended international use” but if you’re spending half your time abroad, you should find out!

  32. Had an iPhone 4s offered to me when I stayed at a onefinestay property in London last year (no 4g tho), and it was excellent nonetheless. It’s super convenient.

  33. With all of the discussion here I must admit I’m astonished T-Mobile hasn’t sent you a free phone by now ;).
    Imagine the number of blog posts they’d get when you start raving about it the way the rest of us are doing? It’s just a great product for those who travel a lot.

  34. I have to agree that this is a very handy embellishment to any overseas hotel stay.
    However in HK, this is not so much a novelty as it is (or already has become) a relatively basic offering for most 4+ star hotels.

    W Hotel offers this, but it does not come with free international calls, just local ones.

  35. Why not get T-mobile in addition to your current provider. I have heard T-mobile is less than ideal in many parts of the US but does have an excellent program with partners overseas so why not have the best of both worlds and 2 phones, If I travelled internationally as much as you do, I think it is what I would do.

  36. Sheraton Hong Kong does this also. It is quite nice to use it maps and restaurant features when outside the hotel. Sometime, you should try the Sheraton Towers, the staff there are incredible!

  37. Great read! Handy smartphone as a service for hospitality was pioneered in Asia Pacific at The Mira Hong Kong in mid-2013 and available free of charge in every room with free 3G data connectivity, Wi-Fi hotspot, and free IDD calls to 25 destinations, including US. Following raving reviews by travelers worldwide, it’s been slowly introduced in other 5 and 4 star properties in HK and several other destinations in Asia.

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