Internet TVs at Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, and IHG
An experiment that started a few years ago when major chains began rolling out Internet TVs has exploded into a full blown trend. Every major hotel chain at this point has begun rolling out internet (smart) TVs to their hotel rooms. We expect consumer demand for hotel rooms with internet TVs to grow as the pandemic has transformed how users consume media and television.
For the regular traveler the actual experience of these internet TVs will vary greatly. Each chain has a different type of internet TV offering. Also, how likely you are to get a room with an internet TV will vary wildly as well. In addition, which streaming services are available varied even within the same chain.
In this article we will break down the significant pieces of the major hotel chains (Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, IHG) internet TV offerings, how likely you are to get one and how close each chain is to delivering in their promises to provide internet TV.
In addition, we’ll provide quick insights into how much coverage internet TVs may have by these chains. Of course, your experience will vary. Internet TVs are generally installed in new openings or during refreshes. Given hotels are currently limiting upgrades as they struggle through the COVID induced travel downturn, expect rollout to slow.
Marriott Internet TV
Marriot is the worlds largest hotel chain, with more 30 brands and thousands of locations. Marriott was also an early pioneer of internet TVs rooms.
Also, Marriott’s internet TV experience is largely similar across all of their different brands. This means from Ritz Carlton, St. Regis, Marriott, Sheraton, Renaissance, Westin, W, Autograph Collection, Courtyard, Four Points, Springhill, Residence Inn, Element, Fairfield Inns and more you’ll see a fairly similar Marriott Internet TV experience.
Marriot’s internet TV is also pretty sophisticated. Depending on the location you’ll have a selection that generally includes Netflix, YouTube, Crackle and Hulu. Though for some services you may need to use your own login and subscription. However, recently we’ve seen Marriott internet TVs offering HBO Go, Showtime Go, and Amazon.
Despite all of the sophistication of Marriot’s internet TVs there are a few things to consider. First, you generally only get 5-8 services per location. With newer services like HBO Max, Sling, Disney+, Peacock and more becoming very popular at home, don’t expect to find these apps on your Marriott internet TV.
Also, one major concern when using your own login on internet TVs is security. While the system is supposedly to automatically clear your password upon checkout, there are have been a number of reports of people finding other users logins still active when checking into a hotel.
Marriott Internet TV Highlights
Services: Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Crackle, Pandora, HBO Go (select locations, often included with the room, Amazon (a few locations), Showtime Go (a few locations)
Coverage: ~50% of hotel rooms
Hilton Internet TV
Hilton is among the most popular hotel chains, especially here in the US. Hiltons brands include the famous Waldorf Astoria luxury hotels, Conrad, Hilton (their namesake), Homewood Suites, Hampton Inns and Embassy Suites among many others.
Hilton’s internet TV generally is not as well developed as Marriott’s and the rollout appears to be much slower. Hilton did not actively begin their rollout until the last few years, and only in 2019 started adding Netflix. Other services generally include Showtime, YouTube and some internal promotional and fitness channels.
Also, like the Marriott internet TVs is you will need to have your own existing subscription to Netflix to use it. The system is supposed to automatically clear your password upon checkout, there are have been a number of reports of people finding other users logins still active when checking into a hotel.
Hiltons installation coverage is also much smaller. We estimate less than a third of Hilton chain rooms have internet TV, and may even be closer to 25%.
Hilton Internet TV Highlights
Services: Netflix, YouTube, HBO Go (select locations), Showtime Go (select locations)
Coverage: ~33% of hotel rooms
Hyatt Internet TV
Hyatt is very popular hotel among business and convention travelers. Their hotels are often located in major metro areas. While they are generally known for their large, full service urban hotels in the last decade they have put substantial energy into developing limited service (Hyatt Place) and extended stay (Hyatt House) hotel chains.
Hyatt’s approach to internet TV is vastly different than Marriott and Hilton’s approach. It does so by not attempting to replicate the smart TV experience. Rather, Hyatt has developed integrated Chromecast service into their internet TVs.
Chromecast is Google’s streaming platform. What makes Chromecast unique from other SmartTV services is that you use your phone (or tablet) apps to control the TV. The advantage for users is that any app that support Chromecast can be used with any Chromecast TV. Therefore, unlike Marriott and Hilton, Hyatt hotels will support just about any service.
The downside is that many of Googles direct competitors, such as Amazon and Apple TV, do not support Chromecast. So while you’ll be able to use apps and your own subscriptions like ESPN, CBS, and Disney+ you won’t be able to use two of the most popular services in Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV Plus.
We should also note that Hyatt’s Chromecast enabled TVs don’t support all Chromecast features, just the core media streaming. Also, the newest 4th generation Google Chromecast includes the Android TV interface. Hyatt’s Chromecast enabled TVs do not include this new interface.
Like the Marriott and Hilton internet TVs is you will need to have your own existing subscription to Netflix to use it. However, since you use apps off of your own phone there is a lot less of a security concern. You never actually have to enter your username or password into the TV.
Hyatt’s installation coverage is above average. They began rolling out Chromecast TVs into 2017. We estimate it is available in about 50% of rooms currently.
Hyatt Internet TV Highlights
Services: Any that support Chromecast (including Netflix, YouTube, Disney+, ESPN, and many more. Here is a list of available Chromecast apps)
Coverage: ~50% of hotel rooms
IHG is among the worlds largest hotel chains, with well known brands such as Holiday Inn, Kimpton, Indigo, Intercontinental and Crown Plaza. IHG in recent years has put significant effort into developing its lifestyle and boutique brands, highlighted with the Kimpton acquisition.
IHG, like Hilton only recently began rolling out internet TVs. Started in 2019 IHG also choose the Chromecast enabled internet TVs. However, IHG also has a series of “partially” smart TVs they rolled out. It includes app such as Youtube, but does not have the full blown Chromecast.
Chromecast is Google’s streaming platform and it works differently than traditional smart TVs. You use your phone (or tablet) apps to control the TV. The advantage for users is that any app that support Chromecast can be used with any Chromecast TV. Therefore, IHG internet TVs like those at Hyatt, will support just about any service.
As noted with Hyatt internet TVs, the downside of Chromecast is that many of Googles direct competitors such as Amazon and Apple TV do not support Chromecast. You’ll be able to use apps and your own subscriptions like Hulu, Disney+ you won’t be able to use two of the most popular services in Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV Plus.
We should also note that IHG’s Chromecast enable TVs don’t support all Chromecast features, just the core media streaming. Also, like the Hyatt internet TVs they do not include the Android TV interface, just support for “casting”.
Like all of the major chains internet TVs, you will need to have your own existing subscription to Netflix to use it. On the positive side, since you use apps off of your own phone there is a not the usual security concern with other hotel internet TVs You never actually have to internet your username or password into the TV.
IHG Internet TV Highlights
Services: Any that support Chromecast (including Netflix, YouTube, Disney+, ESPN, and many more. Here is a list of available Chromecast apps) OR YouTube only.
Coverage: Less than 25% of hotel rooms
Limitations Of Hotel Internet TVs
There are a number limitations and challenges with hotel internet TVs. The four most significant are services, security, availability and stability.
While the Chromecast based internet TVs at IHG and Hyatt have good coverage, you will be disappointed if you enjoy Amazon or Apple TV services. For Hilton and Marriott the limited choice of mainstream services, usually 2-3 per location isn’t great. The average household now has 4 different services each across nearly a dozen different providers. This means there is a good chance your favorite service isn’t available.
Compared to your typical home or travel streaming stick, hotel internet TVs have substantially fewer service choices. We did a side by side comparison of streaming sticks with Marriott internet TVs, and it wasn’t even close.
Security should always be a concern. Anytime you have to internet a username and password into any app, TV or web page you should ensure they are secure. While we applaud IHG and Hyatt for using Chromecast, which means you don’t need to enter a password into their systems to use them, Marriott and Hiltons implementations give us pause.
In addition to concerns about entering your password into those systems, and whether they will truly be cleared at checkout, its a hassle to enter a username and password with each stay. If you travel for business where you are in a different location almost every night, this becomes a huge burden in addition to a substantial safety concern. Each time you stay and enter your password you increase the odds your account will still be active for the next guest.
Internet and smart TVs in hotels are becoming increasingly common. However, even the most progressive chains are generally at 50% implementation. Other chains like IHG and Hilton only started a little over a year ago implementing internet TVs. This means that it is still very hit or miss that you’ll even get an internet TV. Sometimes different rooms within the same hotel may or may not have the features.
Most internet TVs are implemented on new construction or during significant refreshes. So if internet TV is important to you when traveling, we recommend searching for hotels in the order of: newer, recently refreshed, popular. Also, full service hotels that use to monetize their TVs with movies are some of the last to implement internet TVs. You may actually find it easier to get internet TVs are select service and roadside hotels than full service hotels in urban area.
Hotel WiFi and internet are notoriously unreliable. While many internet TVs are hard wired they are often on shared networks. This means during periods of high internet usage you may still experience buffering or poor picture quality. Some newer hotels are using WiFi for their internet TV implementations, which makes them even more unpredictable. And all of the chains that use Chromecasts require some level of WiFi connectivity to work. Also, different services deal with poor internet better than others.
Making Any Hotel TV an Internet TV
One other consideration if you want to ensure you get all of your favorite streaming services in your room is to make your hotel TV an internet TV. If you’ve never done it before, it’s actually pretty easy. You really only need 3 things.
Why would you bother bringing your own internet streaming devices? Simply put you’ll get access to more of your favorite services, it’ll be more secure. Plus there will never be a question of availability. In fact, you may find bringing your own streaming stick is also more reliable.
You’ll need a streaming stick. You don’t need to buy one specifically for travel, but many of us who travel regular do have a travel specific stick we can leave in our bag. We reviewed the best streaming sticks for travel, but unless you have an older Chromecast just about any of them will work if you pair it with a travel router. If not, you’ll have to make sure the stream stick you choose works with captive portals and hotel WiFi.
HDMI Port and Finding Power In the Hotel Room
You’ll need to ensure you can plug the streaming stick into the hotel TV via an HDMI port and power is available. Nearly ever hotel room has a TV with an HDMI port, but some of the older TVs don’t include a remote that let you switch inputs. There are a few work arounds, but in most instances that shouldn’t be necessary.
In addition you’ll need power in the hotel room for your streaming stick. Most newer TVs have a USB port that works great for power, but if not carrying a small splitter will ensure you don’t have a problem.
A travel router isn’t an absolute requirement, but it will make your travel WiFi and streaming stick experience substantially easier. A good travel router will allow you to quickly get all of your devices online. This will include your phone, laptop, tablet and streaming stick. You won’t need to reconfigure each device to use the WiFi. It will also secure all of your devices on the hotel WiFi network.
The easiest to use travel routers allow you to quickly connect from a mobile app, pass the captive portal and then you are online. If you want to get really fancy, you can even bring a smart speaker like a Sonos, a gaming console like PS4 or XBox One, or even a smart assistant with you.