Hotels that give you free wifi still make you click through an "I promise not to be an idiot" form button before you can go online. Your devices (chromecast, Apple TV, Roku and other boxes) for the most part don't have a browser to click that button. That's the issue.
The basic concept is that your creating your own wifi network just like at home. Think of the Ethernet port in your hotel room like its your modem at home.
1 Hook up your router (power, Ethernet/cat5 cord). Your router should be set to AP mode that makes its own network. Not joining a network.
2 Connect to your router's wifi on your phone, ipad, laptop and enter your password (if its your first time). Don't power-on your ATV/chromecast yet.
3 Open a browser and try to go to any page. The hotels wifi will hijack you to their page. Click the OK button (whatever their version of OK is)
4 Plug in your Apple TV /chromecast and login to your wifi
5 Thats it
If you were expecting a bunch of smoke and mirrors with secret handshakes and knocks, so sorry to disappoint. The hotel's system has agreed that your a swell guy because you clicked OK. That gave your router's MAC Address a pass. It just so happens that MAC Address is a router that shares that connection with your other stuff. Once in a while you may need to do this process again because they like you to click that OK every now and then. If you notice you can't get your Apple TV online you'll know its time to restart the process. I like to pull the plug on the Apple TV during this process so it's not trying to get internet access while your clicking the OK button. Same for the chromecast. If you can't connect just pull the plug on the router and your other stuff.
-- This can also be done with a windows application called Connectify or by using a wifi repeater if there isn't an Ethernet jack in the hotel room- Maybe I'll write up a tutorial on doing this with a wifi repeater at a later date, but I haven't seen a hotel room without Ethernet jack near the desk since the 90's.
This 'router way' of doing this is a lot easier than the Connectify or router repeater way.
I'd also like to point out that it might be easier to hook up your phone, tablet, laptop directly to the tv. My issue is I hate tying up my phone and not being able to use it. Hotels are also making it harder to get to the hdmi input. Google the tv model for the manual if you need to.
One word of caution: Common Router functions such as NAT, firewall, DHCP server...etc. are often disabled under AP mode. Therefore you might need a box performing these functions sitting between the hotels ethernet port and the AP if you are traveling with data on any of your devices that you don't want to "share" with hackers.
Check the documentation for your "travel router" to see what "modes" you have and what's enabled in each mode. Apple's Airport Express is an example of an AP that has the firewall enabled by default in AP mode.
In some hotels (the ones that attempt to authenticate and charge you separately for each device) you will need NAT and DHCP functional on your AP device, so all your devices share a single IP address..
Thanks for the post. Great info. The problem I run into appears to be the exact opposite of your experience. I have not seen an Ethernet jack in a room for a long time
I travel with an Apple Airport Express and when I find a hard wire jack all is great.
But what happens when there is no Ethernet. I have been unsuccessful in getting my Chromecast to work in some way with the Airport with wireless only.
And advice for that situation. I tried connectify but the performance was dreadful
I thought I'd point out that even without the internet you can still send local files / screen to your ATV and Chromecast on your internet-less hotspot. But who cares about that.
No ethernet? Yeah that's pesky. I will say though that the last hotel I stayed at had the ethernet jack .25" below the table / desk. It wasn't near the floor. I swear I looked everywhere. I've also seen them on the phone and embedded in the lamp for some reason. It's worth a call to the front desk which is how I found mine. Anyway, it's repeater time.
While it can be a pain to setup a repeater it can also come in really handy. Those times when you have to stand by the window to get 1 bar is over. Put that router where it gets the best signal. In a more urban environment there can be tons of free wifi nearby that only a router in a window can pickup. Lets also use our brains and remember that wide open wifi is always a bad idea when unregulated. I won't go into wifi security here. At the very, very least password protect your shared files.
The best (only?) way (without ethernet) is to run a repeater. The way I do it is with a dd-wrt (firmware) router. I'm sure there are other ways but this seems to be the "arguably" best / most common way. I'll say right off the bat that this is a little geeky, but if you can read, you can do this in 5 minutes. I'll put links to the info about the routers and tutorials below. dd-wrt.com also has a fantastic forum and they know what they're talking about and super helpful.
OK - So this tutorial includes how to flash the router (not your airport) to dd-wrt firmware. I'm skipping that part but check here if you want to DIY. Check below and look for the Router Database http://www.dd-wrt.com/site/index
Again. Goto ebay and type in "dd-wrt router" and for $20-$30 it's done for you.
Here's the actual repeater setup tutorial. This is something that you can try at home to extend your network or to test it out. It also might be a good idea to print out the instructions or take a photo or screenshot as you'll need the instructions when you don't have the internet.
Scroll halfway down to "Setting Up the Repeater"
If you mess it up somehow and you can't login hit the reset button and try it again. In the future you will have this setup and you can just go into the dd-wrt router setup page and change the wireless name and security settings.
So this all looks daunting but it's good info to know. It saves you money, let's you use your toys and I'd even say it will save you time. Also consider that your using a couple toys on one connection. Once I set it up I like to go back to the main network on my laptop and leave the ATV on it's own. Go back to your network when you need to authenticate again.
Again. there are a few variations on this type of setup but this is how I roll. I'm not a networking guru, I just know enough to make bandwidth better.