Google’s Chromecast is a super-handy and cost-effective media streamer. It’s a great way to access videos from streamers like Netflix, serve up your favorite music, and even share photos. Since Chromecast is so small, wouldn’t it be great if you could just throw it in your carry-on luggage and set it up at your hotel room? Lots of people have done just that, and when it works, it’s just like using the device at home.
Unfortunately, due to differences in how hotels operate their Wi-Fi and TVs, getting your Chromecast to work in a hotel TV isn’t always that easy, and sadly, sometimes it’s impossible. But before you throw the towel in and settle for your laptop, take a read through this step-by-step guide. We’ll explain how hotelling with your Chromecast works, what to look for, and how to get around some of the more common gotchas. Let’s do this!
What you need:
- A Google Chromecast or Chromecast Ultra, and the included USB cable and USB power adapter
- A smartphone or tablet running Android or iOS
- Your hotel’s Wi-Fi access point name and password
- Optionally: A portable Wi-Fi travel router
Step 1: Find the HDMI port on the hotel TV
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends
This first step is critical. The TV in your hotel room has to have an open HDMI port that you can access (many of which don’t), otherwise it’s game over. Check the sides of the TV, or if you can access it, around the back. The inputs should be clearly labeled as HDMI 1, HDMI 2, etc. While you’re looking, take note to see if there’s already an HDMI cable plugged into the TV. If there is, you might need to unplug it in one of the next steps. Once a free port has been found, plug your Chromecast in.
Step 2: Find some power
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends
Your Chromecast needs a power source, of course. The USB cable that came with it is designed to siphon power from an available USB port on a TV, but since not all TVs have one of these, you should definitely bring along the USB wall adapter as well. If there is no USB port on the TV, take a look around for an open USB port on the desk or a nearby power outlet. Since the TV needs power, an outlet shouldn’t be far, but accessibility may be an issue so hopefully there’s an alternative nearby in such a case.
Step 3: Switch inputs
It’s now time to turn on the TV and see if you can switch the source to the HDMI input you used for the Chromecast. The TV remote might have an input button or source button, but often the hotel will swap out the manufacturer’s remote with one of its own. If not, check the TV itself — most models will have an input selector button next to the power and volume buttons, usually at the TV’s back panel along the edge. If you’re successful, you should see the default Chromecast setup screen. If you have trouble switching inputs (maybe because the TV simply won’t allow it), it’s time to try plan B: If you found a cable already plugged into an HDMI port in step 1, unplug it, and swap in your Chromecast. Of course, this means you’ll lose your hotel TV channels, but you can always swap it back once you’ve binged the last season of The Walking Dead.
Step 4: Get connected
If you’ve gotten this far, this is (hopefully) the last step. Assuming for the moment that your hotel’s Wi-Fi is a standard setup, i.e. you simply look for the corresponding access point in your phone’s Wi-Fi list, and then use the provided password, then use those credentials to connect to the hotel Wi-Fi using your phone or tablet. If you haven’t already, download the free Google Home app from your app store. Launch the app, and follow the instructions for setting up your Chromecast on the same Wi-Fi network. Congrats, you’re ready to start casting!
Step 5: Wi-Fi woes
Alas, a lot of the time it won’t be that easy. Many hotels use a web-based interface for accessing Wi-Fi, and for the moment, Chromecast simply isn’t compatible with such a system. Still, workarounds do exist, and if you’re feeling your inner tech support guru, they’re worth a shot.
Create your own Wi-Fi hotspot
- If you have a Windows 10 laptop, you can share its Wi-Fi connection with both a smartphone and the Chromecast.
- You can do the same thing on a MacOS laptop, but only if you can connect the laptop to an Ethernet connection in the hotel room, and these are becoming increasingly rare.
- On an iOS device that has a mobile 4G data connection, you can create a Wi-Fi hotspot, but not only will this use up your precious mobile data, it’s pretty taxing on your phone’s battery. Moreover, you’ll need a third device with the Google Home app to use as your setup and casting machine.
- Some Android smartphones can be configured to share their Wi-Fi connection without needing mobile data. We’ve never tried it, but it’s worth a shot. Another option is to try an app like Netshare, which accomplishes the same thing on any device running Android 6 or later.
Use a travel router, preferably one with a WISP mode
A travel router offers the most reliable way to create a Wi-Fi access point you can share with devices in your hotel room. There are plenty of these to be found on Amazon and elsewhere and they usually cost less than $75. Some require access to an Ethernet jack, which as we mentioned above, can be hard to find. A model that can run in WISP (Wireless Internet Service Provider) mode (or bridge mode), will let you sign in to your hotel’s Wi-Fi, and then make that connection shareable as a regular Wi-Fi network, with a name and password of your choosing.
One more thing…
If none of these options work for you, or you simply don’t want to be bothered messing around with HDMI ports and Wi-Fi hotspots, you may not need to bring your Chromecast at all. More and more hotels are beginning to install Chromecast-compatible systems like RoomCast. If your hotel has this, all you need is your phone, tablet or laptop, and you’re all set.
Using your Chromecast in a hotel is just one of many cool features. Check out our complete Chromecast tips and tricks explainer for more things you can do with a Chromecast.
- How to set up an Apple TV and Apple TV 4K
- What is MHL, exactly, and how does it work with your TV?
- The most common PlayStation 4 problems, and how to fix them
- The best streaming devices for 2019
- Modem vs. router: What’s the difference?