In our Chromecast review, one of Ryan's complaints was that the device can't be used on public Wi-Fi networks, like hotels, for example. Unfortunately, that doesn't look like it's going to change any time soon, according to John Affaki, Engineering Manager for the dev experience on Chromecast. That's a real bummer for anyone who travels frequently and was looking to supplement the crappy hotel TV for something new and interesting via Chromecasts.
Affaki took to an impromptu Q&A on Google+ to help explain a few lingering things about the unit, one of which was the device's inability to function on captive Wi-Fi networks – that is, one that's behind a login page, like most public hotspots. Here's the skinny for those who are curious:
You'll run into a slew of problems. The major one is that most hotels, even if you get on the wifi, disable peer to peer communication, so you won't be able to control it.
Second, Chromecast doesn't support captive networks right now (open networks with a login page). There may be some work around for this one (by doing certain things on your laptop), but given that you probably won't be able to get past the first item, it's not work going into here.
Which basically leads to the best way to do it, and that's to setup a hotspot with your laptop or phone.
As Ryan pointed out in our review, using a hotspot would not only be a bit of a headache just to use a Chromecast, but it would also chew through a data cap in nearly no time. Can you imagine streaming one 1080p movie over Netflix using your mobile connection? Yeah... no.