One of my favorite travel tools of all time (though taken with a grain of salt): TripAdvisor.com. I’ve been on there multiple times while researching several trips for people who wrote requesting help with travel planning.
Talk about an open forum! People go on there all the time to rant or rave about a hotel and even suggest other ideas from their trip, including restaurants and activities. Of course, you have to really read people’s reviews thoroughly to understand what kind of people they are. Since I like clean, nice, and not-too-pricy, I found that the majority of respondents who like similar types of accommodations tend to be the following:
- Backpackers who are psyched the place comes with sheets and towels;
- Backpackers who are so snobby about trying to be as “real” as possible that they think sleeping with sheets and towels is so touristy;
- People who only travel in the U.S. and have U.S. standards for service;
- Rich people trying to find a good deal and being sorely disappointed or pleasantly surprised;
- Not-so-rich people trying to find a good deal and thinking that they paid too much for the service and room or are pleasantly surprised;
- Ordinary people who expect a hotel to be everything like they have at home (the types who complain about the pillows);
Usually, I find that the hotels that get a lot of positive reviews and few negative ones are pretty good bets. It’s important to read the bad reviews because they could be isolated incidents, but if it appears that many people have experienced similar situations, then that may be a red flag. Some hotels have caught on with social marketing and make a point to respond to every critique, which shows effort.
Another tip: if there aren’t too many reviews, be aware if some are written by parties affiliated with the hotels. Particularly if the hotel is located in a country where English is not the first language, you can often tell if the rave reviews are fake if they seem to repeat themselves and are vague and pointless.
Based on a lot of comments made by hotels to negative reviews, if you arrive at a hotel and it is not up to par, it’s always best to point it out to management rather than sulk and ruin your vacation.