We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Hotel descriptions/reviews. How to read between the lines.

Athens
Level Contributor
18,811 posts
119 reviews
Save Topic
Hotel descriptions/reviews. How to read between the lines.

Dear all,

During the time while I’m contributing to TA I’ve seen many people worrying about the accuracy of hotel descriptions and travelers’ reviews.

With the help of a couple of friends, I decided to write down a few points, regarding how to use descriptions/reviews and how to read between the lines.

Every hotel’s owner will do the best for their hotel to look as attractive as possible. How do you know that what you read about the amenities of this hotel is true? How can you tell if this hotel’s location is as great and convenient and close to transport as described?

That’s an easy one! Post a topic and ask the locals. You may not hear what you wanted to hear, but if the locals (or people who’ve been there) tell you NO, then don’t choose this hotel.

Also, when booking, ask for a full list of what your room will have. Print it and bring it with you. If they promised a fridge, they will either have to get you one or you will pay less money for staying in a room with no fridge!

And now let’s get to reviews. You read so many contradictory ones for the same hotel that you don’t know what to believe? Let’s try to short it out!

Don’t pay attention to reviews that sound too “hostile”.

Don’t pay attention to reviews that look like they were taken from a travel guide or a commercial.

Be suspicious with very short reviews, either good or bad ones, unless they are written from a person who’s coming from a non-English speaking country.

When you read a veeery good review, take a look at the reviews prior to it. Are they all bad? If so, don’t take the good review too seriously.

ALWAYS check the author. Meaning: if someone logs on TA today, just to post a review, it makes you think. If this person has written a good review, don’t even pay attention. If this person has written a bad review, pay some attention.

Check the dates. How long before this person has stayed at this hotel? A year ago? Hmmmmm

Got any questions? PM the author.

Back to short, promptly written reviews. Copy the text and Google it. If the same review comes up for another hotel or if it appears in any type of brochure/guide book, then you got your answer!

Always check the photos posted and the photos of the hotel’s website. Are they similar? That’s not good! Do they look more professional than usually? That’s not good either!

Finally! You’ve read all reviews, you took under consideration those you found credible and now you wonder: Is this hotel for me?

Try to read between the lines and prioritize the complaints and the praises for a hotel. Meaning: A person is complaining for a broken tap. Was it fixed immediately? If so, then it was just an unlucky incident. If it wasn’t fixed immediately, then it means that this hotel is not paying much attention to their guests! Or, a person is praising the hotel because they helped him when his wife got sick with food poisoning. Great! But what if she had eaten at the hotel’s restaurant?

Also, see if this hotel suits the purpose of your travel and the area that you are planning to “move” within. If you are going for business and this hotel gets the best reviews from clubbers cause it’s next door the best club of the town, then it’s not for you! Or, if you are going for a romantic getaway or you need to get some rest and the hotel advertises 20 different activities for the children, than just don’t go!

In general, take all reviews and descriptions with a grain of salt. Don’t expect a palace unless the Queen of England has invited you to Windsor. Still, if you want a seaside palace, say no (but please be polite, after all she’s the Queen) and try to get yourself invited by the Queen of Spain!

Hopefully, I’ve said enough.

I would appreciate your help in order to keep this thread alive. Meaning, don’t accuse/name certain hotels (if you have proof they’ve done something wrong, let TA know) and try to keep your posts calm and friendly.

Any ideas, advices, suggestions will be highly appreciated!

Thalia

P.S. Thank you very much Donnyb and Jon_rwr, Jon_rwr and Donnyb

Philadelphia
Level Contributor
6,120 posts
4 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Hotel descriptions/reviews. How to read between the lines.

Thalia, this is SO useful. I hope people will take it to heart. Personally, I'm always surprised when people post messages saying has anybody heard of Hotel XXXX, when I know that TA alone has 20 or 30 reviews of that hotel. Rule #1 should be -- check TA reviews.

LOCATION - if it's important for you to be right ON a beach, e-mail a hotel and ask directly; how many meters from the sand? THe hotels that are proud of their good location often show a map right on their website.

UNREALISTIC STANDARDS - Of course when one books a luxury hotel, one wants and deserves something special. But there are many lovely budget hotels that in a given island or city have the best locations and views. Yet I see reviews, particularly from my fellow Americans, that have nothing to do with views or service or cleanliness -- the complaints are simply about room size and bathroom size!

Sometimes Americans who have seldom traveled to Europe are so accustomed to huge rooms even at a roadside Motel 6 or Red Roof Inn, they expect all countries to build on that huge scale. So many of the nicest GReek family-run hotels are older buildings, where rooms are modest size. Often bathrooms were installed later, cutting off a corner of the room to do so, thus they are quite small. Big deal! Thus, I would urge newcomers who seeing a negative review based mainly on a small bathroom, to overlook it.

PROMISES -- Some hotels promise "free transfer to and from port or airport." And they do mean it. But it's up to you to re-check about this. If it's a small hotel where the owner mans the desk, he may not be able to leave to drive you, at a busy time. So don't take it for granted.

BE SPECIFIC IN INQUIRIES -- Sometimes people are upset when they don't get a sea view when the hotel website says "many rooms have a sea view" -- but did they specifically ASk for a sea view? Also, if you you simply request "a double room" you may get 2 twin beds ... to be sure you get a double bed I've found it's wise to request a "matrimonial bed" (yes, quaint, I know). And most smaller hotels do not have queen-size or king-size beds; you must ask ask ask.

POLITENESS & FORMALITY WORK! -- I have found I get the best information from hotels, large or small, not by filling out an online form, but writing a rather formal e-mail, like a formal letter, expressing interest and enthusiasm and adding thanks. You get a faster answer, more details, and can form a better idea if the hotel is right for you.

Athens
Level Contributor
18,811 posts
119 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Hotel descriptions/reviews. How to read between the lines.

Thank you for the input TJ!

Hope we can keep this thread on page #1.

Thalia

Bristol, United...
Level Contributor
3,412 posts
13 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Hotel descriptions/reviews. How to read between the lines.

Yep, a brilliant thread from you TH! I'd only elaborate on the sentence 'beware of reviews too hostile'; I wrote one once (nowhere in Greece BTW), not particularly hostile but more very truthful - looking back, there is only me & one other person who had anything bad to say! Which makes me look like I am either a complete prima donna or troll, OR I got it completely wrong & was actually somewhere completely different. So would you, personally, dismiss my review?

Athens
Level Contributor
18,811 posts
119 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Hotel descriptions/reviews. How to read between the lines.

Stoog, there is a difference between BAD and HOSTILE!

BAD: The person who attended reception was very rude and unhelpful.

HOSTILE: The person who attended reception is a stupid, ugly cow and should not get a job at a hotel ever again!

Bristol, United...
Level Contributor
3,412 posts
13 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Hotel descriptions/reviews. How to read between the lines.

Lol! I think I may have put in the latter sentence actually, but I never call people ugly - stupid cows, quite possible!

Athens
Level Contributor
18,811 posts
119 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Hotel descriptions/reviews. How to read between the lines.

After we go out for lunch, you'll be using the word PIG quite often! LOL!

Bristol, United...
Level Contributor
3,412 posts
13 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Hotel descriptions/reviews. How to read between the lines.

Sadly I use the word 'pig' more than often enough but nuff said on that score. Back to the matter in hand, if it was you that wrote one bad review among 20 or so good ones, it leaves you feeling a bit like a lemon. I disregard reviews about 'no ketchup' & the like as its just silly, I'm not fussy by any stretch. Still, I suppose it is a matter of opinion or expectations at the end of the day.

Bucharest
Level Contributor
1,288 posts
Save Reply
8. Re: Hotel descriptions/reviews. How to read between the lines.

Thalia, good ideea to write about this.

I would add some personal remarks and experiences, about hotels in general and not only about those in Greece.

1. This winter we wanted to go to Malta in a hotel that I've seen before and liked the buildng but did not know anithing about what's inside. The last review was about a customer that got bed bugs. The others were much older. I googled the web and saw that the one furious customer had put the same review on evey possible forum. I decided to ignore it, and it was an excellent ideea, since the hotel was as nice as the older reviews presented it. and no insects, of course!

2. Many people complain about rooms that smell. I always choose these hotels because it means that they allow smoking in the rooms.

As for the room amenities, I learned longtime ago to ask my travel agent to mark on the voucher all extras that I've paid for (sea view, safe, air conditionning) + smoking room.

Bristol, United...
Level Contributor
3,412 posts
13 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Hotel descriptions/reviews. How to read between the lines.

2. Many people complain about rooms that smell. I always choose these hotels because it means that they allow smoking in the rooms.

CW, you are truly brilliant!!!!!

Old Forge, New York
Destination Expert
for Old Forge, Utica
Level Contributor
2,299 posts
131 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Hotel descriptions/reviews. How to read between the lines.

great post Thalia, I think the key to reading reviews

is to look at the over all picture. Checking travel websites such as Expedia, Travelocity, Venere, etc. offer a more comprehensive look at the property. Especially those sites that only allow reviews from folks that booked through them, specific to that hotel. Of course, forums like this allow for locals to kick in about location, reputation, etc. I think reviews at the 5 star category and budget level are the most difficult to discern. The budget traveler that expects a great room, with lavish bath, perfect view, friendly staff for 35E a night is not realistic, neither is the luxury traveler that expects to have rose petals appear on their pillows every night with a personal butler fluent in 10 languages. I recently read a review of my favorite luxury property in Athens where a reviewer thought the place was "stuffy"...what did they expect in a venerable 5 star hotel with a long elegant history?..a beach party in the lobby on arrival?

Give me clean, comfortable and well situated at a reasonable price, and I am a fan for life! Have fun!