I think every traveler’s worst nightmare is arriving at a hotel (you know-- the one with gorgeous pictures), only to find a dumpy fleabag.
A dumpy, pre-paid fleabag.
And so, we head to the online reviews.
But, are they legit?
A good review could easily be written by the hotel, while a bad review written by a person with unrealistic expectations. (Like people who expect a fluffy bathrobe and chocolate on 50 bucks a night.)
So I thought I would share my tips for finding and reserving a hotel online.
I’ve planned quite a few group trips, plus my own trips, and I’ve always had great success with hotels.
1. Virtual Tourist
I use Virtual Tourist to get a realistic idea of what an area is like.
If you read through the categories, you can get a pretty
good idea of which neighborhoods to steer clear of, and which to
start looking in.
2. Google Maps
Find the neighborhood you’re looking in Google maps,
search “hotels” within the map area.
This is how I narrow down my choices.
Hotels within 5 minutes walk of subway stations are fair game in my book.
3. Google Reviews
Within Google maps, you can pull up a thumbnail, like below.
I first check to see if the hotel has a website.
It’s 2012, so if a hotel can’t spare the expense to put up a website,
then they probably won’t spare the expense to change the sheets.
4. Hotel Website
I start checking out the hotel’s website before I actually look at reviews.
Be wary of hotel’s with zero pictures of their rooms.
5. Online Reviews
After I’ve picked out some hotels that I like, I start googling the name of the hotel.
I don’t rely solely on reviews from big name websites like Virtual Tourist, Yelp or Trip Advisor,
because I think they are high on the hotelier’s target list for fraudulent reviews.
I try to look at all of them to get a well-rounded opinion.
It’s great to go to blogs or places like Rick Steves’ Graffiti Wall for more traveler reviews.
6. The 1:5 Ratio
I do stay at hotels with negative reviews, but I use a ratio for dealing with this.
For every bad review, there have to be at least 5 good reviews
7. Separate the good from the bad
I might have missed out on some wonderful hotels had I paid attention to inconsequential things like
water pressure, no elevator, or “lumpy bed” reviews.
You have to give them some slack, especially with historic hotels.
8. Take a Walk
This final step is the most important in my opinion.
Take a walk around the hotel on Google Maps.
Check out the hotel and its neighbors, and you never know what else you might see:
These few steps have never failed me! We have stayed in some beautiful and fascinating places, and all on a budget!