I have a strange addiction when it comes to travel planning. Deciding the general route is always thrilling. Securing a car rental or other means of transport has its challenges. When I finally click purchase after finding “the deal”, it is no longer a challenge. However I meet days upon days of figuring out just where I plan on resting up for the night. I obsess over the stories of strangers and their experiences at properties so much so that I start to know them by name. I find myself reading their stories of bed bugs, stolen laptops and even neighboring room murders like a page-turning novel. Will they make it out alive? Will they get a refund? I can’t close out the page. I can’t make a decision on where to stay. All of the hotels in town seem flawed. I am a hotel review reading addict.
The problem with this addiction is that I spend what feels like days booking one night at a hotel, a hotel I will be in for maybe 15 hours. My first motion on any review site is a trip on over to the terrible ratings. Like a mandate, I have to read the terrible tales before the excellent reviews or five star ratings. I want to know why some lone soul found the top rated hotel in New Orleans truly terrible.
These are hours of my life that I will never get back. Some of you may be thinking, “Life is too short. Pick a hotel and stay there, you coward!” I just can’t. It is a problem. Sometimes the hotel that I take a risk on is not as terrible as Luvtravls3429 made it out to be. Other times when I don’t look, when I just book because there is no time, I end up at a smoke infested hotel in the Czech Republic or a hotel FDR stayed at in Texas that hadn’t been cleaned since his stay. How do I get beyond wasting my life away, reading these reviews to ultimately deciding on a hotel?
At two in the morning one night, when my eyes struggled to stay open to make sense of the terrible tales on a hotel in Austin, I decided there are certain things to look for in hotel reviews to speed up the booking process. If you are like me, wasting hours of your life reading these hotel stories, I hope we can help each other.
Check Review Dates
If someone in 2005 said the hotel was noisy due to construction outside, I tend to throw these reviews away in my decision-making process. While I am guilty of heading straight for the terrible reviews, I also now look at the review dates. Has the property been updated since that time? Is it under new management? If all of the excellent reviews are current, I am more inclined to give in and book the hotel.
Look Out For Phonies and Those Who Cry Wolf
Some sites like TripAdvisor don’t really have a system to check if a person has actually stayed at the hotel. There have been countless articles on how competitors will try to deter travelers from staying at their competition by posting fake reviews. I have even come across job postings for writers to pen phony reviews for a hotel. I tend to compare reviews on TripAdvisor with those of Oyster.com and the actual hotel-booking agents. On hotel booking sites, you generally can’t leave a review unless you have stayed at the property.
There are also those travelers who think a fly in the room is a bed bug. After researching just what bed bugs look like and their signs, I often find some reviewers believe in crying wolf when there is in fact no wolf. If they post a picture of said bed bug or tell how they had to throw out their prized possessions due to a bed bug infestation, I will go ahead and believe them.
Stay Away From Murder Sites and Other Safety Concerns
Aside from wanting a clean space to rest up for the night, I always want somewhere safe. In all of my hotel review reading, I had never come across a hotel that was a murder site, until San Antonio. Someone detailed a night where there was blood pouring out into the hallway and police on site all night. I knew the validity of the review as the hotel manager had commented saying these were extraordinary circumstances. They did confirm the murder in the process. Other reviewers tell of stolen laptop computers and smashed car windows and break-ins. I want to stay as far away as possible from these safety concerns. If a hotel has multiple reports of some sort of crime, I don’t need to stay there. A murder is certainly a hotel deal breaker.
Historic Properties Can Be Historic in Their Cleaning Practices
I am the type of guest that likes a story behind my stay. Haunted or just plain historic, I want to stay there. However when I look at your reviews historic properties of the world, people bemoan your cleanliness. I decided in Texas to forget these people. I booked a historic inn, one FDR had stayed out. The room looked innocent enough walking in for those first few moments. I flipped off my shoes and began walking around. After a few steps in the room, my feet were as black as night. This room hadn’t been cleaned in years.
A sign hung in the bathroom, essentially telling guests to be extremely careful with the shower curtain. If any water leaked out of the shower, a flood would appear in the room below. It is probably a deal breaker when the hotel wants you to solve their plumbing issues. I really wish historic properties of the world would wake up and see what a gold mine they have if they just clean properly. You don’t want to spend any time in an unclean room. On road trips, sometimes all you want to do is relax at the hotel after a long drive. It’s impossible to relax when you are counting the cobwebs on the ceiling instead of counting sheep.
Are you a hotel review-reading addict? What do you look for in reviews to speed up the booking process? What are you hotel review deal breakers?