Tripadvisor can be a great tool to ensure you don’t sleep in the town dump. A few years ago Bell had a conference in Marburg, Germany and we consulted Tripadvisor and paid a whopping 2 euro extra not to sleep next to a highway, where speeding cars literally shook the rooms, and the elderly lady who ran the place had been known to yell at her guests at breakfast. Unfortunately some of Bell’s colleagues did not consult Tripadvisor. They saved 2 bucks, but slept next to the highway with the mean lady. Meanwhile, we stayed in a comfortable hotel with a great breakfast and nobody yelled at us over our bacon and eggs. The process is not always so straight forward though and sometimes you need to read between the lines of how to tell good and bad reviews on Tripadvisor.
There are patterns on Tripadvisor that everyone should be wary of. Any new establishment with nothing but gushingly positive reviews that sound like a marketing intern wrote are probably fake. You shouldn’t necessarily trust them, and if there are other options you should probably look elsewhere if you don’t want to take a gamble.
Also, don’t trust a few oddball positive reviews among others that are horror stories. There were even a few positive reviews for the La Salle, the hotel we stayed in New Orleans some years back, where they later discovered a dead body that had gone unnoticed for days.
People’s expectations are different. As an American living in Europe I get it. I frequently read American reviews complaining about various hotel rooms in Europe being too small. Yes this is generally the case so if you’re an American not willing to spend a small fortune on a hotel room, you may need to ignore bad reviews that were doled out simply because the room or bathroom was too small. If you’ve deciphered that the reviews are good and the room is reasonably priced, clean and in a good location- it is probably deserving of a good rating and worth booking it!
Tripadvisor is not an exact science and things can change quickly under new management. Establishments occasionally start to slack off as they’ve racked up loads of positive reviews. Particularly with restaurants in a foreign country, sometimes it’s just good to have a stroll and pay attention to where the locals are eating. Never rely solely on any guidebook or website if you want a true adventure!
If anyone has any additional tips to decipher good and bad reviews on Tripadvisor, please share them in the comments. Crazy stories are also very welcome!