I tend to go overboard when picking a hotel and I get sucked into spending hours upon hours reading hotel reviews on different sites. All it takes is to make one bad hotel decision. Remember when the group from the UK arrived at The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel?
My husband (who doesn’t read reviews) booked a hotel in Napa for our 20th anniversary and we arrived to find the entire property under construction and the gym was closed for our entire stay. Had we read the reviews, we would not have selected that hotel. And then there’s the time we booked on the ocean in Greece, only to arrive and learn that it was the equivalent of Spring Break filled with noisy, partying teenagers.
When you’re booking an unfamiliar hotel, how do you navigate the hundreds of consumer reviews out there? If you’re like me, you want your hotel stay to be to restful, relaxing, and filled with some creature comforts from home (whether it’s breakfast in bed or a gym).
I’ve put together a few tips that help me do the research so I choose a hotel that never disappoints.
4 tips for navigating hotel reviews
1. Make a list of top three things that are important to you before you start reading the reviews and rate hotels based on those amenities. Are you looking for onsite dining? A quiet neighborhood? An indoor pool? Don’t just pick a hotel based on price or location. There are plenty of choices out there so get what you want.
2. Make a list of keywords of features that important to you so you do a quick edit→search for those keywords within the reviews. For me, I always search “construction”, “noise”, and “dirty” to see if other reviewers complain about those topics.
3. Always scroll down and read reviews from the same season/month you’ll be traveling in to understand local events, weather, potential group travel, and more. We would have selected a different hotel in a different part of Athens on our trip to Greece if we’d known that our trip fell during an annual party week.
4. What country is the reviewer from? Let’s face it, room size expectations and quality vary greatly from one country to the next. If Europeans complain that the room sizes are small, be concerned.
There are tons of great review sites out there, but let’s face it: everyone is looking for something different in a comfortable hotel. Noise bothers me but most people don’t consider that when selecting a hotel. I’m also a germaphobe so I like to read reviews that emphasize cleanliness. The key is to make a list of your “must haves” before you start reading those reviews so you can be sure to get what you want.