Hotel advice from hotheads

One slightly amusing way to waste five minutes on the internet is to visit the website, which features thousands of hotel reviews written by members of the travelling public, and to look up the amazing places you’ve stayed.

You’ll be surprised. That divine ocean-side hotel where you sipped cocktails on a private beach? “Dirty. Noisy. Terrible service.” That tiny, remote Scottish B&B, where looking out of your window was a spiritual experience? “No air conditioning.”

This difference of opinion wouldn’t matter, of course, except that the point of the site is to help you decide where to stay. And the first law of TripAdvisor is this: no matter how wonderful somewhere may be, how highly recommended, somebody on TripAdvisor will claim to have spent the worst night of their life there.

It’s not that TripAdvisor users hate everywhere they go: earlier this year, members voted London the world’s second-rudest city (after Paris), but also the world’s best for parks, both of which feel right. The problem, rather, is the familiar one in which technology permits self-expression so rapid there’s no time to think first. Slighted by a front-of-house manager? Stomp to your room, log on to the free Wi-Fi and leave a scathing review, right then. Catharsis. It’s easy to see why hoteliers hate TripAdvisor.

For the tourist beset by TripAdvisor induced foreboding, the only remedy may be to bear in mind that the most scathing complainants are not necessarily reliable; indeed, many of them seem divorced from reality.

“Believe it or not they do not allow Bermuda shorts in the lobby area,” a user writes of Raffles in Singapore. “The place is teeming with white trash,” complains another about a Las Vegas resort hotel.

And, while we’re on the subject, have you tried finding a halfway decent seaside hotel in Afghanistan these days? I mean, honestly—



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