Saturday, January 29, 2011

Tripadvisor reports

Earlier this week Tripadvisor, the Internet travel forum, published a report on "Ten Dirtiest Hotels -- United States 2011." Each hotel's low rating was a compendium of individual reports by disgusted travelers, and I have no doubt that in general each hotel deserved its dismal standing.

Still, I've spent some time looking over the individual Tripadvisor reports on hotels in places I plan to visit, and have come to the conclusion that these reports are extremely subjective and personal. People do bring different demands and expectations to a hotel stay.

One traveler gave a hotel 1 out of 5 stars just because he found mouseturds next to the bathtub. Think about it. The place otherwise might have been lovely, and cleaned carefully, by a maid five minutes before an itinerant mouse passed through the room and hung up his hat for a couple of minutes.

(My aging eyes probably never would have spotted the calling cards.)

I've heard people complain about the cleanliness of hotels because the toilet seat wasn't wrapped and the toilet paper foldy-pointed, small touches that they were used to in the hostelries that they most often frequented.

Some people judge hotels and motels by the quality of their free breakfasts, never mind the other amenities.

Some people think a hotel without a swimming pool isn't worth a stay. Likewise a fitness center.

Probably the best way to approach Tripadvisor hotel reports is to compare each individual report about a hotel with the others. If enough people complain about the same things, that probably gives an accurate picture of the state of a hotel. But if the subjects of the complaints are wildly different, then maybe they should be taken with a grain of salt.

Maybe each of us should think about our own needs and expectations and bring those to a reading of Tripadvisor reports.

My needs are simple: a clean room, a clean bed, a decent desk and chair, a sufficiently bright lamp, a reasonably healthful breakfast. Most Super 8s do me fine.

But the Lady Friend prefers higher standards when we are on vacation, so when we travel together I look for more upscale hostelries.

But if I have to pay for Internet access, I automatically knock one star off the hotel rating. Charging for the Internet is cheesy beyond belief and I cannot understand why so many five star hotels do that. One New Orleans hotel charged me twice for a day's Internet access, once for my laptop and once for my iPod Touch. I protested and the hotel yielded one of its goddam 12 bucks-per-day charges.

If the upscale hostelry delivers only McPaper to the room in the morning, it loses a star. If it also delivers the New York Times or Wall Street Journal or Washington Post or even the local daily, it gains a star.

What are your expectations and wishes of a hotel/motel? Bet they're considerably different from mine.


  1. I confess that I have never purchased any of your UP books, but borrowed them from the library. I enjoyed them all very much. This rejection ticks me off and I will buy Hang Fire when it comes out from whatever publisher. (I hope it won't be an e-book as I don't have a Kindle and prefer my books to be on paper.)

  2. Sorry, Henry, but I agree with the mouse turd guy. There's no such thing as one mouse, and I'd prefer not to have to worry about scampering rodents when I get up in the middle of the night. I don't care about furnishings or the friendliness of the staff. I do need it to be (to my eyes) meticulously, scrupulously CLEAN. Hairs in the bathtub gross me out. I've started traveling with Clorox wipes to wipe the room down. Actually, I might as well stay home at this rate :)

  3. I guess I'm not as particular about mice as Amy is, because I live in a cabin in the woods five months of the year. Although the cabin is as snug and tight as such places can be made, we do have to share it with various small creatures of the forest, such as voles (field mice) and, up to a couple of years ago, bats. We do put out traps for the mice and keep them more or less at bay, and we are careful to keep our food in closed containers in tight cupboards.

    Red squirrels are another matter. We wage total war against them. If they get in, they will trash the joint worse than teen-agers with a couple of six-packs.

    Meanwhile, on another forum a fellow observed that Tripadvisor reports can be two or three years old, and negative ones of that age ought to be balanced against newer judgments. Sometimes hostelries clean up their various acts.

  4. I take the hotel reviews on TripAdvisor with a grain of salt, especially the raves. They just sound too much like the hotel's PR agency wrote them. And, truthfully, wouldn't that be a powerful temptation? I do think, after reading through a great many of those reviews, it's possible to separate the legit from the possible plants. I tend to trust the comments that praise a hotel, but also mention some relatively small glitch ... not enough variety offered at the breakfast buffet, for example.