Using User Reviews

User-review sites are a staple of my travel diet.

I love Tripadvisor, for hotels! Here is the link to my profile.


Yelp is my go to for city services and restaurants.

Airbnb, of course, builds in reviews into its system.

Skytrax provides reviews from air travellers about their flight experiences.


I have several rules of thumb with reviews:

  1. The more reviews the better. For example, an apartment on Airbnb with 3 reviews is usually skipped by me for one with 20+
  2. I take away the number of worst reviews from the number of best reviews. If that figure is negative, I proceed no further with the establishment. So for example, these two hotels in Laos. Hotel one below. 74% of people rate the hotel excellent and 1% rate it terrible. The overall score for me is 73%.This hotel has 6% rave reviews and 21% terrible. The overall score for me is 6-21= -15% so I AVOID This restaurant is more than fine:
  3. I usually only read the reviews that give the highest and lowest ratings
  4. I try and work out if the bad review is a result of the traveller being a nightmare or if the company has a systematic problem e.g. if a number of guests at a hotel mention several of the rooms are rundown or noisy, then we have an issue. If a traveller complains they arrived at 8am for a 2pm check in and the hotel did not accommodate them and the guest complains bitterly, then we have the sort of spoilt traveller I like to avoid
  5. I am fascinated to read feedback from the establishment. If the establishment continually responds to the same complaint with an arrogant uncaring attitude, then I know they will be less than helpful. If they manage to address the complainant with facts and suggestions, for help. For example, I like this one. The customer first: Then the hotel MANAGER:
  6.  I look for recent posts. Anything older than a year in hospitality becomes less useful
  7. Traveller photos can be helpful

    From Tripadvisor


  8. If the reviews of an establishment are mostly average and all of a sudden a very, very positive one appears with over the top enthusiasm, I tend to be suspicious. They are usually friends of the owners!

What do you do with reviews?

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  1. some of the complaints people give are beyond belief!

    My favorite was a hotel review sheet the person was mad that the front desk couldn’t find their reservation, even though they had “just made it an hour earlier”. Turns out they had made it for a year out, but were unhappy that the hotel was fully booked and COULDN’T give them a room. But, the best part? Yep, they actually rated the hotel one star because the hotel couldn’t suggest an equivalent property at the super-low one-year in advance rate that they were quoted — just one hour earlier!

  2. I also look to see if there are several positive reviews in a row that are all phrased similarly. For example, a hotel that has been listed for years but has very few reviews, then suddenly, in the last 3 months, there are 7 reviews that all say virtually the same thing, using the same words, the same tone, the same sentence structure — I’m betting that it is just one reviewer posting about fake stays and doing minor edits from one review to the next one.
    Similar to your comment in the article, I look for reviewers that are complaining about things that a more seasoned traveller would already expect — in some countries it is common for TP to go into a trashcan, and not down the toilet — so don’t be surprised and blame the hotel when you find that to be the case. Also, don’t complain about the loud street noise when you book a second floor room in the center of town because you wanted to be by bars and restaurants that are open until 3am..
    (oh, and these were examples that I saw yesterday when trying to book a place in Mexico)

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