How to make sense of hotel review web sites

Luxury hotel

With so much controversy surrounding review web sites these days, it seems there is agreement over one key issues which is the power of these websites to generate bookings or to keep customers away.

In my personal experience, both as a luxury industry consultant and a frequent traveller, I have come up with my own way of navigating the review websites and I am referring to luxury hotels. For me, the most important aspects for picking the right hotel are: location, service, facilities (swimming pool and/or SPA) and the product itself (the design of the rooms and the state of the rooms). Hotels can have a spectacular design, yet the upkeeping of the rooms is very poor.

For instance, in the case of a destination I have not travelled before, I am running a ranking on both 4 star and 5 star categories, as it happens in many cases that one or more 4 star hotels command the highest rankings. I read briefly the headlines of the top three and then move on to the 5 star category. I would only choose a 4 star hotel of top ranking if there is no 5 star hotel to fulfil my own personal criteria.

One of my rules is to ignore any reviews which are very general and do not touch any specifics. (for example instance ” the city was amazing, what a beautiful hotel” or negative reviews such as ”terrible experience, I would never go back”. I also tend to ignore reviews which

As for the most important aspects I consider relevant in navigating through reviews:


This is one of those aspects which one would not even need to verify through a review. There are so many different maps available online and also, location is relevant for the guest depending on the purpose of their stay, whether it is business and they want to be close to the business district or leisure and they want to be close to certain attractions.


I pay attention especially to reviews which mention a positive or a negative service feature which was repetitive. For instance, if the review only mentions that the stay was compromised because breakfast arrived late on one morning, it doesn’t mean that the room service of the respective hotel is flawed. The same is valid for meals in the outlets of the hotel, as one instance does not disqualify the hotel. I am also paying attention to positive reviews which mention – ”we had breakfast every day at the hotel and it was good”.

However, there is one exception and that is housekeeping. Even if it is just for one instance, it is unacceptable to find a dirty room and that cannot be overlooked as a one time flaw. The same is valid for the welcome experience, which, in the case of five star hotels is a very important factor.


I believe there are two crucial aspects when it comes to hotel rooms, one – how old the rooms are (last renovation) and second, how the rooms are kept. There can be older hotels (up to 10 years since last renovation) which manage to keep their rooms in a very good condition. Of course, the quality of the carpets and furniture is very important. So, I am searching for reviews that mention the state of the rooms as I believe these are very relevant. I find it very useful if guests share concrete information about the room, the aspect of the carpets, upholstery, lamps, furniture.

An easy way to check on google can also tell you when the hotel was opened and when the recent renovation took place. Recently, I have been finding very useful comments in reviews about centralized technology, either on a remote control or a bed side control. For me it is extremely comfortable to set the temperature of the room, the DND sign or close the curtains, all from a remote control. As for the TV in the room an LCD or a plasma screen are a must.

When it comes to the size of the rooms, I would not suggest taking into consideration reviews which mention ”very small” or even ”huge, large”. The best thing is to check on the hotel web site. 35 sqm is really the minimum for the smallest room category and 50 sqm for the smallest suite (five star).

Oliver Petcu