Why you should take Trip Advisor reviews with a pinch of salt

Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth’ – Marcus Aurelius

Years and years ago back in the 80’s and 90’s, when you wanted to go on holiday the process was this: pootle along to Lunn Poly get a handful.of brochures, try to decipher the price grid at the bottom of the page, flick to the back and find out there are no flights from Newcastle to that resort, start search again, realise you’ve been looking at prices for 7 nights not 14 (you wondered why it was so cheap!). Pick a hotel you like that’s close to the beach (a rule of thumb is that if it’s 100m away then Linford Christie can get there in under 10 seconds). Then decide where you want to go based on the 3 professionally shot pictures available and hope for he best. And 9 times out of 10 it all worked out fine.


Whilst the invention of Trip Advisor is on the whole a great thing, you can get honest reviews from past patrons on the things that the brochure wouldn’t tell you like how flirty the staff are or how often your loo roll gets replenished. I often contribute myself, especially if I’ve had a particularly good experience as people only tend to post reviews if they’re complaining.
Over the years though I’ve learnt that you really do have to take what you read with a pinch of salt because like everything, holiday and restaurant reviews are subjective and people’s yardsticks are different. A couple used to 5 star luxury aren’t going to rate the Red Lion in Benidorm very highly and the Chavingtons from Liverpool are probably going to want to go for chips after their 8 course meal in a Michelin Star restaurant.
I’ll give you some examples from some recent holidays we’ve been on. This one from a hotel we stayed at in Atlanta:


The bit at the bottom about the breakfast? Well we stayed at that hotel a mere two months after this Joe Charlie and let me tell you that all they offered for breakfast was bagels, muffins, donuts, cereals, toast, jams, fruit, cooked eggs, grits, waffles, juices, milk, tea and coffee. What the hell kind of breakfast do you expect for £40 a night you greedy pelican?!
Or this one from our recent stay in Greece:

Poor Anna (who can I add for clarification will be in her late 40’s at best so the ‘old lady’ comment is very harsh) We couldn’t have had a more different experience. When we arrived we were greeted warmly, she was full of ‘sweeties’ and ‘darlins’ and showed us to our room immediately, then invited us down to the bar for a (complementary) welcome drink and some lunch. Now, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be the chirpiest person in the world at 5am so could possibly excuse her a little lax with the pleasantries however the opinion of this reviewer and mine differs so drastically it makes you wonder whether Anna has some kind of psychotic split personality. Or (more likely I suspect) one of us isn’t being honest/and or way too harsh on someone you’ve just gotten out of bed! All the stuff about the pool being dirty as well is rubbish, I watched it with my own eyes being cleaned every morning.

Some people just seem to expect something for nothing. It’s always the budget or bargain hotels that seem to get people nit picking because they ran out of coffee one morning or they had to wait 20 seconds to check in. If you want all that fuss and ‘Ah Mrs Newman we’ve been expecting you’ type stuff then (first of all go back to the 1950’s) you need to be prepared to pay for it. Obviously manners cost nothing, and as a basic rule everywhere should be welcoming and clean as a bare minimum.

I also think it’s important to note that (most) hotels or restaurants aren’t run by robots, so there’s inevitably going to be loads of room for human error. Can you honestly say hand on heart that you’ve never made a mistake or forgotten to do something at work? To me it’s not about the mistakes that are made, I imagine for example that housekeeping staff are under immense pressure to get the rooms turned around in double quick time, therefore from time to time you may end up in a room with the previous guests dirty towels still on the towel rail. You at least have to give the hotel chance to rectify the problem first.

On our second night in Greece I woke up at 1am in a massive pink sweaty heap of gyros and retsina because we had no air conditioning in the room. I couldn’t bear the thought of waiting until the morning to speak to someone about it, I genuinely thought I may sweat to actual death if I stayed in there. So I woke up the hubs (much to his disgust – a full on Disney Parade with marching band could route through our bedroom and he wouldn’t wake up so a little heat was nothing), and we trotted down to the bar to ask if they had any mobile AC units or fans we could borrow. Less than 10 minutes later (and after a complimentary shot of Peach Schnapps while we waited) there was a massive electric fan waiting for us outside our room. So am I going to log on to trip advisor and complain about the fact the room had no air conditioning in 30 degree heat? No I’m not because the service we got despite the problem was great!

People love to complain at the end of the day so bear in mind what you’re reading is probably only half the story, the people who had a great time are less likely to post a review. We’ve had some of the best stays and service in places that didn’t score highly and some of the blandest meals from places with 5 stars and everything in between. Trust your own judgment, check the nationality of the person writing the review (this will tell you a lot about their standards) and read between the lines to see what it is they’re actually complaining about. If it’s that they had two pillows when they normally only sleep with one, is the hotel really going to be that much of a hole?!
If want some lols on some of Trip Advisors really bizarre reviews this site if worth a visit http://tripadvisaargh.tumblr.com/


  1. September 28, 2015 / 4:30 pm

    This is exactly why I set up my blog! We went to so many TA recommended places and they were just awful.

    • September 28, 2015 / 5:07 pm

      We use your website for Newcastle way more than TA Jeff, yu seem to value and have the same expectations we do!

Leave a Reply