Time and time again, I see people I know, booking hotels, weekends away and even holidays, without checking for online hotel reviews first. Then they take to social media to complain that their 2 star hotel wasn’t up their 5 star expectations. If only they’d looked at online hotel reviews first, they’d have seen all the comments from other customers.

I always want to ask them WHY they had such high expectations when the online reviews for their hotel are awful?

So where should you look for online hotel reviews?

Well for starters, I wouldn’t stop at just one source.

When we went to Mexico, we first of all checked Google Maps reviews. The reviews written by Google Guides can be more trustworthy than reviews by regular users, as they get their guide position via a points system for their contributions to improving Google Maps. This is a good way to browse quickly if you are unsure which hotel you are interested in as there’s usually an abundance of photos to accompany the reviews.

Then with a few hotels in mind, we moved on to other online hotel review websites. For Mexico and far away destinations, we used TripAdvisor. For British hotel reviews, we check out BritainReviews before planning a trip away. These reviews have both written text opinions and star ratings. The cumulative star ratings across the website give each hotel or bookings site an average, to help consumers see the bigger picture.

Of course you will always see the odd few people who hate a place. Often for ridiculous or unfounded reasons, like “In Spain the people spoke Spanish” or “the hotel manager didn’t manage to stop the rain outside”. You’ll also find some people who rave about a 1 star hotel like it’s an absolute palace, because it’s the only hotel they’ve ever been to. Or because their great aunts friend’s sister is related to the hotel manager. So count out the anomalies and focus on the majority. If the majority of reviews are positive, it’s probably a good hotel. If the majority are scathing reviews saying how terrible it is, it probably isn’t the one you want to book.

Another few things to bear in mind are official food hygiene ratings and official hotel quality star ratings, from body’s such as the AA and Visit Britain. Also look at any awards the hotel has won, perhaps their sustainability policy if this is something that matters to you. Don’t forget price… If the price seems to good to be true, it probably is. You are going to get a luxurious five star escape for £30 a night!

You tend to get different demographics of people using different review websites, so exploring a few can give you a much better overall insight into a hotel.

Finally, once we are 80% certain on which hotel we want to book, we look for more in depth reviews, written by bloggers. This is a tip I recommend to everyone. Being a blogger myself, I know the sheer amount of time it takes to produce a full review. As well as the typing time, sometimes we do additional research and fact-checking to make sure any statistics or historical facts are accurate. Then there’s photography and photo editing. Sometimes videography and video editing too. Keyword research and search engine optimization. And then time spent promoting blog posts on social media to our followers. The amount of time and attention put into creating a blog review, shows dedication and integrity; these are reviews that you can trust. Blog reviews often go into a great deal of detail and include personal insights, opinions and tips. A blogger would never waste all that time writing a false review, which is one of the common pitfalls of shorter review sites.

So the bottom line is, before you book a hotel anywhere, do your research. Read some reviews. Read different types of reviews from different sources. Do this BEFORE you make a booking and part with your money.

Why stop at online hotel reviews? Seriously, why buy anything without reading reviews first?

This is a collaborative post

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