Hotel Ratings and a Grain of Salt

Smallest hotel room yet (Amsterdam). Barely enough room on either side of the bed, TV on the wall. But it was clean and comfortable. Breakfast was not included.

I have been in the process of researching a hotel for a weekend in London in October. Like most people these days, I check the prices on various hotel websites and compare to the many booking sites to get the best price. I don’t decide until I have nearly driven myself mad with indecision. If it were solely based on price, it wouldn’t be so difficult. The confusion arrives when you add the user ratings and reviews into the mix.

Some people tend to prefer the name brand chains and you are fairly sure of what you are going to get with these guys. Most of us have a budget so we try very hard to get the best deal for it and hope for some where nice. User reviews do help. If a hotel gets overwhelmingly negative feedback you know to stay clear. If it is at the top of the heap of excellence, it’s probably too expensive (for my budget, anyway).

There has been a fair bit of negative publicity in recent years suggesting that hotels get allies to post  excellent reviews and enemies are known to try to sabotage a business with savagely bad ones. The truth is somewhere in the middle and they are all very subjective. What one person finds acceptable in a hotel room or in the demeanor of a staff member, someone else will be highly offended. And some people just like to complain.

A normally good hotel can still provide an occasional bad experience so deciphering the reviews can be a minefield. You have to remember the deal breakers on your list and be willing to compromise. Decide if the complaints are something that would bother you. Try to judge if the reviewer sounds like they are someone who is never satisfied. Try to read between the lines, in other words.

So, for London, I am not tied to any particular hotel. I look at where we want to be with regards to what we want to do and how easy it will be to get to train stations for arrival or departure. This time, we will be arriving at Euston. I will be flying home and he will be taking the train back to Manchester from the same place. Do we get a hotel near there or near Paddington Station where I can easily get the train to the airport? In the end, I decided on Euston area because it’s a short cab ride to Paddington and easy for my fella to get to the train for his return journey. I found a pretty good deal on, a site I haven’t used before but which seems to be reliable.

The deal I got includes breakfast and free wifi with a laptop sized safe in the room.¬† I prefer to have a room with free wifi these days but in this instance, as I would be on the way home, it wasn’t a deal breaker but the hotel had it anyway. Breakfast, too, isn’t always a deal breaker because in London there’s usually somewhere cheap to buy it but again, it had it anyway. The rooms appear to be small but that doesn’t really matter to me. It’s good for transportation links with several Underground stations within a few minutes’ walk as well as the big bus terminal at Euston station should we want a bus.

Reading the reviews, the small room size keeps coming up but as I said, I don’t really mind. I do find it stressful trying to decide, because I don’t want it to turn out to be awful. London hotels aren’t as hard to choose because I know the city well enough to know the various areas and am comfortable with the transportation system. In a new city, like when we went to Rome or Copenhagen, I found it very difficult. If I asked someone that had been there, their choices were either not in an area I wanted or they were more expensive than my budget. You see the problem with word of mouth!

For this one, overall, the reviews seem good. I guess we’ll find out! I won’t say what it is until I’ve been there and done that and decided on the t-shirt!