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Finding the “right” hotel -- Anywhere

What makes finding the “right” hotel so difficult is that almost every hotel in every town has at least one or two "terrible" or "poor" ratings on Tripadvisor.com – Even if it is only a small percentage of the reviews, which is hard to ignore. I assume this means that there are some whiners out there and you can’t please everyone all the time. (Am I holding on too tight?) Now we only have less than 550 hotels to choose from in Milan. Is there is a minimum "percent recommended” in the reviews that we should use as a rule of thumb?

Posted by
319 posts

I tend to read the reviews on booking.com. With that website you can sort the reviews by 'types' of travlers. I have a 2 year old, so a hotel that many couples may recomend are not too child friendly. Tripadvisor is almost too big of a site for me. Too much info.

Posted by
844 posts

I think you have gotten some great advice here.
I also use venere.com to check reviews, along with tripadvisor. Location of a hotel is usually very important to me. When planning, I first decide which area of a city I want to be in, then check the hotels in my price range. So sometimes I will spend more for a sparse hotel (clean) if it gives me the location I want. On one trip to Rome I wanted to be in the Pantheon area. I found a hotel that had my room looking across the Piazza Rotunda to the front of the Pantheon. The room was small and the bathroom was smaller. Both were clean, but most of the time when I was in the room I was standing at the window, people watching and just seeing the Pantheon. I loved the location even though the hotel was very plain. One of the reviews that I had read complained about no breakfast room, we received a voucher to the cafe on the piazza. This was even better, we got to order and we sat outside and soaked up the atmosphere. It was one of my favorite stays on the whole trip. Decide ahead of time that if a hotel turns out to be not as nice as you wanted, that it will not ruin your stay in that city. After all, most of these places are in buildings that were not actually built to be hotels.
We've stayed in a few that we would not go back to, but we have a memory that makes us laugh. And remember that you're going to see Italy, and probably won't spend a lot of time in the hotel, anyway. Have a great trip!

Posted by
800 posts

Here is how I use tripadvisor: sticking with the highest rated hotels in the price range I want, I start reading the reviews. Many hotels only have a few reviews so it's not that hard to do. I often find that the "terrible" or "poor" rating for a hotel is from one individual poster who, for some reason or another, had their reservation lost or mishandled - something that can occur truly by accident. I treat that very differently from a place that is dirty, smells like smoke, etc. Other reviews that I tend to disregard are ones that complain that a room is too small. I do pay attention to ones that say "the bed was hard as a rock". Yes, I have probably spent more time than I should reading, researching, etc. - but at some point I do take the plunge and just book it. I'm the kind of person who is most often very satisfied with the places we've stayed.

Posted by
27 posts

Thanks Karen. That looks like a good method, with some reality thrown in too :)

Posted by
4450 posts

I nearly always use tripadvisor for choosing my hotels and I have generally been very pleased with my choices. I look for places that have lots of positive reviews where people have written a lot of feedback. I also look for photos.

As for the negative reviews, read what they are complaining about. See if the things the people are complaining about matter to you. Sometimes people complain about things like the size of the room or the lack of an elevator. There are always some legitimate complaints, but I also believe that there are many people who have unrealistic expectations.

Posted by
7682 posts

Another thing with Trip Advisor is that unfortunately there are fake reviews, both good and bad. They do try and screen them out and that is where their destination experts come in. If there is something out of whack or that smells fishy, way too bad or way too good, they notify Trip Advisor. Another thing is check the dates of the review. If a bad review was back in 2006, and all the rest are good, then perhaps the hotel cleaned up its act or even changed owners.

Use other travel forums too for hotel info. Also, by checking a website like www.hrs.com, you will also get reviews. Put them all together and you then have a more averaged out review of the place.

Posted by
1003 posts

I use tripadvisor as well. I think, though, of course it is impossible to please everyone. and hotels just like people sometimes have bad days. But what I do is actually read the negative reviews. Sometimes people are complaining about a lack of a view (not something I care about), a small elevator (not something I care about), a stain on the carpet (not something I care about), a small bathroom (not something I care about), etc. I found that a LOT of the time, the negative reviews an otherwise well-reviewed place receives are from very picky people who either got unlucky or who had fairly unrealistic expectations. something I like to look at is how many reviews/contributions the person has made and when they signed up. If they signed up the day the review was written and that's the only review they've left, I am immediately suspicious of it whether it's positive or negative. I don't think there's a rule of thumb besides gut instinct. Read the reviews and use your best judgment. If the negative things people are saying are things you think would also affect your particular enjoyment, then you know it's not the "right" hotel for you. I think finding the "right" hotel takes a TON of time and research. 2 years ago I took a 6 week trip through europe and stayed in 10 hotels. I probably spent a whole day of research on each one, but every single one turned out to be wonderful in their own ways. Good luck :)

Posted by
3580 posts

When evaluating hotel reviews, I note the date of the review. The more recent the better, as far as I am concerned. Sometimes old reviews were made before management or remodeling changes. If all reviews are positive except one, I ignore the one negative review. I also note the exact nature of criticisms. Insects, mold, or rodents = bad. Mediocre breakfast, unfriendly staff, street noise I don't take too seriously. If I want an inexpensive place to sleep, sometimes the breakfast/staff/noise situations aren't so great. One hotel that gets raves on this website does not interest me because they have a "breakfast basket" in you room rather than an actual breakfast room. You need to know what is important to you and look for that.

Posted by
1313 posts

Karen's advice is fantastic, and is exactly the method I use as well. Once I have a likely contender, I also google the name to see what pops up, as well as cross-checking it against places like this Helpline. Haven't had a bad one yet, and my least favorite was a place we stayed on a RS tour--and it wasn't bad, just not my style.

Posted by
98 posts

I tend to start with guidebooks and look those recommended hotels up on Tripadvisor. It's important for me how recent the reviews are, so I tend to read the last 10 or so. The main point for me is cleaniness, so that's the main criteria I look for.

Posted by
14014 posts

If you have over 500 hotels to choose from in one city, you should probably narrow your search, at least by price (you can't be seriously considering both luxury hotels and budget inns) and by area (near airport, city center, etc).

I have used the TA reviews to select hotels in 11 locations in the past year. While there are probably a couple I wouldn't return to, I was satisfied with them all, based on my expectations from the reviews.

Posted by
186 posts

I used tripadvisor on my recent trip to France and Spain. I basically have the same philosophy in looking at the reviews; I look at what the complaints are about and ignore what are seemingly whiners. The only dud that I had was with a "hotel" that was supposed to be in Santander, Spain. The reviews painted a glowing picture of a country chalet, nature walks, quaint town, etc. When I finally arrived there after going up a narrow mountain road, the "hotel" looked like nothing more than someones home with a swimming pool as its draw. There were no signage to identify it as a hotel or even a b&b, it was next to several rundown homes and the only village was more of a hamlet, at the base of the mountain,that served the farming community during work hours. In other words nothing that would entertain a visitor. But all in all I think tripadvisor is a reasonable source for information.

Posted by
39 posts

Generally go with higher star ratings. A 3-star rating in Italy is maybe a 2-star rating in the US. Also, consider a bed & breakfast or renting an apartment vs. a hotel. I think it adds a lot more “local” feel to your trip and offers a lot of conveniences. Apartments will usually have kitchen and refrigerator, sometimes even laundry. B&B’s offer complimentary breakfasts. Most B&B’s and apartments have free wireless internet as well. If you don’t mind not being in a fancy hotel, you can generally get a better location for the same cost or less if you stay in an apartment or B&B. Some sites to check out are: www.sleepinitaly.com, www.venere.com, and www.italyrents.com. Make sure that when you are considering a specific room/apartment to check what floor it’s on and whether there is an elevator/lift. Stairwells are usually narrow in older buildings in Italy and can be a pain if you have a lot of or larger luggage. If you ever dreamed of staying in an Italian castle, this is also possible, and a good option if you want to splurge or have a large group. Check sites like www.rentvillas.com and www.tuscanynow.com.

Posted by
211 posts

I am also a trip advisor fan. Agree with other posters re a well rated hotel with an occasional poor rating. I try to read those carefully. Some people CAN'T be pleased. They wouldn't like the Ritz in Paris because they thought they were getting a corner room! Many times the complaint won't be something that will effect you. For instance, (not profiling) you will see an older couple who stayed at a small hotel in town with no elevator and 3 floors to climb with their luggage with no help.
Understanble to be negative, but if you are younger, stronger and traveling lighter, it shouldn't deter you. Similarily, looking for a hotel in Venice one time we decided on one with a number of poor ratings. Most of which centered around a particular room on a particular floor. Once we made sure not to have that room, the hotel was fine.Also remember that more popular places with 20 or 30 very positive ratings and one or two negatives generally means stay there and you should be happy.

Posted by
668 posts

Brits, Germans and the Swiss hate everywhere and ALL hotels out side their home country. They start out that way and write very goofy reviews like these:

"The tea was cold." - brit
"They were 3 minutes late!" - german
"You call this heating?" - swiss

I pull these three nationalities out of the review Stats. They are nuts...

If a Canadian says it is a nice place, It IS; "you betcha, Ahey?!"

Posted by
7682 posts

Francis, thank you so much for your generalizations about 4 different countries. Everyone on this forum who might be from one of those countries is sure to feel really warm and fuzzy inside now, but mostly will wonder what the heck you are talking about.

Most of us on this forum try not to put other countries down, so this would be nice if you could refrain from doing so too.

Posted by
27 posts

We are starting our trip in Milan on September 9 and will be there for 4 nights. We are looking for easy access to the sites downtown. It is not an easy place to get a hotel. I cannot find anything that is decent and/or a good value -- Decent is more important. Any ideas???

Posted by
1643 posts

I rely on tripadvisor too when making hotel plans. As others have noted, what one person disapproves of (small pool, poor TV, etc.) may be of no consequence to you in terms of your own priorities or needs. It's also interesting when the review of a hotel includes a nightmare description of sick kids or missed train connections or the like...I sometimes think the poor hotel had nothing to do with the review it received.

Posted by
636 posts

Count me as another fan of Tripadvisor. I never stay at hotel anywhere now without first checking it out there. As others have said, you have to get the hang of figuring out how to filter out the reviews. But, I have not been disappointed yet. Every place that we selected for Italy last summer was spot on exactly what we expected, thanks to the detailed descriptions on Tripadvisor. It takes a little bit of the mystery out of it, but it's a worthwhile tradeoff to get what you really want.

Posted by
16 posts

Another shout-out for venere.com. I start with Trip Advisor, and I've had excellent results--but I check venere before booking. I suspect their comments are likelier to be legit.

Posted by
27 posts

The combination of tripadvisor.com and venere.com is the best research tool that I have found. I am still having problems with Milan -- I am not getting a good gut feeling about any of the hotels or B&B's so far.

Posted by
844 posts

Kent & Lisa, If you are starting your trip on Sept 9 in Milan you need to get something booked! Make the best decision you can with the information that you have at the time. Then realize that you are in this hotel for only 4 nights. Whatever hotel you pick may not be your favorite of the trip, but you still get to see Italy. Pick one, relax and have a great trip! Remember to be flexible when unexpected things happen along the way.

Posted by
668 posts

My apologies Jo. The post had tongue planted firmly to cheek. I've read hotel reviews till my eyes bled and certain patterns do arise.
In the States, we are very use to standardization;
One Motel 6 or Holiday Inn is just like any other, cost mostly the same, and no surprises.
Italy is different in that most of the lodging is non-corp and can vary wildly in price and quality. Hence we read lots of reviews to get a handle on it. Since reviews are essentially free to post on Verene and Trip Adviser you have to look out for the shill and the anti-shill. People get paid to write false reviews, both on the positive side and the negative side. If you've read thousands of them you can spot the patterns, or should I say the format, of a shill/anti-shill. They don't post anything specific to the hotel cause they've never been there. So if a review is bad and the only instance is something that can't be readily connected to the location, then it is most likely a shill post.
In Italy there is an organization called the Mafia. I'm sure you've heard of it. Its a perfect scam for them to extract money and completely untraceable back to them.
So read the reviews with a grain of salt. Dismiss those raves or rants that are too general.
If still undecided, use one of the RS picks: He's been there.

Posted by
27 posts

EVERYBODY,
We are staying in Milan for 4 nights because of the Italian Grand Prix Formula 1 race - Check out the official F1 website:

http://www.formula1.com/video/

We have never been to an F1 race (and you probably haven't either). The rest of the trip is going to be the CT, Florence, the Perugia area and Rome - The typical RS stuff :)

Posted by
14014 posts

In Milan I stayed one night at the Palladio and one night at the Casa Mia. I chose them mainly for the low price.

The Palladio was farther from the center and a 5-10 minute walk (past a great street market) from the nearest metro, but very close to a tram stop. The room was a single on the top (6th) floor, very clean and comfortable, with a spacious bathroom and a tiny balcony (tres romantic). No breakfast facility in the hotel but I think they have an arrangement with the restaurant next door - I left at 6 am. The room also had a tv with about 35 stations - all in Italian.

After two weeks travel I returned to Milan and chose the Casa Mia because it was a good price and less than 1 km from the train station. There is also a metro station on the nearest corner. The hotel wasn't as nice as the Palladio, breakfast was soso, but the room was fine for a night or two.

I also wonder why you want to spend 4 nights in Milan.

Posted by
46 posts

I saw a Trip Advisor 1/5 rating and the comment that "I have soft feet and the carpet was too hard." :-) Made me laugh. I think it was meant seriously.

Posted by
11743 posts

I read reviews to get a general feel for the place. I probably focus more on the bad reviews to see if they are consistent and what the negative aspect is. As was said earlier, I'm not much concerned with whether it's small or has a view. I'm more concerned with whether it's clean, safe and quiet.

Posted by
3 posts

I use trip advisor and venere...I also use a map while sorting through the listings..location is more important sometimes to minimize time getting lost.
The Star system is not the same as in the US and while some might have superb lobbies, there might be a few well placed rooms, facing famous sights etc and the rest are small and dark. Ask to see the rooms when you get there, if you feel it is appropriate.
Finally...this is ITALY..the most endowed country with scenery, food, art, people and way of life...
Enjoy!