So, about those online hotel ratings…

Not that it should come as much of a surprise, but you shouldn’t always trust the hotel reviews you read online. After all, the guest may have been induced to provide that glowing report. This sign was hanging in the elevator at one of the hotels we stayed in during our recent trip to Austria.

Write a good review and get a free drink at the bar!
Write a good review and get a free drink at the bar!

I do give the hotel credit for adding the text at the bottom, asking guests to raise any issues with the local management before complaining online. I get the feeling that people choose the passive aggressive online complaint channel – attempting to shame a company into action – rather than pursuing private channels first.

Either way, I definitely got a laugh out of this sign. And a good reminder that things are not always what (or why) they seem.

Caveat somnor.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. I agree…. I’m a reviewer on TA, and it makes me crazy when I hear people say things like “real people don’t ever review these properties, it’s all paid advertisement” or “yeah, the only reviews are good ones!”. There’s probably a good bit of dishonesty in any review system but most travelers are savvy enough to realize that a review provided by someone with only 1 review in their own hometown is not likely a solid indicator of the property. Personally, we’ve been encouraged to leave feedback by tour groups, hotels, and cruiselines…. but we’ve never been offered something in return for it. This smacks of dishonesty in my opinion.

  2. I once gave our corporate preferred hotel a terrible review because they gave me the worst room in the place, claiming they were keeping the others for important guests. I tried twice to change rooms. The GM contacted me through TA and offered a free night to change my review etc. Never stayed there again.

  3. It would be better if you could post the hotel’s name, so that people who care about such things, like me, don’t stay there.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with verbally asking for a review if you mention that you had a positive experience. Since people are 5x more likely to complain than praise, that may help to even out the score. But to reward someone for a positive review is not only sketchy but against the T & C of all reputable review sites, including TripAdvisor.

  4. I prepaid for a 5-night stay at a budget hotel in Hanoi. The hotel had excellent reviews on a very-well-known rating site. When I arrived I found that a floor drain in the bathroom erupted whenever anyone in the floors above sent water down the drain. The bathroom itself was only 32-inches wide, so you had to sit backwards on the toilet. It was a disaster.

    I left the next morning, losing 4 nights payment but preserving my health. My assumption is that the hotel must have purchased the reviews.

    My takeaway was: Don’t trust online reviews.

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