Hotel reviews, to be divided in half

In the past, a man chose a period of time in the news, drove almost blind and if something was wrong on the spot – well, you can’t blame, risk-physicist. Today, he can easily read hundreds of reviews about a given hotel on Google and – interestingly – continues to drive in the dark, because most of these reviews are as useful as a sore tooth.

Perhaps I simplified the whole process of choosing a place for a night too much, today and years ago, but in fact, that’s how it used to be – and I suspect that most people who read these words remember these situations.

Before anyone at my house thought about a permanent Internet connection, the only option to choose a place to stay for a vacation was to find a suitable advertisement in the newspaper (in the case of my family it was “Trybuna Śląska”, absorbed later by “Dziennik Zachodni” ) and make a short interview with the owner of the establishment – hotel or other “quarters” – and find out if the price of the room includes a private bathroom, is the access from the main road relatively simple and if you can come with a dog.

As a rule, the owners did not lie – why cheat the client so that he would not come again and make a bad name? However, not everything could be checked at a distance and sometimes after arriving there – even at the other end of Poland – some things turned out to be below expectations.

Once, when I was a teenager, my parents and I came to a village in the Podkarpackie Province called Polańczyk. On the spot, it turned out that, as promised, there is a room for us, but in fact the owner’s daughter’s room, from which she was temporarily expelled, there is a place for luggage, but only two shelves from the entire wall unit (because the rest were daughter’s things) and there is a TV set, but it is not connected to the cable TV and if you want to watch something other than a movie on the CD, you have to go down to the bar, which was in the same building.

Of course, we spent the whole half an hour there and we huddled – as it was the full season, finding a new place was quite difficult, but in the end we made it – the standard was not five-star, you know, but … it just was.

I like to remember that summer only because I can easily compare it to the current situation of holiday accommodation. Now it is practically impossible to go on vacation completely “blind” – unless we have such a vacation idea, but in this case it is a conscious decision and a precise plan, and not a situational compulsion.

We are not limited by two pages of advertisements in the local press – we not only have access to the de facto infinitely large Internet, but this Internet also meets our needs – how many programs, applications and, above all, portals are able to help us choose a hotel? Whole masses!

Thank you Mr. Internet

So, if I were bolder and more swashbuckling than I am, I might think, “Hey, I’ll fly to Ulan Bator tomorrow” – and I could check out most, if not all, options in the Mongolian capital. I would be able to check their exact locations, quickly compare their prices, check their availability without a single phone call – all on several portals simultaneously.

But the most important thing is a completely different issue – I could see what the building looks like from the outside, see it from all sides, and then browse the gallery of rooms, which – if the owners really care about financial success – must be inevitably added to the hotel profile. Anyway, even if they do not show initiative, “vacationers” are able to do it.

Thanks to this clever solution, I am able to judge quite well whether the description of a given room is consistent with the actual state – whether everything is in its place, whether the place is completely new or at least renovated and – above all – whether it is hygienic. The owner can tweak the photos, a furious tourist will definitely not do it.

Except here comes a bit of a bite. Well, I very often find on some Booking or other Trivago, or even on a regular Google subpage, quite good-looking places that are also driven from top to bottom in the comments by former holiday tenants.

Such a contrast is immediately disturbing. How is it, do I have something wrong with my eyesight? I’m a slob and my hygiene standards lie somewhere on the bottom of a dirty and rusty bathtub? Is this equipment really that bad? The doorman looked like a nice boy, is he really such a loser?

Well, experience has already taught me that all comments from “holiday” websites and applications should be taken … hmm, semi seriously. As a rule, it turns out that all the disadvantages of a hotel or hostel on the Internet grow to the size of an average NBA basketball player – and it is undeservedly so.

I myself do not really have great requirements for accommodation. For me, only three things count – that there is a bed in the room that I can fall on after the whole day, that the bathroom is private, because in the morning I do not like to wait outside its door and that the location itself is not 100 km from the city center. It can also be 30 km, as long as the journey is quick and sensible.

For me, a hotel room is just a place where I leave my heavy luggage and where I come back for the night to sleep before the next day of sightseeing. I really don’t care if it was renovated yesterday or a decade ago, as long as I am not woken up by a huge cockroach instead of my wife, that’s really good.

And of course, other tourists may have different standards that I would not even dare to call excessive. They may want to have their rooms made in a real tip-top, with a lot of non-standard amenities, because only then will they relax comfortably and with a real peace of mind. It’s totally their business.

However – unfortunately – I have the impression that on accommodation websites all critical opinions are very often exaggerated to the limit and when choosing a spare, they should be treated as a secondary source. Give me a donation, but let me give you a private example from the recent past.