HOW honest are reviews on travel websites? By this I do not mean: is the person writing the review who he says is, and not the owner of the hotel boosting its rating or a competitor doing it down? (We have covered that problem before.) I mean, rather, to what extent are reviewers’ ratings a reflection of their actual experience?

Last week, I received an e-mail from a small, family-run hotel asking—very politely, but with notable sadness—why I had marked it so poorly on In fact, having rated the various categories that the website demands, the hotel’s score had come out as nine out of 10. The service was excellent, and certainly far beyond what one might reasonably expect for the meagre cost of staying there. But I had docked a point because the room didn’t contain a comfy chair and the Wi-Fi was patchy.

The hotel had 16 previous spotless reviews to its name. It obviously took great pride in that perfection. I had ruined it. And because of this I had thought hard before submitting my honest review, complimentary though it was. Which made me...Continue reading