These are the best hotel review sites in the world

best hotel review sites

When it comes to the best hotel review sites in the world, the real winners aren’t the usual suspects. They are “none of the above” — which may be good news for discerning travelers looking for accurate lodging advice.

That’s the conclusion of a new survey by CivicScience. The polling company surveyed 1,789 U.S. adults about the websites they currently use to find hotel reviews. To absolutely no one’s surprise, sites like TripAdvisor, Google, and Trivago, topped the list. But an even bigger revelation may be the unmentioned sites.

The best hotel review sites ranked

Asked which hotel review sites they considered the “most trusted” here’s who got top billing:

TripAdvisor (24%)

TripAdvisor is the 900-pound gorilla of hotel review sites. Or, at least, the 90-pound gorilla (more on its actual weight in a moment.) With roughly 661 million reviews that cover about 7.7 million accommodations, airlines, experiences, and restaurants, TripAdvisor is big.

And controversial.

The problem? TripAdvisor reviews don’t require a verified booking. So you don’t have to stay in a hotel to submit and publish a review. TripAdvisor says it has a fraud detection algorithm, but savvy users contact me regularly to complain about bogus reviews.

“Their truthfulness is usually compromised,” says Brendan Lee, a frequent hotel guest and travel blogger. “For example, I can go on TripAdvisor right now and place a review for any hotel in the world without ever having stayed there. Of course, you can imagine how that system can be abused.”

That makes finding a good hotel room really difficult.

Google (9%)

Google seems to be gaining fast on TripAdvisor on the list of best hotel review sites. It recently integrated its Hotel Finder into search, allowing you to retrieve a list of hotels with prices, photos, reviews and street view panoramas. But the same problem plagues Google. There’s no verification, meaning anyone can — and does — review a hotel.

But Google has an edge that insiders like. Stephen Fofanoff, the innkeeper for Domaine Madeleine Bed and Breakfast in Port Angeles, Wash., liked Google’s hotel reviews better than TripAdvisor.

He says Google allows hotels to easily flag a review from someone who doesn’t have a verified stay. Google contacts the reviewer, asking for a screenshot of their receipt or other proof to validate their stay.

“From an insider perspective, they’re the most reliable,” he says. “They are the only ones that do not involve some hidden monetary transaction, and they are always presented as raw information — not presorted or reordered based on businesses who pay fees or pay higher commissions. They are also universally and publicly available.”

Trivago (8%)

Interestingly, Trivago doesn’t even host user reviews. It’s a hotel metasearch site, which refers users directly to a third party. Trivago publishes a “rating index” based on reviews from sites like Expedia and ‎Hotels.com. And yet insiders like Tim Leffel, who runs a small hotel review site called Hotel-Scoop.com, uses Trivago as a reference.

“I use it just to see if the place is loved or hated overall,” he says. “I don’t read the individual reviews unless I’m on the fence about booking it or not.”

Trivago’s aggregate scores have a lot of appeal to travelers, which gives it a third-place billing on this list of best hotel review sites. They automate the process of trying to average the scores on sites like Google and TripAdvisor and trying to find a way of objectively evaluating a hotel.

Booking.com (5%)

Booking.com’s strength is its methodology. It draws its 4.3 million reviews from verified guests, meaning that there are fewer shenanigans than on, say, Google or TripAdvisor. Those results are folded into the Booking.com site. So when you search for a hotel, you’ll find real reviews by actual guests.

Authenticity matters to users. Time and again, travelers tell me that getting a real review from a real guest matters. It reminds me of the MelissaK’s suspicious reviews from Pakistan, which I covered in a USA Today column. The mysterious user had been reviewing luxury hotels in Providenciales, a Caribbean island, when a traveler flagged the suspicious write-ups. After I asked about her reviews, they vanished.

Facebook (1%)

While statistically insignificant, Facebook is an important inclusion in this list. While you might not immediately know if the author of a review stayed at a hotel, it’s not hard to find out. Thanks to Facebook’s real names policy, you can determine if someone is legit — or just a phony online name like MelissaK.

Oyster (less than 1%)

True, Oyster received the fewest votes, but it has some of the most powerful methodologies on this list of the best hotel review sites. Oyster has a team of professionals who investigate hotels and then publish comprehensive high-resolution photos and expert reviews — “so you know exactly what you’re going to get before you arrive,” it says. It’s reviewed a total of 42,000 hotels so far.

“For me, the most reliable site for getting accurate hotel ratings is Oyster.com,” says J.R. Duren, a financial advisor. “The site usually has a healthy amount of photos for every property, as well as a straightforward review of the site’s experience at the hotel.”

He says a good example of this is Oyster’s review of the Liki Tiki Village in Kissimmee, Fla.

“My family stayed there this past month, and I can tell you from experience that Oyster’s review is spot-on,” he says.

None of the above (53%)

Perhaps the most shocking aspect of the CivicScience survey of best hotel review sites is that a majority said it trusted none of the above. Take a minute to let that sink in. None of the top sites were trustworthy.

It confirms a suspicion I’ve long held as a consumer advocate. When it comes to hotel reviews, people don’t believe anything they read online. And the reason is simple — they’ve been misled too many times.

It’s not just the fakes like MelissaK. It’s the reputation management operatives hired by hotels to boost their online ratings — and lower their competitors’. And it’s the disgruntled former employees who can create an account on TripAdvisor and then eviscerate the hotel or restaurant they worked at.

But mostly, it’s the tens of millions of reviews by people with an agenda. Hotel guests, even the real ones, generally only leave reviews when they have something positive or negative to say about a property. That excludes a broad section of real guests who had an acceptable experience from the commenting platforms. It’s also a terrible disservice to would-be hotel guests looking for useful information.

What are the 53% of hotel review sites?

Where should you go for accurate hotel information? As I noted in the first chapter of my latest book, How To Be The World’s Smartest Traveler (And Save Time, Money and Hassle), the most reliable source of information is by word-of-mouth. Find someone you know and ask them if the hotel you’re considering is worth it. Professional travel advisors can also be a good source of information, at least when it comes to evaluating amenities and service. The best travel agents have been to the hotel you’re considering, and can speak from firsthand experience.

I suspect the 53% haven’t been developed yet, at least online. The era of anything-goes, unverified hotel reviews is quickly coming to an end. Users already know it. This list of the best hotel review sites proves it. Now it’s up to someone to create a hotel review site that people can finally trust.

Posted in Smart Consumer Tagged , , , , ,

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can’t. He’s the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes weekly columns for King Features Syndicate, USA Today, and the Washington Post. If you have a consumer problem you can’t solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

Underwritten by

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirportParkingReservations.com

With nearly 20 years in the industry, over 128 airport covered in the U.S. and Canada, and over 1,000 Hotel and Parking Partners-we provide travelers the best options on how to get to the airport when flying. Whether you want to; drive yourself and park near an Airport (Airport Parking), stay the night before your flight at an airport hotel and leave your car (Hotel and Parking Package), or take a shared Shuttle/Private Car/Limo to the Airport- we got you covered. The best deals can be found online, and booking a reservation has never been easier. You can explore all of our options by visiting us at AirportParkingReservations.com, ParkSleepFly.com, AirportParking.com, and ShuttleFinder.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Seven Corners

Seven Corners has helped customers all over the world with travel difficulties, big and small. As one of the few remaining privately owned travel insurance companies, Seven Corners provides insurance plans and 24/7 travel assistance services to more than a million people each year. Because we’re privately held, we can focus on the customer without the constraints that larger companies have. Visit Seven Corners to learn more.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Cavalry Travel Insurance

Cavalry takes the worry of out travel by providing 24/7 access to medical and security professionals combined with the best medical evacuation and security extraction services. Cavalry gets you home safely when you need it most. Learn more at Cavalrytravelinsurance.com.

Underwritten by Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at Sodexoinsights.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at Travelexinsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by G1G.com

Since its inception over three decades ago, G1G has continued to revolutionize the travel insurance industry by being the only aggregator to operate a customer portal, placing all of the user's primary needs in one place. We have continued to innovate and disrupt the market by reimagining the way travel insurance can be delivered to the end user in ways no competition can. Simply put, no one knows the market as well as its founders and no one else shares G1G values and mission.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Insuremyrentalcar.com

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at  Mediacomcable.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Arch RoamRight

Arch RoamRight is one of the fastest growing, most-highly rated travel insurance companies in the United States. Travel advisors love working with us, and travelers feel protected with our trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage. We also make it easy to file a claim online with our fast, paperless claims website. Learn more about RoamRight travel insurance.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit  Virtuoso.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

As a company that is constantly striving to simplify travel insurance, VisitorsCoverage, is on a mission to help travelers make the better decisions about purchasing travel insurance, quickly. VisitorsCoverage has helped millions of travelers globally to buy the suitable travel insurance and explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at  VisitorsCoverage. Lowest Price Guaranteed.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. Elliott.org readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by TravelInsurance.com

TravelInsurance.com makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at  TravelInsurance.com.

Underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on  Squaremouth.com to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.