How to Choose Hotels Based on Reviews

How to Choose Hotels Based on Reviews

Sifting through hotel reviews often turns into a guessing game. You might find yourself pondering over comments like, ‘what didn’t this anonymous person like about this wonderful place three years ago? Was it because the moon wasn’t in the right phase, due to Mercury being in retrograde, or is there actually pure darkness concealed behind those charming walls? 

In this article, we’ll share our experience concerning the criteria you should pay attention to when choosing a hotel, where to look, and how to sort reviews so that you end up booking the perfect hotel.

ZenHotels Blog
6 minutes read

Determine your priorities and set filters

First, determine the hotel parameters that are essential to you, and those that you can painlessly forgo. For example, if a seaside hotel does not have air-conditioning, it will be uncomfortably hot, and if a hotel doesn’t provide Wi-Fi, you’ll be forced to shell out for paid internet. Set your priorities immediately in the filters: save yourself the burden of having to scroll through a hundred options that obviously don’t suit you. 

On ZenHotels, with just a few clicks, you can easily get a picture of your accommodation that’s as close to reality as possible: select the type of accommodation, the rate, a convenient payment method, the star rating, and the availability of breakfast and other amenities, such as a swimming pool or a private bathroom. Choose the type of beds and whether the room needs to have a balcony.

Focus on the main features

You can usually set filters that are of critical importance to you from the get-go:

  • Type of accommodation
  • Distance from the city center/beach
  • Rating according to the reviews — at least an “Excellent: 8+”, and then, if everything looks completely dismal and there are only a few options, select “Good”
  • Maximum price per night

The number of accommodation options is immediately reduced from the standard 250 to a reasonable 40-50. The amount of time you save is evident, and your time can be more wisely spent on planning a detailed trip route or activities.

In smaller cities or during the popular travel season, you may end up with too few options according to the filters you’ve set. In that case, consider what you’re willing to compromise on.

For example, you can try to book a hotel with breakfast so you won’t have to use your morning time searching for a café. Among the numerous hotels, say, in Istanbul, there’s a wonderful one that does not offer meals, but the hotel itself is new, very comfortable, and just around the corner is Hafiz Mustafa, where you can have a delicious breakfast.

You can try to book a hotel with breakfast so you don’t have to waste time in the morning searching for a café.
Photo: Aleksei Potov /

Look at the ratings and service quality

In any booking service, each hotel has its own rating, except new or recently added hotels, which don’t have enough reviews to generate a rating. 

The rating is made up of several fundamental components that coincide with various services, such as  cleanliness, comfort, location, Wi-Fi network quality, meals, and the friendliness of the staff. The more reviews a hotel has, the closer the rating is to the truth. A hotel’s overall rating,  is based on the main parameters, set by real guests, detailing the positives and negatives of the accommodation.

In any booking service, each hotel has its own rating, with the exception of new or recently added hotels, where there are not enough reviews to create a rating yet.

Check the reviews across various sources

When choosing  a hotel, it’s important to always check the reviews from other guests. Pay special attention to recent comments: sort through  the bulk of the reviews by date, relevancy, or new reviews. 

On ZenHotels, this option is called “by creation date.”

Here are a few comments that you should take note of:

  • Comments about noise complaints such as a construction site across the street or a nightclub on the first floor.
  • The word “authentic” listed among the hotel’s drawbacks – it’s likely that this word is a hint that the hotel is run down.
  • Frequent comments that the staff don’t speak English
  • Cockroaches, bedbugs, mold or similar elements.
  • A large number of low ratings without any comments – it’s possible that guests didn’t feel comfortable to write the truth – for example, due to  a language barrier or if the hotel manager was difficult to deal with for personal reasons.

The most important thing to remember when choosing a hotel is to check reviews written by other guests.
Photo: Dean Drobot /

Evaluate the negative and the positive thoughtfully

A negative review doesn’t always mean that a hotel is bad; it may well be that it simply did not live up to the guest’s high expectations or specific needs. For example, suppose a guest searches for accommodation at a remote downhill ski resort. There were only a couple hotels there, and one of the negative comments said: “The nail salon is located on the third floor, there’s no elevator, and going upstairs is inconvenient.” 

Remember that everyone is different. The things that one person considers to be negative, may not bother someone else. That’s why it’s important to filter and read through the reviews to ensure that your needs are met. 

The same thing happens with positive reviews: mold in the room does not stop someone else from leaving a very positive review as long as he managed to save money. However, even a decent rating is not a safeguard against annoyances.

A negative review doesn’t always mean that a hotel is bad, and it may well be that it simply did not live up to the guest’s high expectations or specific needs.

Be prepared: Check the best and worst reviews

In order to win the gamble of mixed reviews, check the reviews with the highest ratings first and then the lowest. After that, you can decide how critical the mentioned problems are to you. For example, some may not think twice about a spa-salon’s ‘inconvenient’ location and the absence of a coffee machine at breakfast, whereas a loud nightclub or cockroaches in the room are easily a deal breaker.

Check who left the review

Families with children have entirely different criteria for hotels than young adults or corporate travelers. One requires kid’s activities or special menus, while the other group may prioritize easy access to public transport, entertainment or shopping centers. 

That’s why it’s important to verify who posted the reviews, to ensure that it’s someone with similar needs. 

When scanning the reviews, be sure to check the room category that the guest was staying in. If the guest stayed in a ‘superior’ suite, they would not be aware of any issues in economy rooms.

The nationality of guests can also play a role in whether their review is in line with your needs. While some cultures embrace nudity and welcome the idea of glass bathroom doors, others may find it shocking.

Families with children and young people have different criteria for booking hotels.
Photo: dotshock //

Study the location on the map

For example; 200 meters to the sea in a straight line that’s mentioned in the hotel’s description, may end up being enclosed by a fence, with the access points being a800-1,000-meter side path. Alternatively, walking distance to the central square may actually be just that – but up a steep incline along a busy street.

200 meters to the sea in a straight line as indicated in a hotel’s description, may end up being enclosed by a fence with an 800-1,000-meter detour.
Photo: Seda Yalova /

That’s why,  there’s no point in overpaying for options like those, only to be disappointed on arrival. Therefore, to avoid being taken for a ride, be sure to check the hotel’s location using detailed maps and Google Earth.

Next, study the reviews to check if the hotel accommodates for these errors — for instance, a free shuttle service to the town or a private entrance to the beach.

Choosing a hotel can sure be tricky. We hope that you’ve learned how to save time while searching for a hotel, to ensure that you make the right choice for your needs. With ZenHotels, everything will turn out great!
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