· · ·

Do you trust Tripadvisor reviews?

Recently I was reading the Tripadvisor reviews of a hotel that I’m familiar with and noted that all the reviews, although seemingly plausible, were all consistently giving full marks.   That alone  shouldn’t necessarily be grounds for suspicion but I delved a bit deeper and noticed that most of the reviewers had not reviewed another hotel (or restaurant or whatever) on the site.   Again, that alone isn’t grounds for the reviews necessarily having  been fabricated but it does arouse a little suspicion.   This was heightened further when I noted that the few exceptions (ie. reviewers of this hotel who had reviewed more than one property on the site) had in fact just reviewed a sister hotel to the one in question with equal praise.   This had been going on for at least 2 years and seemingly Tripadvisor has done nothing about it (presumably because they are not aware). When I delved further, I was interested to see that the hotel – despite having consistenly good reviews – still didn’t hold the #1 position for the hotels in the town where it was situated; on the contrary, it was a few places down.   So, being curious, I looked at the hotels that were ranked above only to find that they, too, were getting good reviews by a seemingly similar means. Tripadvisor have a thankless task keeping on top of misleading reviews, but are they doing enough to combat it, do you think?

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Daily Telegraph.

Did you enjoy this article?

Receive similar content direct to your inbox.


  1. What really bothers me with Tripadvisor is that if you look at their “new Vacation Rentals” area ~ it says in big letters up top “RECOMMENDED BY TRAVELERS.” I believe this to be incorrect as the only way you can have your vacation rental listed here it to pay for a listing on “FlipKey” which is another site that has partnered with Tripadvisor. FlipKey then guarantees you listing will also appear on Tripadvisors “new Vacation Rentals.”

    I will say that the few reviews listed (number of stars given) have not been all positive (5 stars) – some only received 3 or 4, others none at all.

    I still feel if they are going to represent Vacation Rentals as “Recommended by Travelers” than any traveler should be the ones to put info on a specific rental there.

    Quite misleading if you ask me. Has anyone else noticed this?

  2. I always take it with a grain of salt. I don’t rely SOLELY on TA, but in combination with other reviews and recommendations from trusted websites and bloggers.

  3. I, like Jen, take the reviews on trip advisor with a pinch of salt, although you can quite often sift through the real complainers and the over enthusiastic reviewers to get a better picture. I recently heard that tripadvisor was actually owned by expedia.

    What they also have to remember is someones bad review is good for someone else ie if i see a hotel is full of kids etc – it is not what i am looking for in a hotel, however if you have a fmaily this is what you would be looking for.

  4. I do totally agree with that statement.
    I find Tripadvisor useful for making sure the hotel I’m choosing as a good ranking among the others from the same city.

    But, as Jen, I prefer to rely on independent websites providing reviews from “real” travellers. I’m finding myself being more and more suspicious about Tripadvisor reviews and the lack of transparency concerning the origin of reviews is also becoming a problem.


    David Bennet

  5. I agree. the important thing to remember is the reviewers are not professional journalists with an objective view. It’s a useful tool but it’s worth noting that my idea of luxury, comfort & style could be completely different to yours. I always have a quick look at the reviews but to be honest I trust the booking websites more. For example, Splendia always have hotels which suit my price range & expectations so I’m more likely to choose one of their hotels.

  6. I agree with the other comments–I don’t rely solely on the TA reviews, but do look at what’s on TA. Depending on what area of the world the traveler is from, his/her expectations may be very different than mine, but I can still get a flavor for what might be positive and what might be negative to me.

  7. Where money is involved one can’t fully trust the reviews. I check a number of sites to get a better picture. Also note some sites require a person to be logged in or to have actaully bought a room / trip to write a review.

  8. nowadays there are so many sites that carries reviews and can give you a more rounded opinion of the hotel, i do still visit tripadvisor but use it in combination with others.

  9. TripAdvisor was really great when it first came out, and was a very useful source…but as expressed in the article above, TA has become a victim of its own success. The incentives to cheat both for your property or against competitors are great since the impact on the business is significant, and with reviewers able to hide behind a cloak of anonymity, it seems pretty impossible to tell who has written a legit review and who has not. I have heard stories of heavy-handed censorship of management responses as well, as TA doesn’t allow anything to be written about them, the legitimacy of reviews, etc…so for instance a hotel cannot write “this review is suspicious as nobody meeting this description has stayed in the hotel”…I find it is far better to rely on professional reviews that you find in independent guidebooks as they have the benefit of seeing a hundred places at once and can make meaningful comparisons, or by using online travel agents like Tablet Hotels who only allow reviews of hotels by people who have booked and stayed through them–and they also only accept hotels after they pass their annual inspection…TA is too much the wild west now to be credible.

  10. We list our properties on FlipKey, that then feeds them to TripAdvisor, precisely because we wanted to have a comments engine that people could trust – i.e. it is run by somebody other than us, and we can’t censor or change the comments. I’ll be disappointed if now people start feeling they can’t be trusted! We send requests out to our clients at the end of every month, so they can only leave a review by invitation.

    Incidentally, somebody mentioned vacation rentals paying to be on flipKey – we don’t, we pay per lead – so if we post a load of dross we pay nothing as nobody goes, if we have great houses we get lots of leads and we pay them!

  11. I think that TripAdvisor is good for what it’s good for…getting other people’s opinions on a property (or whatever). However, just like all opinions, they have to be weighed. I put the weight NOT in the good reviews…I read the 3 and 2 ratings. This is more telling. If you read consistent complaints, they may be on to something. On the other hand, if someone is complaining that the hotel didn’t have a big enough kid’s area…then I discount that since…I’m not traveling with kids. You have to read…then research.

    For example, I read some “not so good” reviews about a hotel I wanted to stay at in Amsterdam. The disparaging reviews were mostly from customers who were in basic discounted rooms, on lower (less desirable) floors, in an old canal house hotel (which explains why some of the rooms may have been small, etc). Well…those people may be disappointed, especially if they weren’t prepared for the usually smaller rooms in Europe. However, I was NOT disappointed with the Junior Suite, nor in the service level of the hotel. And, I would stay there again.

    Happy and Safe Travels!!

  12. I use TripAdvisor myself and look at the trend behind the comments but with caution. Reviewers are anonymous and that is where the biggest weakness lies. If people want to praise a hotel they haven’t stayed at they can and if they want to be vindictive to a competitor or write something that is incorrect a management response is the only redress that an accommodation owner has.

Comments are closed.