Booking a Two Star Hotel

When booking a five star hotel, it is extremely easy to see if that hotel is surpassing expectations, but how do you know if you are getting what you want out of the two-star hotel you are booking?

A five star hotel, putting things simply, is supposed to have “everything”.  When you see an average of 4.5 out of hundreds of reviews for a five-star hotel, you can pretty much assume the hotel is doing a good job.  (Filtering, of course, for the incredibly hard-to-please-laundry-list-of-problems-travelers).  If that five star hotel is getting an average of 2.5 or 3, it is time to reconsider.

But two star hotel reviews are more in flux.

Your initial assumption would be that these reviews should be done from the perspective of what someone should expect from a two star hotel.  That is not always true.  Sometimes a traveler used to higher end properties will ding a two-star just for being a two-star.

Also, since you do not get “everything” at a two-star hotel, everyone comes in wanting different things.  There are probably two items that matter a lot to the person and whether or not they get those items determines how their review turns out.

I’ll use an example.  I took a work trip across the country and realized I could save some money if I flew in the night before.   I booked a two-star property near the airport.

Now, my two items that I need out of a two-star property (which may sound obvious and silly) are 1. Cleanliness and 2 Safety.  Even though they sound obvious and silly, I feel very strongly about these items.

I booked a property that got four stars on a review site.  I assumed no one would rate a property that high without cleanliness and safety.  The cab driver’s reluctance to drop me off should have been my first signal.

Turns out the property has a really good complimentary breakfast.  I mean, really good.

When I dug into the reviews from my hotel room, I saw 1-star reviews sprinkled among the glowing praise of the breakfast and close proximity to the airport.  One person seemed exasperated and wrote that yes the breakfast was good, yes the location is good, but how can anyone stand the disgusting smelly rooms?  Another person pointed out the spray tan stains on the walls, and yet another mentioned shady people coming in and out of the rooms.  Oops.  I should have done my homework.

I survived of course.  Yes, my carpet was dirty to the point I never took my shoes off.  Yes, the gentleman in the room next to me procured a, uh, how do I say this, lady friend.  But all in all, it was my fault.  This information was out there and I didn’t read enough to figure it out.

So how can you avoid this?

1.  Write down your two-three items you absolutely need in your hotel.  Also write down your price point.

This will help you avoid getting sidetracked by something in the hotel you don’t need.  (Such as a really nice complimentary breakfast 😉 ).  The price point will also help you avoid booking a place that does not meet your needs just because it is $10 cheaper.  If you were willing to pay $60, why not spend that whole $60 getting what you want instead of being disappointed for $50?

2. Comb reviews of the hotels for buzz words of the items you need.

And don’t ever, ever assume that item is there unless a review explicitly says it.  Interesting people /  Characters wandering around / Etc all mean there are shady people abound.  Also look for extreme positives “despite” something that would normally make that item a negative.  The property I should have stayed at for that trip was rated low because it was old (and no breakfast 🙂 ).  But it had tons of reviews saying that despite how old the property is, they were extremely impressed by how clean it was.

3. Enjoy your stay.

And if you booked wrong like me, try to enjoy your stay!

4.  Review the place afterwards!

Drop everything in there.  The good, the great, the bad, the confusing.  I’m not saying to create a laundry-list of complaints, but give the next person staying there an idea of whether or not their must-haves will be at that property.

I am also going to do a post like this on Boutique Hotels.  I’ve had incredible stays at boutique hotels that were rated low.  Why were they rated low?  Stay tuned!

About Jeanne Marie Hoffman

Former bartender, still a geek. One equal part each cookies, liberty, football, music, travel, libations. Stir vigorously. +Jeanne Marie Hoffman Jeanne on Twitter

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  1. One of the reasons I always bring a doorstop! I had one of those shady nights, you’ve inspired me to write about it.

  2. Yes! Great post. I was just booking some gasthaus (es?) for our trip to Germany this summer, and I came across the same phenomenon on TripAdvisor -> people expecting some crazy stuff for a $70/night property in the center of Munich. Yes, you’re going to have to share a bathroom. If it’s clean, this shouldn’t be unexpected in Europe! People are funny.

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