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4 Red Flags to Booking a Hotel Online

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — You’ve no doubt heard  – or worse yet, lived – a hotel horror story. Tales of dirt, bedbugs, pests or other miscellaneous health hazards are, of course, unpleasant, but they can also be downright demoralizing. 

“Americans take so little time off.  It’s important that their vacations go right for both financial and emotional reasons,” Brooke Ferencsik, director of communications for travel review site TripAdvisor, said. “Nothing can ruin a vacation like staying in the wrong place.”

How can you protect yourself from ending up at one of the dirtiest or most unsafe hotels in America?

The first step, of course, is to do your research. Hotel websites can often be misleading, and though it may be extreme to say that they shouldn’t be trusted – Ferencsik points out that many great hotel websites belong to equally great hotels – you should seek out reviews from the people who have actually stayed there.

TripAdvisor, of course, is a good go to place when scouting establishments, but you can also readily find reviews on travel search engines, such as Hotels.com, Travelocity and Expedia. Most of the time, you’ll find the reviews fairly telling. You probably wouldn’t book a room at a hotel where consumers complained and we trust you would stay away from a place where reviewers said you were better off sleeping on the bathroom floor than in the bed.

However, if you find many reviewers on the fence about a particular establishment, Anne Banas, executive editor of SmarterTravel.com suggests digging a little deeper.

“You need to look at who is writing the review,” she says, advising you click on a reviewer’s profile. “Ask yourself ‘is this someone like me?”

Banas points out that an outdoor enthusiast, for example, might enjoy staying in rustic accommodations that have lizards crawling around in the room. However, “If you’re used to having fresh linens every day, you might not be so into it,” she says.

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