Vacation does not officially start for my family until we walk into our hotel room and throw our luggage on the floor. The perfectly made beds, the lingering smell of pool chlorine, and the tiny nightstand with a landline phone are probably more exciting than they should be. Unfortunately, sometimes you enter your hotel room with the expectation of being hit with that new and fresh environment feeling, just to be let down by a not-so-fresh room. To avoid this let-down, you should read hotel reviews before booking.

Keep reading to find out what you should keep in mind while reading reviews.

Determine what you need from a hotel

Before going on a deep dive into the reviews of a hotel, it is essential to determine your personal needs and expectations. Spend some time considering what you require for a happy stay. A few questions you should ask yourself are;
Was smoking allowed in the room?
Are roll-out beds or cribs provided?
Is the room pet-friendly?
Is there free Wi-Fi?
Will there be a complimentary breakfast?
Is there a fitness room and pool?
Is the pool heated?

Star rating score
First things first, check the overall star rating of the hotel that you are considering. You can weed out the below-par hotels right off the bat by doing so. Surprisingly, a hotel’s star rating does not reflect guest ratings; it is determined by what services and amenities are provided. Here you can find more information about star ratings from Smarter travel.

Negative reviews
It is a good idea to check out the negative reviews first. By looking at the one or two-star reviews, you can easily see if there have been common complaints that may be worrisome. You also want to consider whether or not these comments were warranted. 

Some guests check into a hotel without reading the fine print or calling ahead of time to ask questions and then leave negative reviews when the pool was down for maintenance or the Wi-Fi was not free. 

Suite type
When reading through reviews, you can gauge whether or not you will be happy in your room by looking for reviews from guests that booked the same kind of suite you plan on staying in.

Fake reviews and fraud
Many hotel sites are littered with fake reviews, scams, and fraud. However, there are red flags to look out for in these reviews. For example, look for spelling or grammatical errors and check the reviewer’s status and how many reviews they have left (reviewers with only a few reviews are more likely to be legitimate). You should also avoid reviews that include links to external sites. Here you can find more details from Hotel Engine on avoiding scams while booking. 

Cleanliness is important, which is why it is often the most discussed topic in hotel reviews. The last thing you want is to check into a poorly cleaned room or, even worse, one that has an infestation. Check out what previous guests had to say about their room’s cleanliness before booking. 

Operational facilities and amenities
Skim through comments to see if the pool, gym, fitness room, and sauna were open and whether or not the room’s air conditioners or heating was working correctly at the time of their visit. It is also recommended that you call before booking to ensure there is no scheduled maintenance during the time of your stay.

For most, the location of your hotel is important. Often, previous guests will include reviews that describe how close in proximity stores, and restaurants are to the hotel. It is common to forget to pack an item or two, so knowing what’s around can be helpful. You can also use these reviews to find some great places to have dinner and go shopping.

Date posted
When reading reviews, check the date that the review was posted. There will be a large portion of comments that are no longer relevant. Updates could have been made, and management or staff could be different. Looking at the most recent reviews will be the most accurate.

The hotel you book could make or break your trip, so use these tips while looking at reviews and remember to call the hotel directly with any questions or concerns.