I love researching travel, especially hotels. I’m particular about the hotels I stay at. Most people don’t really care, but I do. I figure it’s expensive no matter where you stay, so I might as well get exactly what I want.
I’ve spent some serious time on TripAdvisor. Overall, I think it’s an awesome site that I continue to use as part of my travel research.
What is TripAdvisor?
TripAdvisor is a website where people can leave reviews about their hotel stays, flights, vacation rentals, restaurants and car rentals. As of October 2019, there are a whopping 795 million reviews published on the site. The site has evolved into offering travel and vacation booking options as well, but it’s main business is offering reviews.
While TripAdvisor makes an effort to ensure reviews are legit, it’s not perfect. This guy got his shed to be the #1 rated restaurant in London, UK via getting fake reviews posted. Fake reviews continue to be a problem with TripAdvisor.
As long as quality and quantity of reviews are part of the rating formula at TripAdvisor, fake reviews will be an issue.
Another problem with TA is the volume of reviews. There are so many that span every rating level, that in some cases doesn’t help that much.
Where does that leave you and me?
I’ll continue using TA because it’s the go-to travel review site on the Web. However, I use it with a grain of salt (as you must with all customer reviews, although some of the travel sites set out below provide “verified reviews” which are reviews by members who booked that particular hotel or service.
I also rely on TripAdvisor alternatives. Below are my favorites.
FYI, I used the same hotel in all examples, which is the Pinnacle Hotel in Whistler, BC, Canada. Screenshots and searches performed on October 7, 2019.
Table of Contents
Everything and the Kitchen Sink (including restaurants)
Google Reviews, Yelp and Foursquare offer reviews of much of what TripAdvisor covers with the exception of vacation rentals.
1. Google Reviews
Because Google offers free Google Business pages for every business, which customers can review, Google’s database of reviews for everything, including hotels, restaurants and more is impressive.
I’m a big fan of Google’s travel search results. I love the integration with Google maps, reviews and then clear links to the booking websites.
For example, I searched “Whistler Hotels” and the following came up:
I clicked into the Pinnacle Hotel reviews, which then display an amalgamation of reviews from Google business reviews, travel booking websites and TripAdvisor. Check it out:
Yelp is actually a very good website for finding excellent restaurants. I prefer it over Google. We’ve found some gems on our travels that we otherwise would not have found. You can also read decent hotel reviews as well.
Here’s an example from the Pinnacle Hotel in Whistler.
Foursquare is a large local business directory (city guide) that includes reviews for all things travel and accommodations. While the desktop version is good, they really shine on mobile devices – you can get it on iOS here and Google Play here.
Zomato is a big player in restaurant reviews. Yes, TripAdvisor offers restaurant reviews so that makes Zomato a TA alternative.
I like OpenTable’s business model because the foundation of it is offering restaurant reservation software for restaurants. It’s super easy to use for restaurants and customers. As the software was used on more and more restaurants, it attracted more and more restaurant customers who then are encouraged to leave reviews. The review volume is substantial.
6. Expedia Reviews
Expedia is my go-to travel booking website. I have the app. I use it for flights, hotels and car rentals and have done so for years. I’ve enjoyed free nights via Expedia Rewards. I find the site very easy and fast to use once you have an account. It saves all of our passport info so booking is smooth and easy. All-in-all I love using Expedia.
But before I book with Expedia, I check out their reviews, which indicate whether they are “verified reviews”. This is a huge perk of reading reviews on Expedia because Expedia can verify whether reviewers actually booked at the hotel and/or used whatever travel services you’re looking to book. Check it out:
When you click into the reviews link, you get the following:
Trivago is another travel booking site with a pile of reviews for hotels. Trivago compiles rates from many other travel sites and offers it in one place. Included with this travel “one-stop-shop” webste are millions of customer reviews.
KAYAK is an amalgamation travel booking site that compares rates from many other travel booking sites (like Trivago). A meta-travel site, if you will. Along with a huge customer base comes millions of reviews for all things travel related.
Booking.com is like Expedia for booking travel arrangements and like most other travel booking sites offers many reviews.
Hotwire’s claim to fame is saving on accommodations. Great deals can be had. If you’re in search of a good deal, Hotwire is the place to go. You can also read many verified reviews of hotels here as well. Again, I like the verified nature of the reviews.
Another arena that TripAdvisor shines is customer reviews of various vacation rentals. Not only are there reviews, but you can book vacation rentals on the site. Did you know that you can book vacation rentals on TA? I didn’t until recently.
Alternatives to TripAdvisor with regard to vacation rentals are as follows:
Homeaway is my preferred vacation rental website (by far). I use Airbnb as well, but it seems I tend to find what I want more readily and more often on Homeaway.
As you’d expect, Homeaway includes extensive reviews of their listings, just like TripAdvisor.
Who hasn’t heard of Airbnb? You gotta hand it to them, they know how to market. The press they get is ridiculous.
I don’t have anything against Airbnb. It’s just that in my experience, I’ve found better results on Homeaway. However, for an upcoming trip with some buddies, the guy booking accommodations found the winning house on Airbnb. Go figure.
Related: Airbnb Alternatives
Do your research
While I don’t base 100% of my decisions on customer reviews when booking travel or restaurant reservations, they do play a part. Generally, I look at the big picture. After all, anything with thousands of reviews will have some negative reviews. Hotels and restaurants aren’t perfect. But if an establishment has more bad reviews than good, that’s very helpful.
At the end of the day, a few days in a hotel or a week at a resort is costly. You want to ensure you get the most out of your money and time and that’s why it pays to spend a little time reviewing customer reviews.
While bombing around on his bike, Nathan dreams up cool interior design article ideas for Homestratosphere.com. He loves penning the perfect introduction or clever description of a particular design. When not writing about design, he cycles, reads crime novels, barbecues (ribs are his specialty), entertains friends and hangs out with his beautiful wife and amazing kids.