I Don’t Trust TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice Award Picks

Frequent readers of this blog likely know the general disdain in which I hold most hotel ranking lists. The various ‘best of’ compilations are usually written by people who haven’t been to the properties, and many of the lists seem influenced by advertising buys.

TripAdvisor has issued its new 2008 Travelers’ Choice Awards, which represent a slightly different take… it amounts to an amalgamation of traveler opinions. And while I find TripAdvisor to be a useful site for picking up very specific comments on properties and looking for consistent themes across reviews, picking the best properties from the masses of opinions on the internet doesn’t work very well in practice.

Here are just a few of the oddities which show up at a quick glance:

  • The Signature at MGM Grand is supposedly the best luxury hotel in the United States. When it fact it isn’t even the best luxury offered at the MGM Grand let alone in Las Vegas.
  • The Four Seasons George V is only the 9th best luxury hotel in Europe, behind the Swissotel Berlin, even!
  • Top 10 Best Luxury in the South Pacific is Fiji-heavy, entirely ignoring French Polynesia, and while I really do love the Thala Beach Lodge (I’ve visited there, but not stayed as a guest) it can’t possibly be the best hotel in Australia. But then this list says the second best luxury hotel in Australia isn’t Lizard Island, the Observatory, or even the Park Hyatt Sydney… it’s apparently the Radisson Plaza Hotel Sydney.
  • For Best Luxury in Asia, apparently the (formerly Hilton) Conrad Maldives is the best Maldives property, two Bangkok hotels make the list but the Peninsula there does not, and the Pen in Hong Kong is nowhere to be found (nor anywhere in Indonesia).
  • The best luxury hotel in Canada is supposedly the Fairmont Vancouver Airport. Supposedly a very nice property, but still.
  • Best in the 25 Most Popular Destinations lists the Sofitel New York as #1, ahead of the Four Seasons George V in Paris. Enough said.
  • Bellagio is the most romantic hotel in Vegas, and 6th most romantic in the U.S.? Hardly. While I had a great stay there, for over the top bling it certainly can’t rival Skylofts and for refined elegance it doesn’t come close to the Four Seasons. It’s in a good location, right next to Caesar’s and across from the Paris. But it’s a huge factory hotel, about 3000 rooms, and just try getting a spot at the pool around prime time. Any request takes 45 minutes because the property is so large. It’s a big casino hotel, not a place for special romantic interludes.
  • The OMNI San Francisco has the best service in the United States (and fourth in the world!), let alone the best service in San Francisco?
  • And The Hay-Adams as the best service in DC, above the Ritz (Georgetown, not Foggy Bottom), Mandarin Oriental, and Four Seasons?
  • Four Seasons is selected as Best Hotel Brand, which is a perfectly reasonable choice. On the whole Peninsula is better, and Aman Resorts for resort properties, but neither have enough locations.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »



  1. I concur completely. How can you trust Tripadviser, an Expedia company, inasmuch as they have an obvious conflict of interest. Non-transparent travel industry consolidation is decidedly hurting all of us. We have some firsthand experience with this and will also be posting on the subject. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *