Re: @dotavid - hmm
Or people get different experiences, have different expectations and have their own opinions? Or that hotels learn from bad feedback and improve themselves? Or that staff and hotel-quality change over time?
A hotel I stayed in recently was given only two stars, and had reviews saying that the rooms were small and grotty and the staff belligerent. There was more than one "bad" review, and no good ones at all. But the key thing was that the guy in charge replied to them all, even if it was just a "Sorry you were disappointed" response.
I booked it, because it was a last-minute weekend getaway on the Bank Holiday and all I wanted was a room near a friend's house and it was THE last room in the whole damn county, virtually, and it turned out to be a wonderful place with huge, clean rooms, and the guy who ran it was the most lovely and friendly guy ever.
Either a) someone makes up reviews and puts them on the website or b) someone had a different guy, stayed there under a different ownership, has never really stayed in a "grotty" hotel in their life, or was just plain annoyed at something and vented their anger in the form of a vastly exaggerated review.
So much so that I went back on the site and put my own review up. So you now have several entirely opposing reviews. And in the past, I've posted devastating rundowns of problems I've had on the comments sections of hotels / B&B's that had perfect 5-star ratings. Because *I* didn't get a good service from them.
Same thing happens on eBay and Amazon, no doubt, and just about any site that allows ratings. Hell, at my favourite gastro-pub, I often see "complaints" inside the pub from people that think a 3-course meal should arrive within seconds, that the seats outside are near a road (you mean that road you just drove down to get to that pub in the first place? Shocking that!) or that because the guy in charge didn't give them free snacks while they waited 5-10 mins for their starters (on a table of 16!), they nearly started a fight.
Some people are morons and have stupid expectations and don't bother to check things. Hell, I've seen people complain on hotel websites that they "weren't allowed to smoke in the rooms" (which is illegal now!). So polar-opposite reviews do not a conspiracy make. It just means that someone had a bad experience, in their opinion, and someone else didn't, in *their* opinion.
The trick is: Ignore all ratings, stars, and everything else. See what the hoteliers responses are, and if the response is unreasonable, consider just what the stated problem was (and compare to other reviewers). A one-off "there was putrefied flesh dripping from the ceiling" actually means very little unless the hotelier ignores it, or someone else had the same experience.
And, at the end of the day, some poor sod will be the one underneath the bathroom when it leaks and have a soaked luggage while everyone else in the hotel stayed perfectly happily.
It's not about finding a hotel that doesn't have a single reported problem. You will never, ever, ever, ever do that. It's about finding a hotel where, when something goes wrong, they handle it correctly. If I *report* to you that the carpet was filthy or the room smelled or the bathroom only actually had three walls now, I expect you to do something about it. It doesn't really matter how it got like that (it's a public building and the people servicing it are human), what matters is your response to me reporting the problem. And if I don't report the problem until I've gone, how can the hotelier ever do anything about it?