When I need to book a hotel room in a city that I’m unfamiliar with, I turn to the following websites for assistance in scoring accommodations that fit my needs:
Fabsearch: This is a great tool for discovering unique lodging and dining options in cities/countries all over the world. The Fabsearch team handpicks each listing based on positive word of mouth or media coverage, and their taste is spot on if you like high-design hotels. Many of their picks are on the expensive side, but they do feature some cheaper stuff here and there.
Trip Advisor: Trip Advisor is probably the most popular hotel rating website around, and while I take the reviews with a grain of salt (some people complain about things that wouldn’t bother me, while others seem like obvious PR plants), I still love checking out their user-submitted photos of hotel rooms. These images give you a good idea of what you can expect when you check in (no clever angles or forgiving Photoshop tricks!)
Room 77: A cool site with great potential, Room 77 goes beyond blanket hotel reviews and actually tells you which rooms within a particular property are the best. I appreciate all the meticulous research that’s been compiled here, and I believe they’re working on partnering with hotels so that in future, you’d be able to not only know where the best rooms are, but also request/confirm a specific room number directly through the hotel.
Keep in mind: Reviews are by nature subjective, so if I’m unsure about a certain lodging choice (even after extensive online research), I like to solicit the advice of a well-traveled friend with taste similar to mine.
Bonus tip(s): A couple other good travel research tools are UpTake, which aggregates reviews from thousands of other sites, and Wikitravel, a worldwide, constantly evolving travel guide created and maintained by avid travelers.
Photo via flickr.com/thecolourmill.