A warning about user reviews

User reviews, Italy, Italy (Photo Public Domain)

User review sites are handy, but take their advice with a grain (make that a shaker) of salt

User review sites are gold mines of information—and land mines of false information.

While I heartily recommend using them, you have to be aware of their three greatest faults (and how to use them best):

Three major problems with Tripadvisor et. al.

  1. Inexpert advice (more on that in a moment)
  2. Paid reviews and pans
  3. Up to 1/3 or 1/2 of the reviews are fake (according to studies)

They do try hard to root out the bad apples—the friends and family posting glowing reviews; the rivals and enemies (and their friends and family) smearing a joint with calumny and slander. But they do not have nearly the staff to keep up.

Tripadvisor currently has 4,007,585 reviews for Rome alone (covering sights, hotels, restaurants, and activities).

And that's just in Rome.

Tripadvisor's team of "Content Specialists" who vet these 4 million reviews (and all other reviews for all other cities in Italy—and for everywhere else all around the world)? It has just 300 people tasked with responding to reports of fraud of abuse.

How to use Tripadvisor and other user view sites

  • Critical mass - Don’t trust a property with fewer than 20–60 reviews (odds are, most will be fake).
  • Olympic judge model - Ignore the best and worst reviews to focus on the big, juicy middle-of-the-road reviews.
  • Trust snapshots - It's harder to fake a photograph.
  • Look for specific details - A vague review is often a sign of a fake review; look for ones that call attention to specific rooms, dishes, staff, facilities, or other aspects of the property. 
  • Check reviewer history - Someone who has created an account only to review one place (or a handful in one destination) may just have taken that one trip, but more likely they are friends/rivals of properties in the area posting fake or paid reviews. 
  • Trust gated reviews - How can you make sure the reviewer actually spent a night in that hotel? Trust the reviews on Booking.com and other verified sites where a user can only review a hotel they actually booked through the site. Won't mean the review is necessarily informed, thorough, or honest, but at least we know the guy slept there once.

A few words about inexpert reviews

OK, this goes deeper than just a professional griping about amateurs on his turf—honest. It's not that my opinion is any more valuable than anyone else's. Of course not. But I will guarantee you it is a far, far better informed and considered opinion.

Your typical Tripadvisor reviewer has been to, say, Rome precisely once, and stayed in just that one room of that one hotel.

She might be able to give you good intel on that particular inn—but how does it compare to the hotel next-door? Is there a hotel that's both better and cheaper just around the corner?

That's where this site (and my quarter century of expert experience) comes in handy. I've been to Rome many times, stayed at mroe than 100 of its hotels, and toured all the rooms in many more across the city, viewing them with a critical eye and taking extensive notes. This helps me offer the best, balanced advice on Rome hotels, comparing them all to see which truly stand out as the best value for your money or as stellar places to spend your precious vacation time.

By all means, to help you pick the perfect hotel go and read the guest reviews—not just at Tripadvisor, but also at booking engines like Booking.com, where at least you're guaranteed the person writing the review actually stayed there.

However, start your search for that hotel on this site, where I've already vetted the good ones.

Typical misconceptions on review sites

The vast majority of the "complaints" about Italian hotels I read, hear, or see—in e-mails and reader letters directed to me, posted on review sites like Tripadvisor, and included in hotel reviews on booking engines like Booking.comhave nothing to do with the hotel and everything to do with unfair expectations.

Mostly, these complaints boil down to a difference between expectations of an American audience and the realities of hotels in Europe—not any problems with a particular hotel.

In other words, to be blunt: it's not the hotel, it's you.

I don't mean this to be rude; just to jar your brain a bit into realizing that you shouldn't go into a foreign country expecting everything to work exactly the way it does at home.

If that were the case, there would be no reason to travel in the first place.

I'm not saying either hotel standard is better or worse than the other; hotel rooms are just different in Europe (which, among other things, usually means "way smaller").

Try to put aside your assumptions and expectations and learn to judge and value a Italian hotel on its own merits according to Italian standards, not American ones.

On a similar note, don't book a cheap room at a simple mom-and-pop-run B&B and then turn around and expect the amenities of a four-star, business-class hotel. That's blatantly unfair—both to the hotel's owners and to your enjoyment of your own vacation.

Also, "different" doesn't necessarily mean "worse." » more

So read user reviews with a grain of salt, and keep in mind that most complaints they have about the following factors are not the failing of a hotel; just the failing of a small-minded person who thinks America is always right and everywhere else is wrong.

Hotels links
B&Bs links

Tips

About the lodging star ratings (☆☆☆ to ★★★)

You will notice that all hotels, B&Bs, and other lodgingds (as well as sights and restaurants) on this site have a ReidsItaly.com star designation from ☆☆☆ to ★★★.

This merely indicates that I feel these accommodations offer a little something that makes them special (or extra-special, or extra-extra special, etc.).

These star ratings are entirely based on personal opinion, and have nothing to do with the official Italian hotel ratings—which have more to do with quantifiable amenities such as minibars, and not the intangibles that make a hotel truly stand out, like a combination of great location, friendly owners, nice style, and low prices.

In general, a pricier place to stay has to impress me that it is worth the added expense.

This is why I give ★★★ to some (official) "two-star" hotels or B&Bs that happen to provide amazing value for the money—and similarly have ranked a few (official) "four-star" properties just (★★☆).

About the lodging price brackets (€–€€€)

Accommodations rates vary wildly—even at the same hotel or B&B—depending on type of room, number of people in it, and the season.

That's why here at ReidsItaly.com we simply provde a general price range indicating the rough rate you should expect to pay for a standard double room in mid-season.

There are three price ranges, giving you a sense of which lodgings are budget, which are moderate, and which are splurges:

under €100
€€ €100–€200
€€€ over €200
Useful Italian phrases

Useful Italian for lodging

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Where is? Dov'é doh-VAY
...a hotel un albergo oon al-BEAR-go
...a B&B un bed-and-breakfast oon bet hand BREK-fust
...a rental room un'affittacamera oon ah-feet-ah-CAH-mair-ra
...an apartment for rent un appartamento oon ah-part-tah-MENT-toh
...a farm stay un agriturismo oon ah-gree-tour-EES-moh
...a hostel un ostello oon oh-STEHL-loh
     
How much is...? Quanto costa? KWAN-toh COST-ah
a single room una singola OO-nah SEEN-go-la
double room for single use [will often be offered if singles are unavailable] doppia uso singola DOPE-pee-ya OO-so SEEN-go-la
a double room with two beds una doppia con due letti OO-nah DOPE-pee-ya cone DOO-way LET-tee
a double room with one big bed una matrimoniale OO-nah mat-tree-moan-nee-YAAL-lay
triple room una tripla OO-nah TREE-plah
with private bathroom con bagno cone BAHN-yoh
without private bathroom senza bagno [they might say con bagno in comune—"with a communal bath"] SEN-zah BAHN-yoh
for one night per una notte pair OO-nah NOH-tay
for two nights per due notti pair DOO-way NOH-tee
for three nights per tre notti pair tray NOH-tee
Is breakfast included? É incluso la prima colazione? ay in-CLOO-soh lah PREE-mah coal-laht-zee-YOAN-nay
Is there WiFi? C'é WiFi? chay WHY-fy?
May I see the room? Posso vedere la camera? POH-soh veh-DAIR-eh lah CAH-mair-rah
That's too much É troppo ay TROH-po
Is there a cheaper one? C'é una più economica? chay OO-nah pew eh-ko-NO-mee-kah


 

Basic phrases in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) pro-nun-see-YAY-shun
thank you grazie GRAT-tzee-yay
please per favore pair fa-VOHR-ray
yes si see
no no no
Do you speak English? Parla Inglese? PAR-la een-GLAY-zay
I don't understand Non capisco non ka-PEESK-koh
I'm sorry Mi dispiace mee dees-pee-YAT-chay
How much is it? Quanto costa? KWAN-toh COST-ah
That's too much É troppo ay TROH-po
     
Good day Buon giorno bwohn JOUR-noh
Good evening Buona sera BWOH-nah SAIR-rah
Good night Buona notte BWOH-nah NOTE-tay
Goodbye Arrivederci ah-ree-vah-DAIR-chee
Excuse me (to get attention) Scusi SKOO-zee
Excuse me (to get past someone) Permesso pair-MEH-so
     
Where is? Dov'é doh-VAY
...the bathroom il bagno eel BHAN-yoh
...train station la ferroviaria lah fair-o-vee-YAR-ree-yah
to the right à destra ah DEH-strah
to the left à sinistra ah see-NEEST-trah
straight ahead avanti [or] diritto ah-VAHN-tee [or] dee-REE-toh
information informazione in-for-ma-tzee-OH-nay

Days, months, and other calendar items in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
At what time... a che ora a kay O-rah
     
Yesterday ieri ee-YAIR-ee
Today oggi OH-jee
Tomorrow domani doh-MAHN-nee
Day after tomorrow dopo domani DOH-poh doh-MAHN-nee
     
a day un giorno oon je-YOR-no
Monday Lunedí loo-nay-DEE
Tuesday Martedí mar-tay-DEE
Wednesday Mercoledí mair-coh-lay-DEE
Thursday Giovedí jo-vay-DEE
Friday Venerdí ven-nair-DEE
Saturday Sabato SAH-baa-toh
Sunday Domenica doh-MEN-nee-ka
     
Mon-Sat Feriali fair-ee-YAHL-ee
Sun & holidays Festivi feh-STEE-vee
Daily Giornaliere joor-nahl-ee-YAIR-eh
     
a month una mese oon-ah MAY-zay
January gennaio jen-NAI-yo
February febbraio feh-BRI-yo
March marzo MAR-tzoh
April aprile ah-PREEL-ay
May maggio MAH-jee-oh
June giugno JEW-nyoh
July luglio LOO-lyoh
August agosto ah-GO-sto
September settembre set-TEM-bray
October ottobre oh-TOE-bray
November novembre no-VEM-bray
December dicembre de-CHEM-bray

Numbers in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
1 uno OO-no
2 due DOO-way
3 tre tray
4 quattro KWAH-troh
5 cinque CHEEN-kway
6 sei say
7 sette SET-tay
8 otto OH-toh
9 nove NO-vay
10 dieci dee-YAY-chee
11 undici OON-dee-chee
12 dodici DOH-dee-chee
13 tredici TRAY-dee-chee
14 quattordici kwa-TOR-dee-chee
15 quindici KWEEN-dee-chee
16 sedici SAY-dee-chee
17 diciasette dee-chee-ya-SET-tay
18 diciotto dee-CHO-toh
19 diciannove dee-chee-ya-NO-vay
20 venti VENT-tee
21* vent'uno* vent-OO-no
22* venti due* VENT-tee DOO-way
23* venti tre* VENT-tee TRAY
30 trenta TRAYN-tah
40 quaranta kwa-RAHN-tah
50 cinquanta cheen-KWAN-tah
60 sessanta say-SAHN-tah
70 settanta seh-TAHN-tah
80 ottanta oh-TAHN-tah
90 novanta no-VAHN-tah
100 cento CHEN-toh
1,000 mille MEEL-lay
5,000 cinque milla CHEEN-kway MEEL-lah
10,000 dieci milla dee-YAY-chee MEEL-lah


* You can use this formula for all Italian ten-place numbers—so 31 is trent'uno, 32 is trenta due, 33 is trenta tre, etc. Note that—like uno (one), otto (eight) also starts with a vowel—all "-8" numbers are also abbreviated (vent'otto, trent'otto, etc.).