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Have you ever been to a hotel property that seems to have failed to fulfill its promises online? Maybe it’s not that your expectations are just too high — there’s a possibility they’re scamming you. 

From hidden fees to misleading photos, here are 7 ways a sneaky hotel can subtly scam you. 

1. Not actually a hotel

When you book a hotel, you expect a top-notch stay. You want a clean, comfortable hotel room with stylish interior design, housekeeping service, and gorgeous amenities like pools and restaurants. Sneaky lodging establishments and online agencies can scam you by failing to disclose that they’re not actually hotels — some might be privately-owned condos, apartments, and other properties that are far from your expectations.

5. Fake “stars”

Okay, so the lovely hotel in Cork claims to carry “five stars”, justifying its unreasonably expensive rate. The question is, who awards those stars? Yes, even star ratings can be inflated. But if they offer exceptional hotel experiences that are worth your every penny, then these stars wouldn’t matter. 

2. Omitting crucial information 

If you’re pregnant, injured or disabled, or traveling with someone with weak knees, a hotel with no elevator is the last thing you want to see. Sneaky hotels may include this reminder in their advertisement but they may bury it in the fine print or put it at the end of the post. Some don’t include it at all.

Make sure you read the fine print and contact the hotel directly to inquire about your concerns. Ask about what you can get as a part of your room rate, the amenities, the free items, and the items you’ll need to pay for. 

3. Resort fees and other hidden costs 

Resort fees are the most prevalent scam in the hotel business. And yes, they’re legal and often unavoidable. 

Resort fees are intended to make their rates look cheaper and more attractive in side by side comparisons. Hotel properties carve out a portion of their true price and displaying the artificially reduced remainder as their base rate. For example, their real rate is $ 100 but they’ll only list their price at $ 85, carving out the $ 15. They will then call the carved out portion as “resort fee” and add it back when it’s payment time.

4. Fake positive ratings and reviews

Experts always recommend checking reviews and ratings from previous customers to see if the hotel can truly live up to its promises. But what if the five-star ratings and positive reviews you see are nothing but a show? 

If it sounds like someone working for the hotel posted the review, then it probably is. Sneaky hotels can hire content writers or ask their staff to post fake positive reviews for them. Fake reviews are often vague, exaggerated, and flowery. 


6. Misleading location

Who doesn’t want to stay in a hotel that is “steps from the beach”, “close to the airport”, and “a short drive from the city’s best attractions”? Don’t give in yet — you might fall victim to “location inflation”. Hotels often get creative to make their location sound and look better than it actually is. 

Research the real location of the hotel to see if it’s actually steps from the beach or you might need to take a cab to see a patch of blue. 

In addition, the term “ocean view” room is different from “oceanfront” or “beachfront” room. The former means you get at least a small view of the sea from your room, while the latter is a room that honestly faces the ocean. 

7. Highly manipulated pictures

Have you ever received an item from an online shopping site that looks like the uglier, smaller, and more substandard version of the item shown on the product image? The same goes for hotels. Sneaky hotel properties can easily manipulate images to make their rooms and amenities look more attractive than it truly is. 

Using a wide-angle lens to make spaces look bigger and wider, cropping the image to exclude the eyesores, and changing the colors are just some of the photography tricks they use. Another red flag they’re hiding something is when they have more cropped photos of models than actual photos of their amenities. Other unscrupulous properties go to the extent of manipulating the window scenery or use a model room from 1995, which looks different from their current, actual hotel rooms. 

Author Bio: Carmina Natividad is a free-spirited writer who loves exploring the great outdoors. She loves traveling, eating, taking food and streetscape photographs, and simply enjoying new experiences and writing about them. To know more about hotels and travel blogs, you may visit Hotel Isaacs Cork.

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