Travelers of today have a lot more resources to help them with trip planning than they did twenty five or even ten years ago. In that time frame, internet travel agents and trip planning websites have sprung up like weeds. If you're planning a vacation on your own or with the help of a travel agent and would like to read some opinions by other guests before you decide, online reviews are your best and fastest way to go. Here is some advice on using them.
Where to find them
If you're booking through an online travel agent like Expedia or Travelocity, check for comments and report cards filled out on the hotels you're considering by other customers. Hotels.ca also has some bed and breakfast locations in its repertoire as does Bed and Breakfast.com. However, Tripadvisor.com has by far the most reviews on the most locations, since it doesn't require the owner of the B&B to register with them, as it is not only a booking site.
How many to read
You should read as many reviews as you have time for, even if they all sound the same. Each one contains a tiny nugget of information that you can file away while you're trying to find some place to stay near. You should also spread your search over several different websites just in case the opinions on one site are influenced by either the bed and breakfast's owner's postings or the angry postings of a single dissatisfied guest.
Read each review carefully. Does it sound like the others? If the opinions are similar but the content is different, the two reviewers agree. But if the language usage is the same, be careful - you may be looking at two reviews by the same person who is looking (for whatever reason) to color your view of the establishment. Remember that the internet can be a venue for anger, so just because one person says this is the worst B&B he's ever stayed in doesn't mean the place is necessarily a dump. Always look for details that suggest the person has actually been there, such as "the shower drain was slow" or "the staff helped me find my bus stop."
Making your decision
The purpose of reading hotel reviews is not to simply adopt the reviewer's opinion as your own, but to use the information they provide to form your own opinion. One reviewer might hate the noise made by the bar next door while the next might love to be able to walk over to enjoy a few drinks.