“It’s ranked number one according to TripAdvisor.” Andrew said as we waited to be picked up from the bus station in Selcuk a few days ago.
“It has a good atmosphere.” He said a few times. Finally, I gave up trying to figure out exactly what that meant, and asked,
“What does that mean. What kind of atmosphere?”
“There’s a pool, it’s supposed to be really social… a good place to meet other travelers.”
Off we went, and at first it seemed lovely. It did have a nice pool with big pillows and lounge chairs surrounding it. One guest lounged in a hammock, others sipped beer while playing pool or ping pong. It appeared to be one of those places that we have come to look forward to.And perhaps if we haven’t been traveling and staying in guesthouses around the world for the past (nearly) nine months, I wouldn’t have found anything to complain about. Fortunately, we’ve stayed at some really awesome places -some even being hostels that turned out to be amazing and much better than any guesthouse or hotel. Unfortunately, these places have raised the bar, and like I told another couple who asked me what I thought of this particular ‘Getaway:’ “It’s not the best, but it’s not the worst place we’ve stayed at.”
Either way, we have been more inclined to slow our roll lately and our plans for the day involved doing absolutely nothing. We lounged. Andrew read. I edited photos. It was awesome. But back to the point about this place: I wondered what all of the fuss was about on TripAdvisor if this place was ranked #1. I had a look and noticed right away that most reviewers had only reviewed a handful of places. This sometimes means someone who owns the place created a TripAdvisor profile and reviewed a few places (including their’s) to boost their own ranking. It’s unfortunate, but usually we (Andrew) can spot the fake reviews.
Because Andrew enjoys using TripAdvisor to look up places to stay in advance, I tend to be the one to review them after we’ve stayed. I’ve reviewed well over fifty guesthouses/hotels/hostels/restaurants since our trip started. And because we stay in a different place every few nights, I’ve come to appreciate the little things. Somethings you might laugh at, thinking how crazy would a guesthouse be to not provide a room with walls that went up to the ceiling- but I assure you, it has happened before. They might also be a bit silly to someone who only travels for one or two weeks at a time, like who needs wi-fi when you’re on vacation? -but they’ve become all kinds of important to me! What separates the good and the bad guesthouse is a fine line of knowing what good hospitality is and knowing that the devil is in the details. During our walk to Ephesus yesterday, we talked about this and I made notes in my head to share on the blog.
Here’s what separates a good and bad guesthouse:
1. a clean, well-lit room with an en-suite clean, well-lit bathroom: One that includes a fan or air-con/heat if needed at no extra charge. One that doesn’t offer a “double” bed by way of pushing two twin beds together. One that has walls that go all the way up to the ceiling. One that has outlets to charge camera batteries, computers, and i-phones. One that has a luggage rack so your backpack isn’t on the floor. One that has lights and possibly a nightstand next to the bed. One that comes with bath towels. One that has hot and cold water.
2. Quiet rooms. Noisy hallways are the worst. I’m not a morning person, and if I’m not staying up late with other people, there’s a reason I’ve gone to my room early!
3. Maid service. Yes, I can make my own bed but I’m staying at a hotel! The beauty of staying at a hotel is that someone else makes your bed for you!
4. If you say you have wi-fi, provide wi-fi. And make sure it works. In all areas.
5. Breakfast included: With Filtered coffee! No instant coffee please! Don’t be stingy: If you serve toast, serve butter. And please let there be a variety.
6. If you have a bar, and you have a happy hour at your bar, then please have reasonably priced drinks. A happy hour limited to overpriced cocktails does not help me when all I want is a beer!
7. Engage your guests, don’t just push tours on them, or try to sell them overpriced souvenirs.
This ‘Getaway’ was nice. Upon first glance it seemed like it would go on the “good” list of guesthouses that we stayed at. But it only satisfied a couple of my requirements in the end and it quickly dropped down to the “meh” list of places we’ve stayed at in the past nine months. I always feel bad giving a poor review on TripAdvisor, but I like to hope that they use my negative review to make a few changes and improve their facility or their customer service for future guests. Before traveling with Andrew, I was more inclined to show up in a city and check a few places out in person. Andrew is a much more prepared traveler than myself and likes to “reward” those with good reviews, hoping it improves service and expectations all around.