I love best hotel lists, so when Tripadvisor’s Travelers’ Choice awards for the top hotels of 2011 landed in our e-mail box today, I clicked on as fast as I could. Hmmm. Did you know the top hotel in the world is . . . the Golden Well (U Zlate Studne) in Prague, Czech Republic?
Never heard of it? Me, neither, so I eagerly scoured Tripadvisor’s write-up and visitor photos.
With 17 rooms and two suites, this “small, luxury boutique hotel near Prague Castle’s walls” offers air conditioning, room service “during limited hours” and in-room massage. And though there’s no fitness center, “aerobics, basketball, boating and bird watching are nearby.” The pictures – clean, simple rooms, updated traditional décor — reminded me of a slightly more upmarket version of the Hotel-de-Fleurie, a small Left Bank hotel I like that’s pleasant, comfortable, dependable but not the Savoy. But according to Christian 004 of Brussels, Belgium, “everything was impeccable” at the Golden Well.
The second top hotel in the world was Anastasis Apartments in Imerovigli, Greece
— “a romantic getaway – nothing but the best,” writes Robynies of Brisbane, Australia.
And the third top hotel in the world? Riad Le Calif in Fes, Morocco – “amazing Riad in Fes,” opines Leogetz of Sao Paolo, Brazil.
I’m partial to New York hotels, for obvious reasons, so since none made the world cut, I checked out the top 25 US hotels. Coming in at number eight was the Casablanca Times Square – “Probably the best hotel I’ve stayed in,” writes SR202 of Gainsville, Florida – a stylish boutique with a not-too-in-your-face Moorish theme. (The Casablanca also came in ninth for top service in the US.) Though I haven’t stayed recently, I generally liked this small hotel when I reviewed it for The New York Times shortly after it opened. (I like the Library, a sister hotel, better.) But this is the best hotel Tripadvisor contributors believe New York has to offer?
Scrolling further, I spotted the Ace NYC coming in at number six among the world’s ten top trendy hotels. Yes! And it was hard to disagree with Jansson-Olsson’s verdict: “A hotel at its best except boring location in the evening.” Still, I’d have added others like Standard, The James or the deliciously quirky Crosby Street, to name a few. None is perfect but they’ve got style to spare.
So what to think? I like Tripadvisor for the wide net it casts, plethora of heartfelt opinions and up-to-date commentary. You’ll always know if a hotel is in the midst of a renovation or if the pool needs repair. It’s easy to read a list of reviews, toss out the ones that sound too good – or too horrid – to be true, and come away with a pretty clear picture of a property. That’s why Tripadvisor reviews – and those of other crowd-sourced sites – are next to every review on Overnight New York.
But algorithms aren’t humans. When hotels of all flavors — five-stars to hostels — get mixed together things get messy. One person’s luxury hotel is another’s three-star. And service? Easy to recognize, but tough to quantify.
Of course, top 25 lists are designed to drop jaws and provoke discussion. For that, give Tripadvisor’s 2011 list an A.