Is This Cause For a Negative Hotel Review?

hotels do listen
Written by Charlie

What makes for a negative hotel review? Here are two recent hotel examples of problems and why I would or would not make a negative review.

You do not have to read very far on the internet to find negative reviews on just about everything! Part of it is that people are likely more prone to write and comment on the negative than to take the extra effort to publicly announce the positive. Also, it is a good way to help your fellow traveler know what they are getting. Hotels have been getting tired of the negative hotel reviews that people leave and some have threatened to charge people for them (and may even get protection from some kind of reviews). But, what actually is cause for a negative hotel review?

Is This Cause for a Negative Hotel Review?

I will admit up front – there are many times that I stay at hotels that I am actually searching for something that may be deemed negative because my tendency is to just go with the positive on what I am getting (and I want to make note of things that many people might consider negative)! When it comes to hotels, I select a hotel based on what I know about it/amenities/location and when those things are met, I am a pretty happy camper hotel occupant.

But what exactly is cause for a negative hotel review? I mean, I have stayed at some hotels that were just atrocious – pools of dried blood on the sheets, a lot of hair in the bathtub, cigarette butts in the toilet and around the room, the door to my room left open everyday by hotel staff (when I left a Do Not Disturb flag on it), just to name a few! Obviously, those are things that call for a negative hotel review.

Then there are other things that are single incidents that you know are fixable. Do you use these to make for a negative hotel review or do you rate by something else (which I talk about below)? Here are two examples that happened in two of my recent hotel stays (different hotels, brands, and cities).

Hotel 1

The first hotel is a Radisson Blu, the upper level of the Club Carlson brands. The room was excellent and comfortable though minimalist in the design (not a negative in my book).

But, here was the problem with it. I had had a long day and while I was reading in bed, I fell asleep. I woke up around 1am and went to turn the lights off (trying to grope for the switches so I did not have to really open my eyes!). I could not turn the main light off! I tried every switch and nothing worked. There was one switch near the door that should have been that switch but it did not work for anything in the room. My next step was to pull the room key card out of the slot on the wall which would make the electric shut off – but the light stayed on.

So, I called down to the desk to ask about  it and was told it was the switch near the door. That made me relieved that I was not completely stupid as I had already tried that one! I told them that and they said they would send an engineer from the staff up to check on it. I declined because I knew it would take a bit, I would have to change, and it could end up with my having to switch rooms. I just piled the pillows to block the light from my eyes as best as I could and went back to sleep.

Worthy of a Negative Hotel Review?

My answer on this one is NO because it was a simple electrical problem – most likely. I am sure not every room is like that. I will certainly mention the issue when I finally write the post but just so that people know about it in case they have a similar situation there. The reason I won’t rate it negative is the response of the staff. They were very polite about it, offered to get someone up there right away, and pressed a little to make sure I did not want that. They made the effort – the decision to sleep with the light on the rest of the night was mine. So, I will still give this hotel a positive overall review because it was something small that could have been fixed and they were only too eager to do that.

Hotel 2

The next night, I was at a different hotel. This hotel was a very highly rated hotel in a great location. The room itself was large and plenty of useful furniture (though really weird colors – to me). The problem in this hotel was the water. If the room has a nice bathtub, I like to use it. It is kind of a nightly hotel ritual of mine. In this case, it was an early morning bath. I turned the water on, felt it to make sure I liked the temperature and left it to get my coffee.

After a while, I came back and shut it off. I put my feet in – and could not believe the extreme heat! I quickly got out and it felt like I could feel the blisters already rising on my feet. I checked the cold water faucet – boiling hot. I checked the hot water faucet – boiling hotl I checked the sink with the same result. Now, I have had no hot water before but never had no cold water. This was serious enough that it was dangerous. Even the hot water was much hotter than it should be.

I decided to leave it for a bit and let it cool down to wash up since I was not about to take a shower in that kind of heat. After waiting an hour, the water was still extremely hot to the touch (the water already in the tub). Before I left the room, I tried the faucets one more time and the water was back to normal.

When I checked out, I made sure I let them know about the problem and how dangerous it was. They apologized and that was it.

Worth of a Negative Hotel Review?

Now, this is a little bit different. No, I still would not rate the hotel negative but would take a bit off for their response. If this had been in the US, I would have expected the manager to come out to make sure I was alright when I started talking about dangerously hot water that burned my feet (because of fear of legal action or something). But, this was not the US and it was little more than a somewhat automatic apology from the desk clerk.

Did I expect points? Absolutely not but I did expect some type of questions about it and what I had tried to see if it could help them fix it from happening again. Or, maybe just a note to send to their maintenance about the issue. Still, it was a pleasant stay so I will simply make mention of it and my disappointment of the response but not put it in the negative hotel review category.

What Do I Think Rates a Negative Hotel Review In Situations Like These?

In these, and similar, situations, I rely mostly on the response of the hotel. These incidents are typically one-off and more of maintenance issues than hotel issues overall. I understand things can happen. But, for me, it is all in how the hotel responds and handles the situation. Did they try to fix it? Did it sound like it was a boilerplate response to complaints? Did they show concern for the customer and the situation? Did they make a note of it? All of these things can show me if the hotel itself is used to these kinds of incidents or if they are really just special circumstances.

What would you consider is cause enough to make a negative hotel review – either on a blog or on TripAdvisor? Do you agree with how I rate situations like this in that light?

Some of the links on Running with Miles are affiliate links that pay a commission if a purchase is made. Running with Miles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.


  • there are many places in the world where the water gets progressively hotter. I think it has to do with the hot water heater being turned on whenever you turn that side of the faucet on. I think its definitely noteworthy to let others know so that they won’t get hurt. But I also always check my 4 year old daughter’s bath water when I start filling it up and when it is done to make sure its not too hot for her and I’m in New Jersey…….so maybe its just you?

    • I will make a note of it in the review for sure. And I do the same for my kids. I had not done it this time because I checked the water for a bit when I started it and it had felt good. I (foolishly) thought it was still ok. That was definitely on me for not double-checking.

  • I actually find (and usually write) reports that aren’t 5 star or 1 star. The 2, 3, 4 star reports are more informative. Where you say don’t write a negative review, I would just knock off a star or two. In each case above, you were inconvenienced and did not have the problem fixed because that was not worth additional inconvenience.

    • That’s right – it would not be one way or another with me as well. I just meant I would not put the entire hotel/stay in a negative light as a result of that issue. Thanks for the thoughts!

  • To me it’s also about the response. I rarely rate hotels but the one time I did was because of the poor response from the hotel. I stay at this particular large hotel for 5 days every year so I am familiar with the hotel. One night after a long day I wanted to take a shower before dinner but there was no water. The hot and cold water did not yield anything from the shower or bath faucet although the sink did have water. I called down to the front desk and asked for engineering, they insisted I didnt need them and must not know how the shower worked. After 3 calls and my assurances that there was something wrong with the shower, they reluctantly sent engineering up who had to replace a cartridge in the shower before water would flow. Clearly it wasnt user error but the hotel did not acknowledge that and had the gall to leave a message asking if I had “figured out” how to use the shower. Now I didn’t ask for anything, nor was I expecting anything other than to be believed when I said there was something wrong and not be treated like an idiot when it was their fault. The lack of concern or willingness to immediately send someone up to fix it was telling about the management of the hotel and I felt compelled to review that.

  • Are you kidding? No negative review for a clear safety issue????? That’s a FAIL. Number one thing for a hotel is to ensure guest’s safety.

    • No, it is/was a problem – I am not saying it wasn’t. It will be noted in my review but I am just saying that I don’t think I would taint the entire hotel stay in light of that single issue. It will not be a 5 star review for sure!

  • I just left an all-inclusive property that was very nice and very fun (important since it was all-inclusive). I didn’t give it a horribly negative rating, but I gave it a 3 out of 5 because the food was so bad — also very important for an all-inclusive. With just good to great food, I would have given it a 5.