There are many lessons I’ve learned on this trip around the world and this is one of them: Just because there are 4 gold stars on the front of a building does not mean there’s a four star hotel on the other side.

I know! You’re shocked!

But because I care about your travel experiences and would hate for you to be led astray as I once was, I’m going to share with you some insight into how you can tell if the dwellings you’ve honourably purchased online are in fact as they say they are:


  1. The woman at the front desk acknowledges your presence: This is a good thing! If she looks you in the eye, offers to help or offers you a map of the area, you may indeed be at a reputable establishment. If not. You’re probably at the hotel we stayed in.
  2. When they finish cleaning your room it is in fact cleaner than when they came in . True fact. When the dirt appears after the housekeeper has been in, four-star it is not.
  3. Calling for room service results in both a) someone picking up the phone and b) a meal being delivered to your room. If instead, like us, you check in after a long day with tired children and when you call room service no one answers, then when you call the restaurant they tell you to call the front desk where the woman who just ignored you stays consistent, well then you’re with us.

    Self-entertaining in our "4-Star"

    Self-entertaining in our "4-star"

  4. They can find their own hotel on a map. Not. Kidding.
  5. You aren’t afraid to pull out the sofa bed.  Just going to let you think about this one.
  6.  The shuttle bus operates at times when people might use it. We lucked out. Our shuttle ran the 1000 miles into the city of Seville at approximately 7 a.m and 10:30 pm. Yup. The rest of the time? It sits in front of the hotel looking pretty.
  7. Your children don’t have to walk on a highway to the nearest restaurant. We looked like vagrants marching single file along the 4-laner.
  8. You don’t need binoculars to see the city you’re “overlooking”. I don’t know where they took their pictures of Seville from but it wasn’t from the hotel.

    Seville in the distance

    There it is. C'mon you see it right? That flash of light in the distance? Exactly.

  9. Your entire family doesn’t sink into depression at the though of two more nights.
  10. You don’t collapse on the desk of the next four star on the verge of tears when they offer you a smile and a map on arrival…but hey that’s another story. ;)

What about you? Ever bought in to an online description that didn’t quite pan out as planned? Share in the comments below. Let’s commiserate.