TripAdvisor on trial: Sevilla

LAST UPDATED: 27 Aug, 2012 @ 20:43
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TripAdvisor on trial: Sevilla

By Rund Abdelfatah

AS the shining capital of Andalucia, Sevilla attracts tourists from around Spain and across the globe.

With so many different visitors passing through the city each day, hotels and restaurants must attempt to meet the needs of a vastly mixed clientele.

Yet this diversity seems to be under-represented, and indeed neglected, on TripAdvisor.

As Gary Biston, owner of restaurant La Vista de Medina, notes: “TripAdvisor users are predominantly English speakers from the United States, Canada and Britain.”

The result is a highly skewed perspective of what qualifies as the ‘best’ places to eat and sleep, which fails to consider the many other demographics that do not contribute to the site’s ratings.

“Spanish speakers largely make recommendations by word-of-mouth, and many visitors probably do not even know that the site exists,” he added.

With this in mind, we consulted six experts and eleven travel guides to evaluate TripAdvisor’s listings for the top five hotels and restaurants in Sevilla.

Suprisingly, TripAdvisor’s number one hotel, Casa 1800, was absent from nearly all their lists. In fact, one expert, renowned Spanish hotelier Don Gonzalo del Rio Gonzalez-Gordon, described the choice as ‘appalling’, citing its ‘bad decoration and general mediocrity’.

Likewise, the number four hotel, Hotel Holos, did not appear on any other list and most experts had not even heard of it.

And the number five pick, El Rey Moro Hotel Boutique, made it into just one other top five.

But not all of TripAdvisor’s selections were that far off.

The number two hotel, AlmaSevilla-Hotel Palacio de Villapanes, showed up in six other guides including Lonely Planet and topped travel writer Fiona Flores Watson’s list, with i-escape inspector Guy Hunter- Watts putting it second.

Additionally, number three Corral del Rey was unanimously agreed upon by our experts as a ‘perfect chic, if pricy city retreat’ and ranked number one for Sevilla Tourist Guide and two others.

But while some of TripAdvisor’s Top Five Sevilla hotels held up when put to the test, its restaurant picks fared pretty poorly.

The number one spot, La Pincelada, number four Bar La Corona, and number five La Mojigata, all failed to make it onto any of the travel guide or expert lists.

Top ranking La Pincelada only has 18 reviews and opened just two months ago!

The only restaurant almost universally voted into the top five among the experts was Vineria san Telmo, which our own Dining Secrets of Andalucia editor Jon Clarke, first located four years ago.

More contested was the number two pick, Eslava, with some experts strongly advocating in its favour while others like Don Gonzalo contended that ‘while good, it is not worthy of second place’.

This controversy – which encourages us to challenge the thinking of even expert minds – is noticeably lacking on TripAdvisor

Just one bad review can severely outweigh many positive ones, thereby lowering the establishment’s ranking.

For example, Don Gonzalo’s hotel Casa No 7 in Sevilla, currently placed at number 112 on TripAdvisor ranks sixth on i-escape, a UK-based travel guide that features reviews by a team of independent travellers.

With such discrepancies, tourists should exercise caution when they consult TripAdvisor, keeping in mind that all may not be as it seems.

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According to TripAdvisor

5 Top Restaurants in Sevilla:
1. La Pincelada
2. Bar La Corona
3. Vineria San Telmo
4. Eslava
5. La Mojigata

5 Top Hotels in Sevilla:
1. Hotel Casa 1800
2. AlmaSevilla – Hotel Palacio de Villapanes
3. Corral del Rey
4. Hotel Holos
5. El Rey Moro Hotel Boutique

According to the Olive Press

5 Top Restaurants in Sevilla:
1. Restaurante Zelai
2. La Azotea
3. Vineria San Telmo
4. Eslava
5. Egana Oriza/Abantal

5 Top Hotels in Sevilla:
1. Corral del Rey
2. Hotel Alfonso XIII
3. Las Casas del Rey de Baeza
4. AlmaSevilla – Hotel Palacio de Villapanes
5. EME Catedral

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3 COMMENTS

The Olive Press are not responsible and do not moderate individual comments before they are posted. Anyone who uses racist, sexist, homophobic or xenophobic language or hate speech will be blocked.
  1. As with all such lists, they are always highly subjective. For example, I don’t agree with your top restaurant choice (Zelai? Really?) and your fifth choice is actually two restaurants, one with a Michelin star. What’s up with that? Do you really think Zelai is better than a Michelin star restaurant? Which is also the problem with TA – they don’t differentiate between a neighbourhood tapas bar and a posh restaurant.

    I don’t think any savvy traveller would take Trip Advisor reviews at face value, but it can be a useful starting off point when planning a trip. Their top five restaurant list this week is ridiculous, other than Vineria San Telmo and Eslava (which are normally in spots 1 and 2). The other three are all new and have clearly got friends to post positive reviews, as most of them are recent and posted by people who have only posted one review. Doesn’t take an expert to work that out. Heck, not long ago a take-away pizza slice joint was TA’s choice for third best restaurant here.

    Re: some of the hotels you didn’t like. Personally I think Hotel Casa 1800 is lovely and it has some fabulous rooms, including rooftop ones with private jacuzzis. Hotel Holos is a very special niche hotel, mostly catering to people who enjoy modern architecture and like being outside the centre. I like it a lot.

    Casa Hotel Nº7 is also a niche hotel and, while very charming, isn’t going to be for everybody, especially with their prices.

    I also like all the hotels in your list, but Las Casas del Rey de Baeza is the only one that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Since you seem concerned about diversity being under-represented surely you should have chosen a more diverse selection yourselves.

    But then again, I’m not an “expert”. ;)

  2. Wow! Azahar, you’re cool! I agree with neither list, but have found the whole conversation entertaining. so thanks all, please continue not keeping your O P I N I O N S to yourselves. Very much appreciated. :)

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