This month's "Across the Cafe Table" question asks how I choose a hotel. My answer: Bad reviews.
In this age of instant opinions, when anyone can post to TripAdvisor while waiting in the checkout line, it's hard to know what to trust. It's tempting for unscrupulous hotel managers to write their own reviews or pay others to do so. When I see an endless string of "Loved it, it's perfect!" I tend to get suspicious.
Certainly I'm not booking the place with the bullet holes, the whimsical electricity supply or the faucet water with the unusual color and texture. Or the one whose thin walls admit enough entertaining sounds from the adjacent room to compensate for the non-functioning television.
But the occasional "Room service was slow" or "pool wasn't warm enough" is a sign of authenticity. A few gripes mixed in with the glow are the salt on the carmel, the dash of vermouth in the gin, and reason enough to book.