Does One of the Biggest Travel Booking Sites Inflate Its Ratings?

A Reddit user just revealed the nuances of’s rating system

Polonia Hotel
What happens when the online rating system you're using to evaluate a hotel stay doesn't represent the full experience?
Macieklew/Creative Commons
By Tobias Carroll / September 16, 2019 6:00 am

Many people, this writer included, make use of to secure hotel accommodations when traveling. The website uses its own system to rate different places to stay, including hotels and hostels, and allows users to leave detailed reviews on what a given space does right and wrong.

But a Reddit user has noted a particular quirk in’s ratings system — one that may prevent users from highlighting a particularly terrible place to stay. User JfnS posted a screenshot of the “Rate this property” menu. For each, the lowest possible score, represented by an icon of a frowning face, has been selected.

The average review score given, with everything totaled up? A rather generous 2.5. rating system
Reddit user JfnS posted this screenshot revealing Booking’s rather generous rating system

Admittedly, a 2.5 is far from a glowing review, but neither is it a 1 or a zero. The thread that follows features other travelers who have had similar experiences, and some debate over how the system was designed, and to what end. 

Because it’s a discussion thread on the internet, it begins to lose focus pretty quickly, giving way to anecdotes about bad hotel experiences and unpleasant instances of booking hotels online. Still, the initial screenshot makes for a fascinating exploration of how the ratings we may trust online have come to be — and what data is and is not being factored into them.

It’s important to remember that Booking, like most sites of its ilk, is ultimately a revenue partner to every hotel it hosts, not an impartial third-party reviewer. If it’s critical integrity you’re looking for when comparing hotels, it would behoove you to seek out the ratings of someone who has no skin in the game.

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