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Is Rick Steve's et al recommendations out of touch with reality?

Is Rick Steve's et al recommendations out of touch with reality?

Oct 9th, 2000, 11:26 AM
  #1  
Jeff
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Is Rick Steve's et al recommendations out of touch with reality?

I've read on this forum some bad reviews about Rick Steve's and other's travel guides hotel recommendations.

Is it that Rick et al find these hotels while they are unknown charms, and that three years later the staff is so overworked and stressed out, while the hotels become shabby/overused from their popularity? Do they become victims of their own success?

I don't know if I want to take up people's recommendations on this forum for the same reason. Are these hotels so popular that they become places to avoid rather than stay at? I'm just wondering what your thoughts are on this.
 
Oct 9th, 2000, 11:36 AM
  #2  
nickie
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IMHO Rick Steves usually writes about hotels that are in the budget category, so they are generally clean and with perhaps other good things but may be a bit shabby. I like his books for their other content, but find my hotels from other searching. On this forum, I think if you ask for a recommendation for a more expensive hotel you can get it, as well as if you ask for a budget hotel, but if you don't specify I think the responses generally are for more budget than not.There are still gems in the budget category to be found, but I imagine you get what you pay for in many instances. Just my opinion of course, and that doesn't apply to bed and breakfasts necessarily.
 
Oct 9th, 2000, 11:36 AM
  #3  
Mode
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You might be correct in some cases, but in one case Rick (his folks) said a hotel was classy in Siena and there is no way it could have been classy in the last 20 years. So I guess each case is different and no generalizations can be made. I've learned from my mistakes and now want more than one recommendation and photos, if possible. Some travel guides may take a fee for an endorsement which is unfortunate or should be disclosed.
 
Oct 9th, 2000, 02:04 PM
  #4  
michelle
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This is just my own experience, but I've never been happy with hotels listed in a guide book. Once they have that element of popularity, it seems the prices automatically increase and the service and quality decrease.

I've booked rooms from first hand travelers' experiences. And I don't mean from someone who gets on this forum and starts touting hotels or offering lists or links -- that person is probably in the travel industry and looking to drive business to their suppliers. I look for people who can recount their travel stories and describe their adventures, and if they seem to like the same things I do, and they mention a hotel, I'll take a look. People who log on to discuss only hotels, restaurants, tours and other money-making ventures are not the sort that I would turn to for recommendations They're here for one reason -- to profit from you.

It's pretty easy to me to tell who is posting here for financial gain and who is here because they love travel and want to exchange information.
 
Oct 9th, 2000, 02:22 PM
  #5  
Ann
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Jeff, I agree with Nickie specifically about Rick Steves, since you asked. I love his books and his TV show because he tells you about other than just the "tourist" stuff to do (reference the long forum discussion on tourists versus travellers recently). But I'm way past the age when staying in a hostel or sharing a bath is appealing, whether for cost-savings or "atmosphere." I would encourage anyone to try some of the routes he suggests and to travel with the open mind and open heart he seems to, but to take recommendations for places to stay with a lot of salt.
 
Oct 9th, 2000, 03:27 PM
  #6  
lila
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Funny you should ask this, because when we were planning our trip to England a few years ago I contacted quite a few of Rick's recommended hotels. Most had shared baths, no distinction between smoking and nonsmoking rooms, they wanted full payment in advance, and to top it all off, their so-called budget accommodations were usually more expensive than a nicer chain type hotel room like Best Western, which DID have private baths and nonsmoking rooms.

I think some of those small business owners have jumped on the Steves bandwagon and are riding the publicity for all it's worth.

I agree with the former poster....I'm also past the age for bunk bed hostels and shared bathrooms, but for just about everything else, Steves' books are great.
 
Oct 9th, 2000, 03:41 PM
  #7  
Jeff
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We have had good luck w/ most of Steves' tips. However, like all advice, you got to take it w/a grain of salt. I owe him a debt in that he made us feel confident enough to go to Europe on our own, and he has helped our tourist dollar go farther. Granted, his popularity will probably result in overrunning certain small establishments. This is sadly ironic, in that he tried to tout out of the way places. We have had good luck with the hotels he has suggested and he is pretty accurate in his descriptions. There are, of course, exceptions, mistakes and differences of opinion in all guidebooks.
 
Oct 9th, 2000, 05:48 PM
  #8  
Catherine
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I stayed at a Steve's recommended hotel in Chenonceau, France and was very pleased with it. Dinner at 99 fr was reasonable and delicious. The room was cute looking and comfortable with a green tiled bathroom. There was even an outdoor pool which was a welcome break from being on one's feet all the time.
 
Oct 9th, 2000, 06:18 PM
  #9  
Ms Mystere
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Slick Rick takes backhanders. He gets paid to list certain hotels, or so one of his guides told me.
 
Oct 9th, 2000, 11:52 PM
  #10  
jj
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Well, for a guy who once disparaged tour companies and now runs one of his own, I wouldn't put it past him. Difficult to earn a good living in the travel business without kickbacks and commissions.
 
Oct 10th, 2000, 07:59 AM
  #11  
Jeff
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Hasn't this same type of thread arisen before. I have found over time that some people enjoy badmouthing Steves. I don't know if it is the fact that he is personally more visible than other travel writers (compared to an Arthur Frommer, etc.) or maybe it is his hokey brand of humor. I hope he isn't taking kickbacks, b/c he campaigns against them in his books, etc. That would make him hypocritical. Absent evidence, though, all we have heard is hearsay allegations. I think part of the allure of bashing Steves is the fact that many of us envy him. This is a guy that does what many of the rest of us would like to do: Travel more and get paid for it!!! I am one of those travel planners that consult morethan one travel guide; all have their quirks, biases, and inaccuracies (hence the need to consult more than one). IMHO Steves' is no worse than the others out there and better than many, but you have to take it for what it is.
 
Oct 10th, 2000, 09:13 AM
  #12  
Ian
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I just came back from backpacking Europe for 2+ months and reading many travel guides.....which tends to happen when you meet up with other fellow travelers. I have to agree with the last Jeff's comment "all have their quirks, biases, and inaccuracies (hence the need to consult more than one)". We all want THE best and most up-to-date information possible, but the logisitics of this request often make it impossible. I'm sure we've all had instances of incorrect addresses, etc. I think, in the end, no one travel guide is 'vastly superior' to the next. Remember that the real gems can't be found in any travel guide.
 
Oct 10th, 2000, 09:50 AM
  #13  
greg
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We have stayed at some of his recommended hotels sometimes because of lack of other sources of informations in the city we visited. His recommendations, as someone else said, tends to be in the budget categoty. We found them to be good values in THAT CATEGORY. Whether the rooms are clean, comfortable, or that the owners are friendly for each taste is very subjective. We did not always agree with him in these subjective areas.

His hotels tends to have lots of budget minded American and other travellers who carried English and foreign language versions of his books. This should not be a surprise but this was especially notable over other guide books perhaps because we were usually in small hotels.

We found Rick Steve's quide to be most uptodate. However, one must understand his taste and target audiences. Not all the travellers belong in this group and can benefit from his recommendations.
 
Oct 10th, 2000, 10:09 AM
  #14  
Mary Sue
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I think Rick Steves does an excellent job in recommending sites and giving information about them - i.e. best time of day to see them, best place to buy tickets, ways to avoid crowds, where to go to get the best view, etc. We found his maps to be horrible, though - got lost more than once using his directions, which were vague and confusing. Only used one of his hotel recommendations - it was fine, nothing fancy, which is what we expected.
 
Oct 10th, 2000, 11:27 AM
  #15  
Jeff
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Hi everyone, I suspect my post has taken a tangent from the original question.

I don't mean to slam R. S. or any of his like, my question was whether the hotels he (and his like) advertises keep up with improvements and customer service after being listed in a popular tourist guide or even on this Forum.

Have you ever experienced a hotel 'hitting the skids' after being recommended by this Forum, R.S, or others? I mean if everyone took the recommendations posted here and shows up at St Margeret's, The Morgan, and the Muguet, what happens? Do they become victims of their own popularity?
 
Oct 10th, 2000, 11:43 AM
  #16  
john
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Have used Rick Steves' books many times and they have been as accurate as any other guide book. Hotel information has been correct and other tips have saved much time and money.
 
Oct 10th, 2000, 12:26 PM
  #17  
nickie
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Jeff, back to your original post - I don't think the upper class hotels suffer from popularity, as indicated by their longevity, possibly because they are large enough to accomodate, and have the funds to renovate. You may very well be right in regard to smaller, less well funded establishments not being able to cope with sudden popularity.
 
Oct 11th, 2000, 06:54 AM
  #18  
Mike
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I like Rick Steves and what he trys to do. His books are to the point and useful plus I appreciate his opinions. However, like his hilltown Civita in Italy, he will never be as good as he was yesterday. He has become so popular that many of his suggestions including hotels have lost any resemblence of "backdoor". He is very frontdoor. This is why I liked his stuff before he became so popular. The Cinque Terre was magical ten years ago. Even so, he has a lot to offer the traveler and has good taste. Sincerely, Mike at www.footloosetravel.com.
 
Oct 11th, 2000, 11:40 AM
  #19  
Paule
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Theoretically, all of the Rick Steves' minions who are out there staying in his modest places are reporting back to him about the recommendations. He SAYS that he removes them from his guidebook if he hears bad things about them. I don't know if he does or not. I would imagine that some places fall victim to their own success; but I think most manage pretty well. They are, after all, only able to handle a certain number of people at a time and can't take more than there is room for.

I also find that one has to take Rick Steves' recommendations with many grains of salt. His hotel recommendations are truly geared to the budget category; his idea of classy would probably be a clean budget hotel for many of us. I used his book about 6 or 7 years ago while travelling in Great Britain, and found it adequate for staying in bed & breakfasts. I'd say that 3 out of 4 recommendations were good, and 1 out of 4 was lousy. By the time I travelled to Italy, I wanted to stay in better (mid-range) hotels, and few of them are listed in his book. His food recommendations are (from my experience) from bad to worse; I think that the restaurants are at much greater risk of falling victim to success than the hotels are.
The Rick Steves phenomenon is really amazing, though-- I truly don't think there is any "backdoor" left in Europe. It's not as if the Cinque Terre are the great secret of a select few who travel in less known places anymore! Yet he still calls it a "back door". To me, that's not really accurate.

Rick Steves' greatest strength, of course, is in structuring a trip in his guidebook so that everyone can feel comfortable about travelling. It's as if you signed up for a tour, but did it on your own. One really does have to keep his perspective in mind, and not take his recommendations as the last word. He tends to cover a lot of territory in a short period of time, and I know I prefer to slow down a bit and catch my breath while travelling. Still, his outlines are pretty good in figuring out what sights to see and when to see them.

Reading his books, you can still imagine the college kid getting to Europe and going "Gee Whiz, look at all this old stuff!"

 
Oct 16th, 2000, 05:10 AM
  #20  
Mary Ann
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We have done independent touring to Europe 3 times, twice using Rick. The major benefit, as mentioned above is his guidance on setting up a tour as well as the individual city sites. He is opinionated which helps you decide if it is or is not something you want to see. Most tour books have a philosophy towards travel, the real key is finding a philosophy that fits yours. His walking tours are very good and as far as hotels, he is up front in telling you the range of his recommendations (usually hostel up to 3 star). We have stayed at many of his recommendations (mostly 2 and 3*). We usually do not rely solely on his opinion, checking out web sites, other books, etc. Location and private bath are the two most important criteria, and he does provide all that data, it is just up to the readers to sort through and chose what is best for themselves. Happy travels.
 

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