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So what do you all think of Karen Brown's recommendations?

So what do you all think of Karen Brown's recommendations?

Mar 27th, 2001, 05:57 PM
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You are facing one of the facts of traveling. Not all hotels will be great and not all recommendations will be to your liking. People will then spend more time telling people about their miserable experinence at some dump and laugh about it than they will describing the place that was perfect. Do your best and go with the flow. KB gives good info. If you don't like the place when you arrive, don't check in. I have never found Europe "sold out". There are too many small places for this to happen too often. Enjoy Europe and then take notes on the one dump you end up with as that is the one you will remember and chuckle about.
Mar 27th, 2001, 06:46 PM
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I am wondering which B&B's or Inns anyone went to using KB that they liked in either Provence or French Riviera please.
Mar 27th, 2001, 10:07 PM
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Tourist: The hotel that I found in her book that was wonderful was the Auf Schonburg in Oberwesel, Germany. She also features the Falkenstein hotel, although I found out about it elsewhere. Both of these I've mentioned on the forum many times. The stinker was the Gasthof Frauendorfer. Yes, it's cheaper than many of her selections, but that wasn't really the problem - what was the problem was the pervasive urine odor of the room, and the argumentative attitude of the proprieters when asked politely for a change (I checked out, even though I had to pay for the room, and got a great room for the same price down the street at the Posthotel Partenkirchen- which happens to also be in KB's book).
Mar 28th, 2001, 03:01 PM
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We used KB's guides exclusively when we were in Italy over Christmas and New Year in 1999. We loved La Fatoressa in Galuzzo, outside of Florence-stayed there over Christmas. We used the guides in England also and were never disappointed.
Mar 28th, 2001, 04:24 PM
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My experience with KB is that some of the places were good and others were not. I found out accidently when speaking with the owners of a B&B that they pay a couple of hundred dollars a year to be listed in Karen Brown's books. So maybe that's why when negative comments are sent to KB they are ignored. I did email KB to ask about how she could be objective about places that pay and never got a response. As with any big company KB is good at ignoring what it doesn't want to acknowledge.

Mar 28th, 2001, 11:54 PM
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I find that very interesting. Thanks!!!
Mar 29th, 2001, 02:04 PM
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Nickie - thanks for taking the trouble to reply, much obliged.

Very interesting to hear that KB gets paid for listings. I trust Fodor's does not...
Mar 30th, 2001, 04:15 AM
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Hi , I think that in general KB recomendations are good. She cannot please everybody ... I have used a few of her suggestions with different results but this only proves this fact. I believe that her best recomendations are those for Italy.
By the way the IL Falconieri is very good, the restaurant is excellent, for me it is fine that they demand to wear a jacket...( although I do not remember is this was the case), in Cordoba the Abacasis was a simple hotel, inexpensive too, but the rooms were done in good materials as well as the bathrooms, the service was good, had a garage which was a plus... may be it is not what you expect if you are used to stay in ,in
American chain hotels, ( as I recall no TV) but to me
different cultures, different values are part of the pleasures of traveling.
I didn t care for the famous America Hotel in Granada, cute but too little space
I rather stay down the Cuesta too. i found the America fine for lunch.
In essence, each of us has different
priorities ...Good luck.
Apr 4th, 2001, 08:25 AM
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I am a big fan of Karen Brown's books and was troubled by the report that inns pay to be in her books. I contacted her office and asked about it. I received a PROMPT reply from Tony Brown stating that in twenty-five years of business KB has never charged a fee for any recommendation. If I could figure out how to cut and paste the reply I would.

Apr 4th, 2001, 08:51 AM
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There is a nice interview article with Karen Brown this month on www.about.com at


Karen Brown is now an innkeeper herself


-- near San Francisco - - anybody ever stay there?

The article does not reference anything that would address the issue of payments for inclusion. I am inclined to believe the post by michelle - - if cutting and pasting the reponse is a problem please feel free to "forward" the reply on to me, and I can cut and paste it here.

Best wishes,

Apr 4th, 2001, 11:20 AM
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I read Karen Brown sometimes just for comparison, but don't really think she has anything to offer over other guidebooks myself. I will not pay for her guidebooks, though, as they are just not the kind of accommodations I will want repeatedly and I don't care for B&Bs, either, so I mainly review them online which has limited information, but I still want to see what she says and what she has listed. I just consider it one piece of information, but I never got an answer (another post) as to why something in her published book is not online with no note saying why. I suspect (although I am a skeptic, I admit, but it is my training and education) that KB may be playing around with semantics in their response to the query. Possibly the info from Jose is just wrong, lots of people get things wrong, but I note that KB's response is somewhat evasive and not incompatible with Jose's -- her org. merely says there is no charge for a recommendation; Jose's says they charge to be published. I'll bet both could very easily be true, and I'll bet that explains the mystery of why some places even though in her book "have requested" not to be online--I'll bet she charges them to be online, that's why, not that they don't want the business which would be rather odd. There is nothing online that you can't get out of her book (ie, it is not a direct booking site) so there is no logical reason they would not want to be on the web site. My skepticism leads me to believe that she may very well charge places to be both in her both and on the web site (probably separate fees), but when she reviews places and informs one she thinks they would be allowed to be in her book, that "recommendation" does not cost anything. As I said, call me a skeptic, but I would not be surprised given what I perceive to be evasiveness of Tony's response at KB enterprises. If that's all he said, I note that he never denied they charge a fee for a place to be listed in the book.
Apr 4th, 2001, 12:27 PM
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Forwarded to me by michele:


After nearly 25 years in business in the public domain it is always
galling to have to defend oneself from uninformed criticism, usually from
people who don't have the courage to stand up behind their self serving
commentary. However, to set the record straight I can assure you that we
do NOT request payment for inclusion in our guides, a fact that can be
readilly confirmed by few random phone calls to any of the approximatley
2,500 properties that are happy to be included in our guides. If you feel
further explanation is needed please contact me directly.


Tony Brown

I informed Michele that she could write back to Tony Brown, and let him know that he can answer this allegation personally by going to


(URL for this thread).

Maybe he will address the question of payment for inclusion on the (www.karenbrown.com) website. If they are already in the book, I don't think I see a problem with their paying to be there. In fact, I am amazed at the generosity of the karenbrown.com website. What other publisher essentially gives away their books on the internet?

Apr 4th, 2001, 12:29 PM
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Here is the wording from Tony Brown at [email protected]:
"However, to set the record straight I can assure you that we do NOT request payment for inclusion in our guides.."

Rex will post the whole response when he gets a chance. I can't do it.

Apr 4th, 2001, 04:17 PM
John H
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Like most guide books, KB has properties at varying price points. I have stayed at places in the US125-170 range and have enjoyed the hotels I have used. In Provence, I have stayed at the Jules Cesar in Arles. Although I have not stayed at La Grande Bastide in St Paul de Vence, I have heard good things about it as well. I usually try to cross-check references with multiple travel books or web sites -- I figure it helps validate my choices.
Apr 4th, 2001, 05:00 PM
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So Tony Brown suggests calling a few of the places listed in Karen Brown's books to ask if they pay to be in the books. How many of them do you think will answer "yes" to such an unsolicited phone call from a stranger? If they want to remain listed in the book, do you think they will really give you the lowdown? They know what side their bread is buttered on!

I have stayed at many Karen Brown recommended places and the subject sometimes came up in conversation with the owners. Every time I inquired if they paid to be listed in Karen Brown's book they answered "YES!" and even told me how much it cost per year. Why would they have lied to me? Next time I will ask for a copy of their canceled check or their credit card statement!!!!!

BTW, I noticed that Tony Brown said "we do NOT request payment". Maybe they don't request it but they REQUIRE payment. It's all a question of translation. Why doesn't Tony Brown say that they never ever accept any money, checks or credit card payments from the places listed in their books? Trueman
Apr 4th, 2001, 05:12 PM
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Thanks to mail-a-friend (does it work?) this ought to be able to resolve with a clear direct answer.

E-mail this thread, complete with the URL of the thread itself, for easy answering.

Apr 6th, 2001, 07:41 PM
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Don't know Karen Brown's guides, but I like Relais Chateaux properties in general and put more faith in that credential.
Apr 7th, 2001, 08:35 AM
Steve the Guide
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Hello. In my (modest) opinion, Karen B. Hotels (Inn &B/B) are very good - I am speaking only about Italy recc.- choice is very wise & serious. The "only" problem is they are, in general, too much expensive. The standard is almost the same, and same high price. You can find many nice Hotels (Farmhouse, B/B etc) in Italy cheaper, by internet, by reading others good guides such "Guide de Auberges de Charme(also in English).
I don't undestand because they don't show in Hotels with different prices and standard.
Apr 7th, 2001, 11:09 AM
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Last summer I went to England and France, stayed at a total of 12 different places. I found them through word of mouth (close friends), this forum, travel agent, several different guidebooks and KB guides. Some were charming, some in great locations, some very good value - only the two I found through KB guides were all of the above. I guess I don't care if she charges as long as the listings are good and accurate. You do have to look pretty hard to find the inexpensive places but at least in France I found them in her book. I've noticed in her Italy book that most of the B&Bs don't take credit cards which seems like it will be a problem for me. I have always used plastic to cover deposit. Does anyone know if this is the case with other places in Italy and if so how do you pay for deposits?
Apr 8th, 2001, 11:29 AM
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Just for info ...

Relais is DEFINITELY and UNASHAMEDLY a marketing organisation. Fees for inclusion are HUGE (thousands of dollars pa, I believe). That helps select out "inappropriate" organisations, but also indicates that membership cannot be regarded as a disinterested recommendation. Having said that, I am sure it is a very well run operation which does much to ensure that its quality standards are maintained - I use it a lot.

As for the KB thing, leave me out ...

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