When you are thinking about booking a holiday in Spain you should bear in mind that the absolute best way to get the information you need is to consult user-generated reviews. Hotels will describe themselves on their websites and in their marketing information and travel agents will tell you what they think you want to hear. However, nothing beats a customer review for impartiality and if you really want to know what it’s like to stay at a particular hotel, dine at a particular restaurant or even sun yourself on a particular beach the only way to really find out is to see what the reviews say.
The largest holiday review website in the world is without a doubt TripAdvisor. At the time of writing (Jan 2013) their website carries 2,052,910 user-generated reviews of hotels, restaurants and things to do in Spain, covering all of the major tourist destinations and a few outliers too. When consulting reviews it is important to remember that you can’t base your opinion on just one review. It’s therefore important to find a source of multiple perspectives on the same experience and TripAdvisor is excellent in this regard.
A website with a slightly different focus is HolidayWatchdog.com which also carries a large number of user reviews of Spanish holidays but more from the perspective of package holidays. Here you’ll find reviews of particular cruise packages and holiday packages. In many respects the site is very similar to tripadvisor but may have a slightly different demographic writing the reviews and this may be worth bearing in mind when you try to construct a balanced opinion on the place that you plan on visiting.
Another source of information would be journalistic reviews that you find in newspapers with the Daily Telegraph in the UK being particularly focussed on Spain. The advantage of this type of review is that the reviewer is generally attempting to be more objective than the average person who has left a review online. In general, people are far more keen to get online and leave negative reviews than positive ones and this bias affects the impression you’ll get from customer-generated reviews. Newspapers also tend to be better written, and more detailed than many online reviews that you may find. The downside, however, is that many of these journalists have their tabs paid by the companies or tourist boards promoting the places they are staying in. As such, although written in a more objective tone than many online reviews they are often far less impartial.
For a happy medium, perhaps, the travel blog is the place to go. Many people writing these are aiming for a journalistic sense of objectivity and attention to detail whilst not suffering from the impartiality caused by the patronage of the travel companies. Of course, quality varies from blog to blog but if you can find yourself a good travel blogger reviewing the resort, beach, or town that you plan to visit you may find yourself not just with an honest perspective but with plenty of new information about the place.