By Terry Trucco
We don’t know whether to be befuddled or embarrassed. We’re pretty partial to New York City hotels, but not a single one – not one! – landed on Trip Advisor’s annual Travel’s Choice list of the 25 Best Hotels in the World list published yesterday.
New York did better last year, when the city offered fewer rooms but apparently played to more enthusiastic Trip Advisor users. Though none made the cut for the top 25 international hotels in 2011, the plucky Casablanca in Times Square rolled in at number eight for best in the US. Alas, it – and every place else here in town – was shut out of that list this time.
But there were consolations if you scrolled down. New York hotels cleaned up in the Trendiest US Hotels category. Coming in at Number One was the Smyth Tribeca, a hotel we love. “A perfect little sanctuary in the middle of Tribeca,” wrote Trip Advisor reviewer Globe Trot a Lot. (But was it really because Kourtney Kardashian en famille checked in for three months last year?)
But wait, there’s more. Coming in at Number 14 was Room Mate Grace, the
hotel with the swimming pool in the lobby. At Number 15 was the Hilton New York Fashion District, at Number 17 was the Bryant Park, and at Number 18 was the W Hoboken (we’ll consider that a sixth borough).
Three New Yorkers made the cut for best US Luxury Hotels – the Plaza at Number 10, the Trump SoHo at Number 20 and the Surrey at Number 23. But perhaps the biggest surprise was the inclusion of a New York City hotel in the line-up for best Bargain Hotel. Squeezing in at Number 25 was the Verve Hotel in newly hip Long Island City, Queens.
Our take? We’d have plumped up New York’s numbers in the luxury category, adding the Crosby Street Hotel, the Greenwich, the Mandarin Oriental for the views, the Four Seasons for the lobby and perhaps the Pierre and the Lowell for quiet elegance (and because we like prewar buildings). We’d also slip the Standard, Mondrian SoHo, the James and the Hotel Americano into the trendy list.
We got so caught up in New York hotels we buried the lede. What is Trip Advisor’s best hotel in the world for 2012? It’s not Prague’s nine-room Golden Well (U Zlate Studne), which led the list in 2011 but came in at Number 10 this year. It’s – drumroll – the Phoenix Resort in San Pedro, Belize, a small, oceanside property with 30 condominium suites, a pool and lap pool and Belize’s only on-site fitness center.
Okay, we’ve never heard of it either, but it’s “unbelizeable!,” according to a reviewer in Perth, Australia and “as great as everyone says,” according to a reviewer in New York City. And they arrange red roses in the shape of a heart on the bed for honeymooners.
As in previous years, Trip Advisor picks strike us as interesting but curious. The Phoenix Resort sounds appealing — consistently appealing from the parade of raves we read (the only downbeat note was from a guest whose room was next to a rowdy party of smokers). But is it really the best hotel in the world?
This is our objection to crowd sourcing. When you mix everything together — luxury hotels and hostels, urban hotels and island resorts, boutique hotels and chains — things get messy. Definitions blur, even when categories appear to be clearly set. One person’s luxury hotel is another’s three-star. One’s idea of a trendy hotel is another’s notion of a classic. And service? Easy to recognize but tough to quantify.
We like Trip Advisor and its breadth. We consult it, publish its reviews as a sidebar to our Overnight New York reviews and reflexively disregard any that are too positive (plants) and too negative (vendettas). We also like reading Trip Advisor reviews because they’re up to date (you know if the pool is temporarily out of order or if the third floor is being painted).
But when it comes to Top 25 lists can an algorithm really score this better than a human?
Any thoughts on Trip Advisor’s 2012 picks?