Better left unsaid

Review sites are a godsend when it comes to choosing the right accommodation, but now one of the most highly respected sites has being accused of featuring reviews that have been paid for, its hard to know who to trust.

Recently back from Rio, we chose a comfortable B&B based largely on the rating from one such site. Ranked 3rd in Rio, it was not too expensive compared to other places, and its position in Santa Teresa made it quite appealing.

Santa Teresa - Rio de Janeiro

Recent reviews declared the property “Absolutely outstanding, it was the highlight of our trip”, another said “A warm, welcoming, spotless B & B with a great view”, and the other reviews stated that owners were wonderfully helpful, and so on and so on. It sounded perfect.

When we arrived we were greeted by a lovely man who didn’t speak English, but insisted on telling us in considerable detail how everything worked – in Portuguese. He even helped us up one flight of stairs with our suitcase. Unfortunately, he broke the handle, so we decided to take it up the other three flights ourselves. He showed us to our room, still telling us everything we needed to know, and then Bill the owner showed up. Apparently he’d been waiting for us to arrive. We’re not entirely sure where, after all, we’d come in through the front door and passed through the living room, the only way in, or perhaps there was a secret entrance. He continued with the ‘orientation’ and suggested somewhere nearby we might like to try for a meal tonight.

On our way out we met Bill’s wife, Sue, who totally disagreed with Bill’s recommendation for a meal saying it was a horrible place and she didn’t know why he’d told us to go there – perhaps because he hated us? She said we’d be better off in the centre of Santa Teresa. Advice was given on where we might to consider, and that because the hill was so steep we’d need to get a taxi back, unless we wanted thighs like elephants. Already having elephant thighs, I disregarded that comment.

English: Rio de Janeiro slum (right) on hill, ...

Next morning, after tripping up twice on several pieces of loose parquet flooring, we went for breakfast and a word with Bill about a few small things.

  1. In a city like Rio where you are told not to wear jewellery, carry lots of cash etc etc, was it a problem that our patio doors, which opened onto a communal patio, didn’t lock? Bill: Oh no, it wasn’t a problem, and besides they were only aluminium keys which kept breaking.

2. We can’t seem to use the safe in our room. Bill: No, I lost the key.

3. The patio is lovely, but is there any chance of having two chairs which we can actually sit in, rather than ones which are ripped and have screws sticking out? Bill: Unfortunately not. The new ones had been stuck at the port for 5 months. The ones we had were the best ones, but as they’d been out in all weathers they were rotten.

Oh well…

We tried out a couple of Bob’s recommendations, then after spending an arm and a leg on local restaurants, we decided to try lunch in Downtown. We stuffed ourselves on an ‘all you can eat buffet’ for less than the price of a starter at any of Bob’s recommendations. That night, still full to bursting, we picked up a bottle of wine and a few nibbles from a local store and decided to have a picnic by the pool. After enjoying a glorious evening with a sunset over the city, we went inside to make use of the communal laptop and check our emails. Bill arrives and interrogates us as to what we had been doing, and where we were going tonight. We said nowhere; we’d eaten out at lunchtime and were staying in tonight. “You’re on holiday for Christ’s sake”, was the response we got; Basil Faulty springs to mind.

After that, we decided to try and give Bill the slip as much as possible. Maybe we’d upset him when we ‘snuck in’ on arrival, who knows?

It’s time to leave, Bill’s on his laptop. Our two heavy cases are at the top of the stairs. The taxi arrives. Bill carries on working, is he going to help carry the cases? No.

The moral of this story – its not always the good and the bad reviews you need to consider, some people feel that some things are ‘better left unsaid’.

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