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Fancy going undercover to review hotels?

Sometimes people ask me if it’s difficult to review a hotel. I always come up with the same helpful answer. Yes… And no.

Is it a hardship to go to a beautiful hotel, sleep on incredible beds, eat stunning food, explore a new city, have drinks on picture-perfect terraces, or chat to genuinely lovely staff? No, not in the slightest. We can all enjoy doing those things.

But it can be difficult especially when the hotel has room for improvement or you’re trying to put an amazing hotel into unbiased perspective.

It’s not easy to have a great time, laugh with staff and then go away and objectively point out flaws alongside the positives. And it’s not easy to look at a hotel, consider it in the context of other hotels and make a judgement call about what this brilliant hotel has over another and vice versa.

I am as guilty as anyone of having a wonderful time, gushing about where I’ve stayed and then forgetting to offer objective advice to people who want guidance. But people need it. They need thoughtful honesty and impartiality from a variety of people. As do the hotels themselves. How to improve if nobody ever criticises?

Suddenly I’ve crushed the “woohoo free holiday” vibe associated with travel writing… Sorry.

Let’s build it back up again. My blog hosts SLH have just launched the most exciting search in the history of amateur travel writing which will see 25 people become hotel inspectors. Or as they’ve rather more wonderfully dubbed them ‘secret agents’.


I love this quote from the press release: “Mystery Inspectors are in tune with the brand and look at the experience as a whole, from start to finish, as a guest. This includes everything from drinks by the pool and a signature spa treatment to borrowing a kayak or enjoying a Michelin-starred meal.”

Drinks by the pool or a spa treatment… what a tough life the lucky 25 are going to have!

The key word there though is guest. Who better to tell guests what they should expect from their hotel than another guest?

I’m a big fan of the idea of a community being put in charge of its own quality control. It shows a confidence and willingness to be judged that only the best independent hotels would be happy to agree to.

So bravo all 520 of them! Bravo to SLH! And bravo to the 25 lucky people who get picked for these incredible secret agent positions!

Good luck everyone who enters!

Melissa. x



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