Online hotel reviews are oftentimes fake. How do you tell? Review Skeptic claims to detect bullshit hotel reviews based upon research from Cornell University into the language of fakery.
It's been around for years, as this 2011 article in the New York Times attests.
Determining the number of fake reviews on the Web is difficult. But it is enough of a problem to attract a team of Cornell researchers, who recently published a paper about creating a computer algorithm for detecting fake reviewers. They were instantly approached by a dozen companies, including Amazon, Hilton, TripAdvisor and several specialist travel sites, all of which have a strong interest in limiting the spread of bogus reviews.
“The whole system falls apart if made-up reviews are given the same weight as honest ones,” said one of the researchers, Myle Ott. Among those seeking out Mr. Ott, a 22-year-old Ph.D. candidate in computer science, after the study was published was Google, which asked for his résumé, he said.
I wonder if it's still good, with 5 years of bullshit evolution to account for. One thing in its favor: it seems to "know" that top reviewers tend to affect a style imitative of travel writing in an effort to sound credible, and doesn't trigger on their innocuous but very ad-like use of language.
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Not a hotel, not a dorm, not quite a hostel, open by design and communitarian in spirit — Los Angeles-based PodShare is something else. And, potentially, something bigger: An affordable way to foster community in a city that’s increasingly stratified by class. This week, to start Season 3 of HOME: Stories From L.A., it’s the story of one young entrepreneur and her unstoppable enthusiasm for her big idea.
HOME is a member of the Boing Boing Podcast Network.
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I have a first-world problem: I stay in a lot of hotels.
From Herb Lester Associates, clever hotel notepads from fictional movie and television hotels! For £12.00, you get six pads:
• Bertram’s Hotel (At Bertram’s Hotel, Agatha Christie)
• The Great Northern Hotel (Twin Peaks)
• The Overlook Hotel (The Shining)
• Royal Imperial Windsor Arms Hotel (National Lampoon’s European Vacation)
• The Green Man Inn (The Wicker Man)
• The Taft Hotel (The Graduate)
Hotel notepads (Herb Lester) Read the rest
In the charming platform game Crowtel, you're a crow running a seedy hotel, and you're not very good at it. Well, really you're just lazy—not living up to your potential, as your crow teachers doubtless used to say—and as a result your not-so-fine establishment is looking pretty crusty indeed when the feline health inspectors show up.
Unless you want to get shut down, it's time to get your crow butt in gear and run through six levels of rapid cleanup, contending with giant balls of garbage, deadly bugs and broken toilets you can fix with your melodious birdsong. Also maybe there are ghosts?
Developed by Sink with a soundtrack by Captain Beard, Crowtel is pay-what-you-what over on Itch.io, so technically you can get it for free if you want. But after you see how delightful it is, chances are you'll wish you'd dropped a few dollars in the jar.
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In the 1973, subversive street artist Mike Mandel would take snapshots of the cheap motels where he stayed while traveling the country. He's posted the series on Flickr.
Working on the Baseball Photographer Trading Cards, traveling throughout the country, my girlfriend at the time, Alison Woolpert, and I would stay at some, shall we say, "economy" motels. We pulled into one in Texas on a wintry night and upon waking in the morning we realized that the sheets had not been changed after the visit of the previous motel guest. When we indignantly complained to the owner he shot us back a dirty look, "What do you expect for five dollars?" What we did expect was that no matter how shabby, beaten down or forgotten a motel might have become, there was always a motel postcard to be had: a memento of a one night stop, a promotional calling card, a free mailable note card to report back on the progress of a vacation to those back home.
We would often take the back roads, sometimes follow old Route 66, and we would find those sad, forsaken motels that had been sucked almost out of existence by the newer corporate chains situated just off an exit ramp on the newer highways. We bypassed Motel 6, Travelodge and Howard Johnson's. After all, their postcards were usually just the same design with a different address. But we'd go out of our way to stop at every independent motel we could find in hopes of finding a postcard that would be even more banal than the one we had just found down the road. Read the rest
For around $300/night, you can sleep in a transparent bedroom hanging off the side of a mountain above Peru's Sacred Valley of the Incas. Read the rest
The hotel chain petitioned the FCC for changes that could let venues shut down personal networks. Microsoft, Google, and the cell industry are opposed.
A Nashville convention center figured out how to boost its revenue from selling Internet service: it illegally jammed guests' and exhibitors' Wi-Fi networks. Glenn Fleishman explains the technical scam and why it earned a six-figure smackdown.
UPDATE: Duh! It was fake!
Police in Mount Laurel, New Jersey found a young woman's corpse under a motel bed and it reportedly had been there for at least five years. A guest discovered the body when searching for the TV remote.
“I clean that room every day. I noticed a smell several times, and told my manager,” hotel housekeeper Anita Rodriguez told Empire News. “He told me to just use extra Febreeze in the room and it would go away eventually. I always hated cleaning that room.” Read the rest
Dmitry Kozak, Russia's Olympian deputy prime minister warned a Wall Street Journal reporter that he would release hidden-camera footage of journalists in their hotel bathrooms if they continued to complain about the substandard hotels in Sochi.
Just a reminder for anyone thinking of travelling to Sochi after the Olympics for a spot of tourism: according to Russia's deputy prime-minister, the hotel bathrooms have surveillance cameras that watch you in the shower.
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Here's a curious clip of Andy Warhol and William S. Burroughs having a chat at the iconic Chelsea Hotel in NYC. The topic is chicken fried steak. It's followed by the lovely Nico singing "Chelsea Girls." The video is from a 1981 BBC documentary about The Chelsea that you can watch in full right here. (via Dangerous Minds) Read the rest
The Library Lounge at the B2 Boutique Hotel Zürich is one of those amazing temple-of-books rooms that always make me catch my breath. If I had a teleporter, this is where I'd go every time I felt stressed out. (Except for the wallpaper with the pattern that looks like JPEG artifacts -- that'd have to go).
Library Lounge – B2 Boutique Hotel Zurich
(via Attack of the Bonniegrrl)
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Remember the potential weirdo sex-dungeon in Houston's Hotel ZaZa? A reader with inside knowledge writes,
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That "two-way mirror" in 322 hangs on the bathroom wet wall for the more spacious suite 321 next door. So in the "secret voyeur room" case, you'd be standing in the bathroom next door and looking through a piping chase full of sanitary and domestic water lines. The bricks are a veneer that they decided to stop at the frame of the mirror. It doesn't seem like this room was specially built for secret sex shows or whatnot. At least, no more than any other hotel room with potential for pinhole cameras and so on.
I think it really is just an awkwardly placed and sized room, dictated by adjacent suite and service elevator lobby/shaft requirements. (See attached snippet from floor plans.) The associated balcony sits in a corner, so it is in fact larger than the balconies in the adjacent conventional rooms, as the ZaZa rep claims. I have no explanation for why some owner, architect and/or interior designer thought this would be a good theme for a room, though.
A redditor called joelikesmusic reported that a friend of his had been checked into a weird, narrow dungeon-like theme room at the Hotel Zaza in Houston (it's got lots of theme suites -- I once stayed in their awesome space-themed one with my family, on the way to my honeymoon). When he complained, the front desk apparently told him that it was a mistake -- no one was supposed to use that room.
The ZaZa's management told the press that it was a "prison" themed room, and that there was no mystery, but intrepid redditors have been examining the pictures (especially the portrait of Jay Comeaux, a banking exec from the disgraced Stanford Banking Executive, and have been spinning out theories about secret societies and rituals in the comments.
However, one commenter called lejefferson makes a plausible case that the room is a sex-dungeon with a one-way voyeur's mirror, used by rich weirdos:
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What person that you know keeps a creepy picture of a guy over their television. This is obviously a secret room either personal or for a small group of people for sexual liasons/ S&M prostitution or worse. The mirror and small space of the room also indicates there is a good chance that the mirror is two way and that people could pay to come watch the sexual/S&M events occuring. The photo of a Stanford Banking Executive, (Jay Comeaux), on the wall further indicates that this is a high society sex room. The fact that the clerk said, "This room isn't supposed to be rented out" indicates that there was a big mistake and they didn't want anyone to find out about the room.
The elevators in the Seattle Sheraton are fitted with buttons that allow their riders to rain earthquakes upon the Pacific Northwest. This power is largely used for good, and that is rather affirming -- people really are quite nice.
EARTHQUAKE button, Sheraton, Seattle, WA, USA
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