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See your hotel before you book

SmarterTravel

Trying to figure out whether that “rustic lodge” in Montana is rustic because it’s in the woods or because it’s a shed built on top of an ant colony? (I found out the hard way.) Is the “history” part of that “historic hotel” in Paris the result of its period antiques or its 300-year-old plumbing system? (Ditto.) With help from the growing number of hotel photos and videos posted online, it’s possible to do virtual site-inspections of many hotels before you book.

TVtrip, a relatively new site, allows you to search for hotels in 115 destinations and view professional-looking videos of hotel exteriors and interiors taken by TVtrip camera operators. Currently, it has about 5,000 videos, with heavy representation in big cities like New York and London. It appears the site focused on shooting videos of four- and five-star hotels initially, and now is adding videos and still shots of more two- and three-star properties. Let’s hope they flesh out these areas more and also expand to smaller destinations.

TripAdvisor allows users to post pictures and videos of their past hotel stays. Users tend to post a lot more photos than videos, but still, these can be quite helpful in getting a feel for a property, particularly those tricky lower-end hotels: There’s nothing like a video of a cockroach scuttling across a hotel bathroom floor to convince you to look elsewhere.

(Editor’s Note: SmarterTravel.com is published by Smarter Travel Media LLC, a member of the TripAdvisor Media Network.)

Have a great travel tip you’d like to share? Send your insider travel strategies to editor@smartertravel.com.

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