There`s been much recent discussion about travel writing and who is a professional travel writer, as opposed to a backpacker and/or a holidaymaker, writing about their travel experience.
It`s genuinely impossible for a guidebook writer to stay in every single hotel, so apart from writing that it overlooks a beach/garden/parking-lot, and that it costs xxx per room, he knows nothing of the reality of actually staying there: whether reception was surly/welcoming, towels changed daily/never, food brilliant/awful etc.
When I was writing travel guides, I made it a point of inspecting every single hotel I mentioned.
My routine was to ask to see a standard room where I always did five things: flush the loo, pump the bed, check the lights, available hanging space and door lock. But whatever I wrote, it could never equate with the experience of someone who had personally stayed there.
Which is why though I may still read a guide-book for other advice, I refer to hotel reviews, written by guests, on internet sites such as Trip Advisor.
It has nothing to do with whether, or not they`re professional travel writers, and all to do with their experience. Clearly, a professional writer may have more knowledge, but in simple terms of what the average person needs/hopes for on a holiday, the opinion of other travellers, is the more valid of the two.
c.Christine Osborne: author guides on Thailand, Malaysia, Seychelles, Morocco, Bali.
Image: Marriott Hotel, Cairo, Egypt