Why You Can’t Trust Travel Guidebooks

Why You Can’t Trust Travel Guidebooks

Room at Antica Torre

If you just read reviews of Antica Torre hotel in the Italy travel guidebooks, you’d be forgiven for thinking it would make a great place to stay in Siena, Italy.

For example, both the Frommer’s guidebook and the EyeWitness Guide to Florence and Tuscany provide glowing reviews of Antica Torre hotel in Siena:

From the Frommer’s guidebook:

Antica Torre is a restored 17th Century tower within the city walls of Siena. It’s a ten-minute walk from Piazza del Campo. Tall and graceful, the tower sits on top of the century’s old potter’s workshop that is now the breakfast room. Take a stone staircase to the small but comfortable guestrooms, each with some Tuscan antiques, iron filigree headboard and marble floors. Try to get one of the accommodations on the top floor for a panoramic view of the medieval city and the rolling Tuscan hills. It costs 90 Euros a night and there is parking on the street nearby.

Antica Torre hotel Siena, Italy

Sounds delightful, but not so quick

Sounds delightful and good value for Siena, right? But wait, check out the “real-life advice” on TripAdvisor:

We stayed there for a single night. It was OK, but I am glad we did not spend too much time there.

– location is good, about 5 min walk from main square in Siena
– room is quite small but it’s actually the bathroom that feels very very small – and while it has recent fixtures, it does not feel terribly clean
– if you stay at the top (as we did), going up and down is quite challenging

The one employee we interacted with was the most clueless and least helpful person we met in Italy. In general, it was an ok experience but if I return to Siena I’ll first look for something else.

Some people liked it…

The most complimentary review on TripAdvisor put Antica Torre at a 4/5 with these comments:

My partner and I stayed for one night at the Antica Torre so that we could spend a day in Siena. We found both our room and the hotel itself to be very well-kept and charming. It’s in a pleasant neighborhood of Siena that is close to all of the sights but also quiet and residential (I stepped out early in the morning and was pleasantly surprised to see real people going to work, as opposed to other tourists, which seems to be the norm in Tuscany).

The hotel appears to be family run, and the main proprietor was very friendly and called us a cab the next morning so that we could go pick up our rental car in the Siena suburbs. At 113 euros per night the hotel in not exactly a bargain for budget travellers (we stayed at places in Florence for less), but what you are paying for is a clean space and a bit of charm and it is definitely worth it!

On a final note, the hotel is definitely not a good option for the elderly or disabled- I had to carry our very large suitcase up three flights of narrow stairs to reach our room.

Antica Torre hotel, Siena

But just as many didn’t like it…

What follows is not the most scathing TripAdvisor review about Antica Torre (I usually ignore the most scathing as possibly written by an unreasonable person), but it is representative of those who were disappointed by Antica Torre.

Two nights in this hotel was plenty. It’s recommended in some guidebooks, but I’m sure they haven’t been there in a while. We knew we’d have to haul our own bags up the stairs. Okay. The bathroom had blackish mold on the wall. The sheets and towels seemed clean. The a/c worked. The view out the window was nice. Location was okay. I think the bathroom was once a closet or small hallway — access was through a folding door. Maybe other rooms are better.  I’d pass next time.

I don’t know about you, but I’m too picky about accommodation to risk staying in a place described by several reviewers as just “OK” and as having “blackish mold on the wall”.

The moral of this story

Don’t just buy an Italy travel guide and trustingly follow the recommendations. Use travel guidebooks as a starting point but double-check at places like TripAdvisor.

Related posts:

  1. Wonderful Place to Stay in Lucca
  2. Pienza: A Beautiful Little Renaissance Town in Tuscany
  3. Where to Eat in Tuscany: Insider Tips
  4. Ristorante Nello La Taverna in Siena, Italy