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According to TripAdvisor, Hanoi's a global leader in hotel service

, 1 Comment
02 Aug 2015

According to Tripadvisor, from a list of more than a million hotels, Vietnam’s capital Hanoi, has 5 of the world’s finest 25 hotels for service. Much as I love Hanoi, that seems unlikely.

Tripadvisor’s algorithm is looking a tad shabby right now. The recent revelation that a non-existent Italian restaurant reached the top of one of its restaurant lists is enough to raise doubts about the integrity of its processes and algorithm.

But there are plenty more stories out there.

I could write a book of my own experiences travelling around Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos with a close eye on TripAdvisor lists and talking with hotel and restaurant owners.

It ain’t a good story.

TripAdvisor’s rankings have a big bearing on the success and failure of many tourism businesses. If their systems are broken, dodgy businesses prosper, while good businesses fail.

I first wrote a blog about Hanoi’s hotels on TripAdvisor around 5 years ago. Since then, the plot’s thickened.

Despite all the grand claims about sophisticated fraud detection by TripAdvisor, just like their buddies in algorithm worship over at Google, the silliness being served up to travellers continues.

According to tripadvisor, 5 of the world’s top 25 hotels for service are in Hanoi. Yes, out of more than one million hotels across more than 100,000 destinations worldwide, Hanoi ties with Marrakesh as a global centre of hospitality excellence.

With six hotels in the top 25, the UK outranks Hanoi and Marrakesh. But it’s a country.  Two of the world’s finest 25 hotels for hospitality are located in a Welsh town called Llandadno. Must be something in the water there too.  

You’d need a mathematician to tell you just how improbable these results are. And that would be before you travel to Hanoi.

And it requires quite a deal of hubris on TripAdvisor’s part to confer such lofty global awards without first-hand checks of the winners.

Young Hanoians with hospitality ambitions abandon their hometown for training in places like Switzerland, the US, France and Australia - none of which are represented in the list.

They’d be better off staying at home according to TripAdvisor.

And hospitality excellence is an extremely localised talent it seems - no other hotels or resorts in Vietnam make the cut.

It doesn’t end there.

In TA’s listing of the top hotels for service in Asia, Hanoi is home to 7 of the top 10. Once again, no Vietnam hotels outside of Hanoi make the cut.

Nobody is more surprised to discover this extraordinary accomplishment than Hanoians themselves.

Their countrymen elsewhere in Vietnam, unable to field a single property in these lists, are also astonished.

Indeed for Vietnamese, Hanoi is considered something of a service backwater - making the achievement all the more miraculous.

The storied Metropole Hotel in Hanoi failed to make TripAdvisor's cut.
Photo: Mark Bowyer The storied Metropole Hotel in Hanoi failed to make TripAdvisor's cut.


Hanoi is home to the storied Sofitel Metropole Hotel and the Intercontinental - you mightn’t be surprised to discover them in these tripadvisor lists.

But you won’t.

Of course the world's best hotels for service needn't be run by global brands. But Hanoi’s global service leaders are largely unknown to people who live and work in Hanoi - nor to tourism professionals that spend their time seeking out great hotels and great service.

The reputations of these hospitality superstars seems to be recognised on Tripadvisor and only on Tripadvisor.

And as Vietnam’s tourism industry reflects on some alarming falls in traveller arrivals, as far as I can tell, this extraordinary accomplishment has gone largely unrecognised both locally and internationally. You might have expected the country to be trumpeting this proud achievement.

You can visit the lists here -
Best hotels in the world for service (according to TripAdvisor)
Best hotel in Asia for service (according to TripAdvisor)

I’ve contacted TripAdvisor for comment and will let you know what they come back with.

Mark Bowyer
Mark Bowyer is the founder and publisher of Rusty Compass.
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1 comment so far

100% agree with your article. i'm living in vietnam for a while. Even if I saw the service quality improving a lot DURING the last 5 years, how it could be? the mystery is over. sincerely, that's a big lack of seriousness.

  • Sylvain Marcelle
  • Hanoi
  • Friday, 07 August 2015 21:03