London, Rome, Paris Top TripAdvisor’s Most-Reviewed Cities List

iPad screen showing Trip Advisor website - online hotel arrangements
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The litany of year-end travel-related lists continues. Today, it’s TripAdvisor, which unveiled its most reviewed cities. Leading the way: London, Rome and Paris, according to the Telegraph. The top U.S city was New York, which ranked fourth overall — a stunning blow for American exceptionalism.London venues received 459,000 reviews, 96,000 more than Rome.

According to the Telegraph, “TripAdvisor features more than 260 million monthly visitors and its community has contributed more than 125 million reviews and opinions to the site, up from 75 million reviews and opinions a year ago.”

New York City Expected to be Top Thanksgiving Destination

Thanksgiving Day Parade
Associated Press

Whether it’s for the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, to visit relatives or just to do a little drinking, New York City is expected to be the top U.S. travel destination this Thanksgiving, according to TripAdvisor. If you’re planning on being part of that in-crowd, here are some dining and entertainment options for you.

And if you’re heading home to New York City, here are new places for you to check out.

Thanksgiving Dinner

That same TripAdvisor report said that 16 percent of Americans will eat at a restaurant on Thanksgiving, largely to avoid cooking. The Refinery Hotel’s Refinery Rooftop $25 continental breakfast comes paired with a view of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. At The Maritime Hotel’s La Bottega, chef Lucia Piscopo is putting an Italian spin on Thanksgiving dinner with dishes like sautéed Tuscan black kale and offers a vegetable lasagna.

Entertainment

Looking to get away from the relatives for a spell (or at least get everyone out of the house)? The New York Pass can get you into 80 attractions. It comes in one- ($85), two- ($130), three- ($160) or seven-day ($210) increments. If the options are overwhelming, make use of one of its itineraries, which are based on neighborhood or theme. The New York Pass also includes fast-track entry to 15 marquee sites.

Airport Dining

Not only are U.S. airports are continuing to increase their health dining options, they’re getting tastier too. Restaurants by OTG in Delta’s gates in LaGuardia Airport (concourses C and D) feature collaborations with famed New York chefs Michael White (Cotto), Andrew Carmellini (Victory Grill) and Anne Burrell (Vagabond Burger Bar). And if you’re traveling with kids, the iPads on every table should keep them occupied, at least until boarding time. Then, you might want to follow these tips for flying with kids.

And this May, Delta unveiled a revamped terminal 4 at John F. Kennedy International Airport, which features Danny Meyer’s Shake Shack and Blue Smoke on the Road. Terminal 2’s dining options are undergoing a similar overhaul. While renovations aren’t slated to be finished until next summer, some temporary eateries opened in September.

Tour Owner’s Response to Bad TripAdvisor Review Recorded, Set to Music

It’s a story almost as old as the Grand Tour of Europe itself: traveler takes tour in Italy, traveler gives it a poor review on TripAdvisor, guide allegedly calls traveler to complain about the review, traveler records phone call, call gets set to music and posted on YouTube where its language makes it NSFW (at least without earphones)..From YouTube:

A tourist gave a bad review on TripAdvisor for a very boring tour (he had 8 other tours with 4-5 stars in his profile – but this one was just bad). After the tour guide read it, he flipped out and called the tourist & decided to go into a tirade, despite being told he was being recorded. When I heard the story (from the tourist), I was shocked & offered to make this video of his story (I am better at MovieMaker). The tour guide’s name may not be able to be posted without his permission due to Italian privacy laws (TBD). But anyway, enjoy & be careful on review sites!

Should Travel Reviewers Be Anonymous?

male eating in restaurant
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Yesterday New York Times reporter Pete Wells published a review of the Manhattan French restaurant Daniel, removing one of its four stars in part because of the unequal treatment he received as a recognized journalist. He and a lesser-known colleague ordered the same meal, but had totally different experiences, with Wells receiving additional items, extra wine pours, and more doting service. While the other reporter still felt well taken care of, Wells wondered if “regular” guests could benefit as much from a little coddling as the critics.

Slate’s “Brow Beat” culture blog compared Wells’ experience to former Times critic Ruth Reichl, who once visited Le Cirque both as her famous self and in disguise. She surmised that the “favored patron” treatment was actually part of the draw of the restaurant: the hope that one could be given the VIP service. The blog suggests reviewers dispense with the pretense of being anonymous reviewers and go public, perhaps balancing reviews with intel from the non-famous.In the travel media world, the problem of anonymity and freebies has long been an ethical debate. “Conde Nast Traveler” magazine adheres to a “truth in travel” policy, stipulating that its writers never accept freebies and travel unannounced to try to ensure honest and equal opinions. Some guidebooks such as Fodor’s allow some comps for reviewers, but insist they will not guarantee a good review or even inclusion in a guide. Writer Chuck Thompson exposed some of the industry secrets in his book “Smile While You’re Lying,” noting that much mainstream travel writing is just PR copy, and how many reviews are simply tit for tat.

In the age of tweeting, checking in, and Instagramming our meals and trips, is anonymity even possible? More importantly, do we care? While a famous reviewer might have a richer experience than your average Joe, he can also get deeper access and a wider variety of offerings, combined with a professional’s expertise. Do you want to read a hotel review from a guy on his first trip to London, or someone who has stayed in dozens? Perhaps user-generated content such as Trip Advisor and Yelp can balance the VIP reviews, and give us a broader spectrum.

Do you care about anonymous reviews? Can freebies stay free from bias?

Prehistoric Bones Big Draw To Small Indiana Town

Courtesy Indiana Caverns (Photo by Matt Forir)

The small town of Corydon in southern Indiana may soon get an influx of tourists thanks to a new attraction. Just discovered a few years ago, much of what is now Indiana Caverns was inaccessible to the public because all entrances were on private land. But a new passage not only opens up the underground caverns to the public, it gives visitors access to a curious pile of bones. Discoverers thought pioneers had thrown cow bones into the cave, but later came to find out the bones date back to the Ice Age. They come from a variety of species, including birds, snakes, bears, beavers, bison and more. Now, visitors can take an underground boat tour through the caverns for a chance to see the 12,000- to 15,000-year-old bones. The attraction just opened a few weeks ago, but it already tops TripAdvisor’s list of things to do in Corydon.

[via WHAS11.com]