Imagine arriving at the hotel you booked for your dream vacation. You’ve spent months saving for this day, but when you arrive, the room is nothing like you saw online. You open your window and look out onto the side of another building—not the ocean view you were promised.

Believe it or not, this happens to travelers every day. According to a study from our sister site Oyster, over 50 percent of travelers say they’ve been deceived by hotel marketing photos and wanted to return their vacations. This leads to about $6 billion dollars being wasted every year on bad hotel stays. Unfortunately, you can’t return a bad vacation. However, there are ways to protect yourself and avoid these tricks. Below are some of the most common ways hotels are faking out travelers.

Watch for Careful Cropping

Hotels will trick you by zooming and cropping cramped spaces like pools, gyms, and hot tubs to avoid showing you just how small the space is. They will also use an attractive couple or model in the crop to distract you from the size of the room.

Crowd Control

When you’re looking at pictures of the hotel that show a relatively empty beach or pool, you’re probably imagining that you'll have plenty of pure relaxation and alone time. Alas, that usually isn’t the case. Hotels and resorts will Photoshop out the crowds to deceive you. It’s a good idea to Google the surrounding beaches or the popularity of your destination before you visit if you’re trying to avoid crowds.


You see a beautiful setup of flowers and breakfast on a bed, or maybe a cute scene at the hotel bar. But when you arrive, the hotel bar is super crowded and loud, and that appetizing breakfast isn’t included at all. Also, watch out for double beds that are just two twin beds pushed together—another common hotel fakeout. For more, see this roundup of hotel tricks from Oyster editor and travel expert Alisha Prakash.

Oyster visits hotels around the world in person, takes hundreds of photos, and posts honest reviews with undoctored photos, showing travelers exactly what they’re going to get before they arrive.

Oyster is offering one lucky traveler $10,000 along with expert advice to help redo a failed vacation. To enter, travelers just have to share an anecdote about their bad vacation, and Oyster will be notify them if they are selected. 

All products and services mentioned on Airfarewatchdog are independently selected by our team of expert travelers. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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