Buenos Aires, Argentina
November 2011

The Hotel Frossard in Buenos Aires ranks No. 376 out of 434 hotels in the city, TripAdvisor reports. Disgruntled visitors complain of bedbugs; small, dirty rooms; and old, noisy air conditioning. “Simply put: horrible,” an Italian reviewer wrote in March 2008. “Shabby, dirty, sleazy, and expensive for the service provided by Argentine standards. … Wouldn’t even recommend it to my biggest enemy.” Those reviews run counter to the mostly positive recommendation in the latest Lonely Planet guide, so upon landing in Buenos Aires my friend Karimé and I didn’t know what to expect.

What we found was the Hotel Frossard is a clean, reasonably priced, European-style establishment located in an old building in the heart of the microcentro. The rooms, spread across two floors, feature high ceilings, somewhat tight layouts, and eccentric bathrooms. The first thing Karimé did upon our arrival is make me trade rooms so she could have the one with the more usable bathroom. That meant my new room was tiny. I got my introduction to the ever-present shower squeegee common throughout Argentina. It was the typical central city hotel.

The only opinions that matter are the recent ones.The Hotel Frossard became our home base and refuge — when we were stranded and forced to change our plans, it took us in. On and off for the next two weeks, we would stay in a variety of rooms, each comfortable and clean. The manager and her staff took good care of us, offered tremendous advice, and made arrangements when we needed them. The breakfasts were plentiful. Aside from the city noise — close the windows and it was fine — and the cranky plumbing in one room, we had no complaints. Any time we wanted to switch rooms, we were given a new one.

On closer inspection, the TripAdvisor rating seems unfair. The first few reviews are from 2008 and 2009, more than two or three years ago. The rating doesn’t acknowledge that the hotel has a new owner and that the new owner has made considerable improvements. When the distant past is held against a business, there is no incentive to make things better. Similarly, the rating doesn’t reflect when a once well-reviewed hotel begins to decline.

You wouldn’t buy a computer based on reviews of obsolete models. So put these reviews into context. The only opinions that matter are the recent ones, within the past year or so. Ignore anything too old. And keep in mind that most people don’t post comments unless they really hate a place or they loved it too much. And some people just like to complain.


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