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Learning from others’ holiday mishaps has never been easier thanks to websites like Tripadvisor – but although reeling in shock at other holidaymakers’ dirty rooms, broken paving stones and tales of food poisoning can wile away an entertaining five minutes, it is not as enjoyable when it is your own holiday which has been wrecked.

Although Tripadvisor has been at the centre of allegations that rival hotels post unfavourable comments, every picture often does tell a story of holidaymakers let down by the promises of tour operators which fail to materialise.

Under the 1992 Package Travel Regulations, tour operators and hotels have a legal duty to provide accommodation of a reasonable standard – and the description of your package holiday in the brochure or online should represent what you will receive in resort.

Holidaymakers who arrive to find their hotel being refurbished without warning – or that they have been shunted off to another hotel not of the same standard as the one they booked – have a right to be compensated if the tour operator is unable to supply accommodation and a holiday of the same standard as the one booked.

If holidaymakers decline alternative accommodation or another holiday while in resort – and for good reason, such as not being able to climb a hill to the alternative hotel – then the tour operator should fly the holidaymakers back home at its own expense and refund the holiday in full.

The disappointment of this, however, can be extremely upsetting – and doing a little research on Tripadvisor before booking a holiday could save a lot of holiday pain.

Some of the issues to look out for among the reviews of holidays and accommodation include: Tripadvisor reviews which mention outbreaks of illness like food poisoning at an hotel – and especially if these are a recurring complaint or large groups of whole families are affected.

Also look out for Tripadvisor reviews which mention surly or unhelpful staff – rooms not ready for occupancy, being given a room of a lesser standard of the one booked, poor attention in the dining room and a general lack of enthusiasm on the job, all which may indicate problems at an hotel.

Any reports of poor maintenance, holidaymakers having accidents or tripping over broken paving stones etc suggest that a hotel or tour operator may be saving on health and safety to make more money – dirty showers/shower heads and air conditioners might put you at risk from bacterial infections like Legionnaire’s disease, so be warned.

Generally if a hotel looks run down in images on Tripadvisor and guests have recently been ill, it is probably a good idea to look for another hotel or holiday, which does receive glowing reports.

Hotels can be refurbished, however, and a change of manager can make the world of difference – but regular mentions of ill health among guests and a shabby appearance should ring alarm bells before you press Book Now on your holiday website.

The package travel regulations 1992 give you the power to claim compensation against the tour operator that sent you to an unsuitable hotel.