2:00 PM EDT, September 23, 2010
Imagine checking into a hotel and planning a relaxing swim in the spacious-looking pool, only to find it's really, well, not nearly as large as you expected.
Or relaxing on a quiet sun-kissed poolside beach, but when you get there it's as packed as a can of sardines.
Elie Seidman runs Oyster.com, a travel website that says hotels sometimes use slick photo tricks to lure guests.
Seidman said, "We've all had that experience where you're driving up and you're like, 'Oh my God I cannot believe I booked that place.' "
Take the Empire hotel in New York City, right near Lincoln Center. The hotel features a photo of the pool on its website which certainly looks full size. But is it?
The rooftop pool deck is just as gorgeous as it looks on the hotel's website, with one tiny difference. The pool is much smaller than it appears. On the hotel's website, they call it a "plunge pool."
The picture of the pool at the Sofitel hotel in Los Angeles looks pretty inviting on their website. Well, you won't know it from the website, but when you get there you'll find a giant Macy's overlooking it.
And how about a Caribbean beach resort that appears to have an unobstructed view of the beach. Not so fast. Oyster.com shows it from another angle. Hey, what happened to the beach?
Seidman says some hotels also fudge the facts about their precise location.
"There's all sorts of exaggerations or embellishments about where the hotel really is," says Seidman.
On its website, the Hyatt in Washington D.C. looks like it's just a stone's throw from the Capitol. But in reality, the Capitol is not nearly that close. At a closer look, it seems as if the Capitol has been Photoshopped to make it seem closer than it actually is!
Officials at the DC Hyatt told us the Capitol is only two blocks away, and all the hotels we spoke to say they present an accurate picture of their properties.
We've included the full hotel statements in response to our request for comment on our story below:
Don Juan Beach Resort - "The photo in question is of the pool area, adjacent to the Coral building. The building itself its located on the right hand side of the pool, consequently it does not block the view of the beach."
The Empire Hotel - "The pool deck at the Empire Hotel is a unique NYC amenity that we are proud to offer. The rooftop pool is touted as a plunge pool. We are very happy to offer our guests a relaxing sunning area and a place where they can cool off. The satisfaction of our customers is extremely vital to us and we always encourage their feedback so we can make improvements to our services wherever possible."
The Hyatt Regency in Washington D.C. - "As the photograph on our website accurately depicts, Hyatt Regency Washington is located just two blocks from the U.S. Capitol. Our standard practice is to accurately portray our hotel's services and amenities, as well as to showcase our location."
The Sofitel Los Angeles - "All photos of Sofitel Los Angeles are reflective of the actual product. The rooftop pool area can be photographed from many angles. The shot chosen for the website offers guest an authentic preview of the full length of the pool, as well as the surrounding landscape and lounge area. It is an accurate image of the setting that our guests enjoy. It has not been retouched or altered in any way. Further, the photo posted on oyster.com displays a non-Sofitel brand and therefore would never be included as part of our online image gallery."