Camelot Castle TripAdvisor Reviews

Odd Goings-On : Camelot Castle TripAdvisor Reviews

Camelot Castle

Look at the Camelot Castle listing on TripAdvisor and you’ll see something very strange – even stranger than the usual smattering of fake reviews by friends or foes of a particular hotel.

Camelot Castle hotel must have one of the most bizarre review profiles you are ever likely to see on TripAdvisor; at time of writing there are 195 “Excellent – Five Star” reviews and 146 “Terrible – One Star” reviews. What an extraordinary divergence of opinion!

Excellent - or Terrible?

Here are a couple of examples posted recently:

Who do you believe?

Who do you believe?

Camelot Castle’s owner, John Mappin, who has been a Scientologist for 20 years, today claims in the Daily Mail that he is the victim of a smear campaign by opponents of his controversial religion – hence the high number of “terrible” reviews.

Certainly, the hotel does have some vociferous detractors. The creator(s) of the blog claim that the Mappins actively try to recruit staff, visitors and local residents to Scientology, and are responsible for posting their own fake positive reviews on TripAdvisor.  I know nothing of the truth of those accusations.

What I do know is that in its response to Mr Mappin, TripAdvisor cites the fact that half the reviews are excellent and half are terrible as evidence that everything is okay (!?!) – but goes on to say that “some hotel owners are hiring ‘reputation laundering’ firms to write positive reviews and improve their online profiles”.

However, TA stops short of accusing Camelot Castle’s owners of this – from which I must conclude that TripAdvisor has no evidence that Camelot Castle has indulged in review fixing – so why bring it up at all?

200 "excellent" reviews (August 2010)

That said, some “excellent” reviews have been removed by TripAdvisor; here is a screenshot taken in August 2020 showing a count of 200, whereas the present count is 195.  As 10 more “excellent” reviews were posted in September and October 2010, after this screenshot was taken, it would appear that at least 15 “excellent” reviews were removed between then and now.

I must stress that Camelot Castle has never been labelled with a “warning” therefore TripAdvisor did not attribute any of the reviews it removed to the hotel or its owners.*

The fact is, TripAdvisor cannot tell a good fake from a genuine review and even when it can it usually can’t tell who did it.  Therefore in this case TripAdvisor is forced to pretend that these bizarrely polarised reviews are acceptable and must stay on their site.  However, I think most rational people would smell a rat in the vicinity.

What might explain these amazingly divergent reviews?  Well, perhaps the positive reviews are salted by friends of the hotel, or the negative reviews are part of an anti-Scientology campaign, as Mr Mappin says.

Another possibility: could Camelot Castle be both the victim of fake reviews and also guilty of posting fake positive reviews itself? i.e. might most of both the “excellent” AND the “terrible” reviews be fake?

Whatever the truth, TripAdvisor neither knows nor cares too much about the truth of the matter, judging by its reaction to Mr Mappin’s accusations.

Read more:

*  To be sure that a review is fake TripAdvisor prefers a signed confession from the owner – see the Irish Hotel Caught Out article.


5 responses to “Camelot Castle TripAdvisor Reviews

  1. Pingback: This Week in Travel 61 – Kung Pao Guinea Pig | The Amateur Traveler Travel Podcast - best places to travel

  2. I note that the two reviewers here are first-time reviews. Perhaps someone with a more ’rounded experience could be contacted to write/confirm or otherwise shine some light on this anomaly.

    • If I understand what you’re saying then yes, the two latest reviews that are shown in the article are both by first timers. In fact, the listing in question has a very high proportion of “first time” reviewers in general. That isn’t unusual in itself, but may be “suggestive” when taken in conjunction with the other peculiarities of the reviews, like the way the same things and even whole phrases are used by different reviewers.

      Would anyone with more than one review be able to do anything more than reiterate their own opinion? I’m not sure they could shed much light on the other “reviewers”. Don’t forget a really good faker can also build themselves a “reputation” by posting reviews, pictures etc.

  3. The polarised profile is by no means unique. I agree that TA have not a clue about what is actually going on in such cases; all they can do is tinker at the periphery without any hope of dealing with the main issue.
    It is no surprise that a flood of positives will appear to counteract the negatives if those negatives are, or are perceived by the owner to be, fake. TA itself is the cause of such reaction as they cannot tell truth from fake and therefore force businesses to defend themselves in the only way left when there is such a campaign. Of course, if the business was truly awful and deserved negative comment, then the false positives would be fraudulent, but in the case that the ‘placed’ positives are to counteract fake negatives, surely this is mostly because TA have no functioning communication channel with owners, and still appear to have no desire to create such lines of communication, leaving owners to ‘use’ the TA system in a manner similar to that which it us ‘used’ against them.
    TA -v- Scientology should be an interesting debate to watch!

    • I think the recent, thankfully short-lived websites that tried to flog fake reviews to owners for a fee were preying on the same feelings of distrust and frustration that you describe, Steve.

      Yup, this could be an epic confrontation. 😕

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