Travel

This hotel charges $500 for bad Internet reviews

Yelp sucks for businesses, but it remains ubiquitous for Internet folks. So for obvious reasons, restaurants, bars, and hotels have plenty of incentive to make sure their digital footprints looks squeaky clean. Bad reviews equal lost revenue.

But a quaint-looking hotel in Hudson, New York has allegedly taken drastic measures to ensure no bad words are floating around out there. According to Page Six, the Union Street Guest House is reportedly charging customers $500 for every negative review posted online.

Yup, 500 George Washingtons just for saying you didn't like the place.

The hotel's website warns prospective guests of the charge, which is applicable to any member of a dissatisfied wedding party that leaves a crappy review. 

"If you have booked the Inn for a wedding or other type of event anywhere in the region and given us a deposit of any kind for guests to stay at USGH there will be a $500 fine that will be deducted from your deposit for every negative review of USGH placed on any internet site by anyone in your party and/or attending your wedding or event", the hotel's policy reads.

The hotel reportedly will refund the deposit once the offending post has been taken down by the user. But that hasn't prevented online outrage. 


Despite questionable policies to keep its reputation in tact, USGH has seen the bad reviews and one-star ratings come pouring in.

"It's unfortunate businesses like this will use scare tactics on its own customers", one Yelp reviewer wrote. "Punishing people for bad reviews...is just ludicrous and down-right fascist. If we, the public, are not allowed to disagree and form our own opinions, then you should move your hotel to another location, but not in the United States of America where the freedom of speech is a right".

"This place is terrible, I stayed there and did not write a review, then I read this article today in the NYP about how they fine people if they get bad reviews. My credit card number just changed, so they cant get me", another wrote.

Others followed suit, calling out the hotel on its dictatorial attempt to silence patrons who don't sing praises.

"$500 for a bad review?! Unbelievable. What is this, Communist China"?

"Horrible policies created by a Gestapo like management trying to intimidate customers into leaving good reviews".

"Absolutely the most terrible, unwelcoming environment I have ever experienced. The staff was not very friendly... They (sic) rooms are unspectacular. Furthermore their policies are terrible. Why would you want to stay at a place that censors your freedom of speech"?

Later Monday, the hotel removed the policy from its website, telling CNBC the earlier version was "a tongue-in-cheek response to a wedding many years ago. It was meant to be taken down long ago and certainly was never enforced".

There's no such thing as bad publicity, as the saying goes. But in this case, the Union Street Guest House appears to have gotten exactly the opposite of what it hoped for.


Chloe Pantazi is an editorial assistant on Thrillist's travel team. Yes, that's a British accent. No, she doesn't watch Doctor Who. Follow her on Twitter at @ChloePantazi.