Guides versus user review sites

Blog > Guides versus user review sites

These days, user review travel sites have become very popular. There are dozens of these restaurant sites, claiming to offer unbiased customer reviews and aggregated star ratings. These sites certainly have their uses, but I believe that our guide is far superior. Below, I have outlined the reasons why.

Unbiased, independent, trusted

User review sites claim to be unbiased and independent, but how do you really know what? The answer is, you do not. In fact it seems highly likely that the restaurant owners, staff and friends will go on there and write positive reviews. Others might have a grievance with the restaurant and try to slag them off. You do not know the people that write these reviews, so how can you trust them?

Of course, you probably do not know me personally. However, you can see that I have eaten at and reviewed every restaurant in Leeds, so that is good evidence that I am a restaurant reviewer and not someone who is in the pay of one of the restaurants. All our reviews are independent - we do not identity ourselves or tell the restaurant we are coming.


With lots of reviews written by different people it is hard to compare like-for-like. Some people will have higher standards to others, some will only eat at high-quality restaurants, others will only eat at good-value restaurants and so you may end up with totally different reviews of the same restaurant. With our guide you get a consistent view across every one.

Quality over quantity

It is all very well having hundreds of reviews but they are not much good if you cannot trust their quality. Often using user review sites can be very time-consuming because you have to manually sort through all the reviews to find the good ones. With our guide, every review is written to a similar standard.

Depth of opinion

Sometimes an experience can be soured by one person having a particularly bad time or getting a particularly bad dish. However, as almost all of the reviews were based on the opinion of myself and Elina, the review I write takes into account both of our experiences. Often, we visit a restaurant multiple times too.

Some of the reviews even contain a broader range than that thanks to the "what our friends say" section. This section is clearly separated out so you can distinguish between them.


With a five star rating system, you would expect a gentle bell curve of results. Restaurants should be consistently rated right across the five star rating system with a slight bulge in the middle to reflect that most restaurants will be average.

This is what you get with our guide. Around ten percent of restaurants fall into the bottom category, another ten into the top, and the rest are roughly evenly spread across two, three and four. This is not the case with user review sites in which you will often find people only go on there to rant about how good or bad they found a place. It is not uncommon for most of the reviews to be either one or five stars with very little in the middle.

Converging ratings

As discussed above, we have rated restaurants right across the scale. You can find restaurants of each different rating. This can often be difficult to do on user rating sites because the amount of aggregated opinions of people with different standards usually leads to the ratings converging at between three and four and a half stars. Almost every restaurant falls into this category giving you very little information to differentiate between good and bad restaurants.


User review sites gather in a lot of data and can be useful at times. However, they often suffer from the same problem that the internet-at-large has - that the information on there is high in quantity, not quality, so you have to spend a lot of time refining your results. The Leeds Restaurant Guide offers a truly independent, consistent and high quality guide that I believe is unmatched elsewhere.

Posted 11 August 2014 10:06