TripAdvisor is a popular travel website with restaurant and hotel reviews but it can’t be trusted for Medellín and Colombia due to many likely fake reviews.

The TripAdvisor website has top restaurant ratings for Medellín and other cities in Colombia. But some of these top restaurant ratings can’t be trusted for many reasons. Also, TripAdvisor has lists of the best things to do, best hotels and best hostels. But these best lists are not very accurate in my opinion.

Several Medellin Guru readers living in Medellín for a while have asked why very good restaurants in Medellín aren’t rated higher on TripAdvisor. Also, they wonder why some questionable restaurants are rated so highly. So, we now look at this in more detail.

Why TripAdvisor Can’t Be Trusted

TripAdvisor can’t be trusted for some of its recommendations for several reasons, including:

  1. Reviews on the site can be submitted by anyone. And the reviewers haven’t necessarily stayed at hotels or hostels reviewed or eaten at the restaurants that they review on the site. So, even competitors can attack each other with reviews. Also, staff at restaurants, hotels and hostels and their friends and family can submit their own glowing reviews.
  2. TripAdvisor reportedly has many fake reviews. A study by The Times in the UK found a third of TripAdvisor reviews are fake. And the website Fakespot.com has found the mean of fake reviews on TripAdvisor is reportedly 32.9 percent according to their analysis. Also, a fake restaurant was even able to become the top restaurant in the UK on TripAdvisor.
  3. TripAdvisor is missing many restaurants and places. For example, it appears to be missing all the restaurants in the large Viva Envigado mall. So, its list of best Envigado restaurants is not accurate. And it appears to be missing all the restaurants in the large Mayorca mall in Sabaneta. Also, TripAdvisor is missing many of the museums in Medellín.
  4. It is possible for restaurants, hotels, hostels and other companies to buy reviews. There are Internet sites that sell positive reviews.
  5. TripAdvisor still includes places, which have closed. For example, the site still includes a review of Randy’s Sports Bar & Grill but this place closed in late 2018. And it has a review of Delaire Sky Lounge but this place closed in early 2019.
  6. TripAdvisor includes different locations of the same restaurant chain as separate listings. So, in its list of best restaurants you may see the same restaurant listed multiple times.
  7. Restaurants in other municipalities are not included in best lists on TripAdvisor. So, you can’t bring up a list of the best restaurants in the Aburrá Valley that includes restaurants in Medellín, Envigado and Sabaneta. You would have to bring up different lists for each municipality.
Is Cavieli Ristorante Caffe in Belén really one of the 10 best restaurants in Medellín?

Is Cavieli Ristorante Caffe in Belén really one of the 10 best restaurants in Medellín?

The TripAdvisor List of Best Restaurants in Medellín

Looking at the list of the TripAdvisor best restaurants in Medellín to see their 10 best restaurants in Medellín demonstrates why some of the recommendations from this website can’t be trusted.

TripAdvisor 10 Best Restaurants in Medellín – June 2019

  1. Betty’s Bowls
  2. Barbaro Cocina Primitiva in El Poblado
  3. Takeout
  4. Lezzet Cocina Turca
  5. Toro Restaurante
  6. Cavieli Restorante Caffe Pizzeria
  7. Cabria Café Resto
  8. Barbaro Cocina Primitiva in Laureles
  9. Ammazza in Laureles
  10. Tabun

I have been to all these restaurant and in my opinion most of these restaurants don’t belong on a list of the 10 best restaurants in Medellín, as there are many better restaurants in the city. Also, Barbaro Cocina Primitiva is listed twice with two of its locations in Medellín.

We used the Fakespot.com site to analyze the review ratings for each restaurant and found the following:

Fakespot.com analysis of reviews for top 10 Medellín restaurants on TripAdvisor

Fakespot.com analysis of reviews for top 10 Medellín restaurants on TripAdvisor

Fakespot.com found that four restaurants out of the top six have suspicious reviews so it would rank them lower. These four restaurants in red have lower reliability of reviews according to Fakespot.com and are likely manipulating the system. But keep in mind that Fakespot.com also can be suspect.

In addition, Fakespot.com found that only four restaurants on this list have reviews that were 90 percent reliable. Also, there are many better steakhouses in Medellín in my opinion than Toro Restaurante listed as the #5 restaurant in Medellín by TripAdvisor.

Some of the best in TripAdvisor lists may be accurate but some are definitely not. I personally would only possibly include Barbaro Cocina Primitiva and Ammazza from that list in a list of the best restaurants in Medellín.

Also, be careful of other best lists on TripAdvisor for Medellín and other cities in Colombia. We have found that consistently there are places included that don’t belong in best lists, which is likely due to fake reviews.

Why Restaurants, Hostels, Hotels and Others Create Fake Reviews

TripAdvisor is used by millions of travelers and positive reviews and being listed in best lists on TripAdvisor can bring many customers to places listed. And billions of dollars are spent on hotels and restaurants and other things to do as a result of reviews on this site. So, many places create fake reviews to improve their position on TripAdvisor.

But if you have a restaurant, hotel or hostel or other venue be careful about fake reviews, as TripAdvisor is starting to take action. A man in Italy last year was sentenced to nine months in prison for posting more than 1,000 fake reviews on TripAdvisor. He reportedly worked for a company called PromoSalento that sold reviews to restaurants and other businesses.

Also, for the worst business offenders, TripAdvisor even posted red badges on their profiles “warning travelers that the business has been trying to manipulate reviews.”

The bottom line is that posting fake reviews is fraud.

My Experience with TripAdvisor in Colombia

I have been using TripAdvisor since I first started visiting Colombia in 2006 and also during the over eight years I have lived in Medellín.

Some of the listings on TripAdvisor in my experience have accurate reviews but some places are clearly trying to manipulate their reviews to rank higher on TripAdvisor.

So, most best lists for Medellín and other cities in Colombia on TripAdvisor tend to have some places that belong and some that clearly don’t belong. So, you have to be suspicious of the best lists on TripAdvisor in Colombia or in all other countries I have traveled to in Latin America.

I have been burned way too many times by going to a highly rated place on TripAdvisor that wasn’t very good.

Also, over the past several years I have found that many restaurants in Medellín and other cities in Colombia and other countries in Latin America listed on TripAdvisor have closed. It appears that TripAdvisor does not update listings when they close.

Pizzas from some of the "real" best pizza places in Medellín

Pizzas from some of the “real” best pizza places in Medellín

Medellin Guru’s Best of Medellín

This Medellin Guru website has many lists of the best of Medellin. These are curated lists that are being kept up-to-date. And these lists are based on my over eight years living in Medellín with input from friends and my Colombian wife and her family plus input from readers.

Medellin Guru has several articles about the best restaurants and coffee shops in Medellín and the Aburrá Valley:

  1. 16 Best restaurants in Laureles in Medellín
  2. 15 Best Pizza Places in Medellín: The Best Pizzerias in the City
  3. 15 Best Restaurants in Envigado, Colombia
  4. 14 Best Restaurants in Sabaneta, Colombia
  5. 13 Best Burgers in Medellín: Best Burger Places in the Aburrá Valley
  6. 12 Best Steakhouses in Medellín and the Aburrá Valley
  7. 12 Best Vegan and Vegetarian Restaurants in El Poblado
  8. 9 Best Places for Brunch in El Poblado
  9. 5 Best Independent Coffee Shops in El Poblado
  10. 8 Top Coffee Shops in Laureles
  11. 5 Best Nano/Micro Breweries in Medellín
Some of the "real" best malls in Medellín

Some of the “real” best malls in Medellín

Also, we have several additional best of Medellín articles:

The Bottom Line: TripAdvisor Can’t Be Trusted for Medellín and Colombia

Be careful of TripAdvisor lists of the best of Medellín and best lists for other cities in Colombia. In my experience these lists are missing many of the best places. The biggest problem appears to be fake reviews that are used by some places to manipulate the system and rank higher on TripAdvisor. So, don’t rely on TripAdvisor exclusively.

TripAdvisor is not the only source to be careful of that covers Colombia. In addition, the Internet is full of out-of-date information about Colombia. Also, Lonely Planet for Colombia is out-of-date and missing many of the best places in Colombia. Furthermore, the foreign retirement publications get Medellín and Colombia wrong.

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