431. Restaurants & Hotels / Really Strange TripAdvisor Reviews (with Amber)

Talking to Amber about experiences in restaurants & hotels and some truly bizarre TripAdvisor reviews.



[No video for this one – next time, probably]

The other day I was on Facebook and I came across an article called “21 Really Strange TripAdvisor Reviews”, which was a collection of funny and strange reviews of restaurants and hotels on TripAdvisor, a website where customers can leave reviews and ratings for restaurants and hotels.

I opened the article and I read a couple of the reviews and found them funny, bizarre and in some cases quite horrifying, and generally just amusing.

For example, one of the reviews goes:

Tripadvisor review

Eugh! He scraped off the mayonnaise with his hand!

A: Hello, I’d like a chicken burger please, but with no mayo. Thanks…
B: OK sir, here’s your chicken burger.
A: Oh, sorry, I said no mayo.
B: Oh right. Here… (scrapes off with hand) That’ll be 1.99 please.

There are about 20 other reviews like that on this page I found, and most of them are much stranger and more horrible than that one.

I thought “This could be a fun thing to talk about on the podcast. Restaurant and hotel experiences.”

Now, I’ve worked in hotels and restaurants before, in my time. I’ve had various dead end jobs working in kitchens and bars and restaurants and hotels and stuff, and so has my friend Amber Minogue who you know from this podcast. I did ask Paul to join in as well but he was too busy filming so it’s just Amber and me.

I went over to her place to talk about this and to see what she thought of some of these bizarre TripAdvisor reviews that I’d found, and that’s what you’re going to hear in this episode.

You’ll hear lots of conversation about that subject, which will of course include vocabulary relating to the hospitality industry in our descriptions of working in restaurants and hotels. You’ll hear some bizarre and slightly disgusting anecdotes and various tangents in our conversation as we end up talking about all kinds of other things, as usual.

Some of the scenarios that are in these reviews are quite disgusting, so just bear that in mind. Some of the stuff is a little bit gross.

You should also know that the episode does contain swearing. There’s quite a lot of swearing in this one and that’s for various reasons, partly because we imagine the scenarios, imagine the situations that these people were in these reviews and act them out, and that does just involve some swearing, plus we talk a little bit about the British TV chef Gordon Ramsay and Gordon Ramsay is famous for his bad language. He’s probably one of the world leaders in swearing. He’s probably the best in Britain. He’s one of the best swearers in Britain I would say. So, talking about Gordon Ramsay also involved using some ‘F words’.  And also, for some reason, Quentin Tarantino, the Quentin Tarantino movie Reservoir Dogs comes into our conversation as well and that naturally involves lots of swearing as well. So, the episode contains swearing.

I know that you might not expect a teacher to use swear words, but on this podcast (as you know if you’re a long-term listener) I do try to present you with the kind of normal informal English that friends use when they’re talking to each other in private, and people do swear when they’re together with their friends, and that is the kind of English that I’m choosing to present to you on this podcast. Now, it’s usually not appropriate to use swearing in public situations like in classrooms, at work, with host families, in comments on public social media forums etc. I feel like I should say that because sometimes learners of English aren’t completely aware of the rudeness and inappropriacy of swear words in English and how swearing fits into the culture of the English language. Just bear that in mind before you decide that swearing is a sort of short cut to sounding natural in English.

Before we get onto the subject of restaurants and hotels there is a bit of rambling chat about some English phrases that Amber keeps noticing recently. Amber has been doing some research for her own upcoming podcast project about the history of Paris. Apparently she’s been preparing an episode about a famous murder that happened, and in her research she came across the word “burlap sack” – something about a couple of murderers hiding a body in a burlap sack. If you remember, this word “burlap” came up several times in our recent episode about the Victorian detective story. In that one, a kidnapper wore a burlap sack over his head to hide his face. So, burlap is a kind of material which is used to make sacks, like the kind of sack or bag that you would use to carry loads of potatoes.

Burlap is quite an obscure word and you’ll hear us laughing about this because neither Amber nor I were aware of that word until we did the Victorian detective story on the podcast recently (“hessian” is the word we knew) so it’s sort of a coincidence that Amber read the word again in a book recently, and that leads us to talk about how it’s strange that when you learn a new word you suddenly start to notice it everywhere. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced that. You learn a new word that you didn’t even know existed before, and then suddenly you notice it all the time.

Amber then gives a couple of other examples of that happening to her recently, with the phrases “Hobson’s choice” and “gaslighting”. “Hobson’s choice” basically means “take it or leave it” – it’s a choice of one thing, or nothing – so it’s basically an illusion of choice. It’s not really a choice at all because there’s no alternative – either you take this one thing, or you take nothing, and that’s known as Hobson’s choice. To be honest, it’s not a very common phrase so I wouldn’t worry about it too much. The other one was “gaslighting”, which means to psychologically manipulate someone into doing something by making them doubt their own sanity – so you make someone think they’re going insane in order to then take advantage of them. Like, stealing biscuits from your housemate by somehow convincing him that he’s just going mad and that maybe he’s just been eating the biscuits and forgetting about it. We give a couple of examples in the conversation.

The point is, you’ll hear us talk about how Amber recently became aware of these phrases and then started noticing them everywhere, and we have a laugh speculating about how they came into the language in the first place, but then we do start talking specifically about restaurant and hotel experiences after all that!

Right then, that’s enough of an introduction, now let’s get started properly and by the way, you can see a link to all the TripAdvisor reviews we’re talking about on the page for this episode.

Hobson’s choice


Reviews of Archie’s in Looe


Really strange TripAdvisor reviews

21 Seriously Strange Tripadvisor Reviews



















From the collection “How to be British” by LGP www.lgpcards.com/cards-1.html 


So, that was Amber and me talking about hotels and restaurants.

  • I’d just like to say a couple of things and ask a couple of questions at the end of the episode here.
  • What is your best or worst restaurant or hotel experience? Let us know in the comment section.
  • Thank you to all the members of the Orion Transcript Collaboration team – you’re doing a fantastic job. A google document for this episode should be available soon so you can put your name next to a 3 minute chunk and start transcribing it. We spoke pretty quickly in this one, so – may the force be with you! If you want to join the transcript collaboration then you are welcome to – everyone’s welcome. Just go to my website and click Transcript Collaboration in the main menu, all the information should be there.
  • We mentioned Gordon Ramsay in this conversation and since then I’ve started preparing an episode about him and his TV show “Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares” – I have used clips from his TV show in my lessons before and it was very successful, entertaining and interesting and Ramsay is quite an interesting and impressive person, not just for his approach to cooking and restaurant management, but because of his creative and compulsive use of swearing. So, expect a Gordon Ramsay episode of this podcast soon (although I haven’t actually recorded it yet).
  • I’m glad to see that the episodes about Limmy were popular. Do check out more of Limmy’s videos on YouTube. You’ll get used to the Glasgow dialect after a while, and I kind of think – if you can understand these different dialects of English your listening will become a superpower. Imagine being able to understand all the different versions of English, it would be amazing, and it is possible – it’s just a question of exposure and practice.
  • How’s your English coming along? If you set a new years resolution in January, are you keeping it up? Sometimes we all need a bit of support with our language learning, so I hope to do something motivational about that soon.

OK, time to end the episode or it’ll never end will it?! Nice one for listening to the end, have a biscuit or three, and next time you go to a hotel, make sure you check inside the kettle before you make a cup of tea…

Oooh, what a weird thought. Perhaps it’s best not to leave you with that thought. Instead you can just imagine being in the safety of your own home, where you know the kettle is completely safe and you can gaslight your housemate into buying some cake or biscuits or just cook a delicious Gordon Ramsay recipe and then settle down to watch Reservoir Dogs on the TV and then go to sleep in your own bed and just dream the night away.

Alright, speak to you soon, bye!

  • Pimol Burana-amorn

    55555+ Both of you’re so funny
    That’s why i’ve never felt bored and kept listening on you podcast for almost 3 years, i think that your podcast’s fastastic, and getting even more better

    Thanks you teacher Luke

    • Jack

      Welcome welcome to the comments section senior Lepster :-)

    • Alexander Suvorov

      Apologies for being snobbish, but we don’t say “more better”, Sir. Just the word “better” delivers the meaning.

  • Cat

    The list of my most hated jobs (I’ve ever done):

    1. Kitchen maid in a Greek restaurant (quitted after 1 week – didn’t like the cleaning up the wall behind the fridge)
    2. Room maid in a Novotel hotel (quitted after 1 day — the blankets were too heavy, all my muscles were sore after one room)
    3. Cleaning up in a Fair Hall in Cologne (quitted after 1 day — the fellow female workers sweared a lot, I felt like being in a women’s prison)

    The list goes on, but it’s enough for the time being… :)

    • Jack

      Catherine, can you speak German with a Cologne accent ?

      • Cat

        No, I can’t. But once upon a time, I liked Kölsch quite a lot (not the beer, though). :)
        Jack, I see, you are interested in all sorts of accents, aren’t you? :)
        I’m not good at accents (like Fred is).

      • Jack

        what is Kolsch, Catherine ?

      • Cat

        It’s the favourite beer sort of Lukas Podolski and all Cologne fans. :)
        A beer brewed in Cologne.
        The same name as the Cologne’s accent.

      • Jack

        Fanks Catherine, I didn’t know that :)

      • Cat
  • Rihan
  • Daini Xiong

    Isn’t saLmon in American pronounciation?

    • Nick

      No, it’s not.

  • Cat

    Dear Luke, dear Amber, a VERY nice episode! A good one! :)
    It’s going to be one of my favourites. ;)
    So many personal experiences, easy to relate to.
    It was like sitting with friends on a Friday evening, eating pizza, and sharing old (and odd) experiences. What a good end of a busy week.
    Thank you so much, both of you, for your stories! :)


  • Cristina Ricciardo

    My odd, but positive experience in a hotel dates back to 2001, during a holiday in Edinburgh.
    Early in the morning, I asked the woman at the reception desk to change a 10 pound note. She smiled kindly, took a transparent plastic bag full of coins and gave me in
    exchange a large pile of coins, much more than 10 pounds. I said nothing, because my English wasn’t good enough at that time.
    Obviously, I don’t believe in Scottish stinginess since then :-)

    • Jack

      why did she give you more money in return ?

      • Nick

        I think she just wanted to get rid of that big and heavy bag of coins and have one beauty note in return.

      • Jack

        maybe or it may be british politeness ?

      • Cristina Ricciardo

        Or maybe Scottish don’t care money so much, despite stereotypes. I noticed the same carelessness about money in Ireland.

      • Cristina Ricciardo

        It might be :-D

      • Cristina Ricciardo

        I don’t know, actually. She kept smiling and taking coins out of the bag. Mystery of Edinburgh :-)

    • Cat

      Maybe she was saving the Scots from the reputation of being stingy. Now we know. So — mission fulfilled! ;-)

      • Cristina Ricciardo

        Yes, I suppose there were people with this mission in the city! :-) I’ve just remembered once in a bus during the same holiday: I couldn’t reach the right amount of coins (the drivers didn’t give the change) and a woman gave me 5 pence or so. Probably I looked younger than I was, and lost, because of my poor English.

  • Nick

    I definitely have a British character… and it’s hard to live with such a character/temper in my homeland :))

    • Jack

      Nick brotha, Luke should do an episode on what brits say and what they actually mean. would be a good one.

      I am missing video episodes :(

      • Already planned and in my ‘to do’ list. :)

      • Jack

        Thank you Luke :-)

      • Cat

        Luke, I thought your cost-benefits analysis of video podcasting was still under development. What ratio is it going to be? 5 : 1 (five audio : one video), or 10:1? What is your Nash equilibrium? :))

      • You mean the number of episodes that will have videos vs the number without?
        Or the ratio of episode listens vs video views?
        For the first one, I will do videos whenever I can. I’m not sure what the ratio will be, but as high as possible (as long as people like them).
        For the second one, that is about whether it is worth taking the time and effort to do the videos. I said before that if an episode gets 100,000 listens but the video gets just 1000 views, it’s not worth all the extra effort. The podcast is primarily an audio one after all.
        But then again, I should probably keep doing the videos even if the views are low in the beginning because the more you upload to youtube the better.

      • Nick

        On videos should be some action all the time… something like Liam Neeson is smashing objects around him :))

      • Nick

        On audio it can be done only by your voice but video is a different thing of course.

      • Cat

        Oh, thanks. I meant your workload vs your benefits. Both is going to be beneficial, no doubt. The more channel you use the better, I think. Also those ideas with live Facebook or Instagram sessions are good. The Millennials, you know, mind the Millennials! ;-)

      • Eri Taguchi

        This episode could be very interesting!!

    • Cat

      What is a British character? And what is a British temper? A new mystery to solve…

      Where is Eri, I need her for mystery solving… :)

      • Nick

        There is an example of British character on the picture above ;)

      • Cat

        Oh, you mean this pretending of everything being alright? :)

      • Nick

        It’s not alright and it makes one’s life more complicated, but desire to be polite and friendly wins (in most of the cases).

      • Cat

        This means you’ve got good manners, which is great. Pity, that some people seem not to appreciate it…

      • Nick

        Well ,what can we do, it’s a big world with different people :)

      • Eri Taguchi

        I am sorry, Cat.
        I had not have enough time to come here and check comments… But I am listening episodes!
        That character is also very Japanese.
        Don’t say things (esp.bad things) directly or even won’t say although we are thinking…
        I feel that Russian say thing very direct way as same as otner westen contries people…(I do not know a lot about Russian, so it might be wrong…← I feel this is very Japanese way to add some more information to avoid someone will be angry from my comment (^^ゞ)

  • So when it comes down to it which is more important? Food, or service. Get your money’s worth. It affects every facet of your joy. Hobson’s choice gives me chills down my spine. It’s downhill all the way ! “Gaslighting” can be far stranger than hallucination. You’re transformed ! TripAdvisor Reviews (website) is what customers need to avoid being in a pickle. Thanks to your advice !

  • Cat

    Oh, another LA episode!!! Looking forward to listening to it!!! :))

    • Nick

      I was missing Paul’s laugh while listening to it…

      • Jack

        paul is flying high – busy with his Tv show but somebody tell him that LEP rocks

      • Nick

        At least Luke can play his laughs from time to time :))

      • Jack

        at half speed and than at 1.50 or 2 speeds

      • Nick

        Jack, don’t be very angry with Paul, he has his own life.

      • Jack

        No my brother, how can I be angry :-) . It is just a funny banter between us

      • Nick

        All right then, and it’s better for Paul to not read that :))

      • Jack

        who knows we might get what the **** LEP in near future :-p

      • Nick

        And we could watch the blood duel between Luke and Paul ;) if Luke survives the battle with Andy of course.

      • Jack

        Nice to see you ma brotha.
        Yes, that would be a wrestling match of epic proportions. It seems that teacher Andy is training very hard :D

      • Lool that would be so hilarious, playing Paul’s laugh xD

  • OMG an Amber podcast? why not a youtube channel :D? I think it would be better, consider that long time ago I suggested Paul to do youtube videos and look where he is now ;). I think is better to see Paris and it’s buildings and places, where to go, what to do and advertise your service as a tour guide :P.

    LOL your “Hobson’s impression reminded me to Homer Simpson when they tell him he is now Mr. Thompson xD.

    I’m sorry to inform you that “Salmon” is pronnounced as “Salmon” :P with an L.

    how do you pronnounce premiere? or aluminum? or aluminium?

    LOL with the american demanding talk, I just came from NY and restaurants are so expensive you have to pay the taxes and after that minimum 18% of tip, and is Hobson’s choice… and don’t make me talk about the taxi from JFK airport to New York, 145 dlls plus 40 dlls of tip… yes a tip for a taxi driver (he was an uber driver but offered his services outside the app to charge us less… that’s what he said), what’s wrong with you americans?

    Amazing episode! :)

    • Jack

      Seriously the idea that you have to tip 18 percent of the total bill is just bonkers.
      No thank you restaurant people, I will just serve me ownself with tea and biscuits

    • It’s /ˈsamən/ without an L and that’s that.