I thought I'd check out Hotels with Travelocity (whom I use for flights often) for my trip to Dallas. I compared other sites, to find that Travelocity is much to generous with their star ratings for hotels. What some people have commented on this site, is apparently not isolated.
I decided that a 4 star hotel was a safe bet, and used their 'Top Secret" hotels feature, which allows you to choose only the star level for a secret hotel, only to be revealed after you pay and confirm (nonrefundable).
I checked into my "4 star" hotel, to find it barely a "3 star". I was so upset I called Travelocity. (mistake #1) I got some girl named "Lisa" who didn't speak very clear English, and couldn't deviate much from the script she was provided with. Got nowhere, asked the hotel front desk what their star rating was, they informed me that they were awarded a 2 diamond rating last year by AAA, and 3 stars by mobil (now forbes travel), which are both lower than Travelocity's rating.
I also discovered after talking with other guests, that hotels keep certain rooms available for these 'Top Secret' bookings, which appear to be lower in quality than that of someone who pays full price. Seems like fraud to me. Of the 3 guests I spoke with, 3 had bought on discount sites like Priceline or Hotwire, and were on the same floor as me, and also mentioned their dissatisfaction with the room quality. The 3rd, was a business traveler who paid "rack rate" or full price, and was certain the room-type was the same as ours, but commented on additional features in the room, like a fridge, an mp3 radio and what he believed to be a newly decorated room.
At any rate, I'm convinced that many hotels are putting these "Top Secret" rate guests in their lower quality rooms, which defeats the purpose.
Travelocity has it's own hotel rating system, which is independent of the official AAA or Mobil (Forbes) hotel ratings which evaluate many factors when assigning star ratings. Check other sites, compare prices, and read reviews.... That's the best way to avoid "Top Secret" surprises when traveling with Travelocity