Online hotel review service Oyster features a Photo Fakeout category in their blog that gives a reality check to hotel reviews, pitting a hotel's promotional images with actual photographs.
The only disappointing thing about Oyster's Photo Fakeouts is that there aren't more of them — and that this isn't the dedicated feature of any site we can find. Popular travel planning and review site TripAdvisor allows for user-submitted photo uploads, which are nice, and I've sometimes had good luck searching Flickr for the name of hotels, but it'd be great to see something like these Photo Fakeouts in an easily searchable database.
As weblog Of Zen and Computer points out, it's worth noting that pictures can be manipulated to look bad in much the same way as they can to look good. That said, sometimes the difference is clear and egregious, and it's nice to get a reality check before you book.
If you've got your own methods for searching out the reality of your hotel before you book, let's hear your tips in the comments.