What you need first hand, when travelling to places you don’t know, is finding a good hotel to avoid just the unacceptable: leaking, smelling, cold water, noise, broken air-co etc… (yes, I know quite some in this area!). To get there (to the perfect hotel), I’ve been successfully using – for the last 3 years – a site you might/shall know: www.tripadvisor.com.
TripAdvisor is a website aggregating 10,000,000+ traveler reviews and opinions of hotels, vacations and more. It is not perfect, but the hotel ranking per city and the comments from travellers is quite accurate and usefull. It has become my starting point when searching for hotels and I have to say I am quite satisfied with it although you need to browse other sites to get the best online deal.
NB: TripAdvisor is now available in French as well, here: www.tripadvisor.fr