Travel companies have been accused of using promotional photographs to mislead customers.
Consumer group Which? claimed holidaymakers are being conned into booking accommodation which bears little resemblance to images published in brochures and online.
In one case, a woman arrived at a hotel in Majorca which was located on a beach – as shown in the photographs – only for a porter to carry her luggage across the road to a sister property.
“Surely that’s false advertising,” she said. “I was in sheer disbelief that I wasn’t staying in the hotel pictured.”
Another holidaymaker booked a stay at a “VIP” cottage on the Isle of Wight, with promotional images suggesting the property had a well-maintained garden.
But what she found was a mound of gravel surrounded by overgrown weeds, tree roots and discarded cigarette butts.
“It looked more like a prison yard than a premium cottage,” the woman recalled.
Rory Boland, editor of magazine Which? Travel, said: “While there are some tell-tale signs to look out for before you book, no one is immune to falling for an idyllic set of promo photos.
“Hotels and booking sites should not be misleading holidaymakers with promises they can’t keep. If your hotel is a far cry from what you were expecting you do have rights to be moved or to a refund, so don’t be afraid to use them.”
Which? is preparing to report several cases to the Advertising Standards Authority.
Firms which are members of travel trade association Abta must comply with a code of conduct which states they have to provide “accurate information so (customers) can make an informed choice”.
An Abta spokesman said: “While the overwhelming majority of people’s holidays will meet or exceed their expectations, if you are unhappy with an element of your holiday, you should raise it while you are away.
“If you have booked with an Abta member, you can also contact Abta on your return if you are unable to resolve the matter with the company.”