Hotel Frames Pool Photo So You Don't See The Giant Macy's Next Door

We all know that hotel site photos lie. Here’s proof!

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the picture of its pool the trendy hotel Sofitel LA put on its site, and the one the Oyster hotel review site took. Noticeably absent from the official photo? The giant Macy’s looming over the swimming pool. Sorry, Macy’s might be magical but I don’t want to see a reflection of its towering edifice in the pool I’m trying to relax in.

L.A. Photo Fakeout: The magic of framing hides the magic of Macy’s [Oyster]


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  1. obits3 says:

    Maybe they want it to be a surprise!

  2. Alvis says:

    Well, I just don’t see how you could possibly enjoy the pool with a BUILDING next door to it. My stars!

  3. ellmar says:

    The real question is why isn’t Macy’s advertising that they now have a swimming pool in their parking lot?

  4. Costner says:

    I don’t think this is really an issue. Should hotels be required to take photos from every possibly angle so you can view the horizon? How exactly will a Macy’s logo impact the relaxation potential of a pool?

    Now if it was an apartment building that cast a shadow on the pool making the average water temp no more than 58 degrees with random 20 something residents making cat calls all day I can see the issue, but a Macy’s? Frankly that is probably a better neighbor option than many alternatives.

    • peebozi says:

      exactly..i wish people would stop expecting honesty from corporations. they are in it to maximize profit and ethics/morals do not contribute to the bottom line.

      truth in advertising is an old wives tale.

      • Sparkstalker says:

        I wouldn’t even call this dishonest. The hotel hired a professional photographer to take a nice picture of their pool. Like any photographer would, he studied the scene and chose the best angle to shoot from.

        I looked through all of them, and man, the site comes off as really whiny.

        • bonzombiekitty says:

          And it’s not even the best angle in a “hide the giant building” sort of way. It’s just the best overall angle of the pool. In the shot that is “hiding” the Macy’s building, you see the entire pool, in the other shot you don’t. My first inclination would be to take a shot that got the entire pool.

        • GrimJack says:

          I concur – extremely whiny.

          I didn’t see any photo comparison that comes even close to, say, the disparity between fast food marketing photos and what you actually get. They seem to want to jump all over the smallest things, like the lack of props in the actual vs. marketing photos. Looks like manufactured outrage in an attempt to get adclick revenue…

    • seanism says:

      What if you wanted to go on a relaxing vacation and get a hotel with a great view and from the pictures you see that your room overlooks the ocean or mountains only to find out when you get there there is a huge building between you and the view and all you see is concrete. Would you have rented that room if you knew it was there in the first place?

      • Moweropolis says:

        They didn’t airbrush the building out, just didn’t put it in frame. Using your comparison would be saying that they show a view of the mountains and when you get there you have that same view, just with a skyscraper off to the right of it. The picture was not doctored to hide the building, they just made sure it wasn’t in frame when they took it.

      • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

        I would have wondered why the hell I didn’t read actual reviews from actual people this time, like I usually do. Believe me, if it’s an issue, it’ll show up on TripAdvisor and similar sites.

    • peebozi says:

      i thought we were on the same page…but why would the temperature or spectators be required on a corporate advertisement.

      it’s not like they’re say the pool is 80 degrees and there are no 20-something neighbors ready with cat calls. they have no legal, moral or ethical obligation to disclose what type of preopert & residents are near their property…or to disclose the temperature of their pool. even if they did, I’m sure a liar, er lawyer, along with MANY on this board would argue that the pool DOES reach 80 degrees between August 3-9 & the hours of 11am-1pm and how could they be responsible for giving the temperature of the pool at all times when something like that is impossible, IMPOSSIBLE, to predict…you know, with climate change (the climate does change, right?) and what not?!?!?!?!?

  5. AnxiousDemographic says:

    So what? They also don’t show the dumpster at the loading dock behind the hotel.

    If they photoshopped the skyline, that would be an actual lie.

    • peebozi says:

      i don’t judge, but if you can only afford the “loading dock” amenity package, maybe you shouldn’t be staying at a sofitel…sounds like someone got burned by a dumpster view on their last vacation on the loading dock!

      • You Can Call Me Al(isa) says:

        This comment amused me so much I started thinking about it again on my way to work this morning! Thanks for the laugh!

  6. gfonner says:

    It’s not like the Macy’s was in the pool. You can still swim.

  7. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    The hotel is in downtown Hollywood. Unless the pool is on top of the highest building in the city, you’re going to see other buildings. And it looks like Sofitel put up a lot of shrubs and trees to at least hide the view of the buildings a little more. I think the hotel made a good effort.

    • Me - now with more humidity says:

      No. It’s in Beverly Hills/West Hollywood (very different part of town than Hollywood) next door to the Beverly Center mall and Cedars-Sinai Hospital. It is on the corner of La Cienega and Beverly Blvd.

  8. Missing in Vlissingen says:

    What’s the problem? They don’t seem to have photoshopped it out or anything. You look in one direction, you see Macy’s. Look another way, you don’t. It’s not a lie, they’re just showing a different view of the pool.

    I suppose when I sell my house, I can’t use the photo showing my beautiful view of the river and mountains, but I have to include a picture showing the view of my neighbor’s abandoned Oldsmobile Toronado up on blocks.

  9. Hoss says:

    Looks like a parking garage. None issue

  10. ThomFabian says:

    An advertisement photo that shows the best view/angle?

    Who doesn’t assume that every photo used in an advertisement is angled to show what they consider the best possible aspect of the subject?

    • Platypi {Redacted} says:

      Exactly. Do you take a window view picture from the room facing the dumpsters? A room view of the one room with a giant bloodstain on the carpet? A view from the lobby of the Vegas hotel that shows all the hookers waiting by the elevator to get drunk men on the way back to their rooms?

      No! You shoot what makes your property look its best, you are not required to put EVERYTHING in there.

  11. Scoobatz says:

    I don’t see the big deal. This is a downtown hotel, not a resort.

  12. infopubs says:

    Are folks really surprised that a hotel in an urban area might have stores next door?

  13. rahntwo says:

    I don’t see the problem here. But the hotel should have used the second photo and then sued Macy’s for half the cost of the ads.

  14. schiff says:

    This is business as usual for hotels. I did work for a hotel where they actually photoshop’d out the branding of a competing hotel which was visible in pictures of their hotel.

  15. seanism says:

    Photoshop to remove a logo is one thing. They could have just removed the word Macys from the image but they removed the entire building which is misleading to people who try to get a good idea of what the place they are staying at is like.

    • jesirose says:

      But they didn’t photoshop anything. They just turned the camera. When they took the photo, they put the camera in a different spot than the second guy did.

      Like when you go in for a portrait and have a zit, you’re gonna turn your head the way that hides the zit. You’re not photoshopping it away….

      • initforthelulz says:

        Zit example was probably the best example here.

        And like others have said, if you took five minutes to research before booking you would know of this.

        A hotel I stayed at in Seattle had a pool on the rooftop, over looking Safeco Field and the Puget Sound. While Safeco field was off to one side and the sound on the other, your best view was of the raised highway and shipping containers and the noisy train. The website didn’t show that.
        I still thought it was pretty awesome.

      • I wumbo. You wumbo. He- she- me... wumbo. Wumbo; Wumboing; We'll have thee wumbo; Wumborama; Wumbology; the study of Wumbo. says:

        You just summed up MySpace photos.

    • Mom says:

      Advertising photos are not to give you a good idea what the property is like. They’re for advertising. They didn’t photoshop anything out, they just moved the camera.

  16. Kibit says:

    Two photos, two completely different angles.

  17. valthun says:

    I see this as a non issue. As a photographer I would want the best possible angle for the shot, and the Oyster pic is done to showcase the store rather than the pool, where the Sofitel photo is showcasing the pool. Where the hotel wants to showcase the pool.

    Granted it looks like there have been changes to the area since Sofitel put it up, but nothing irregular.

  18. RandomHookup says:

    Sorta like a dating site…

  19. jimcarm says:

    Look at the shrubs at the end of the pool and different pool furniture. These pictures could have been taken years apart and maybe Macy’s wasn’t even there yet.

  20. Zarf says:

    While I can see this is annoying, did they REALLY expect to be anywhere near LA and get a decent view? That’s just stupid.

  21. Back to waiting, but I did get a cute dragon ear cuff says:

    This I have no trouble with. BUT…

    My complaint is the photos that only show tone 20 somethings in skimpy bathing suits. When I go there, that is what I want to see. NOT the 45 year old German tourist who is 5’7″ tall and weighs 275lbs and is wearing a Speedo.

    So warn me about your true clientele!!!!

    • JulesNoctambule says:

      Where there are pools, there will be Germans wearing tiny bathing suits, brandishing the towels they use as property-markers. It’s like some kind of universal truth.

    • varro says:

      Wait a minute – are you calling me *German*? I’m of Czech and Slovak descent!

  22. GrayMatter says:


  23. minjche says:

    I don’t see the issue. A simple check of Google Maps would probably show the location of the Macy’s. It’s not the best view but as other commenters have pointed out, it’s a downtown hotel so there will be other buildings around.

    Personally, if you can’t be bothered to look at other buildings, then I don’t value your opinion too highly.

    (And hey, it at least means there’s shopping nearby, right?)

  24. borgia says:

    If they had taken an odd angle shot at a skewed angle from the pool, I might say there was a deliberate attempt to hide the macys, but straight down the pool is good image composition and includes the whole pool area. The oyster shot only shows half the pool and is a poorly framed photo. Who is deliberately taking a bad picture here?

    Don’t expect the hotel to take pictures of the back of the hotel where the dumpsters are either. You will see the nice parts like the entryway and if you have concerns call. (I also think most people who take trips just to hang out at the pool would consider a macys a plus)

  25. UltimateOutsider says:

    Every suburban real estate photo ever taken makes careful use of angles and cropping to cast the property in the best light. It’s not deceptive marketing so much as best practices. The angle without the Macy’s looks better and draws your attention to the pool, not an unrelated property.

    It would be different if there was like a hidden food court or office building that overlooked the pool. That’s something that might make some swimmers uncomfortable… but this is nothing.

  26. DarthCoven says:

    Slow news day, Ben?

  27. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    Oh please. LOL

  28. human_shield says:

    This is a non-issue. It’s not like the non-Macy’s shot is a gorgeous natural landscape. There’s big ugly buildings in the background of both photos.

  29. regis-s says:

    Not really seeing a big problem here. At least it isn’t a glass windowed skyscraper where hundreds of people can stand and watch my pasty white ass waddle around the pool in my speedos.

  30. Frapp says:

    I ran into this same kind of thing at a hotel I stayed at for Anime Boston. This hotel ended up being a lot cheaper than the convention hotel, and it was only a 10 minute walk down the street. The photographs the hotel took of the rooms were amazing. They looked roomy, bathrooms seemed of comparable size to what I’m used to in an old house.

    When we got there, the room was about as big as a college dormitory room. The queen size bed was just about wall to wall width, with 2 small lamp tables on either side. About 2 and a half feet of walk space around the bed. No closet at all, but a large 4 drawer TV cabinet in which to put everything.

    Then there was the bathroom. There’s no way to put this eloquently, so here it goes. You could #2 and wash your hands at the same time, but there wasn’t enough room between you and the sink to pull it off. The shower was big enough not to be claustrophobia inducing.

    However, despite being so blatantly misled by the photos, the wife and I went back there for the next few years for the same convention. It was cozy, and we were really only in the room to sleep after a long day of gallivanting around the convention and sightseeing.

  31. BomanTheBear says:

    I know everyone is jumping down Ben’s throat for this article, and I woudn’t have a problem with a Macy’s being there, but by god, I was not expecting it to be as truly enormous and oppressive as it is in that picture.

  32. Macgyver says:

    Who gives a crap. So what if theirs a Macy’s next door.
    If their guests want to shop, it’s right next door. They don’t have to walk far.

    But if they did put Macy’s in the picture, Macy’s would sue them, cause everyone these days want’s to sue everyone.

  33. says:

    What’s new about that? I just have to look at real estate listings here where they omit the square footage of the place and on the photos it looks all so big, unless you realize they shoot it with a wide angle lens and thus trick you.

    I’d be seriously surprised if anybody else shows an “honest” photo of what they are trying to sell (see fastfood).

  34. blinky says:

    Kind of a whiny site. Of course a photog is going to take the best picture possible. I even do it with my wife so she doesn’t have a telephone pole sticking out of her head.

  35. asamtoy says:

    This is stupid. The second photo crops out the street light. Is someone going to complain about that?

  36. hoi-polloi says:

    As others have said, I don’t see this as a large issue. The Macy’s building is taller, but it doesn’t look tall enough to cast much of a shadow. As others have said, it’s largely windowless. You don’t have to worry about gawkers from an adjacent building, just there at the pool.

    I’d be more upset about some of the other photo fakeouts on Oyster. There were crops to give the impression that incredibly tiny pools were larger. It’s reasonable to expect some staging and trying to show the property in the best light.

  37. MongoAngryMongoSmash says:

    Embassy Suites in Niagara Falls epically fails at their ads. We went there for our honeymoon and loved it. Every now and again I’ll get ads in my email and the pictures of the fallsview from the windows of the rooms and the KEG steakhouse look horribly photoshopped. They aren’t even geographically correct in their view. You would almost be in the water below falls from the angle the photo was taken.

  38. hennese says:

    This is obvoiusly forgery and 2 different pools. Look carefully. In the 2nd picture the greenery in the backround is much larger and the water in the first pool is a deeper color blue. Additionally the lounge chairs have different cushions on them. I work at this hotel and I guarentee that there is no Macy’s anywhere near us. :)

    • minjche says:

      Greenery can grow bigger, pool color could vary based on lighting, and cushions could have been changed between when each picture was taken.

      What I see are the exact same tiles, same border around the pool, same railing, same white wall around the pool with rectangular blocks jutting out.

      If you actually do work at this hotel, you need to provide better reasoning (or perhaps your own pictures?) if you want to prove it’s a different pool. Until then I call shenanigans on your comment.

  39. HappyFunTimes says:

    Is this even an appropriate article for this site? There is no lie taking place in that photo. Some I forget that blogging isn’t journalism and can’t be held to the same standards.

  40. Geekybiker says:

    Photos are as much about what you leave out of them, as what you put in them.

  41. GTB says:

    I guess? I mean obviously you wouldn’t want to advertise the big mall next to your relaxing pool, but the first photo also looks better. Even if the building wasn’t there, that is how I would shoot it too.

  42. Red Cat Linux says:

    I actually don’t have a problem with this. It’s not like there are windows on the Macy’s building. If it were something like an office building, or an apartment with windows facing the pool, that would be another story.

  43. johnfrank says:

    I lived in this hotel while working on America’s Got Talent. What neither photo shows is that the Macy’s (which is actully the outside of the Beverly Center) is seperated from the pool by a six lane road (Beverly Drive) with a large concrete divider and is not bumping up against the hotel at all!

  44. Pelonis says:

    Two photos, each taken from opisite ends of the pool, nether of the are photoshopped.
    One is a good view, the other is angled to get the worst view.

    ….uh…if that is the worst view they could get……

    I was expecting some sort of junky alley, not the side of well maintained building.

    City= buildings and traffic

  45. El-Brucio says:

    Gotta love technicalities. Helping businesses avoid the spirit of ethical business since the dawn of time.

  46. thelauhingsun says:

    Always be suspicious if a photo of the hotel is tilted up (so that you can’t see the ground or lower levels. Yes, perhaps the photographer for some reason had to stand right in front of the hotel and strain his/her neck to get the roof of the hotel in, instead of walking across the street to get a full shot. More likely, though, the situation will be like what happened to my family during our New Port vacation – the hotel rested on a parking garage. Yes, we had a “waterfront view”, but it was of the swamp behind the hotel, since the beach itself was blocked by a huge, neon-signed crab shack.

  47. madanthony says:

    My pictures on online dating sites are framed to mask my giant, hairy beer belly.

  48. Kristoffer says:

    Personally I find it deceptive even thought it’s done all the time. If you looked through the rest of the site I thought many of the other places were even worse than this Macy/pool one. When I look on a hotel website I expect to get what I see in the pictures. If they show a room, pool, dining room, bar, ect to look a certain way, then I expect my things to be comparable to what they have shown.

  49. Benny Gesserit says:

    Given it’s an urban hotel, I’d see this as preferable to another hotel or office building where people could stare down at you while you’re in the pool.

    I can fell it now, all those people dressing me with their eyes!

  50. cheezfri says:

    Some of these heavily doctored photos are just extremely misleading and wrong. But if all they do is choose a clever camera angle, well, that’s tougher to call BS on. These days I start using Google Maps Street View or other methods to double check hotels’ outdoor photos. Fortunately I’ve become so cynical, I expect crowds, ugly walls, smaller rooms, no plants, etc anytime I go on vacation :(

  51. pot_roast says:

    Sooo… it’s the “Myspace Angle” (or Fat Girl Angle Shot) of the hotel world.