It is difficult to judge reviews of two-star hotels. An initial assumption would be that these reviews should be done from the perspective of what someone should expect from a two star hotel. That is not always true. Sometimes a traveler used to higher end properties will ding a two-star just for being a two-star.
Also, since travelers do not get “everything” at a two-star hotel, everyone comes in wanting different things. There are probably two items that matter a lot to the person and whether or not they get those items determines how their review turns out.
So how would the regular traveler avoid this?
1. Write down your two-three items you absolutely need in your hotel. Also write down your price point.
This will help you get what you want without getting sidetracked by something in the hotel you don't actually need. The price point will also help you avoid booking a place that does not meet your needs just because it is $10 cheaper. If you were willing to pay $60, why not spend that whole $60 getting what you want instead of being disappointed for $50?
2. Comb reviews of the hotels for buzz words of the items you need.
Look for what you need and don’t assume that item is you want is in the hotel unless a review explicitly says it. "Interesting characters" mean there are shady people abound. Also look for cues from people who state unexpected positives, such as despite how old the property is, they were extremely impressed by how clean it was.
3. Enjoy your stay.
4. Review the place afterwards!
Put everything in there for everyone else's benefit. The good, the great, the bad, the confusing. Give the next person staying there an idea of whether or not their must-haves will be at that property.