Figure 1 5 Stars, but what does that actually mean?
When it comes to choosing a hotel or a holiday, the pressure of making the right decision can make the process a rather stressful one. Can you trust what you read on the internet? Should you go somewhere that has been personally recommended to you? How do you know if you’re getting good value for money? One of the systems that most people tend to rely on is the star rating that a hotel receives. Everyone has their own standards – nothing below a three star for business and for holidays no less than four, for example – but what kind of system are you placing your trust in and how do hotel star ratings work?
What factors are taken into account when deciding a hotel’s star rating?
There are a number of factors that are taken into account when deciding which star rating a hotel deserves. Among these are size of the hotel and of the rooms, décor and furnishings, location of the hotel, facilities such as a bar, restaurant, spa, gym, babysitting services, as well as the proximity to local amenities, such as transport, beaches, shops and nightlife. Technology is also often taken into account, such as whether the hotel has Wi-Fi, cable TV, movies to rent etc.
What are the star ratings?
In general, hotel star ratings range from one star to five stars. One star will usually be a basic tourist hotel, two stars a standard hotel, three stars a comfortable hotel, four stars is an above average hotel and five stars a luxury hotel. You may also find that some countries break this down even further with a ‘superior’ sub category for each star rating, such as ‘Superior one star’ etc. Although a number of hotels have in the past claimed a six or seven star rating, this is not a generally accepted industry standard as no formal body or international hospitality organization recognizes this as a rating.
Is there one, international rating system?
In a word, no. Internationally speaking there isn’t a single star rating system for all hotels as they tend to be broken down into countries or areas. In the UK for example, the classification systems are provided by the AA and by the tourist boards for each of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
If you are travelling to somewhere in Europe and looking for a system to use as a guide, the association of hotels, restaurants and cafés in Europe (HOTREC) operates its European Hospitality Quality scheme (EHQ), which overseas the ‘Hotelstars Union’, made up of the hotels associations of Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland. The Hotelstars system uses the traditional five stars, as well as the sub category ‘superior’ classifications and is a pretty reliable guide to accommodation in the countries that are included in its remit.
In general, if you are thinking of travelling abroad and looking for a hotel that meets your specifications then the star rating system is extremely useful. If you want to make sure you avoid fake ratings – i.e. those that the hotel or B&B has generously awarded itself – then focus on the ratings provided by the tourists boards of the local countries or the Hotelstars rating, if you are travelling to one of the countries within its area. You can easily find these with a simple internet search and the peace of mind you will have from knowing your hotel is going to be up to the standards you are looking for will make that effort worthwhile!