Understanding Star Ratings

Oh how many times in a week to I read the complaint “NOT a five star hotel?” These five little words come up consistently in user generated opinions across the web. There seems to be a common misconception that a five star hotel is the highest end of the luxury scale – but in fact for the most part the stars are actually a reflection of the hotel’s facilities, not its ambience.

The world of star ratings is far more muddled than the outwardly simple system would suggest. There is absolutely no universal standard of what comprises each level of hotel. It is up to individual countries to create a organised scale of star ratings, and to assess the hotels within their borders. Sometimes the star rating system is set by the government, as is the case in many European countries – i.e. Italy, Spain and Greece. Sometimes it is carried out by a volunteer organization as is the case in Switzerland, and sometimes individual companies take it upon themselves to create a ratings system, as happens with the AAA in the USA. And some countries have no system at all – leaving it up to hotels to assess their own facilities as best they can!

Even once you have a star rating system in use, it doesn’t mean you can make comparisons between countries. In France the three star rating requires all rooms to be at least 10 square metres in size. Your euros will get you more space in Spain, where their three star hotel rooms must be at least 15 square metres! Quite a difference.

Perhaps our expectation of a stylish stay from a five star hotel stems from our own star ratings system, where there is a clear requirement for exceptional quality, and even the decor is assessed – at a five star hotel expect to find “D├ęcor showing attention to detail and co-ordination of design, as well as finished to a professional standard. Wall coverings and paintwork of an excellent intrinsic quality and condition. High quality paintings and prints in evidence.

But this level of rating is only possible because in England all hotels can choose to pay be part of the hotel ratings system, and will get an anonymous assessment which determines their star rating each year. And this system might be set to change!

In England there are two organisations that rate hotels, VisitEngland and the AA, and the rating system is standardised between both. However just last month the star ratings system lost government backing as MPs argued that user review sites provide a more reliable and useful guide to hotels. It could pave the way for a completely new way of rating hotels.

How do travel companies deal with this huge inconsistency? The answer, if you’re a large enough company is to assess hotel’s star ratings yourself, and to use your own list of criteria. That way you can be sure that your customers know what to expect of a four star hotel regardless of whether they’re visiting Dudley or Dubai. Here at dealchecker we’re lacking in the resources to take the same approach. (though if this angers you please address your complaints to the MD. I’ve always said I would be perfectly happy to tour the world’s hotels to asses them for our readers) Instead we use whatever rating the hotel allows itself (providing it’s collaborated on other sites) and then take care with the language we use in the description. A hotel might have it’s five stars, but that doesn’t make it luxurious. But if I see evidence of marble walls, swimming pool sized spa tubs and a butler then I’ll make sure you know about it!

Top image via themodaratevoice