Hotel Star Ratings

There are different ways to judge what quality hotel room you’re getting if you’re booking one for an upcoming trip. Star ratings are one of the most prevalent ones. As a hotel owner, you should understand star ratings and their meaning, since your guests will expect certain amenities depending on how many stars your hotel has.

Let’s take some time to talk about star ratings for hotels. We’ll go over what they mean, the entities that generally hand out star ratings, and the differences guests will expect depending on what star rating your hotel has.

What Exactly Are Hotel Star Ratings?

Hotel star ratings are a way for potential guests at a hotel to judge its quality, standards, facilities, amenities, and generally what quality of experience they can expect there. Higher star ratings are understood to mean a better-quality hotel experience. 

The typical star rating uses a scale of one to five stars, with one being the most basic, bare bones hotel experience, and five stars being the fanciest and most opulent. 

Additional Information About The Star Rating System

When you learn about the star rating system for hotels, you will soon realize the stars that are handed out are not done so arbitrarily. You should also be aware, though, that different entities use the star system. What one of them means might not necessarily be identical to the criteria another one uses. 

Still, one general truth remains the same, regardless of what entity you’re looking at that awards stars. The more stars, the better a hotel experience is expected to be. 

You could say that star ratings represent social proof of a hotel’s quality. There are expert hotel reviewers working for the various trusted entities that award stars. Accordingly, if you see that one of them awards a hotel three stars, for instance, you can expect certain amenities and a level of luxury that you would not see with a one or two-star hotel. 

As a hotel owner, you should also understand how significant it is for your marketing if a well-respected travel entity rates your hotel with more stars rather than less. That could be the difference in how much you charge for your rooms and how easily you’re able to fill them with well-heeled travelers who are visiting your particular city or country.

The European Hotelstars Union

Star ratings are not unified. However, in Europe, you can expect some consensus about what each of the star ratings mean. 

At a Bergen conference in 2004, the HOTREC (Hotels, Restaurants, and Cafes in Europe) drafted a comprehensive hotel classification system. The HOTREC is an organization that encompasses 39 associations from a total of 24 different European countries.

The classification system the HOTREC came up with was meant to harmonize a national standard so that travelers could more easily know what to expect from star ratings when they visited European hotels.

In 2007, the HOTREC came out with the European Hotel Quality scheme. Since then, this entity has accredited all existing national inspection bodies that create hotel ratings. 

Under this relatively new star rating system, hotels must adhere to very strict standards to receive a certain number of stars. A little later in the article, we will explain what a European hotel must have in order to qualify for each number of stars.  

Now, let’s talk about some of the most common hotel star rating systems that you can find elsewhere in the world.  

AAA Diamond Ratings

AAA is the American Automobile Association. It’s based in the United States. It is one of the best-known entities that rate hotels, and it uses the diamond system. 

Since the scale is one to five diamonds, you can think of the diamonds as being interchangeable with stars for the purpose of this guide. AAA bases its rating on the availability of certain services, hotel security, cleanliness, and comfort.  

Forbes Travel Guide

The Forbes Travel Guide uses a rigorous inspection process when they hand out stars. It is considered to be an international entity, so someone from another country looking to book an American hotel would give it a great deal of credence. 

They use the one to five star rating system, and they’re focused mainly on reviewing more luxurious hotels. Forbes makes their final judgment call based on the level of service provided and the quality of the facilities.

Michelin Guide

The Michelin Guide is another global entity that is known throughout the world. Restaurants that get Michelin stars are standouts, but the guide also rates hotels, mainly in Asia and Europe. 

Michelin focuses mostly on boutique and luxury hotels. They look at service, quality, and comfort. Frequent travelers who like the finer things in life will often look to Michelin before making their reservations.

Other Entities That Use the Star System

There are several other rating systems that use the one to five star system, or some variation of it. JTB, the Japan Travel Bureau, is one of these. They look at a hotel’s hospitality, service, and facilities. 

In South Africa, the TGSCA is a well known and respected entity. The Tourism Grading Council of South Africa looks at facility quality, cleanliness, and customer service.

In Germany, hotels are rated by DEHOGA, the German Hotel and Restaurant Association. Their emphasis is mainly on guest experience and comfort, while they also look at amenities, service, and room quality. 

There’s also the Automobile Association, or AA, in the United Kingdom. They look at bedrooms, cleanliness, service, and hospitality. They also award additional designations to some higher-end hotels. 

Now, let’s look at the different star hotel classifications. This will tell hotel guests what to expect when they visit hotels with various star designations. For the remainder of this article, we will explain what features hotels should have to meet the standards of the European Hotelstars system that we mentioned earlier.  

One-Star Hotels

As the number of stars goes up, so do the requirements for the hotel and each individual room as laid out by the HOTREC. The facilities and services offered have a lot to do with how many stars each hotel receives. 

To get one star, a European hotel must offer a shower and water closet or a bathtub and water closet in 100% of its rooms. Daily room cleaning must be offered, though guests can also opt out of that. 

All of the rooms must have TVs and remote controls. They must all have W-Fi access, and there must also be Wi-Fi access in the common areas.

There should be a deposit possibility and the offer of beverages in the hotel. Extended breakfast must be offered, as well as a cashless payment option. 

There must be reception service and bath towels in the rooms. There must be a way to procure sanitary products on demand, such as a shaving kit, toothpaste, or a toothbrush. Body wash or soap must be available, and there must be a table and chair in each room.

If all of these conditions are met, then a European hotel has qualified for one star, according to HOTREC. 

Two-Star Hotels

For a European hotel to qualify for two stars, it must have shoe polish utensils and a sewing kit on demand. The staff must be bilingual. There must be hand and bath towels available.

There must be shelves for linens in all of the rooms. There must be shower gel or body wash in the bathrooms.

There must be a working reading light next to the bed. There must also be an accessible breakfast buffet every morning.

Three-Star Hotels

To get three stars, a hotel must have a bilingual website. There must also be a system guests can use to lodge any complaints. Guests should be able to get an additional blanket or pillow on demand. There should be ironing and laundry services.

Each room should have an adequate rack or place to put a guest’s suitcase or luggage. There should be a dressing mirror accessible in each room. Cleansing tissues and a hair dryer should be available.

There should be a device for external and internal communication on demand. Beverages should be available in each room. There should be luggage service on demand and a lounge suite at the reception area. 

In addition, there should be a 10-hour staffed reception area. It should be available via telephone 24-hours-per-day or through digital communication.

Four-Star Hotels  

To earn four stars, a European hotel must have international TV channels in the rooms. The bathrooms should also have a large storage surface, a vanity mirror, and cosmetic products, including cotton swabs, a nail file, a shower cap, etc. 

Guests should be able to request slippers and a bathrobe on demand. Each room should also have comfortable seating, such as an upholstered couch or armchair with a side table or shelf. 

There should be a bar in each room with room service available to bring beverages at least 16 hours a day. There should be a breakfast buffet with service from hotel staff or a breakfast menu card for each room. 

There should be a hotel bar or lounge area and a lobby with beverage service and comfortable seats. A staffed reception area must also be accessible at least 16 hours a day and physically available through digital communication or a phone 24 hours a day. 

Five-Star Hotels

Five-star hotels in Europe must all have a breakfast menu card through which guests can order room service. There must also be an evening turndown service, sewing service, shoe polishing on demand, and ironing service with a one-hour return. 

Each room must have a safe in it. There must be an internet device in each room on demand. There should be a minibar and room service available 24 hours per day. There must be a personalised greeting for guests in each room, along with a gift or flowers. 

Luggage service, limousine or shuttle service, valet parking, and a concierge must be available. Finally, a reception should be staffed 24 hours a day and a telephone or digital communication with the reception desk physically available at all times. 

Remember that these exacting standards apply to European hotels via the HOTREC, but you can expect different standards if you’re travelling elsewhere in the world. 

How to Obtain Star Ratings

As a hotel owner, you probably already have a good idea of where your lodging will land on the star scale. You must always be mindful of where your hotel is in the world, though, and what entity will be handing out its star rating. If you look at it objectively and you’ve read our descriptions, you should have a general idea of what star rating your hotel currently cultivates.

Your star rating will usually depend on where your hotel is located, your hotel’s room sizes, what amenities you offer, and so forth. If you have the idea that you’d like to move your hotel’s star rating up from a two to a three, for instance, there might be ways for you to do that. They will usually involve upgrading the amenities in the rooms and adding some additional on-site options. 

You should try to tailor your hotel to fit a star rating that you feel is appropriate based on what customers you would like to attract. There’s nothing wrong with having a hotel with a lower star rating if that’s the niche of traveller you’re targeting. 

The excellent service you provide for customers, your hotel’s cleanliness, its amenities, and the enthusiasm and attentiveness of the staff are often what keep people coming back. Those should matter just as much as your star rating as you try to make your hotel as enjoyable as possible. 

If you’re aiming for a particular star rating, though, know what the entity that will be bestowing the rating looks for and make sure you have it.

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