Hotels have been always linked at being a luxury 5 star or a normal mid-amenity 3 star, but what does this rating actually means and how hotels get their rating?
On the whole, star ratings can be very useful; if you’re just crashing for a few hours during a road trip, you don’t need many amenities, and probably don’t want to pay for them either. But if you are on your only real vacation of the year and will be staying several days, you don’t want a flea-pit with dark rooms, poor service and, worst of all, bad (or no) coffee. Star ratings can give you a very quick sense of what the room at the inn is really like.
Hotels are independently assessed in traditional systems and rest heavily on the facilities provided. Some consider this disadvantageous to smaller hotels whose quality of accommodation could fall into one class but the lack of an item such as an elevator would prevent it from reaching a higher categorization.
In recent years hotel rating systems have also been criticized by some who argue that the rating criteria for such systems are overly complex and difficult for laypersons to understand. It has been suggested that the lack of a unified global system for rating hotels may also undermine the usability of such schemes.
Standards of hotel classification
Food services, entertainment, view, room variations such as size and additional amenities, spas and fitness centers, ease of access and location may be considered in establishing a standard.
Some countries have a rating by a single public standard – Belgium, Denmark, Greece, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and Hungary have laws defining the hotel rating. In Germany, Austria and Switzerland the rating is defined by the respective hotel industry association using a 5-star system – the German classifications are Tourist (), Standard (), Comfort (), First Class (****) and Luxury (*****) with the mark Superior to flag extras beyond the minimum defined in the standard.
In France, the rating is defined by the public tourist board of the department using a four star system (plus “L” for Luxus) which has changed to a 5-star system from 2009 on. In South Africa and Namibia, the Tourist Grading Council of South Africa has strict rules for a hotel types granting up to 5 stars.
World Hotel Rating
There is so far no international classification which has been adopted. There have been attempts at unifying the classification system so that it becomes an internationally recognized and reliable standard, but they have all failed.
It has been considered that, as it has been the case in other areas (e.g. international accounting standards), hotel classification standards should result from a private and independent initiative. This may be the case of the World Hotel Rating (WHR) project, which notably aims to set international classification standards and rating criteria along the lines of a world star-rating system. It will also establish an information platform on the hotel industry which will be multilingual and multicultural.
WHR intends to play a key role in the development of quality hotel services, as well as equitable and sustainable tourism, and the protection of the world’s cultural and natural heritage. In addition, WHR will develop labels to promote hotels distinguished by specific features, such as a family and child-friendly disposition. A test period is scheduled for 2010.
The European Hotelstars Union has created a profiling system based on the earlier German hotelstars system that had widely influenced the hotel classifications in central Europe. The main criteria are in quality management, wellness and sleeping accommodation.In the catalog of criteria each entry is associated with a number of points – each Hotelstars level requires a minimal sum of points besides some criteria being obligatory for the level. The minimum requirement for the Superior flag requires the same sum of points as for the next Hotelstars level which however was not awarded due to at least one obligatory requirement being left out.
|Hotelstar||Excerpt of the catalog of criteria|
|Tourist||100 % of the rooms with shower/WC or bath tub/WC – Daily room cleaning – 100 % of the rooms with colour-TV together with remote control – Table and chair – Soap or body wash – Reception service – Facsimile at the reception – Publicly available telephone for guests – Extended breakfast – Beverage offer in the hotel – Deposit possibility|
|Superior Tourist||The Superior flag is provided when the additional service and accommodation provisions are not sufficient for the next Hotelstar. The bathroom facilities are usually at the same level as for two stars hotels but built from cheaper materials. The cost for regular inspection by independent associations is waived as well.|
|Standard||In addition to the single star (*) hotels: – Breakfast buffet – Reading light next to the bed – Bath essence or shower gel – * Bath towels – Linen shelves – Offer of sanitary products (e.g. toothbrush, toothpaste, shaving kit) – Credit Cards|
|Superior Standard||The Superior flag is provided when the additional service and accommodation provisions are not sufficient for the next Hotelstar. The Standard-Superior does usually offer the same service level as three star hotels but the interiors of the hotel are smaller and cheaper so that the three stars were not to be awarded by the inspection body. A two star superior does not require mystery guesting.|
|Comfort||In addition to the standard star (**) hotels: – Reception opened 14 hours, accessible by phone 24 hours from inside and outside, bilingual staff (e.g. German/English) – Three piece suite at the reception, luggage service – Beverage offer in the room – Telephone in the room – Internet access in the room or in the public area – Heating facility in the bathroom, hair-dryer, cleansing tissue – Dressing mirror, place to put the luggage/suitcase – Sewing kit, shoe polish utensils, laundry and ironing service – Additional pillow and additional blanket on demand – Systematic complaint management system|
|Superior Comfort||The Superior flag is provided when the additional service and accommodation provisions are not sufficient for the next Hotelstar. The accommodation facilities for a superior hotel need to be on a modern level and fully renovated which is checked regularly.|
|First Class||In addition to the comfort star (***) hotels: – Reception opened 18 hours, accessible by phone 24 hours from inside and outside – Lobby with seats and beverage service – Breakfast buffet or breakfast menu card via room service – Minibar or 24 hours beverages via room service – Upholstered chair/couch with side table – Bath robe and slippers on demand – Cosmetic products (e.g. shower cap, nail file, cotton swabs), vanity mirror, tray of a large scale in the bathroom) – Internet access and internet terminal – “À la carte”-restaurant|
|First Class Superior||The Superior flag is provided when the first class hotel has a proven high quality not only in the rooms. The superior hotels provide for additional facilities in the hotel like a sauna or a workout room. The quality is checked regularly by mystery guesting of an external inspection service.|
|Luxury||In addition to the first class (****) hotels: – Reception opened 24 hours, multilingual staff – Doorman-service or valet parking – Concierge, page boy – Spacious reception hall with several seats and beverage service – Personalized greeting for each guest with fresh flowers or a present in the room – Minibar and food and beverage offer via room service during 24 hours – Personal care products in flacons – Internet-PC in the room – Safe in the room – Ironing service (return within 1 h), shoe polish service – Turndown service in the evening – Mystery guesting|
|Superior Luxury||The Luxury star hotels need to attain high expectations of an international guest service. The Superior Luxury star is only awarded with a system of intensive guest care.|
A 3 Star Hotel room
A 5 star hotel room
‘Six’ and ‘seven star’ hotels
Some members of the hospitality industry have claimed a six or seven-star rating for their operation. As no organization or formal body awards or recognizes any rating over five star deluxe, such claims are meaningless and predominantly used for advertising purposes. The Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai is widely described as a “seven-star” property, but the hotel says the label originates from an unnamed British journalist on a press trip and that they neither encourage its use nor do they use it in their advertising.
Different hotels get their rating from different agencies, in some countries the government does the job while some hotel gets their stars from some independent rating organizations.
So it’s basically on the services they offer the hotels get their ratings, so next time you check in to ask from where the hotel got their ratings from and the services they say to offer. People usually are unaware of the many free services they could actually ask for during their stay they only just have to ask for. Don’t hesitate and ask for all that comes with your room and do use it.
So did this article helped you in selecting your hotels for your next trip, do tell us.