Hotel ratings are often used to classify hotels
according to their quality. The development of the concept of hotel rating
and its associated definitions display strong parallels. From the initial purpose of informing travellers
on basic facilities that can be expected, the objectives of hotel rating has expanded
into a focus on the hotel experience as a whole. Today the terms ‘grading’, ‘rating’, and ‘classification’
are used to generally refer to the same concept, that is to categorize hotels, mostly using
stars as a symbol There are a wide variety of rating schemes
used by different organizations around the world. Many have a system involving stars, with a
greater number of stars indicating greater luxury. Forbes Travel Guide, formerly Mobil Travel
Guide, launched its star rating system in 1958. The AAA and their affiliated bodies use diamonds
instead of stars to express hotel and restaurant ratings levels. 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. 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 criticised 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
The more common classification systems include “star” rating, letter grading, from “A” to
“F”, diamond or simply a “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory” footnote to accommodation
such as hostels and motels. Systems using terms such as Deluxe/Luxury,
First Class/Superior, Tourist Class/Standard, and Budget Class/Economy are more widely accepted
as hotel types, rather than hotel standards. Some countries have 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 five-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, but not enough
to move the hotel up to the next tier ranking. The Swiss hotel rating was the first non-government
formal hotel classification beginning in 1979 It did influence the hotel classification
in Austria and Germany. The formal hotel classification of the DEHOGA
started on August 1, 1996 and proved very successful with 80% of guests citing the hotel
stars as the main criteria in hotel selection. This implementation influenced the creation
of a common European Hotelstars rating system that started in 2010. In France, the rating is defined by the public
tourist board of the department using a four-star system which has changed to a five-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. In India, the classification of hotels is
based on two categories such as “Star” and “Heritage”. Hotels in India are classified by Hotel and
Restaurant Association Classification Committee, Ministry of Tourism, India. Hotel classifications in Britain
In Great Britain, hotels are rated from one-star to five stars, as in many other countries. The RAC pulled out of accommodation grading
in 2008 so the only grading schemes in operation are those operated by the AA and the national
tourist boards; Visit England, Visit Wales, the Scottish Tourist Board and the Northern
Ireland Tourist Board. The schemes were all ‘harmonised’ to ensure
consistency between the schemes. This applies to all accommodation types apart
from Self Catering that the AA have recently started offering. The AA criteria is available on its website. In addition to the usual black stars to five,
the AA awards red stars to the highest-rated, which are deemed ‘Inspectors’ Choice’. Each of the national tourist boards have grading
explanations on their web sites. European Hotelstars Union
The HOTREC is an umbrella organization for 39 associations from 24 European countries. At a conference in Bergen in 2004, the partners
drafted a hotel classification system in order to harmonize their national standards. In 2007 HOTREC launched the European Hospitality
Quality scheme which has since accredited the existing national inspection bodies for
hotel rating. Under the patronage of HOTREC, the hotel associations
of Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland created
the Hotelstars Union. On 14 September 2009, the Hotelstars Union
classification system was established at a conference in Prague. This system became effective in these countries
in January 2010, with the exception of Hungary, Switzerland and the Netherlands, who have
chosen later dates for the change. Later more countries have joined the HOTREC
hotelstars system: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Belgium, Denmark and Greece. The European Hotelstars Union system is based
on the earlier German hotelstars system that had widely influenced the hotel classifications
in central Europe, with five stars and a Superior mark to flag extras. Instead of a strict minimum in room size and
required shower facilities there is a catalogue of criteria with 21 qualifications encompassing
270 elements, where some are mandatory for a star and others optional. The main criteria are in quality management,
wellness and sleeping accommodation. In the catalogue 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. For hotels with three to five stars, the Hotelstars
Union will use “mystery guests” to check the service quality regularly. 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, hotel classification standards should result from a private and
independent initiative. This may be the case of the World Hotel Rating
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 was scheduled for 2010. Seven Stars
Some hotels have been advertised as seven star hotels. The Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai was opened
in 1998 with a servant for every room – this has been the first hotel being 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. Similarly the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu
Dhabi is sometimes described as seven star as well, but the hotel uses only a five star
rating. The Town House Galleria in Milan, Italy has
opened in 2007 and it claims to have a seven star certificate from SGS Italy in 2008. However the SGS Italy only has five stars
in the general hotel stars categorization, with the full title of the certificate being
left unknown, just as the renewal process is unknown. Overall, as no traditional organization or
formal body awards or recognizes any rating over five-star deluxe, such claims are meaningless
and predominantly used for advertising purposes. Historically, luxury hotels have used the
membership in The Leading Hotels of the World to document regular inspection on an additional
level. This organization had been formed in 1928
and it reorganized in 1971 introducing a world-wide inspection service. References External links
Slate magazine article mentioning the phenomena of six-star hotels
The Hotel Star Rating System Hotels and their star ratings