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Hotel Ratings – Can you trust them?

Search for a hotel online using Google and you’re likely to get a response from various booking websites, all with a star rating or similar measurement. The score should be useful, but is it? Having recently done some quick desk research, I was surprised how much the scores varied between sites sometimes varying by two or more stars.

UK Hotel Ratings

Prior to websites like Trip Advisor The AA and the RAC were the people to turn to. Both motoring organisations rated hotels using a star system. Their methods were consistent, but not perfect, being more an indication of features than a measure of customer service. The RAC no longer offers this service, the AA continues and works with the UK’s various tourist boards to ensure consistency. AA Hotel Star Ratings.

 AA Hotel

1 black star cropped1 star: Courteous staff provide an informal yet competent service. All rooms are ensuite or have private facilities. A designated eating area serves breakfast daily and dinner most evenings.

2 black stars cropped2 stars: A restaurant or dining room serves breakfast daily and dinner most evenings.

3 black stars cropped3 stars: Staff are smartly and professionally presented. The restaurant or dining room is open to residents and non-residents.

4 black stars cropped4 stars: Professional, uniformed staff respond to your needs or requests. Well-appointed public areas. The restaurant or dining room is open to residents and non-residents. Lunch is available in a designated eating area.

5 black stars cropped5 stars: Luxurious accommodation and public areas. A range of extra facilities and a multilingual service available. Guests are greeted at the hotel entrance. High quality menu and wine list.

Red or gold stars indicate standards beyond the star ratings. Ratings are also applied to guest houses and self-catering accomodations. The AA’s Rosette scheme for rating restaurants is a good indication of what to expect. Overall, the AA and tourist board ratings are a reliable indication of what to expect.

Hotel Ratings internationally

Despite attempts over the years, there is no agreed standard. Some countries even use seven instead of the more common five stars. Whilst top rated hotels are likely to be good wherever you travel, what you get for three stars can vary.

In Europe, thanks to the Hotelstars Union, there is consistency across; Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Slovenia, Sweden and Switzerland. France meanwhile use a national system as in the UK. Italy also works independently, confusingly also with regional variations on star levels.

The American Automobile Association AAA, rate hotels nationally, awarding one to five diamonds instead of stars. Australia also has a national 5 star rated system.

Booking site hotel ratings

As with most review websites, where there are more reviews, the score is likely to be more accurate. Although the managers of these sites are working hard to filter out false praise or grudge reviews, some will filter through. If the number of reviews is low, they can influence scores up or down. It’s wise to read the actual reviews rather than rely on the star ratings alone, you may find some comments interesting.

Other Organisations and Hotel Guides

The Leading Hotels of the World is a long established organisation listing over 350 of the world’s top luxury hotels, worth looking at for that very special holiday of a lifetime. The Forbes Travel Guide claims to be the only independant global rating provider for luxury hotels. The Rough Guide series include reviews and claim impartiality.

There are numerous guides on offer, some quite expensive to buy. The challenge is to filter what are genuine guides and what are effectively a book of adverts, paid for and therefore not subjective. One check to try is to see if other good hotels are listed in an area.

Other Tips

Through the internet, we have access to so much information. Using Google Streetview for example, we can look at the outside of a hotel and it’s immediate surroundings. We can look to see if it really is centrally located or in a less desirable backwater. Through simple searches sch as Hotel XXX reviews you may find further information. Also check on services, menus and parking etc. before you book.


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