Hotel Star Ratings: What Do They Mean? (2023)

By Hotel Tech Report

Last updated January 26, 2022

5 min read

Property owners are told they must live or die by their hotel star rating. The problem? Not all stars are created equal.

(Video) HOW HOTELS ARE RATED STARS | EXPLAINED...THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN 3, 4, AND 5 STAR?

Some customers refuse to stay in a hotel that’s less than five stars. Star ratings can impact purchase decisions instantly. Just one extra star communicates something about your brand’s quality, luxury, and customer service. But a four-star hotel in Europe offers a dramatically different experience than a four-star hotel in the US; and herein lies the problem for hoteliers seeking to appeal to discerning guests.

How should you improve your star rating when there are so many different metrics, elements, and gradients that determine your review? There are some commonalities among hotel star rating systems that can help you narrow down where to focus your effort. Start with this guide to learn where you stand with stars –and how small changes at your property can have a big impact on your star rating.

Brief History and Background of the Five-Star System

Given the inconsistency of the star system around the world, it may not be a surprise that the five-star rating system used in the US didn’t originate from a member of the hospitality world. The five-star system was created by Mobil, an oil and gas company. Mobil employees traveling the country to service their gas stations and extraction sites started using a five-star system to rate hotels and make travel guides. The five-star system spread quickly, but even today, it continues to be unregulated.

You read that right: in the US, the hotel star rating system is based on popular opinion. However, European hotels use four stars, rather than the American five stars, to denote the quality of a hotel. To make matters more confusing, each country has its own methodology for regulating and defining hotel star ratings. “Consequently, three stars in England is not quite the same as three stars in Spain. Worse: three stars in Barcelona is not the same as three stars in Madrid or in Seville (each region of Spain adopts its own standards),” writes Travel + Leisure.

What Does Each Level of Hotel Stars Actually Mean?

There’s no straightforward answer to defining each star rating explicitly. The US and other countries use completely different approaches to assigning stars; the problem is further compounded by each individual rating system’s definition of “quality.”

That said, there are some general guidelines consumers and property managers should understand. First, hotel star systems measure the quality of property’s facilities: not the experience. This is critical for property managers to understand. As great as your front desk service may be, a cheerful greeting at check-in won’t change your star rating. Hotels with more stars have more facilities, such as large rooms, swimming pools, jacuzzis, and bathtubs.

(Video) HOW HOTELS ARE RATED STARS | EXPLAINED

Each star rating will vary depending on who is doing the rating. Some countries are more prescriptive than others; likewise, different OTAs will have different criteria for what qualifies for a certain star rating. That said, there are some generalities that hotel owners can use to measure their relative position:

  • One star: basic accommodation, small rooms; these properties do not guarantee ensuite bathrooms, 24-hour reception, or daily cleaning. Think hostels or backpacker motel rooms.

  • Two stars: often, two-star hotels are in old buildings that can’t be renovated. These properties are a step up from one-star spots in that they probably offer a 24-hour reception, cleaning, and a basic ensuite bathroom. Amenities are still limited, but you might get a continental breakfast and a room with a phone and TV.

  • Three stars: a typical hotel will have three stars and offer room service, ensuite bathrooms, daily cleaning, a desk or table, and Wifi. This is a standard hotel experience that most travelers expect unless they’re on a strict budget.

  • Four stars: these hotels offer an on-site swimming pool, gym, bar/restaurant, or valet parking. They have nicer rooms and larger lobbies. Fast internet is standard.

  • Five stars: high-end, luxury hotels get five stars. There will be a nice bar and restaurant on-site, as well as a spa, gym, big bathrooms, and comfortable beds.

    (Video) What does hotel ratings mean?

Amenities and facilities take a starring role (no pun intended) in achieving a higher rating. But, it’s also important to recognize some of the nuances built into OTA star ratings and the differences between countries to best assess where to spend your budget.

Hotel Stars Mean Different Things Depending on Who You Ask

Countries all have different approaches to how a hotel earns its star rating. Even within a country, ratings can vary by city or regional regulations.

In France, the US, Germany, and the United Kingdom, how a hotel is classified is voluntary. France, for instance, allows private organizations to provide a star rating (authorized by Cofrac, the French Accreditation Committee). Other European countries, including Germany, use the HotelStars Union, which is a trade association for hotels and restaurants. The US uses AAA and Forbes Stars.

But, in Italy, Spain, and Greece, the responsibility for providing a star rating falls to regional governments. Each region within Spain, for instance, will pass legislation that precisely describes the characteristics and minimum requirements each hotel must have to earn that level of stars. Public inspectors visit each property to make sure the hotel is complying with the rules assigned to each category.

Travelers are rarely cognizant of the difference between a star rating assigned by a government inspector, one by a trade organization, or one assigned by fellow travelers on an online travel agency. Even among OTAs, there’s a distinct difference in how stars are assigned. Here’s a good example of how star ratings differ by platform.

Rating

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Hotels.com

Small to medium property, includes phone and TV in the bedroom, no room service.

2-4 stories high, convenient to public transportation, clean but basic, no restaurant onsite

More spacious rooms, decorated lobbies, medium-sized restaurants on-site; often include fitness centers or pools

Large, formal hotels, well-lit rooms that are nicely decorated; offer continental breakfast; smart reception areas and room service

High degree of personal service; “sumptuous” lobbies; concierge service, stylish rooms, elegant intimacy

Expedia

Basic, no-frills, minimal facilities, small and functional

Value, clean, basic, daily housekeeping

Quality, style, comfort, personalized service, better quality bedding, larger bathrooms

Upscale decor, superior amenities such as turndown service and concierge

Gourmet dining, luxury spa, polished service, upgraded check-in, elegant decor

Michelin*

n/a

n/a

High-quality

Excellent

Exceptional

Forbes**

n/a

n/a

“Recommended” properties by Forbes are those with “consistently good service and facilities”

Exceptional properties with high-quality service and facilities

Outstanding, iconic properties with flawless service and amazing facilities

AAA***

Essential, no-frills, budget-minded

Modest in overall physical attributes, design elements, and amenities

Distinguished style, upgraded quality of amenities and comfort

Upscale in all areas; refined and stylish, with a high degree of hospitality, service, and attention to detail

The ultimate in luxury and sophistication; extraordinary in every manner.

*Michelin previously served as a reliable benchmark for discerning travelers, but the brand has since narrowed its focus to restaurants and bars. Their infamous three-star rating system is now managed by a partner called Tablet.

(Video) Hotel Star Ratings

**Forbes offers a subscription-based guide that grew directly from the original Mobil travel ratings. The team uses a checklist of 800 items to determine its star rating; they mostly focus on four and five-star properties, meaning they seek to verify luxury rather than to provide an objective review.

***AAA doesn’t limit their ratings to upscale properties, but they do use a 33-point checklist, similar to Forbes’ approach. Pre-approved properties are evaluated based on member feedback and full-time, professional evaluators. Instead of using stars, AAA rewards “diamonds”; a three-diamond property must offer televisions in every room and a swimming pool, for instance.

Clearly, each platform factors different elements into their rating system. Some include guest experience metrics, such as customer service (Hotels.com) while others stay focused on amenities (Expedia). A strategy that tries to earn your property five stars on one platform may still have you falling short on another.

Tech Won’t Earn Your Hotel Stars But It Certainly Helps

Bottom line? Focus on providing great amenities, awesome customer service, and keeping your property up-to-date. Technology can’t directly earn you more stars from a rating agency, but it can impact your guest experience –and at the end of the day, that’s what matters. Implementing a keyless entry solution, such as the popular ASSA ABLOY Global Solutions Keyless Entry, demonstrates that you’re willing to invest in service and create a better experience.

Case in point: Four Seasons Boston. The new property at One Dalton Street is a modern, 61-story skyscraper that features ASSA ABLOY custom-designed VingCard Essence door locks alongside VingCard Signature RFID locks. Details matter at this five-star property: the sleek, state-of-the-art security and access system matches the building’s design. With all electronic components encased within the door itself and only a sleek RFID/BLE reader visible to guests, VingCard Essence can circumvent the unmistakably commercial and bulky appearance of traditional hospitality-based door locks.

Details like VingCard aren’t just fashionable – ASSA ABLOY keyless entry is also functional. VingCard Essence is equipped with the highest standard in security encryption protocols to protect against the risk of unauthorized access. VingCard Essence locks can be configured for mobile access, meaning that a hotel can elect to allow guests to unlock their room with a personal device – without the need to replace existing hardware. Likewise, the VingCard Essence can be configured to access guest room thermostats, helping achieve energy management goals by allowing your property to adjust temperatures when needed.

(Video) Hotel star ratings Explained (Europe) #hotelratings #sapphirebluetravel #kerrynhawkins

Review experts are guests as much as they are critics. They are influenced by hotel technology and personal details as much as any other guests; smart hotel tech can indirectly impact star ratings when deployed thoughtfully and strategically.

FAQs

What do the stars mean when rating hotels? ›

Three-Star: Three-star hotels ordinarily have some unique amenities and provide quality service. Four-Star: Four-star hotels are often noted for their upscale quality and extraordinary comfort. Five-Star: A five-star property provides flawless guest services in a state-of-the-art facility.

What makes a 2 star hotel vs 3 star? ›

2 Star vs 3 Star Hotel

While a 2 star hotel will focus on the basics for a one-night stay, 3 star hotels focus primarily on business travels and multi-night stays. To accommodate these travelers, they offer a variety of on-site amenities, like business centers, a pool, and a fitness center.

What does a 2 star hotel rating mean? ›

2-Star Rating: A Few Extras

The accommodations are similar to a one-star hotel's: simple and basic. However, two-star hotel rooms include a television and a phone. Plus, these hotels typically offer an on-site restaurant or dining area and daily housekeeping service.

How do you explain star ratings? ›

Star classification is a type of rating scale utilizing a star glyph or similar typographical symbol. It is used by reviewers for ranking things such as films, TV shows, restaurants, and hotels. For example, a system of one to five stars is commonly used in hotel ratings, with five stars being the highest rating.

What does it mean for a hotel to be 3 star? ›

What is the meaning / definition of 3 Star Hotel in the hospitality industry? A 3 Star Hotel is a hotel that provides average amenities, higher quality service, physical attributes and design. Ranking: Comfort (***) Three star hotels aim towards meeting guest expectations and providing pleasant stay.

What are the 4 star hotel criteria? ›

4 Star: Multiple rooms/ suite options, restaurants and bars on site, business facilities, concierge services, swimming pool, gym and creche. 5 Star: Luxury accommodation with all of the above facilities and more.

Is 3 star or 4 star better? ›

4 star hotels offer more luxury than 3 star hotels and offer high-quality service and comfort. 4 star hotels are stylish and sophisticated and are known for their upscale accommodations.

What decides a 5 star hotel? ›

5 Star Hotel Criteria
  • Standalone concierge staff available at least 16 hours a day.
  • A high staff-to-room ratio—ideally above 2.5.
  • Multilingual staff.
  • 24-hour reception, room service, valet parking, butler, doorman.
  • Nightly turndown.
  • Easy communication with hotel staff - even via text or app.
21 Oct 2022

How many 10 star hotels are there in the world? ›

Burj Al Arab the world's only 10 star hotel - Picture of Burj Al Arab, Dubai.

What does a 7 star hotel mean? ›

There is no official rating of “7-stars” for hotels. However, journalists, guests and hotel aficionados have dubbed these hotels as 7-stars simply for their grandiose accommodations and service. Exclusive to the rich and famous, these over-the-top hotel rooms feature lavish amenities that come with a hefty price tag.

Is a 4 star hotel good? ›

Four-star hotels offer polite, respectful and personal service, bringing complimentary drinks, tidying up during turn-down service, personal service and using guest names where appropriate. In a five-star hotel, no guest request is too outlandish, or even met with shock or reticence.

How many 7 star hotels are there in the world? ›

Burj Al Arab Dubai

It's dubbed the world's only official 7-star hotel, so naturally, it's the first place you want to book if you're looking to be blown away by over-the-top luxury.

How do you respond to a 5 star rating? ›

Generic 5-star positive review response examples
  1. “Thanks for sharing your rating with us and the community.”
  2. “Many thanks for the 5-star rating. ...
  3. “Thanks so much for taking the time to leave us a 5-star rating – it's much appreciated!”
  4. “Thank you so much for taking the time to leave us a 5-star review.”

What is a star rating question? ›

A star rating question is a type of rating question that allows users to rank attributes on a 5-point scale represented with stars. It is a 5-point matrix question, but instead of radio buttons or checkboxes, stars are used to represent it.

What is the 5 star rating system? ›

The Five-Star Quality Rating System is a tool to help consumers select and compare skilled nursing care centers. Created by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in 2008, the rating system uses information from Health Care Surveys (both standard and complaint), Quality Measures, and Staffing.

Is a 2 star hotel clean? ›

2 Star. Two-star hotels are typically clean and cover basic travel needs, like one-star hotels, but they might be located nearer to major intersections or city attractions. They may also have additional amenities like TV, a hotel bar, or limited onsite dining.

What makes a hotel 4 or 5-star? ›

They aim to make their customers feel like superstars. 4-star hotels may not offer all of these services and the ones they may offer are most likely optional and charged extra.
...
4-Star Hotel5-Star Hotel
Staff to guest ratioHigher guest to staff ratioHigher staff to guest ratio
11 more rows

What is the difference between 5-star and 7 star hotels? ›

A 5-star hotel is generally chosen for business stays and leisure stays. While a 7-star hotel is mostly chosen for leisure stays. A 5-star hotel gives you a luxurious treatment while a 7-star hotel gives you a royal treatment. A 5-star hotel is could be frequented by people from all walks of life.

What is a 5 Red star hotel? ›

Five red stars are awarded for outstanding facilities, service and all-round customer experience. With this award, Stoke Park gains the coveted rank of AA Inspector's Choice, joining just 49 hotels in the UK. Other five red star hotels include: Claridge's, The Dorchester, The Ritz and Gleneagles.

What does a 2 star hotel look like? ›

2 star hotels only have basic room options. Rooms are also small to medium sizes and offer basic amenities, a private bathroom (typically shower only), TV, telephones, clothes racks or small closets. Daily housekeeping service and 24-hour reception are also offered by 2 star hotels.

Do 1 star reviews matter? ›

Several one-star ratings are tanking your overall average, hindering your brand image, and damaging your rankings. With Google's changing algorithm, having negative reviews can only cause more problems.

Which one is better 3 star or 5 star? ›

The highest star rating of an air conditioner or any electronic device is 5, and the lowest star rating is 1. Therefore, a 5-star air conditioner will cool your room most efficiently. It means that a 5-star AC will cool a particular room faster while using lesser electricity than a 3-star AC.

How many 5 star hotels are there in the world? ›

The 64th annual list features 323 Five-Star, 558 Four-Star and 401 Recommended hotels; 74 Five-Star, 112 Four-Star and 67 Recommended restaurants; and 102 Five-Star and 193 Four-Star spas worldwide.

How can a hotel be 6 star? ›

Additionally, amenities such as a spa and room service come as a standard. However, what sets six star hotels, and even seven star rated hotels apart is their extraordinary services. With personal butlers, limousines, on site galleries and hair stylists, these hotels certainly are a step above the rest.

What is the #1 hotel in the world? ›

1 in the world: Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco, in Italy's iconic Tuscan countryside, is 2022's best hotel.

What is the number 1 hotel brand in the world? ›

1. Hilton Hotel and Resorts. Mission Statement: Hilton's (NASDAQ: HLT) mission is to be the preeminent global hospitality company ” the first choice of guests, team members, and owners alike.

What is the best room in a hotel? ›

Presidential Suite: This title is given to the most luxurious and expensive room of a hotel property. Usually, there is only one Presidential Suite available in a property and it's considered the best room on offer. It has more than one bedroom, a spacious living room, and a dining area.

Is there any 9 star hotel in world? ›

The Burj Al Arab (Arabic: برج العرب, Arab Tower) is a luxury hotel located in the city of Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Is there any 8 star hotel in the world? ›

Is there such thing as an 8 star hotel? Yes – there is. But there's only one, and that's the Burj Al Arab in Dubai, UAE. The Burj Al Arab oozes luxury and glamour, and comes with a hefty price tag per night.

Why is it called 5 star hotel? ›

A 5 Star Hotel is a hotel that provides a luxury service through all its means of operation. Luxury (*****) A 5 Star Hotel is geared towards catering to guests at the highest level. Therefore everything from the exterior of the hotel down to the tableware should display excellent quality and high attention to detail.

Is 4 star or 5 star better? ›

The star rating for any electrical appliance is an indication of its energy efficiency. The ratings range from 1 to 5, with 5 being the most energy efficient and 1 being the least. The more star ratings your air conditioner will have, the less energy it will consume and the lesser your electricity bill is likely to be.

Which city has most 5 star hotels? ›

London

The British capital has consistently topped lists of the most five-star hotels in the world with around 75 hotels in the city alone.

Does a 6 star hotel exist? ›

It's impossible to know for sure what's in store at a six-star property because the rating doesn't officially exist. There's not even a globally accepted five-star hotel ranking, or a governing body in charge of dispensing stars.

How do hotels get stars? ›

Procedurally the hoteliers should apply for their star rating and the committee responsible will visit and judge based on the facilities provide, how well the guests are served etc. Based on these, they give them star ratings ranging from 1 star to 5 stars.

How do you answer a 2 star review? ›

How to Respond to a 2-Star Rating or Review
  1. Make sure you include the reviewer's name in your response (unless anonymized or withheld).
  2. Thank the reviewer for sharing their feedback with you.
  3. Apologize for the reviewer's frustration, disappointment, or dissatisfaction.

How do you answer a three star review example? ›

For instance, you could write something along the lines of, “We're glad that you were satisfied with [your experience / your visit / relevant product / relevant service] and would love to hear some additional feedback about how we could improve our service even more.”

How do you respond to a 5 star review with no comment? ›

Here are five ways to respond to a 5-star rating with no text:
  1. “Thank you for your 5-star review rating! ...
  2. “We're so grateful for your 5-star review. ...
  3. “We appreciate you taking the time to leave us a 5-star review. ...
  4. “We are beyond thankful for your 5-star review. ...
  5. “Your 5-star review means a lot to us.
16 Aug 2022

How do you answer a rating scale? ›

Rating Scales
  1. Three-point Scales. Good - Fair – Poor. Agree – Undecided - Disagree. ...
  2. Five-point Scales (e.g. Likert Scale) Strongly Agree – Agree – Undecided / Neutral - Disagree - Strongly Disagree. ...
  3. Seven-point Scales. Exceptional – Excellent – Very Good – Good – Fair – Poor – Very Poor.

How do you answer a 4 star review? ›

Examples on how to respond to a 4-star review

We're glad you enjoyed your experience and we'll work hard to improve in the areas you mentioned. Thanks for the honest feedback! We're constantly striving to improve our customers' experience, so we'll definitely take your suggestions into consideration.

How do you respond to a one star rating? ›

They Rated You 1-Star: Here's a 4-Step Process to Turn the Negative into a Positive.
  1. Thank, acknowledge, ask, apologise and empathise. ...
  2. Step 2: Explain the reason and resolution (if necessary) and create a positive spin. ...
  3. Step 3: Invite them offline so you can find a solution. ...
  4. Step 4: Keep it simple, short and sweet.

Why do star ratings matter? ›

The Star Ratings system rewards higher-performing plans. This means that those with four or more stars receive annual bonus payments from the CMS. The higher the rating, the higher the bonus.

How do you get a 5 star rating for a customer? ›

Start getting more Google reviews for your business
  1. Ask for Google reviews.
  2. Create a shareable review link.
  3. Provide excellent customer service.
  4. Respond to existing reviews.
  5. Share positive reviews.
  6. Invest in review generation tools.
  7. Frequently update your Google Business Profile listing.
8 Aug 2022

How can I improve my 5 star rating? ›

Here are five strategies to boost your star ratings for future years.
  1. Focus on the right measures. ...
  2. Know Thy Data. ...
  3. Better Patient Satisfaction and High Patient Engagement. ...
  4. Create and Sustain a Culture of Quality Improvement. ...
  5. Find a strong analytics partner.
31 Jan 2020

What qualifies a 7-star hotel? ›

One of the main rules for a seven-star hotel is that it must be located inside an iconic structure of the city. Without this, no hotel can be a seven-star. Also, a seven-star hotel should have more suites than rooms.

What does a 7-star hotel mean? ›

There is no official rating of “7-stars” for hotels. However, journalists, guests and hotel aficionados have dubbed these hotels as 7-stars simply for their grandiose accommodations and service. Exclusive to the rich and famous, these over-the-top hotel rooms feature lavish amenities that come with a hefty price tag.

What is the difference between 5 star and 7-star hotels? ›

A 5-star hotel is generally chosen for business stays and leisure stays. While a 7-star hotel is mostly chosen for leisure stays. A 5-star hotel gives you a luxurious treatment while a 7-star hotel gives you a royal treatment. A 5-star hotel is could be frequented by people from all walks of life.

How many 7-star hotels are there in the world? ›

Burj Al Arab Dubai

It's dubbed the world's only official 7-star hotel, so naturally, it's the first place you want to book if you're looking to be blown away by over-the-top luxury.

What makes a hotel 3 star vs 4 star? ›

3 star hotel will have a restaurant, gym facilities, a spacious lobby, and a conference room. 4 star hotel will have a bar, multiple swimming pools, crèche, lounge, spas, gym, fitness center, concierge service, extensive business facilities, multiple restaurants and valet parking.

Who decides if a hotel is 5 star? ›

Though there is no standard rating system for hotels, properties earn 5-star distinction by providing guests experiences that meet or exceed even the highest of expectations for comfort, décor, and luxury.

What does a 4.5 star hotel mean? ›

Distinctive 4.5-star hotels

Guests can expect attentive service, premium amenities, and stylish accommodation from these polished hotels. Unique touches will make your stay memorable. Some 4.5-star hotels may offer optional amenities at an additional cost, such as spa services.

How do hotels choose stars? ›

Procedurally the hoteliers should apply for their star rating and the committee responsible will visit and judge based on the facilities provide, how well the guests are served etc. Based on these, they give them star ratings ranging from 1 star to 5 stars.

What is the best rating system for hotels? ›

AAA uses a Diamond Rating system, with five diamonds being the highest designation a hotel can achieve. In order to assign ratings to hotels, inspectors visit these properties unannounced.

Which city has most 5-star hotels? ›

London

The British capital has consistently topped lists of the most five-star hotels in the world with around 75 hotels in the city alone.

What is the highest rated hotel in the world? ›

1 in the world: Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco, in Italy's iconic Tuscan countryside, is 2022's best hotel.

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