In a previous blog entitled ” Hotel Ratings – How do they do it? ” I examined the various ways in which hotel/motels/apartments achieve their ratings as 2, 3, 4 or 5-star properties. And there I did state that I thought that it is a process which has flaws, and a total minefield with a serious lack of consistency.
To assist you “unravel” hotel ratings here is a little about my experience in conducting my own inspections and ratings over 30 years. And in addition I set out my criteria in deciding those ratings.
So what are my criteria for allocating my star ratings? I’ll say at the outset that there is some subjectivity in my assessments – it is unavoidable and the criteria that I outline below are not all hard and fast. After 30 years I have a mental picture and feeling for each star category. I could forgive a 5–star hotel a small lobby if the remainder of the hotel was superb. And even lack of 24 hour room service I would forgive for some very stylish, elegant boutique hotels. As long as they tick all the major boxes then I may still allocate a 5–star rating if I am otherwise impressed. This also applies to 3 and 4–star establishments.
Location is important – and a 5–star hotel I would expect to be in a reasonably fashionable area and not a red light or down–market district. A good 4–star can get away with being in a less fashionable area but has to be that much better to qualify. 3–star hotels still need to be in acceptable areas but are not normally central – land in the centre is so valuable that 3–star hotels are being knocked down in favour of 5–star. Thankfully in historic city centres that does not normally happen, but can.
A Deluxe 5-star hotel should have a very attractive exterior and have a WOW factor as you walk in. There must be a concierge and hopefully he/she will greet you. Front desk staff must greet you in a professional and friendly fashion and speak good English. A prompt check–in and transportation of luggage to the room is important.
The room should impress upon opening the door or it is not 5–star. You should instantly see a spacious room with elegant, quality furnishings, excellent lighting, at least two chairs and a table for in–room dining and perhaps a lounge seat. I would expect individually controlled air–conditioning/heating, room safe, lots of wardrobe space with multiple hangers, tea/coffee facility, fridge, and hopefully iron and ironing board (but not always there – have to request).
The bed should be at least queen sized, very comfortable with a choice of pillows and sheet and blankets if you don’t want the dreaded doona! There will be daily room service, of course. And at least 2 telephone handsets with one in the bathroom. Fast internet access is essential of course.
The bathroom must also be spacious with, normally, lots of marble. It will have the WOW factor with superb fittings, excellent lighting especially over the mirrors, and lots of bench space. Shower should be separate from the bath and also separate toilet with a door. Large fluffy towels, robes and slippers, hairdryer and quality toiletries are all expected.
24 hour room service with a substantial menu, porters, lift, elegant restaurant open 7 days/nights with full a la carte menu, lounge and bar – all I would expect. Swimming pool, gym, spa/sauna and parking are desired, but lack of which would not rule out the hotel. Finally, to me it must “feel” like a 5–star hotel and somewhere special, not just another member of an international 5–star chain.
In my opinion, just because an international chain has decided that their hotel is a 5-star does not mean it is – the hotel needs to prove to me that they are what they say are by the extras they offer.
A Superior First Class 4.5-star hotel normally misses out on being a 5-star for just a few reasons. It will have practically all the facilities but may be let down by the room size (lacks the spacious feeling), quality of the furnishings and bathroom. The latter may be smaller, have shower over bath and no separate toilet. And insufficient staff numbers can result in poor service and unacceptable waiting. Some hotels with official rating of 5-star fall into this category and I can name dozens in many countries starting with Australia. They are 4.5-star not 5-star.
A First Class 4-star hotel in my opinion is what many people seek – very comfortable, attractive rooms, good functional bathroom, and availability of both restaurant and in–room dining. It will have many of the facilities of the higher category but smaller bedroom and bathroom (average 16 sq m) which often has shower over bath, no separate toilet or bathrobes or slippers. It should have air–conditioning, fridge, phone, internet access, tea/coffee facilities (but not everywhere) and often in room safe. Furnishings are not showing signs of wear. I would expect room service, restaurant, lounge/bar and concierge/porters but they are often very overworked so expect to move your own luggage. Popular 4-star hotels can be very busy with groups, and with limited staff numbers service can be slow at check-in and check-out.
A Superior Tourist Class 3.5-star hotel is also acceptable to many. There will normally be no concierge, small lobby, and front office staff may have limited English. There may be limited room service. Bedrooms will be considerably smaller (average 12sq m) but with pleasant furnishings showing no signs of wear and comfortable beds. They may lack air-conditioning but there will normally be direct dial phone, tea/coffee facilities, internet access and sometimes a fridge.
Bathrooms may be small and sometimes have a shower only but a hairdryer is normally standard and a good range of toiletries are usually supplied. There may only be a breakfast room if the hotel is surrounded by many inexpensive restaurants. If it’s central, the hotel may be pricey for what you get. If not central then it should offer good value.
A Tourist Class 3-star hotel will normally be less central and more basic but still acceptable for those on a tight budget. There may be a small lobby, limited English, breakfast room only and perhaps no lift. Bedrooms will be smaller and furnishings may be dated and show some minor signs of wear. Beds can sometimes be less than comfortable. Normally there will be a phone but rarely a fridge. Bathrooms will be small to tiny with shower only. It is “just a place to sleep”. The best ones are often those that are family owned and operated as they take pride in what they offer.
I hope that my criteria listed here help you to decide whether a hotel that you are considering really is the rating that it claims to be.
Please drop me a line or comment below to let me know how you decide on the rating of a hotel.
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