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Hotel star rating systems: Everything you need to know

  Posted in Resources

What is a hotel star rating?

Hotel star ratings are an internationally-accepted indicator of a hotel’s quality, cleanliness and standards. The higher the star rating the more you can expect from the hotel, with one star hotels offering a no frills stay and a five star hotel providing a high-end luxury experience.

Hotel star rating systems can sometimes seem confusing or arbitrary. But they are traditionally relied upon by guests looking to make the best accommodation choices.

Here’s everything you need to know about hotel star rating systems – what they mean, how they work and how they might apply to your hotel.

Table of contents

Why is a rating system for hotels important?

A hotel star rating is an independent and objective grading, so it’s a reliable system that helps guests understand what they can reasonably expect when staying at a hotel.

A common understanding about the quality of a hotel also makes it easier for guests to compare hotels and make booking decisions. For example, guests might want to understand which five star hotel is most affordable? Or whether it’s worth it to pay extra for a five star hotel compared to a three star hotel. The star information facilitates these comparisons and decisions.

How does a hotel star rating system work?

Star ratings generally run from one through to five. A greater number of stars corresponds with an increasing sense of luxury (and often a bigger price tag). It’s a graded system, with steps up between the bottom and top ratings.

In Australia, star ratings are described as follows:

  • One star: Budget facilities that are clean and secure. Guests may be able to access fee-based services or facilities.
  • Two star: Appealing to price conscious travellers, services and facilities are typically limited.
  • Three star: A broad range of amenities are available, exceeding above-average accommodation needs. Service and design are of good quality.
  • Four star: With a wide range of facilities, superior design qualities and excellent service, these hotels offer a deluxe guest experience.
  • Five star: Guests enjoy an extensive range of facilities and comprehensive services. Properties are well designed with attention to detail. Luxury is apparent across all areas of hotel operations.

Sometimes, a half star rating might be added where a hotel is between star gradings.

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How is a hotel’s star rating determined?

The most important feature of a star rating system is that it is independent and objective – so a hotel can’t self-rate their property. Guests need unbiased ratings when making decisions.

Using Australia as an example again, a hotel’s star rating is judged by more than 200 criteria which have been ranked by Australian travellers. The star symbols are a licensed trademark and can only be used by properties that have been licensed by the Australian Tourism Industry Council (ATIC) to use them – meaning guests can have confidence in the rating system.

Criteria used to rank hotels include amenities, property quality, cleanliness, food services, entertainment, view, room variations, ease of access, location and more.

Unfortunately, there is no one universal rating system, which can make the system a little confusing when comparing a five star hotel in the United States to one in Europe, for example.

What does it mean to be a five-star hotel?

From the iconic Burj al Arab in Dubai to the swanky The Plaza in midtown Manhattan, to the historic The Westin Excelsior in Rome, the five-star hotel category includes some of the most luxurious and celebrated hotels around the world.

Service, amenities, architecture, design and furnishings – everything about a five-star hotel is premium and personalised. Guests will only need to relax and enjoy the comfort and extravagance of their surroundings as the hotel’s flawless service meets and anticipates their every need.

Even the little details touches and details are provided for, including things like:

  • High-end toiletries
  • Nightly turndown service
  • Robes and slippers
  • Medical team on call
  • Smart TV with complimentary streaming services
  • Selection of daily newspapers
  • Night room lighting
  • Pillow menu
  • Blockout shades
  • Poolside service

Four tips to increase your hotel’s star rating

Nudging your hotel up into the next star category can provide the boost necessary to fill more rooms at higher rates. But how do you get there? Here are our top tips:

  1. Talk to your certifying authority – they’ll be able to tell you the criteria on which the decision is based and where you may be able to improve or add things to jump up to that next level.
  2. Improve cleanliness and comfort – these can be low-cost investments that make a big difference to guest satisfaction.
  3. Build better processes into your operations to smooth out and improve customer service.
  4. Add amenities – pools, gyms, eating options, streaming services and other things are often critical when it comes to star ratings.

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