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Hotel Ratings - What To Expect
Planning that dream holiday can be daunting without some help finding the perfect hotel. It is no surprise then that most travellers rely on hotel ratings to assist with choosing from the myriad of options available.
While there is currently no universal standard for how hotels are rated, the one to five star classification is the ratings standard which is most widely used and that most people recognise easily. Descriptive terms, such as Tourist, Standard, Comfort, First Class or Luxury, are also sometimes used in accompaniment with the star rating system, as in the case of Germany. In America, diamonds are used instead of stars. Nonetheless, star rating is the system most commonly used by many countries, hotel industry associations and private or independent bodies.
Although the criteria for awarding stars can vary greatly depending on the country or organisation carrying out the assessment of hotel standards, there is at least a minimal understanding and agreement of what the star system generally indicates. Some of the general criteria that are used to assess and rate hotels include the size of rooms, levels of cleanliness, consistency of maintenance, quality of customer service, availability of room service, value for money and the presence of amenities and modern conveniences. Location, in terms of proximity to a train station, shopping district or tourist attractions, for example, is often also a key criterion.
One-star hotels are generally budget-friendly accommodations offering no-frills amenities such as a telephone and television. Bathrooms may or may not be shared. Two-star hotels may include a private bathroom and free high-speed Internet or Wi-Fi. Three-star hotels often come furnished with a refrigerator, generous space and offer laundry and room dining services. Four star or superior hotels might include high-quality furnishings, a full range of amenities and 24-hour room service. The highest ranking of five stars is often considered to denote a luxury hotel, providing customer with added, high-end perks, including custom designer décor, brand-name toiletries and in some cases, even butler services. Some exclusive luxury hotels have also claimed to have six or seven star ratings. However, there are no formal bodies which recognise anything above five stars.
As in many other countries, hotels in Britain are rated from one star to five stars. The grading schemes currently used in Britain are those employed by the AA (Automobile Association) and the national tourist boards, Visit England, Visit Wales, the Scottish Tourist Board and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board. Each of these bodies has slightly different criteria for awarding stars. The AA focuses on staff courtesy and professionalism, en suite facilities and furnishing and dining options and standard. In addition to the black stars, the AA also awards red stars to the very best hotels, selected as `Inspectors` Choice`.
London Hotels - While it is prudent to be aware of the limitations and variations of any rating system, the star ratings are still by far the most recognised and relied-upon classification for hotels. Be it for the budget-conscious family looking for a cheap hotels in Covent Garden, or the fashionista tourist looking to splash out on weekend retail therapy along Oxford Street, the stars will certainly help in pointing the would-be traveller in the right direction.