What Does Hotel Star Rating Mean?

What Does Hotel Star Rating Mean?

What Does Hotel Star Rating Mean? Hotel ratings are meant to classify each hotel based on its quality, services, and amenities. People use these ratings to plan trips around the world. A lower star rating means much lower quality compared to a 5-start rated hotel, but it also means a higher price per stay. Several companies began rating hotels in the 1950’s on a scale from 1 to 5 stars, 5 being highest rating a hotel may receive. Oddly, there is no international standard for hotel ratings, though several attempts have been made over the years. American Automobile Association (AAA) has its own rating which uses “diamond” as oppose to “star” ratings, but are similar to the star rating. Historically, luxury hotels have used the membership in The Leading Hotels of the World. This organization was formed in 1928 providing a worldwide inspection service, and another form of seal of approval for luxury hotels. But what does hotel star rating mean?

In general terms, the following list define the various star rating a hotel may receive:

  • 1-Star rated hotel is a budget level hotel without compromise on cleanliness.
  • 2-Star rated hotel is above 1-Star, and may offer some fee-based services that a 1-star hotel does not offer.
  • 3-Star rated hotel may offer some in-facility dining, as well as other fee-based services, and reception is typically open for more than half the day.
  • 4-Star rated hotel would offer in-room dining as well as in-facility dining, as well as more comfortable room accommodations, a lobby with dining services, and a reception desk that is usually open at least 18 hours per day.
  • 5-Star rated hotel is typically the highest level rating a hotel could get. This means that the service and accommodation are of the highest level, and is regarded as excellence in service. This hotel may have such services as a turndown service, concierge service, and 24-hour in-room dining service. This level hotel would also offer special services to guest unlike lower level hotels. 

There are several organizations that use “mystery guests” to check up on 3-to-5-Star rated hotels around the world on a regular basis.

Some hotels have been advertised as seven star hotels mostly in Asia. A 7-Star Hotel offers an uber premium lifestyle property where the  client has a lot of control over his needs at the hotel. The property must have iconic settings and be out of reach for the general public, hence completely private. A 7-Star hotel would have such services as a high-end limousine guest shuttle service. Each room will most likely have its own personal butler who will cater to all of the guests’ needs. The rooms would have high-end furnishing with overwhelming and spectacular settings and views.

The Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai  offers a butler for every room – this has been the first hotel being widely described as a “seven-star” property. Also, the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi is considered a seven star hotel. Several hotels in India are also considered 7-Star Hotels, including the Taj Falaknuma Palace in Hyderabad, India.

Be aware that some countries don’t have a star rating at all, with no organizations that check for star rating. Often hotels at those countries assign a fictitious star rating (usually as high as they want) even though the hotel is not deserving of the rating. Moreover, there are many hotels that are a certain star rating, but are not really deserving of it.

I was recently dining for breakfast at Rooftop by JG in the Waldorf Astoria in Beverly Hills, seemingly a 5-start hotel. I was hoping to get some oatmeal, but I did not see it on the menu. I asked the waitress, and was floored to find out that it was not available anywhere in the hotel, and she didn’t even bother to see what she could do to accommodate such a simple request. I quickly ascertained that Rooftop by JG  will happily charge you top dollars yet it doesn’t offer such a basic food staple as oatmeal. Following up via email with David Eaton, the General Manager at Rooftop by JG, didn’t yield much results aside from a fairly vanilla response to my experience that, incidentally, totally ignored the mention of oatmeal. Perhaps the pretentiousness of the hotel holds it from offering such a “peasant” meal as oatmeal. A 5-star hotel in the US that does not have oatmeal, is not one that is worthy of a 5-star rating.

Yet just a few steps across the street lies The Peninsula Hotel with its rooftop dining. I went there for breakfast the following day, and saw that its menu didn’t include oatmeal either. However, upon asking the waiter, he immediately said they could make oatmeal for me, and indeed they did. This is a mark of a 5-star hotel, and for that, unlike the Waldorf Astoria in Beverly Hills, The Peninsula Hotel deserves its 5-star rating. This is just a simple, very plain example of hotel rating, and whether it really is earned. At the end of the day, a 5-star level service and experience depends on the management at the hotel and training of staff to accommodate, within reason, the guests at the hotel.

I stayed at the 5-Star Las Ventanas al Paraiso in Los Cabos, Mexico, where my suite had its own butler. One day I asked for a little bit of Papaya, and a short while later received a huge platter of Papaya that could easily serve multiple people. Talk about amazing service!

No matter which hotel you choose, being aware of it’s star or diamond rating will allow you to make a better decision for you, your family, and for your budget (if you have a budget). If money is no object, as the old saying goes, a 5 or even a 7-star hotel, would definitely be a way to go if you really want to get personal attention and much TLC. As we are, hopefully, moving away from the worldwide closures of the pandemic caused by China’s Wuhan Virus back in 2020, now is the time to start planning your next trip. Time will tell how things will shape up as we look forward towards a recovery for the tourism industry and world traveling.

Bon Voyage and Safe Return.