Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

3-Star, 4-Star, 5-Star Hotels: who award these stars?

3-Star, 4-Star, 5-Star Hotels: who award these stars?

Old Oct 14th, 2003, 10:27 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 790
3-Star, 4-Star, 5-Star Hotels: who award these stars?

Does anyone know?

When a hotel advertises as 3-star, 4-star or 5-star, how is that rated? and who or what organization rated the hotels??

I found very few 5-star hotels in Italy, but tons of them in Mexico. Does each country has its hotel assoication which rates the hotels??
Johnmango is offline  
Old Oct 14th, 2003, 10:32 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 74,544
Hi John,

In Europe the star ratings are supplied by the government based on specific requirements.

I don't know about Mexico.

In the US they are pretty much meaningless.
ira is online now  
Old Oct 14th, 2003, 10:42 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 11,449
I had the same thought not that long ago relative to Asia. As I found, the ratings are, as indicated, based on local government criteria.

Given the history of Mexico, I'd say the 5-star implies a 50,000 peso "donation", the 4 star a 40,000 peso donation, etc.
Ryan is offline  
Old Oct 14th, 2003, 11:24 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,711
In Europe there is no unified definition of what a "3" star hotel is,or any starred hotel for that matter.With the exception of Switzerland,the bureaus which bestow the stars are related to the department of tourism/ministry of tourism etc.The assignment of a star designation is purely quantitative not qualitative.In Switzerland the Swiss Hotel Association does the ratings.It is therefore highly beneficial for a hotel to be a member.Nearly 95% are.A "normal" tourist will probably not run into a hotel that is not a member.
BeachBoi is offline  
Old Oct 14th, 2003, 11:36 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,749
"In Europe there is no unified definition. . ."
NOT TRUE. For example in France (as well as other countries) the star ratings are specifically controlled by amenities that the hotels have. There is a firm list -- how many rooms must have private bath, whether there is air-conditioning, whether or not there is an on-site restuarant, just to name a few. On the other hand, there is no control of "quality" with those ratings, only which ameneties the hotel has.

You can do a search here for "hotel ratings" and find numerous posts about them including links to the various country rating systems.
Patrick is offline  
Old Oct 14th, 2003, 11:53 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,631
here's a recent thread on this topic--government star ratings for hotels in Europe

elaine is offline  
Old Oct 14th, 2003, 12:06 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 33,852
I'm not sure what BeachBoi meant by that statement, but perhaps he meant there isn't one definition used by all countries. Certainly you wouldn't expect every country in the world to use the same definition or one worldwide agency who rates every hotel in the world. Having a hotel association do such a thing would be biased and wouldn't be worth much, but that is unfortunately what happens in the US, of course--at least travel companies do it rather than a hotel association, as I understand it.

I don't know about laws, but an advertisement should be accurate except Priceline is bogus or any US-based hotel web site as they make them up themselves. Lots of hotel booking sites just make them up, also. For example, I've seen occasional references to 2-1/2 stars or some such thing--there isn't any official classification of a half star in any system I know of, so you know that's bogus.

All of the countries I know that have them, and I think most in Europe do, do indeed have specific standards for what they mean and how you get into various categories. Some countries have different standards or diff. categories, though. For example, I think it's easier to get 5* in Mexico than in France (which doesn't really have 5* but 4*L is the same thing). I've been in a 4* Mexican hotel and it was pretty nice, however, and what I'd expect.

I don't agree that ratings based on objective criteria have nothing to do with "quality." I think it's a matter of quality as to whether a room has running water, windows, a certain size, etc. Those things are very important aspects of hotel quality to me. When people say that, they are using their own definition of quality and somehow divorcing that from all amenities and standards. I think what they usually mean is it doesn't rate if you will like the desk clerk or if they will smile at you, etc, or answer your requests immediately--also, I think they mean you can have a "good" versus "bad 2* hotel, within that same level, meaning some hotels within a category will be more stylish or efficient than others or something. This is true, but I still don't think the statement that star ratings are unrelated to quality is accurate.

Christina is offline  
Old Oct 14th, 2003, 12:15 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 790
Thanks for the discussion and Elaine ofr posting a previous thread.

I do know that the ratings are based on amenities, but wasn't sure whether it is strictly an amenities based system (that is, if a hotel has this, and that and that and everything on the list, then it becomes a 5-star, as an example), or is it also based on review, sort of like the French Michelin guide that is sort of widely recognized.
Johnmango is offline  
Old Oct 14th, 2003, 01:33 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,749
Well, I agree somewhat with you Christina in principal. But I still say that quality is only very indirectly governed by the star rating. A hotel has to have a restaurant to get a certain rating, but no one says the food even has to be edible. All three star hotels may be required to have all rooms with private baths, but don't tell me that means that all baths in three star hotels are necessarily anywhere near as complete or nice as those in many two star hotels, or that they can't be better than in some four or five star hotels. That's what I mean by quality.

And the star rating has nothing to do with whether the beds are hard as rocks, broken down in the middle, or truly comfortable -- there is absolutely no way to govern those things by star ratings -- and as a result looking at the number of stars really won't tell you about the beds (although admittedly you are more likely to expect a better bed at a five star than a two star).

All I mean is that you can't rate quality by a check list. If you feel that a hotel with all baths and a restaurant is definitely of better quality than one that doesn't, then I guess you are right in your opinion. But I don't think that has anything in the world to do with quality. Talking about whether you liked the room clerk is a bit of a stretch from what I'm talking about. And frankly that "having a restaurant" category which I believe is required of all four star hotels in France means absolutely NOTHING about the quality of every other aspect of the hotel, yet that can be the one thing that makes it a four star rather than a three star.
Patrick is offline  
Old Oct 14th, 2003, 02:12 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,631
I don't think that a star or four guarantees many qualitative items (condition of mattress or attractiveness of decor or cuisine in the restaurant), but I do think there are some trends or correlations.

It is more likely, in my opinion, that a four star hotel will have more modern bathrooms or nicer decor or better mattresses than a two star. That's not a guarantee, just a likelihood.
That's not to say that there are no 2-star hotels that are absolute gems with new mattresses or modern bathrooms, nor that every four star has new mattresses or fine food in the restaurant.

On the other hand, if I'm paying 500 euro per night in a four star (I imagine!)I'd certainly feel more inclined to complain if I got a bad mattress or threadbare towels than if I were staying in a two star for 120 e per night.
elaine is offline  
Old Oct 14th, 2003, 02:19 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,098
It probably is more likely that a 5 star will be a nicer place than a 1 star. But there are many 2 stars that are much nicer than many 3 or 4 stars and have better locations, but don't rate the extra star or two because they lack a full lobby, or conference rooms, or onsite parking, or a swimming pool, or a gym, or a full service restaurant--features that may or may not be important to a traveller.

I would never risk picking a hotel based on stars--there's just too many variables that are much more important.
RufusTFirefly is offline  
Old Oct 14th, 2003, 03:13 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 790
I found a webpage on Google which explains the star rating a bit more:


Basically it is re-stating what Elaine, Christina, Patrick etc. ahve stated so far. Generally they are not much in disagreement:

- ratings are based on check list (that is, amenities) and hotels use that as guide to charge the room price accordingly. Of course theses are not strict rules, so a 3-star hotel may cost more than a 4-star etc.

- the star rating, although quantitative, gives an idea of what the hotel is like (so generally a 3 star is better than a 1-star), although it will not tell you about the friendliness of the staff, the ambience, the quality of the furniture etc. etc.

- so use the star as ONE of the tools when looking for hotels. For quality evaluation, go to website like Fodors to look at recommendations from other travellers, or guidebooks like Michelin, Frommers etc.

- the link gave a very neat example: in Italy, no matter how nice your hotel is, if the check-in desk is in a separate part of the building as the rooms (so that the guest has to walk out of hte building to go into the guest room), then the hotel can only be rated 1-star. How interesting (if that's true)!!
Johnmango is offline  
Old Oct 14th, 2003, 05:05 PM
Posts: n/a
In the recent Frommers guidebooks, France specifically, they actually tell you the quality of the mattresses, size of beds, quality of pillows and towels, giveaways in the bathroom (shampoo, lotion, etc). Shelf and closet and storage space, and the decor.

Frommers mark their hotels at Very Expensive, Expensive, Moderest, Inexpensive - no stars, but do hi-light those they think are special finds in any price category. Also notations for "child friendly" places.

Fodors on the other hand, notes $$$ signs instead of stars, but don't mention much about quality of mattresses, etc.

While there are big name hotels all around the world, lots might be self-owned and not meet the same quallty controls as expected in the U.S. Example: A Hilton and Hilton International are two different animals; a Sheraton in Italy might not meet the standards of those in U.S.

The stars are guidelines and vary from place to place - use them as a guideline and then inquire if they have what you want/need.
Related Topics
Original Poster
Last Post
Jun 18th, 2007 06:37 AM
Mar 1st, 2005 07:49 AM
Sep 30th, 2004 03:40 PM
Jan 7th, 2004 07:24 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Do Not Sell My Personal Information