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Understanding Hotel Star Ratings: Everything You Need to Know

If you’ve ever booked a hotel, you’ve probably seen star ratings. But do you know what they mean?

In this article, we’ll explain how hotel stars work and what they can tell you about a property.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: hotel stars are a rating system that indicates the level of service, amenities, and overall quality you can expect from a hotel.

The History of Hotel Stars

Hotel star ratings are a common way for guests to determine the quality of a hotel prior to booking a stay. However, few people know the history behind these ratings. The origins of hotel star ratings can be traced back to the early 20th century.

It is worth mentioning that the first hotel classification system was created in Germany in 1907. The system was based on a point system that evaluated the hotel’s location, comfort, and service. The more points a hotel received, the higher its star rating.

Over time, other countries began to adopt similar rating systems. In 1926, the Automobile Association (AA) and the Royal Automobile Club (RAC) in the United Kingdom began rating hotels. In the United States, the American Automobile Association (AAA) began rating hotels in the 1930s.

Keep in mind that the criteria for rating hotels has evolved over time. In the early days, hotels were primarily evaluated on their physical attributes, such as the size of the rooms and the quality of the furnishings. Today, hotels are evaluated on a wide range of factors, including cleanliness, staff service, amenities, and more.

Fast forward to today, and hotel star ratings are still widely used by travelers to make informed decisions about where to stay. The current state of hotel star ratings varies by country and region. For example, in Europe, the Hotelstars Union is a network of 17 countries that have agreed upon a common set of criteria for rating hotels. In the United States, the AAA still rates hotels, as does Forbes Travel Guide and U.S. News & World Report.

What Do Hotel Stars Mean?

When planning a vacation, one of the most important aspects is finding the right hotel. Hotel ratings, represented by stars, can help travelers determine the quality and amenities of a hotel. It is worth mentioning that these ratings are not universal, as each country has its own system for rating hotels. However, in general, the more stars a hotel has, the more luxurious and upscale it is.

One-star hotels

One-star hotels are the most basic type of accommodation available. They typically offer a small room with a bed and a shared bathroom. Keep in mind that these hotels may not provide amenities such as air conditioning or a restaurant on site. One-star hotels are a good choice for travelers who are on a tight budget and plan to spend most of their time exploring the city.

Two-star hotels

Two-star hotels are slightly more comfortable than one-star hotels. They usually offer a private bathroom and a few extras, such as a small television or a coffee maker. Unfortunately, these hotels may still lack amenities such as room service or a gym. Two-star hotels are a good option for travelers who want a bit more comfort while still keeping costs low.

Three-star hotels

Three-star hotels are a step up from two-star hotels. They generally offer more spacious rooms, better quality furniture and bedding, and additional amenities such as a restaurant and a fitness center. Keep in mind that three-star hotels may not have all of the luxuries of higher-rated hotels, but they are a great choice for travelers who want a comfortable stay without breaking the bank.

Four-star hotels

Four-star hotels are considered upscale and luxurious. They offer spacious rooms, high-quality furnishings, and top-notch amenities such as spas, swimming pools, and room service. These hotels are a great choice for travelers who want a high level of comfort and luxury but don’t necessarily need all of the extra features of a five-star hotel.

Five-star hotels

Five-star hotels are the epitome of luxury and exclusivity. They offer the highest level of service, with amenities such as 24-hour room service, a personal concierge, and private transportation. These hotels are often located in prime locations and feature exquisite architecture and design. Keep in mind that five-star hotels come with a high price tag, but they are worth it for travelers who want the ultimate luxury experience.

Hotel Rating Typical Amenities
One-star Small room, shared bathroom
Two-star Private bathroom, small extras
Three-star Spacious rooms, restaurant, fitness center
Four-star Luxurious furnishings, top-notch amenities
Five-star 24-hour room service, personal concierge, private transportation

It is important to keep in mind that these ratings are not always an accurate representation of a hotel’s quality. It is best to read reviews from other travelers and do research before booking a hotel. Websites such as TripAdvisor and offer reviews and ratings from previous guests that can help travelers make an informed decision.

How Are Hotel Stars Determined?

Hotel stars are used as a universal rating system to determine a hotel’s level of service, amenities, and overall quality. The more stars a hotel has, the more luxurious and upscale it is considered. But how are hotel stars determined?

The criteria for determining hotel stars can vary depending on the country and region. In general, a hotel’s star rating is based on a set of standards and guidelines that are established by the hospitality industry. These standards take into account various factors such as the hotel’s location, size, facilities, and services.

Here are the criteria for determining hotel stars:

  • One-star hotels: These hotels are typically budget-friendly and offer basic accommodations. They may have shared bathrooms and limited amenities.
  • Two-star hotels: These hotels offer slightly more amenities than one-star hotels, such as private bathrooms and limited room service. They are still considered budget-friendly.
  • Three-star hotels: These hotels offer more amenities and services, such as on-site restaurants, fitness centers, and 24-hour front desk service. They are considered mid-range hotels.
  • Four-star hotels: These hotels offer upscale amenities and services, such as spas, fine dining restaurants, and concierge services. They are considered luxury hotels.
  • Five-star hotels: These hotels offer the highest level of luxury and service. They typically have spacious rooms, top-notch facilities, and personalized service. They are considered the most luxurious hotels.

It is worth mentioning that some countries have their own rating systems that go beyond the five-star rating. For example, in Dubai, there are seven-star hotels that offer the ultimate in luxury and exclusivity. Keep in mind that hotel stars are not always a guarantee of quality, as some hotels may not meet the standards despite having a high rating.

On the other hand, it is important to remember that hotel stars are not the only factor to consider when choosing a hotel. Other factors such as location, price, and guest reviews should also be taken into account. Additionally, some hotel chains are known for consistently offering high-quality service and amenities, regardless of their star rating.

Hotel Chain Star Rating Notable Amenities
Marriott Varies On-site restaurants, fitness centers, and business centers
Hilton Varies Spas, pool facilities, and on-site dining
Four Seasons Four and Five Stars Michelin-starred restaurants, spas, and personalized service

Unfortunately, not all hotels are transparent about their star rating and the criteria used to determine it. However, by understanding the general criteria for each star rating, travelers can make more informed decisions when choosing a hotel for their next trip.

Are Hotel Stars Reliable?

Hotel star ratings can be a helpful guide for travelers looking for a certain level of comfort and amenities. However, it is worth mentioning that hotel stars are not always reliable indicators of quality.

The limitations of hotel star ratings

Firstly, hotel star ratings are subjective and can vary from country to country. In some countries, a three-star hotel may provide more basic amenities than a three-star hotel in another country. Additionally, hotel star ratings are based on a limited set of criteria, such as the quality of room furnishings and the presence of certain amenities like a pool or fitness center. This means that a hotel may receive a high star rating despite poor service or cleanliness.

Factors that can affect a hotel’s rating

Several factors can also affect a hotel’s star rating, such as the location, size, and age of the property. For example, a hotel located in a popular tourist area may receive a higher rating than a hotel in a less desirable location, even if the amenities and service are comparable. Similarly, a small boutique hotel may receive a lower rating than a larger chain hotel with similar amenities.

Other ways to evaluate a hotel

While hotel star ratings can provide a general idea of a hotel’s quality, it is important to use other methods to evaluate a hotel before booking a room. Reading online reviews from previous guests can give insight into the quality of service, cleanliness, and other important factors. Websites like TripAdvisor and Yelp offer a wealth of information from real travelers. Additionally, checking a hotel’s website or social media pages can give a better idea of the amenities and services offered.

Ultimately, while hotel star ratings can be a helpful starting point, it is important to keep in mind their limitations and use other methods to evaluate a hotel before making a booking decision.


Now that you know how hotel stars work, you can use them to make better-informed decisions when booking your next hotel stay.

But remember, hotel star ratings are just one factor to consider. It’s also important to read reviews, check the hotel’s amenities and location, and compare prices to find the best deal for your needs.

We hope this article has been helpful in demystifying the hotel star rating system. Happy travels!