Hotel Star Ratings Explained

We’ve all seen different advertisements of hotels featuring they are 3-star, 4-star, and five-star. The Burj al Arab located in the United Arab Emirates is even considered a seven-star hotel. What makes these hotels different from each other? Who decides the ratings of the hotel? The five-star hotel is just more expensive than a three-star and why should I pay more if I only need it for sleeping in the nights?

The hotel star rating system is a systematically ranked guideline for guest’s expectation from the hotel, its features, and qualities. The star rating system is used to help the guests especially at the time of booking.

History of star rating system

The star rating system for hotels was initiated by Forbes Travel guide (formerly known as Mobil Travel Guide) in 1958. There have been many rating system developed after that which uses their different sets of rules, but the original one remains constant and uses the same standards each year.

How are star rating inspections conducted?

The Forbes Travel guide performs hotels inspection in two parts. The first inspection is usually conducted after informing the hotel’s management. The team of inspectors employed by the Forbes Company uses a checklist and inspects hotel’s property, condition, cleanliness, service, etc.
The second inspection is done anonymously and uses the same guidelines that were used in 1958 by Mobil Travel Guide. The hotels are evaluated using 550 points in the list which apart from service includes courtesy of the staff, room service, food quality, linens used, amenities offered, etc. The inspectors also assess whether the hotel property is equipped with added features such as Wi-Fi zone, fitness centre, swimming pools, etc.


If the hotels meet the criteria that are established by the Travel guide, then it is awarded a four-star rating and if it exceeds the requirements then it is considered to be a five-star hotel. Here’s a breakdown of the hotels star ratings and what you can expect from the hotels:
One-Star Hotel: These are usually motels and small guesthouses which are operated and managed by the owner and its family. These are usually conveniently located in a busy neighborhood and are usually low priced. They are mostly used for accommodation services and offer limited facilities of phone, TV, etc. restaurants are mostly nearby (in walking distances) of such hotels as room service and bellhop service is typically not provided.

Examples: Motel 6 and Econolodge are some of the national chains of a one-star hotel.
Two-Star Hotel: The Two-Starred hotels are usually small to medium in size and offer quality service but limited amenities. They are usually located near major intersections where public transport can be easily accessed. Of course, room service might not be available but they are usually walking distance to ones.

National chains of two-star hotels include the Days Inn Hotel and La Quinta Inn.

Three-star Hotel: The rooms in three-star categories are more spacious and attractive. These also have more decorative lobbies and are often located in business areas and nearby to shopping centers and major attractions. The restaurants are usually found on-site which offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The three-star hotels usually offer room service with added amenities such as fitness centre, swimming pool, and valet service.

Holiday Inn, Hampton Inn and suites, and Hilton are good examples of national hotel chains that offer three-star service.

Four-star Hotel: The four-star hotels are usually large with a reception area, bellhop service, and formal service. They are often located nearby other hotels that share the same star ratings and near shopping areas, major attractions, and restaurants. The rooms of such hotels are large and attractively decorated. Restaurants are located on-site with more than one option to choose from. 24-hour room service, valet, parking service is often available as well as fitness centers, swimming pools, and concierge service.

Marriot hotels, Hyatt Regency, and Sheraton Hotels are amongst the four-star rated hotels in the United States.

Five-star Hotel: They are the most luxurious hotels offering the best service and accommodations. These hotels are usually located on large properties with lavish gardens and parking areas. The hotel lobbies of the five-star hotels are lavishly decorated with excellent service by the staff. The hotels are located in the heart of downtown or other exclusive locations of a city. The large rooms are elegantly decorated and offer comfy linen, fresh flowers, and phones in the bathroom, TV, 24-hour room service, and a Jacuzzi among other features. Multiple restaurants are located on-site which offer many dining options as well as fitness centers, swimming pools, gift shops, valet, concierge service, etc.
The Four Seasons hotel and the Ritz-Carrolton are some of the five-star hotel chains listed by the Forbes Travel Guide.

Seven-star Hotel: Many hotels are now advertised as seven-star hotels offering the most prestigious service. The Burj Al Arab located in the United Arab Emirates was opened in 1998 with a servant for every room. The hotel has 202 rooms which range in size from 1800 square feet to 8000. The hotel is also home to many renowned restaurants, one of which can be accessed via a submarine.
The Morgan Plaza also known as the Pangu 7-Star Hotel is also a renowned 7-star hotel situated in Beijing, China. The hotel is located near many popular landmarks of China and is one of the biggest hotels of the country.

Other seven-star hotels include the Town House Galleria situated in Milan, Italy, The Flowers of the East located in Iran and the Tameer Towers in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates amongst others.

Using the Hotel Rating System

Hotel ratings differ from country to country so it is best to do your research before departing to your selected destination. The ratings are also subjected to change without prior notice for lack of quality by the hotels or if the management raises the standards of their hotel by expansion, amenities, or services that are offered. Many might think that the ratings are chosen randomly, but they are beneficial when choosing a place for accommodation on a pleasure or a business trip. Of course, a four and a five-star hotel is bound to be more luxurious than a two starred one but the latter will have the amenities needed for a good night’s sleep without the added luxurious. Before selecting a hotel, it is important to assess your requirements as well as your budget. for those looking for a comfortable night with internet services, room service, etc – then a three-star hotel is your best choice but if you are one of those who are willing to go at all ends for a luxurious retreat then opt for a five-star hotel or even a seven-star. Which one would you choose?


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