What makes a hotel five stars? Why are they different?

Sue has noticed some big differences between the five-star hotels she has stayed in and wants to know how the system works.

Q. Sue
My husband and I were restricted to domestic travel last year and we noticed that some of the hotels we stayed at that claimed to be five stars, didn’t really match our experience of five-star hotels overseas? How does the rating system work? What areas must the hotel do well in to be considered five stars?

A. Each country or region has its own hotel rating system, so you are not imagining the differences between hotels you may have stayed at overseas.

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Australia’s star rating system is overseen by Star Ratings Australia, and the system is determined by more than 200 criteria ranked by Australian travellers according to what is important to them.

The rating is independently verified, ensuring customers can have confidence in the rating assigned to each property.

The ‘star’ symbols are a licensed trademark and can only be used by properties that are licensed to use them by the Australian Tourism Industry Council (ATIC).

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Star Ratings are awarded to six distinct accommodation categories: Hotels, Motels, Serviced Apartments, Hosted Accommodation, Caravan-Holiday Parks and Self-Catering properties.

To meet the requirements of five-star accommodation in Australia, the properties must typify luxury across all areas of operation.

According to Star Ratings Australia, guests at five-star properties “will enjoy an extensive range of facilities and comprehensive or highly personalised services. Properties at this level will display excellent design quality and attention to detail.”

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In 2015, Star Ratings Australia became one of the first independent accommodation classification systems in the world to incorporate a consumer ‘voice’.

Their website also shows a Travellers’ Rating, which is presented in parallel to the independent Star Rating and is an aggregate of past guest ratings and reviews from more than 100 websites in 45 different languages. The rating is shown as a 10-point score.

The European difference
The only countries that come close to having a consistent standard for their star ratings are in Europe, where some countries in the European Union have signed up to a universal classification system.

According to the Hotelstar criteria that applies to a number of European hotels, a five-star hotel must have reception opened 24 hours, with multilingual staff, doorman service or valet parking, a concierge or page boy and a spacious reception hall with several seats and a beverage service.

Five-star hotels in Europe must also have a personalised greeting for each guest with fresh flowers or a present in the room.

While there is no international hotel classification system, there have been attempts at unifying the system so that it becomes internationally recognised and of a reliable standard, but so far these have all failed.

The World Hotel Rating project is the latest version to attempt the feat, but it doesn’t seem to have gained much traction.

What is the best hotel you have ever stayed at? Why not share your thoughts in the comments section below?

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Written by Ben

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