The Hotel Star System: How You’re Rated

All Hoteliers are always striving for an improvement in the ranking of their Hotel. The essential measure of the quality of a hotel is the tried and trusted star rating, with hotels in Europe gaining their star ratings based on a European standard. But how does it work and what can you do to improve your star rating? Here’s our guide.

*|One star

Let’s face it, this isn’t exactly something to aim for, but to make sure you meet the minimum requirements for a one star hotel there are a few basic factors to consider. The purpose of the one star rating is to ensure that it meets the bottom line requirements of someone who is staying away from home but needs the basic facilities that they would miss. These include a shower or bath and WC in each room, the provision of soap, colour TV and a publicly available telephone. The European Hotelstars Union also stipulates the provision of a table and chair.

**|Two Star

In addition to the requirements of a one star establishment, they must also offer a breakfast buffet, a reading light, shower gel, bath towels and other sanitary products along with accepting credit card payment. Most hotels meet the requirements for two stars, given that it is a relatively small step up in what the hotel needs to offer in order to boost its rating, it makes good business sense.

***|Three Star

For a Three Star rating, there is not just a step up in terms of the specified provisions in the guest’s room, but more broadly for level of service offered throughout the hotel. For a Three Star rating, hotels must ensure that the reception is open at least 14 hours a day, and accessible by phone 24 hours a day from inside and outside. Bilingual staff are also a requirement, although there are no specific requirements made as for exactly the languages which need to be spoken. Often this will French, German, Italian or Spanish, with these being the most widely spoken on the continent. English is also almost essential for hotels in parts of Spain for example, including the Canary and Balearic Islands as well as the Costa del Sol. The most useful languages for hotel staff to speak are left to the discretion of the individual hotel.

A luggage service and three piece suite at reception is also required, along with a telephone in the room, internet access either in the room or in a public space and heating facility in the bathroom. Amongst other requirements, further linen products need to be available on demand.

****|Four Star

A Four Star standard is a realistic if difficult ambition for many hotels. Whilst the fulfilment of some of the five star stipulations, (more of that later) can prove to be very difficult indeed, the four star standard is a slightly easier one to meet. The European standard consider four star to be ‘first class’. Firstly there is an increase in the number of hours that reception needs to be open (18 hours), and beverage service needs to be on offer in a comfortable lobby seating area.

A minibar needs to be available in each room, or drinks need to be available 24 hours a day via room service. It is this accessibility of service that really marks out the higher ranking hotels. Convenience is an important factor in winning a higher rating, not only for visitors in the tourist sector, but also for those visiting on business, who may need service through ‘unsociable’ hours with work or to communicate across time zones. Facilitating the needs of these visitors is an emphasis for the higher echelons of the star rating system.

A bathrobe and slippers need to be provided on demand. Also, further cosmetic and sanitary products need to be available on demand. An ‘A la carte’ restaurant is another demand made of those hotels aspiring to four star status. The flexibility of an ‘A La Carte’ offering is emblematic of what’s required at this level. The move away from the ‘out of the box’ type of service which is acceptable at lower rated hotels can’t deliver the level of service required for higher rated hotels. This is typically represented in a more favourable ratio of staff to room than in two star hotels for example. These staff need paying however, and that’s one of the reasons you’ll see considerably higher prices. Some of this cost is covered by the premium prices paid for both room service and minibar tabs, with the cost of goods being significantly higher than even a typical restaurant price. An element of this pricing strategy is the acute awareness in the hotel industry that often because many hotel visitors using such services will be business visitors and won’t be paying the bill themselves but passing this on to the company. If you’re not spending your own money you are more likely to pay over the odds for goods and services during your stay.

*****|Five Star

Considered ‘luxury’ by the European Hotelstars Union, the five star rating is greatly aspired to. Because of the status of the five star rating, it is especially hard to attain. This is in part because of the need to guard and protect the reputation of the rating and ensure its prestige is retained. It’s not ideal for the Union if hotels only need to tick a few more boxes than those required for four star standard Within Europe staff are expected to be multilingual. Doorman service and valet parking are also required. Safes in the room, along with an ironing service, a shoe polishing service and a turn down service are to be offered as well as concierge staff. This is of course in addition to the services mentioned above. The lobby or reception needs to be spacious with a beverage service.

Whilst these are the requirements of the European Hotelstars Union, ratings are also based on standard of cleanliness and service with a point scoring system in place. Further, in the UK to achieve a five star rating, at least one permanent luxury suite is to be available comprising of three separate rooms, bedroom, lounge and bathroom. Such offerings are typically a bar too high for most hotels, even with the most dedicated and ambitious team.

Generally such establishments require a great deal of investment up front, which can also be a barrier to some. But the cache of a five star rating can seriously improve your revenue, so if you feel you can meet the requirements- aim for the stars, all five of them.