Is booking a five star hotel a dream or an illusion? Before to reserve your room in the most fabulous hotel ever, you should know few things. I want to explain to you how the rating works and give you some tips. There is a bit of history and quite a lot experience and knowledge. I will make you aware about the five star hotels so you will be completely conscious to choose.
Five star indicate an high level resort and it is also a term that define luxury. Do you know how an hotel get the stars? I am going to explain this, because if you want to sleep in a great hotel, you need to be aware of the reality. I think you already know that in each country you can find a five star hotel with totally different features and luxury level. Why? Let me go step by step into the topic.
Today to travel is an easy experience for many people, but in the past it was generally more expensive and more difficult. The number of travellers increased in last century and this gave a new idea to important companies. Think about the Bradshaw’s Continental Railway Guide or to the Michelin Guide. They wrote some books with information and tips about destinations, hotels, restaurants and about all what is needed by a tourist. In 1958 Forbes had a Travel Guide, at that time called Mobil Travel Guide, and the staff invented the term “five-star”
That was the origin fo the five-star rating system. Quickly and easily other guides started to use it and now it is common for all of us. But now we don’t have any international system yet. That is why you can see huge differences between European, American, African, Asian five-stars hotel. Each country make an evaluation and the features are always different, also the leve. Have you ever been in a five star hotel in a country that it can be like a three star hotel in your country? To me happened and that is why the raring is never the only criteria you should use.
How is the hotel rating?
You as a traveller go in an Italian five star hotel and inside you find a gourmet restaurant. Than you go in Indonesia and there is no gourmet restaurant in your five star hotel. This example shows how can be difficult to rate an hotel, especially without a common way of act. The problem is also to sizing the big and the small hotel or to measure the features of a family hotel and the ones of a big chain. How can you compare them and decide what are the main elements that gives more or less stars? How can you give to tourists a concrete help to choose the best accomodation?
These questions need an answer from the World Hotel Rating Project. After a lot of work made by the experts on international level, there isn’t yet a solution. Somehow the failed and now we still have the same problem. What we can affirm now is that the stars, how it happens for restaurants, came from opinions. Of course there are procedures and experts with the task to make the evaluation, but mostly it depends on their opinion. In some countries, Italy especially, the number of stars depends also on fiscal system. Now everything is related to rank properties, or at least it is what the travel industry does.
What about lobbies, restaurants, comfortable beds and customer services? If you want to book a five star hotel now, you need to know that the criteria are different region by region. Each country has specific rules, but we can sometimes consider bigger area, like it happens in Europe. As example I post here the table with the rating established by Hotrec, the umbrella organization that groups 39 associations from 24 countries. This is the biggest association in all Europe and they evaluate hotels, restaurants and cafes.
|Hotel star||Category||Catalogue of criteria|
|*||Tourist||- 100% of the rooms with shower/WC or bath tub/WC
- Daily room cleaning
- 100% of the rooms with colour-TV together with remote control
- Table and chair
- Soap or body wash
- Reception service
- Facsimile at the reception
- Publicly available telephone for guests
- Extended breakfast
- Beverage offer in the hotel
- Deposit possibility
|*S||Superior Tourist||The Superior flag is provided when the additional service and accommodation provisions are not sufficient for the next Hotelstar. The bathroom facilities are usually at the same level as for two stars hotels but built from cheaper materials. The cost for regular inspection by independent associations is waived as well.|
|**||Standard||In addition to the single star (*) hotels:
- Breakfast buffet
- Reading light next to the bed
- Bath essence or shower gel
- Bath towels
- Linen shelves
- Offer of sanitary products (e.g. toothbrush, toothpaste, shaving kit)
- Credit Cards
|**S||Superior Standard||The Superior flag is provided when the additional service and accommodation provisions are not sufficient for the next Hotelstar. The Standard-Superior does usually offer the same service level as three-star hotels but the interiors of the hotel are smaller and cheaper so that the three stars were not to be awarded by the inspection body. A two-star superior does not require mystery guesting.|
|***||Comfort||In addition to the standard star (**) hotels:
- Reception opened 14 hours, accessible by phone 24 hours from inside and outside, bilingual staff (e.g. German/English)
- Three piece suite at the reception, luggage service
- Beverage offer in the room
- Telephone in the room
- Internet access in the room or in the public area
- Heating facility in the bathroom, hair-dryer, cleansing tissue
- Dressing mirror, place to put the luggage/suitcase
- Sewing kit, shoe polish utensils, laundry and ironing service
- Additional pillow and additional blanket on demand
- Systematic complaint management system
|***S||Superior Comfort||The Superior flag is provided when the additional service and accommodation provisions are not sufficient for the next Hotelstar. The accommodation facilities for a superior hotel need to be on a modern level and fully renovated which is checked regularly.|
|****||First Class||In addition to the comfort star (***) hotels:
- Reception opened 18 hours, accessible by phone 24 hours from inside and outside
- Lobby with seats and beverage service
- Breakfast buffet or breakfast menu card via room service
- Minibar or 24 hours beverages via room service
- Upholstered chair/couch with side table
- Bath robe and slippers on demand
- Cosmetic products (e.g. shower cap, nail file, cotton swabs), vanity mirror, tray of a large scale in the bathroom
- Internet access and internet terminal
- "À la carte"-restaurant
|****S||First Class Superior||The Superior flag is provided when the first class hotel has a proven high quality not only in the rooms. The superior hotels provide for additional facilities in the hotel like a sauna or a workout room. The quality is checked regularly by mystery guesting of an external inspection service.|
|*****||Luxury||In addition to the first class (****) hotels:
- Reception opened 24 hours, multilingual staff
- Doorman-service or valet parking
- Concierge, page boy
- Spacious reception hall with several seats and beverage service
- Personalized greeting for each guest with fresh flowers or a present in the room
- Minibar and food and beverage offer via room service during 24 hours
- Personal care products in flacons
- Internet-PC in the room
- Safe in the room
- Ironing service (return within 1 hour), shoe polish service
- Turndown service in the evening
- Mystery guesting
|*****S||Superior Luxury||The Luxury star hotels need to attain high expectations of an international guest service. The Superior Luxury star is only awarded with a system of intensive guest care.|
What about six star hotels? They do not exist in European ranking and if you take a look in the various countries, you can get the same result.
If you want to know more about the catalogue of criteria, you can have your copy here.
The doubts of a traveller
When you search for a five star hotel you generally do it online. All the review websites use the five-star system and this means that also the reviewer give stars to the structure. From one to five. This makes again confusion, especially because you see stars everywhere on the website and you don’t know about the real ranking. There are always opinions. Some done by experts, some others by guests, with their personal criteria and knowledge, and also some wrote by competitors.
Take into consideration that the review represents only how much a person liked the hotel. It has no relation with the level of luxury of the hotel. You have anyway to move into the world of luxury hotels and the travel industries. It includes tourists. So let me give you some advices. From the research to the reservation.
Many people are going to check TripAdvisor. It is good to read a lot of opinions, but not all of them are real. Why? It is open to everyone, you can insert a review after some months and the system do not verify them deeply. Booking.com or similar platforms are asking and accepting reviews only from who booked a room and stayed at the hotel. Plus there is a limited period to write the opinion. So they are more real.
Of course keep in mind that anyway the evalutaion is very personal. Your criteria can be different. You can also compare pictures and read comments left by business travellers, group, families and so on. With filters it is easier to focus on the most relevant reviews for you. Also the travel blogs can help you, but be careful, because some posts are sponsored, so the advices are paid.
Check the rating
The most important thing is the rating. If you want to book a five star hotel now, focus on the source. Check the country rating system. I know that it is bad, but also not all the countries have a very well organized procedure. So Hotrec in Europe or AAA’s in USA, for example, are more reliable than the organizations of certain regions. In Italy, Spain and Belgium the hotel stars are regulated by the law. This is more safe for you.
Be in touch with the hotel
After the research online you can have some doubts, so the best way to clarify them is to talk to the hotel. Call the staff, ask your questions about offers, amenities and facilities. In alternative write an email to them. You will obtain two results: the information you want and the service quality. Their way to answer, their speed, the details give you a precise idea on how they work. This helps you to understand the level. Believe me, the real five star hotel is recognizable.
Take care of the details
Do you want to stay in a five star hotel? Pay attention to the details. Luxury doesn’t reside in the overly fancy, like big flat screen or a big bottle of champagne and so on. Everything can be found in the tailor made service and also in the personalized touch. A well furnished room show a particular artwork or the last design object, high quality toiletries and so on. So check the setting of a room by pictures and description.
The hotel features
The reservation process is giving you a precise idea on the hotel. Infact if you have difficulties and if they are not able to face and to solve problems, it is a bad sign. It will be the beginning of a nightmare that can contunue during your stay. About breakfast the point for a five star hotel isn’t the cost. You have to check the quality and the variety of the food. They have to provide sweet and salty food, freshly made and in an enough quantity to serve the clients. If they have a restaurant and they bake directly it means that your hotel is ready to give you a five star stay.
WiFi is not always provided for free, but if the price is so high, maybe you should consider another hotel. It is important also the spa and the quality of it is already visible from the hotel website. Pictures are not so important, except for some details, but the list of the amenities, of the treatments and the description of the service give you a feedback. Of course when you are there you can immediately notice if there are differences. That is why it is good to read carefully and ask directly to the structure. It is always hard to express high quality if you don’t have it. Because it is a matter of style.
In the end I can confirm that there aren’t rules to evaluate an hotel. That is why the public opinion become very important. You can also use social pages as Twitter to search for a review, just keep in mind the real value of them. The last tip is: don’t trust a too low price. Also a five star hotel needs client to avoid empty room, so it offers discounts. But they can’t be so huge. If the rate is too much convenient there are different reasons. Among them: the quality of the hotel isn’t high, they give you the worst room (also in this case the hotel isn’t a luxury one) or there are some tricks. Be careful. Now you are anyway more aware about five star hotel and you can choose better.