4 Star or 5 Star - What does it even mean?

Written by Paul
Jun 25, 2014

Achieving a 5* rating is the pinnacle for any hotel and having the privilege to stay in such an establishment can leave even the most modest guest glowing with a sense of superiority. But what is the difference between 4 & 5 star and does spending extra really guarantee better service and facilities? In short the answer is sometimes. Throughout the world hotels are graded, yet there remains no uniform method for doing so. In the UK there are two awarding bodies, The AA and Visit Britain, who have united to make their scoring system standardised. Throughout Europe HOTELREC are responsible for gradings and in America there are numerous organisation and media outlets who offer a variety of award systems with varying criteria, where one guides 3* is anothers 5.

The problem with gradings hotels is that much of what matters is subjective, but to achieve consistency any system created must objectify everything from service to facilities. This can cause casualties, especially among smaller and more boutique hotels. Take Ockenden Manor in Sussex for example, a fine Elizabethan Manor in Sussex, it exudes all the luxury one would expect from a 5*, there is world class spa, Michelin starred restaurant and exemplary service, and yet due to there being no lift - because of it’s listed status there is no hope of installing one - it will never achieve more than 3 stars. We can see major differences in London as well, take the Grange Tower Bridge Hotel. A wonderful and modern business hotel designed for the 21st century traveller. There is a spa, numerous restaurants and cavernous conference facilities, it has been awarded a 5* rating and rightly so. Yet it is a world away from other 5* hotels just a few miles away such as Claridges, The Lanesborough and the Four Seasons, where 5* takes on a new meaning with butlers, doormen, valet parking, world class chefs, artists in residence and eye watering room rates.

Despite sometimes only slight nuances in quality and little or no difference in price certain clients should be careful when choosing a hotel to hold an event. Government departments and public funded organisations, for example, would be advised to steer well clear of 5* properties regardless of deals and savings offered. Whether we are in an age of austerity or not hosting an event at a 5* hotel sends a powerful message of wealth, one that wouldn’t be taken kindly by the general public or the media!

Ever fancied yourself as a hotel inspector? Here is an informative day-in-the-life piece by an AA inspector that’s worth a read.

Further Reading:

Visit Britain’s complete guide to star ratings (worth a read!) - http://www.qualityintourism.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Hotel-Standard-INT1.pdf