5 Star Hotel - What Does It Mean?


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You can't travel very far without encountering some type of ratings for hotels and inns. But, since many establishments use different sets of guidelines, it's a challenge to know exactly how to compare hotels.

The star rating system was originally created in the USA by Mobil Travel Guides (often confused with AAA diamond ratings). It’s a very subjective way of measuring hotel quality. To understand it best, just look at it in a very general way with these guidelines:

  • 1 star: Very basic, no-frills accommodation
  • 2 star: Modest, comfortable, affordable
  • 3 star: Nice styling, extra amenities
  • 4 star: very nice lodging, many extras, very comfortable
  • 5 star: A luxury hotel with everything

In many countries around the world, a 5 star hotel is a very luxurious hotel. Amenities could include room service, ballroom(s), pool, sauna, fitness center, spa, valet service, concierge, tour desk, restaurants, bar, and lots more.

For Europe: Quality will vary from country-to-country. Ratings are usually provided by an agency of some sort, and often ignore any ambience or charm the hotel may have.

There is no way to rate a 5 star hotel in New York or San Francisco as being exactly equal to one in London or Paris. European standards are different, with prices generally higher in most, but not all countries. Remember, you can always ask to see the room first, and decide for yourself if it lives up to its star rating!

Greg Mattson is the editor of Excellent Romantic Vacations – A guide to great romantic vacations & getaways in Canada, the USA and around the world. You can find more travel tips in our Travel Terms Explained section.


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