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Hotel Star Rating Explained

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Hotel star ratings are systems that rank hotels according to quality. Star rating systems are intended to serve as guidelines for guests who are making hotel reservations. While star ratings can be helpful when booking hotels rooms, there is no standardized star rating system. In Europe, hotels are usually ranked on a scale from one to four stars, with four stars being the highest rating possible. In the United States, hotels are generally ranked on a scale from one to five stars, sometimes using half star increments.

Star ratings in Europe are determined by local government agencies or independent organizations, and they vary greatly from country to country. In fact, star ratings in Europe can also vary from city to city within the same country, and even between hotels in the same city. In other words, there is no uniform measure that determines a hotel's star rating. Each hotel is rated based on details that often don't matter to consumers, such as the amount of tax a hotel pays annually.

Similarly, in the United States, star ratings are conferred upon hotels by several organizations. National consumer travel organizations and guidebooks assign star ratings to hotels, but each one uses its own set of criteria to determine the rating.

Additionally, travel websites, consolidators and reservation services often rate hotels as well. Most U.S. websites and organizations that rate hotels provide an explanation of their rating system so that consumers can decode the rating. The bottom line, however, is that a hotel may be given different ratings from different organizations, so it's important to inquire about what the rating means.

Even though star ratings can seem arbitrary, they can still be beneficial and can help to inform you about a hotel. For instance, a four or five star hotel is always going to be more luxurious than a one or two star hotel. And there are some basic inferences you can make about American star ratings. A one star hotel is going to be an economy motel and a two star hotel will be a higher end motel or budget hotel. Even one and two star hotels will usually have all of the amenities you require for a night's sleep.

However, if you're seeking higher end amenities such as room service, Internet access, movies, plush linens, fitness center access and the like, you'll probably want to look at hotels that are rated three stars and above. Three star hotels are moderately priced hotels that are comfortable and absolutely adequate places to stay, but may lack some of the luxury of four star hotels. A five star rating is reserved exclusively for the country's highest end chain and boutique hotels. Expect to pay a premium for five star luxuries.

5-Star Rating: A luxurious hotel, offering the highest degree of personal service. Elegance and style abound, and rooms are equipped with quality linens, VCR, CD stereo, jacuzzi tub and in-room video. There are multiple restaurants on site with extensive, gourmet menus, and room-service is also available 24-7. A fitness center, valet parking and concierge service round out the experience.

4-Star Rating: Formal, large hotels, with top-notch service. There will usually be other hotels of the same caliber clustered nearby, as well as shopping, dining and entertainment. Above-average service, beautifully furnished rooms, restaurants, room service, valet parking, fitness center and a concierge are some amenities to expect.

3-Star Rating: Usually located near a major expressway, business center and/or shopping area, these hotels offer nice, spacious rooms and decorative lobbies. On-site restaurants may be average in size but will offer breakfast, lunch and dinner. Valet and room service, a small fitness center and a pool are often available.

2-Star Rating: These hotels are generally part of a chain that offers consistent quality and limited amenities. They are small or medium in size and rooms will have a phone and TV. While you will not have the convenience of room service, there should be a small restaurant on site.

1-Star Rating: Expect a small hotel managed and operated by the owner. The atmosphere will be more personal and the accommodations basic. Restaurant service should be within walking distance, as well as nearby public transportation, major intersections and entertainment that is reasonable in price.

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