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Star ratings of hotels – what do they mean?

Ever wondered why some people fuss about how many stars the hotel they stayed at has?Some are believed to have gone to cambodia holidays the extent of arguing if a particular hotel deserves the number of stars that it has been honored with.What exactly is this star system? Let me explain,

The star system:

In the olden times, people never went to hotels to dine and when they travelled they stopped over at inns or friend’s homes. So there was never a need to have any kind of classifications. In the early 1980’s, when the travel industry saw a boom, a lot of travelers were moving out of their home and staying in motels, hostels and dormitories. The more influential stayed at exclusive houses that were plusher than the other motels.

With time, demand increased and more and more hotels and restaurants started springing up in each locality. There came a time when there was excessive supply of such services. The service of these places had to rated in order to give an indication of its quality. Therefore the earliest classification uses the most often used classification of awarding stars to the hotel. The more the number of stars the better the review of the place.

The Burj al Arab:

In 1999, Burj al Arab saw a big fanfare and lot of people in the industry and outside thought that it deserved seven stars. But in reality the classification is restricted to maximum of five stars.

Other systems of classifications:

There are also other systems of classification which honors them with shield, shells, diamonds and even a fork and spoon crossed.

  • Michelin system of rating:

There is a famous system of rating for restaurants alone. The maximum stars that can be awarded are three.

The Michelin system of grading of restaurants

1 star awarded to a restaurant means that the restaurant is the best in its category.

2 stars mean that the food at the restaurant is excellent and that a revisit to the restaurant is worthwhile.

3 stars highest -- It means the quality of food and ambiance is exceptionally good and it is highly recommended. \

The Michelin system of star rating is very rarely used. But if used it gives an accurate indication about the quality analysis of the food of the restaurant. Most of the restaurants are not certified by Michelin.

Rating of hotels
For understanding the classification of hotels based on the number of stars we need to fully understand that the stars awarded to a hotel is an indication of the facilities available in the hotel.
One star hotel:
A one star hotel is a small to medium size hospitality place. It could also be the home of a person or a family that serves travelers food and let them sleep the night before they set out for work.

A one star hotel is a typical motel, hostel or dorm. The facilities are just bare minimum to live decently. It is a no frills place. The reception may not be operational for all 24 hours nor is the housekeeping done every day. The guestrooms are small but functional. The baths are common and sometimes in the corridor. There is common television and common telephone in a common area outside the rooms.
Example of a one star hotel is Econolodge, motel 6, etc.

Two star hotel:

A two star hotel has all the facilities of a one star and additionally it may have a games room. It may have internet connectivity but it will not be provided for free. A basic charge from the customer will enable to generate a onetime password for internet usage. There is 24 hour reception desk and daily housekeeping in the guest rooms. There are private baths attached to the room. Additionally there may be clothes rod or a small closet provided in the room for hanging clothes. The food served is from the in house restaurant and is basic continental and very limited dishes are served.

A two star hotel is cleaner than a one star hotel but still it is a budget sensitive one. Any extra facility that a guest requires may be arranged at the front desk on payment of an extra fee. These hotels are typically owned by proprietors. The building is a 2 to 4 story apartment. The atmosphere is very personal.

Eg for a two star hotel is Days Inn and La Quinte Inn

Three star hotel

These are generally near busy expressways and near major shopping areas.The rooms are more comfortable. The staff on service is trained. There is room service and breakfast is available in the in house restaurant. There is attached private bath. Closets to store clothes and shoes. There is a desk for writing. Minimum stationery supply with the hotel head and a notepad and pencils are provided in the room. There may also be a mini bar in the room itself. Baggage assistance and taxi services can be got by payment of fees. The bath is of better quality. the shower area and the closet is nicely demarcated. Toiletries is provided in the restroom and the complimentary stationery and toiletry is replenished once or twice in a day.

Example of such hotels are Holday Inn and Hilton

Five star hotel:

These hotels are found near tourist attractions. The décor is upscale. The guestrooms are very comfortable. The desk, bed and seating from the lobby to the guest room is very plush. There is private television in each room with remote. The baths are large with premium fittings and signature branded toiletries. The lighting is well done and even art that is displayed is all original. Granite and marble accents are added to give a posh look.

There may be one or more dining areas. Concierge and baggage assistance is free. Currency exchange may be offered. The staff is extremely well trained. The staff is in uniform and well mannered. They refer the guests by their name. There is an in house saloon, spa and well equipped gym with complimentary training sessions for guests.Examples are Hyatt and JWMarriott.


The star system of hotel classification is often criticized for not being uniform the world over and also very confusing and not very transparent.