Are We Staying in a 1 or 5 Star Hotel?
If you’ve ever traveled for any length of time, chances are you’ve stayed in a hotel or two. Most people learn early on that not all hotels are created equal. These home-away-from-homes range from simple efficiencies that are meant as a place to sleep, to luxurious accommodations designed to make guests feel like royalty, and everything in between. Hotels are categorized using a star rating system, which makes it easy for potential guests to quickly get an idea of what they can expect during their stay. If you’re not yet familiar with hotel star ratings, here are some of the basics.
5 Star System
In France, as in much of the world, hotels are measured based on a system that awards up to 5 stars. These stars are awarded on a number of different classifications including:
- Room Size
- Lobby Size
Star ratings for hotels in Europe are not determined by former guests, but rather by independent agencies or even local government agencies. Exactly how they are determined can vary greatly from country to country, and even from city to city within a given European country. Of course, several popular travel websites and guide books offer rating systems of their own, which match the typical 5-star rating model, but are determined by consumers rather than agencies. These ratings can be helpful in determining which hotel is right for you prior to booking a trip.
Star ratings go from one star to five, which is lowest to highest rating, respectively. In general, the ratings can be defined as follows:
5 Star : The best possible rating, a hotel with 5 stars is typically considered luxurious, with the best available service and amenities. Lobby and rooms are well designed and beautifully furnished, clean, and may feature a number of “perks”, such as fancy linens, jacuzzi bathtubs, and in-room services. Some may feature high-end restaurants on-site, while others may offer 24/7 room service with gourmet menu items. 5 star hotels also typically feature some type of concierge service to assist guests with just about anything they need during their stay. In France, staff is required to speak at least 2 additional languages including English, and many of the amenities mentioned here are mandatory in order for a hotel to receive 5 stars.
4 Star : These are just a touch under 5 star hotels in terms of level of service and amenities, but are still very good quality hotels. Those that don’t feature on-site restaurants or room service are typically situated in close proximity to local dining, shopping and entertainment for the convenience of their guests. Service can be categorized as “above average”, and the lobby and rooms are usually well decorated and furnished. 4 star hotels usually feature quite a few perks, such as swimming pools, fitness center, valet parking and in some cases concierge service. Previously, the hotel rating system in France only went as high as 4 stars, so as you can imagine, these hotels are considered to be of impeccable quality.
3 Star : These types of hotels are usually considered middle of the road in terms of cost, amenities and service. They are often located near business centers or shopping areas, and offer nice lobbies and well kept, spacious rooms. Any restaurants located on-site typically feature lower-cost dining options, and some only offer breakfast or lunch. Some 3 star hotels may have pools or a small fitness center for guests to enjoy, and room service may be available. These hotels are perfect for travelers on a budget who want quality but don’t need luxury, and they’re usually excellent options for families. 3 star hotels in France feature rooms that are at least 13.5 meters in size and staff members must speak an additional language other than French.
2 Star : Hotels with a rating of just 2 stars are usually part of larger hotel chains that tend to offer consistent quality but have a limited list of amenities. Rooms may be smaller and feature only a few basics, such as television and phone. Most 2 star hotels do not feature perks like swimming pools or fitness centers, and most do not offer room service. Some, however, may have on-site restaurants or may be located near several eateries. In order to qualify for a 2 star rating in France, the staff members must speak an additional European language, and rooms must be at least 9 square meters in size.
1 Star : These types of hotels are sometimes considered “motels”, because they tend to be very small and are typically owned and operated by the owner. Rooms are usually small and feature only the basics – a true efficiency. Rooms have a minimum size requirement of 9 square meters, and some feature shared bathrooms. They rarely feature on-site restaurants or any types of amenities that the higher-rated hotels offer, and they may be located in more rural areas that are further away from popular tourist activities. They are most noted for their inexpensive rates.
Finally, there is one last designation that is reserved only for the most luxurious hotels in France : the Palace designation. This can only be awarded to hotels that have 5 star ratings, and is typically only awarded to those hotels that feature exception service and top-notch amenities, such as a Michelin starred restaurant or a spa.
When it comes to choosing a hotel, of course, it all boils down to preference. If you’re looking for a comfortable place to get a good night’s sleep, then anything 2-3 stars should do the trick. Those on a very tight budget have plenty of 1 star options, while those who are seeking a more luxurious experience should lean toward hotels that have at least 4 stars. And, of course, for the ultimate in pampering and luxury, a Palace hotel would fit the bill. The best way to choose a hotel is to consider your needs and what you want to get out of your stay, and then compare those with the options available at the various star ratings. That way you will have the best chance of finding the perfect hotel to round out your trip!