Two national assessing tourism bodies, Visit Britain and The AA assess hotels, guest houses, B&B accommodation, self-catering holiday apartments and holiday cottages in England use the same criteria and award from one up to five stars. The amount of stars is supposed to reflect the overall quality of the customer experience.
A few establishments still call themselves hotels but have in fact chosen to be assessed under a different classification - guesthouses. They may well be a hotel but have opted to be assessed as a guesthouse, both types of accommodation will have a different tick box scoring criteria.
It's a total mess, which sooner or later will need changing or the growing demand for online reviews will replace inspection bodies, to the detriment of Britain's Tourism Industry.
To be sure, look for the tiny words below the star symbol on the blue Visit Britain Logo or yellow AA tourism Logo to identify, which is which.
To confuse you further - a three star Hotel is a very good grade, a three star guesthouse or three star holiday cottage will not be of the same standard or offer the same services and facilities.
A four star hotel is a rare beast and should be of excellent standard, provide superb service and have all basic and selected luxury facilities. However, the vast majority of assessed accommodation, possibly 80% of inspected and graded guesthouses and self-catering holiday cottages confusingly achieve the same four star rating but on a different scoring system and are unlikely to be of as high a standard..
A top rating of five stars is the best of the best in all types of accommodation classifications.
Our advice is ... always read the written classifications under the stars on the logo before you book.
Another issue is location and tranquillity, both of which are so important when buying property or taking a holiday, but neither are taken into account when the amount of stars are allocated.
Money Saving Expert
Sums up the current star mess, found under the title "Don’t Trust the Star System"
Hotels have to be licensed, offer dinner at least 5 nights a week and have all rooms en-suite or with a private bathroom. A three star hotel will have en-suite rooms, room service and a permanently staffed reception. Five stars will have spacious rooms, some luxury suites, a lift to all floors and enhanced services such as a concierge.
Guest Accommodation/Guest House
Guesthouses are often family owned and run, they have to provide certain additional facilities and services to gain a higher level of star rating. Three star accommodations will offer a private bathroom and a sink in the room (if not en suite). Five star accommodations will have all rooms en-suite and will offer excellent customer service and a degree of luxury in the room.
The layout and the design of the accommodation and the range and quality of the kitchen equipment is assessed as well as the quality and comfort of the bedrooms, bathrooms and most importantly, the cleanliness.
Holiday, Touring and Camping Parks
The star rating reflects the overall quality of a holiday park from one to five stars, five stars are reserved for parks of exceptional quality.
Gold and Silver Awards
For guest accommodation or hotels that go the extra mile with good service to make your holiday a special one, Gold or Silver Awards can be achieved and are displayed alongside the official rating.
Google or check out the establishment of your choice through written online reviews from previous guests. Please read several to get a general overview.