Thursday, February 26, 2009

Hotel Rating Systems: Six and seven-star hotels

Six or seven stars is a joke according to travel professionals notion, since most respectable hotel rating systems do not give out a rating higher than five stars. Since few hotels can achieve the five star rating, then there should not be a rating higher than five stars.

Dubai's Burj al-Arab is an example of a popularly known "seven star" hotel. It's certainly one of the most luxurious and the tallest hotels in the world. But in reality, it is a 5 star deluxe property.

The five-star hotels is the quintessential luxury hotel, offering thrills above and beyond the actual needs of the travel. They have restaurants and night spots that are world class, with food and entertainment that draw non-guests to sample it too.

Five-star hotels also tend to have opulent and expensive decorations; fancy gyms, swimming pools and spas. Major five-star chains compete to offer the most ludicrous thrills imaginable: Loews offers dog-walking services, while Conrad will let you order from a menu of pillows. Needless to say, all this comes at a steep price, and you're unlikely to be able to justify the expense of a five-star for ordinary business travel.
The other downside to five-stardom is that hotels that can jump through all the hoops to achieve the rating are likely to be large and impersonal.

Four-star hotels

Major chains: Orient-Express Hotels, Conrad (Hilton), Pan Pacific Hotels and Resorts, St. Regis, Le Meridien and W (Starwood), Intercontinental, JW Marriott and Ritz Carlton (Marriott), Shangri-La, Mandarin Oriental, Sofitel, Four Seasons, Regent, Langham International

The four-star hotel is a good business hotel. Everything works smoothly, there's Internet in every room, a well-equipped business center, they'll arrange your airport transfer and room service is palatable and only somewhat expensive. And your boss will probably not faint when they see the bill.

Three-star hotels

Major chains: Hilton, Marriott, Novotel, Crowne Plaza (Intercontinental) Cyprus Hotels

Three-star hotels are solid but dull. Your room will have an attached bathroom and there's probably a restaurant downstairs and 24-hour reception service.

Two-star hotels

Major chains: Ibis, Mercure (two Accor hotels brands), Courtyard by Marriott, Holiday Inn Cyprus Hotels

Two stars means no-frills hotel. In most countries two stars means that your room probably has its own bathroom and there's probably a TV and telephone in your room, but rooms are bare-bones and you're unlikely to want to spend any more time than strictly necessary inside.

One-star hotels

Major chains: Comfort Inn, Motel 6, Super 8 and Etap

You don't see many of these, and with reason. One-stars are not just no-frills, but often downright dodgy: rooms are barely functional, shared bathrooms are somewhere down a corridor and the painted ladies from the all-hours karaoke bar next door dance the horizontal tango all night long in the room next to yours.

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