When planning a trip to Europe, it is paramount to find comfortable hotels that suit your budget. While each country has its own way of rating hotels, most generally rely on a star system. Hotels are given a rating of one to five stars, depending on the size and quality of the hotel.
Each country uses its own criteria to rate hotels, but most establishments are rated based on room size, cleanliness and the availability of certain amenities. Those amenities might include access to elevators, variety of languages spoken by hotel staff, how often bed linens are changed and availability of private bathrooms.
Each country uses its choice of organisations to rate hotels. Hotel inspections and reviews are conducted by any number of organisations, depending on the country or region. Hotels in many countries, including Italy and France, are reviewed and classified by the government, while Denmark employs a unified hotel association to review hotels.
Translating the Stars
A one-star hotel will generally offer no frills. Don't expect many amenities, and an in-room bathroom is most likely out of the question. A one-star room for a single traveller could be as small as 60 square feet, but size requirements vary from country to country. A two-star rating will likely mean slightly more space and a small in-room bathroom. In some countries, such as Spain, two star hotels are also required to offer at least one elevator. Most three-star hotels are well suited for business travellers, will generally employ multilingual hotel staff and offer more in-room amenities such as Internet access and room service. Four- and five-star hotels are generally seen as luxury establishments. Rooms will be much larger and will offer modern comforts, including valet parking, spas and 24-hour concierge services.
How reliable a hotel's rating is depends on how often the hotel is reviewed. Some countries, such as Germany, review hotels every three years to ensure that quality has not dipped. Other countries have less stringent requirements and only conduct site reviews upon request or after receiving numerous complaints.
In an effort to help standardise the continent's hotel rating systems, many European countries are now a part of the Hotels, Restaurants and Cafes in Europe organisation. Established in 2004, HOTREC's goal is to help unify European hotel rating systems. As of 2010, seven European countries have committed to applying almost identical criteria for their hotel classification under the banner of a group called Hotelstars Union.
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