UNWTO aims to clarify hotel star ratings

There are "many more similarities than differences" between four- and five-star hotels, according to the UNWTO
There are “many more similarities than differences” between four- and five-star hotels, according to the UNWTO

The UNWTO has released a new report designed to formally establish the criteria for four- and five-star hotels.

At present, different countries have their own classification criteria for hotel star ratings, which can often cause confusion among consumers.

The new UNWTO report has compared these various systems and established a series of common, recurring criteria that it says can be used by “destinations wishing to revise existing or establish new hotel classification systems”.

“There is no worldwide standard for official hotel classification systems, and there may well never be one,” UNWTO secretary-general Taleb Rifai said in the report. “However, there are without doubt commonalities which unite accommodation of various standards across the globe.

“Identifying such commonalities, as well as differences, can help destinations in establishing or revising their classification systems in such a way that they are relevant and useful to consumers, hotels, intermediaries and destinations alike,” he added.

Comparing the four- and five-star hotel categories in 36 countries, including 30 in Europe, the UNWTO gathered the elements that were common to at least 60% of these countries.

The final list of criteria included such aspects as front office operations (19 hours per day for four-star hotels, 24 hours for five-star), minimum room size (16m² for a four-star double room, 20.5m² for five-star),  number of power sockets in room (1.8 four-star, two five-star), number of towels per person (2.2 four-star, 2.4 five-star), number of languages spoken at front desk (two four-star, 2.5 five-star) and number of minimum suites per hotel (one four-star, two five-star).

But overall, the UNWTO also revealed that there were “many more similarities than differences” between four- and five-star hotels, and that the criteria are “almost identical” between the European and global properties.

“For the most recurring criteria in five-star criteria… there is little to no difference in their recurrence in four-star criteria,” the report said in its conclusion.

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Does the hotel industry need star ratings anymore? Check out today’s Editor’s Eye to read more on the murky world of classifications…

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