1-star, 3-star: how to interpret hotel ratings?

Found a hotel in Milan that is rated a "1 hotel" in Michelin, but the hotel's web site claims it is a "3 star" hotel.

How do I interpret these ratings? Can hotel advertise any rating that it wants to?

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7805 posts

Stars only relate to the services the hotel offers. It really doesn't apply to cleanliness, friendliness or other factors.

I only want a good night's sleep in a clean and quiet bed. Since I don't use hotel services, I don't care at all about stars (except to the extent that they cost more). I search sites like tripadvisor and read guidebooks for ratings and reviews about places I'm considering.

Posted by Andreas
Frankfurt am Main, Germany
2656 posts

The EU is currently working on a standardized hotel rating system. So far every country can do as they please which in some cases (countries) means there is no standardized system at all. HRS.com rate every hotel by German standards which are very close to US ones. I always check other European hotels on HRS.com (or ehotel.de, hotel.de) before I book.

Posted by Swan
Napa, CA
3070 posts

Several years ago I stayed in a (probably no-star) budget hotel in Milan about a mile from the train station. I think I found it in Let's Go. Public transportation in Milan is very handy, so I just walked to the nearest Metro station to get around town and back to the train station. For surface travel, Milan has (had) a streetcar system. I ignore star ratings, but look for hotels in my price range and acceptable location; I see what amenities are available. I've given up on staying in hotels with "lots of stairs." Now I usually check with TripAdvisor before booking.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
12815 posts

No, a hotel cannot just advertise any rating they want.

In Germany, for instance, the German Hotel and Restaurant Assoc. (DEHOGA) has a very intricate classification system (www.hotelsterne.de/downloads/Kriterienkatalog_2005-2009.pdf) in which every criteria (room size, room service, hair dryers, etc) has a point value and a starred hotel must garner a certain number of point for a specific star rating. Some of the criteria are mandatory for the number of stars. For instance, a German hotel can only have 3 or more stars if it has someone on the staff who can also speak English. Only when DEHOGA has awarded stars can the hotel display the official DEHOGA plaque with the number of stars. There are separate criteria for hotels and for Gästehäuser and Pensionen.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
12815 posts

According to the website, http://hotrec.prod.altasys.be/files/view/305-classification_summary_italy.pdf, hotels in Italy are awarded stars based on criteria for each region. Some regions have a system of point, like Germany has, along with certain criteria being mandatory. Other regions, like Lombardy, which includes Milan, just have a mandatory set of requirement depending on the number of stars.

I suspect that the "1 Hotel" rating is somebody elses system, maybe Michelin, but the 3 star rating is probably from Lombardy.

Posted by Adam
2923 posts

Michelin has its own star system for rating restaurants, based on quality. One star is rather good.

I wasn't aware that Michelin had a star system for hotels, although they might. They do review and evaluate hotels.

The 3-star rating advertised by the hotel, on the other hand, is more quantitative and describes the kinds of amenities (television, swimming pool, etc.) that are provided. A hotel with lots of stars, though, could still be an unwelcoming or unpleasant place.

In your case, one Michelin star suggests a nice place. For more information on the meaning of the rating, consult a Michelin Red Guide.

Posted by carl
dallas, tx, usa
1358 posts

I agree with the writer who disregards the star rating. I do that because one can't trust the rating system in every country.

I judge the hotel by the price. If it fits in my price range I rent it, but never before I inspect the room. That is the only way I can be sure I want to spend a night in it.

If I must reserve a room in advance, I read the comments by travelers as a guide.

If I happen to get caught in a room I don't like I move out the next day as I did recently in Athens.
I never rent for more than one night so I can be flexible.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
8647 posts

I always type in the name of the hotel into my google search page and read all reveiws on it. Hotel reveiws are posted on many sites, but best one I have found so far is tripadvisor.com .
I paid little attention to star systems, I good two star can be better then a bad 3 star.

Posted by Bea
1157 posts

That's odd. I guess the web site posted 3 stars just to make people going to their hotel.
Tripadvisor.com is a very good site for reviews. Some people post hidden camera pictures.
Type in google search the name of the hotel than tripadvisor and see if anything comes up.
I think the star rating in Europe is different than in the US. I stayed in a 3 start hotel in Paris during New Year and the toilette was on the hallway and there was no hot water.Here in the US you get better treatment in hostels.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
12815 posts

"Stars only relate to the services the hotel offers. It really doesn't apply to cleanliness, friendliness or other factors."

I can't speak for, say, Italy, but in Germany, the FIRST criteria on the DEHOGA list, mandatory for any stars is, "1. Cleanliness and a hygenically perfect offer are basic condition in each star category."

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
12815 posts

BTW, I offer here information on the star system in Europe, but quite frankly, in Germany I prefer to stay in small, family run establishments for the rich cultural experience. These place rarely apply for stars. They might not have 24 hour room service and towel heaters, but they are in every other aspect nice places, clean and comfortable, and at a much better price. Unless you have a "confectionary butt", you don't need all the extras that come with stars, but if you are linquistically challenged, in Germany a hotel with three or more stars must have someone on the staff who speaks English.

As for Tripadvisor, they are too commercial, and I don't find them particularly useful. The best (IMO) places are not frequented by people who post on TA. I stayed in 10 places during my last trip (Oct) to Germany, and not one is mentioned on Tripadvisor, but I would recommend any of them.

Posted by Doug
3312 posts

No, No, NO!

Michelin stars are completely different than official government ratings. A hotel has to be a very high quality (and expensive) facility to rate a Michelin star. A single star means that it is a premier facility. The Michelin system rates the best facilities from one to three stars.

Government ratings are usually one to five stars; one being acceptable budget facilities to five being luxury. The stars have to do with measures such as bathrooms in the room to conference facilities and valet service. They are officially established and cannot be advertised at the hotel's will.

Posted by jack
Sheboygan, Wisc., USA
928 posts

I really dont care how many stars they have.I just use Rick Steves suggested places and have never gone wrong.Some are better then others but he pretty much nails it in my estimation.