Hotel star rating: how is it done, and why?


We often hear of star ratings for hotels, prestigious establishments sometimes sporting 5 stars for the most sumptuous… On what criteria are these ratings based? Are these stars the same everywhere? Once again, Little Guest has investigated for you! Hotel star ratings are based on a set of criteria designed to assess quality and service. These criteria may vary slightly from country to country, but certain fundamental principles generally remain constant.



What are the criteria for awarding stars to a hotel?

The number of stars

Hotels are divided into 6 distinct classes:

  • 1 star, economy class
  • 2-star, mid-range
  • 3-star, mid-range-superior
  • 4-star, high-end
  • 5-star, very high-end
  • Palaces

In order to maintain or improve their classification, hoteliers undergo an assessment every 5 years. It should be noted that the number of rooms is not taken into account! Until a few years ago, France’s maximum hotel classification was 4 stars. As of December 2009, 5-star hotels were introduced, although the two rating systems coexisted for 2.5 years. The palace designation was implemented in November 2010.


There may seem to be a fine line between 4 and 5 stars, but perfection is in the details. A 5-star hotel will offer far more personalized services, with staff bending over backwards to accommodate guests’ requests, whatever they may be. Accommodation is far more sophisticated than in 4-star hotels, with luxurious lobbies, furniture in noble materials, marble or granite bathrooms, double basins, better room layout, more floor space than in 4-star hotels, sumptuous views… 5-star hotels also welcome pets.


For example, only 5-star hotels are required to provide a bathrobe for each guest, a shoe kit and a clean, working kettle. 4-star hotels are exempt, but must provide each room with a central light switch near the bed, or a safe in working order.


The most important criteria

Detailing all the criteria for awarding stars would be a never-ending headache… unless you have the time to scrutinize all 243 existing criteria! In fact, the French decree laying down the standards and procedure for classifying tourist hotels contains an exhaustive list of each of the rules to be complied with, depending on the number of stars the hotel claims. However, 4 categories must be scrupulously respected:

  • Quality of equipment comfort
  • The quality of services offered to customers
  • Respect for the environment and good environmental practices
  • Attention to the needs of disabled customers


Within these 4 categories, certain criteria are mandatory or not, depending on the number of stars. For example, among the services offered to customers, 4 and 5 star hotels are obliged to offer an online reservation service, whereas hotels with a lower rating are exempt.


For example, only 5-star hotels are required to provide a bathrobe for every guest, a shoe kit and a clean, working kettle. 4-star hotels are exempt, but must provide each room with a central light switch near the bed, or a working safe.


Let’s take a look at one sine qua non: the surface area of double rooms:

  • A 3-star hotel must offer a minimum surface area of 13.5 m².
  • A 4-star hotel must offer a minimum surface area of 16 m².
  • A 5-star hotel must offer a minimum surface area of 24 m².





Under the law we mentioned earlier, there are a number of criteria dedicated to children and toddlers, focusing in particular on their comfort and entertainment. Depending on the number of stars a hotel has, a certain number of board games must be provided, ranging from 3 for 1-star hotels to 8 for 5-star hotels!


For the little ones, only the presence of a cot on request and the provision of equipment for their well-being are required. In addition, 5-star hotels are obliged to provide a bottle warmer in the room on request.




Little Guest’s expertise is second to none. Hotel visits are organized on a regular basis, in all four corners of the world, detailing of course the appeal they represent for everyone: parents and children alike! These visits lead to testimonials that guarantee a successful family vacation at each of the hotels in the Little Guest collection.

Little Guest partner hotels are committed to providing families with an impeccable welcome, facilitated by the work of Little Concierges. A whole range of advantages are reserved for Little Guest families: a gift for the children on arrival in the room, insurance for children’s beds, a menu specially designed for children’s taste buds, a secure swimming pool, to name but a few!




Switzerland, and HotellerieSuisse in particular, have introduced their own categorization system: the « Family Friendly Hotel » and « Top Family Hotel » labels, with a total of 42 and 48 criteria respectively, of which 13 and 22 must be met.


Family-friendly hotels offer an infrastructure that includes rooms and catering adapted to the needs of children and the expectations of parents. Where children are king, it’s in hotels with the top families label, which in addition to the above points, offer entertainment and activity programs for children of all ages, led by qualified staff.


The criteria are precise and the label is uncompromising:

  • Is there an indoor or outdoor play area?
  • Is there a dedicated children’s room?
  • Does the gastronomic offer include an option for children?
  • Is baby-sitting available?
  • Is equipment available on request at the time of booking?


Here’s a guarantee of quality that Little Guest believes should be extended to other countries, notably France where, as in Switzerland, the hotel offer is upmarket and strives to remain so.




A 5-star hotel, comfort on every floor and a dream without half measures… But is there anything better? Back to France, for top-of-the-range hotels that not only offer the maximum, but also imagine the impossible. The term « palace » is strictly regulated in France.


To avoid any confusion, a palace is necessarily a 5-star hotel. The difference lies in certain criteria that are usually optional. Of a total of 243 criteria, 29 are usually « à la carte », and their absence will not prevent you from achieving 5-star status… unless you’re a palace! Such an establishment must meet each of these 29 criteria, and in this case, the Royal Évian ticks all the palace boxes.



Are starred hotels the same everywhere?


The answer is no. Each country has its own rating system, and there are no European or worldwide regulations governing the awarding of stars or any other quality label – Greece used to have a letter system, as well as the « Lux » label, which is still in use today, for example at the Grecotel Lux Me White Palace! Some hotels have no stars at all. This deliberate choice is generally justified by the unique experience offered to guests. Such is the case of Yokan Lodge, a singular hotel located in Senegal. The exception to the rule is the Yokan Lodge!


In Germany and the UK, private organizations are authorized to provide arbitrary rankings, leaving the hotel free to display the rating it likes. The problem is that travelers may be unaware of these different criteria. That’s where Little Guest comes in: we visit the hotels we offer and make sure they comply with everything families need!


What about 6- and 7-star hotels?

Following the example of the Burj Al Arab, a famous address in Dubai, some hotels have chosen to boast a higher number of stars than the norm, namely 6 or even 7 stars. Although not officially recognized, these hotels offer something spectacular, not only from an architectural point of view, but also in terms of the services offered, which are even more impressive, such as transfers in a Rolls Royce.


Surprising services!

Hoteliers sometimes find themselves faced with requests that are, to say the least… outlandish. It’s time to adapt, and that’s exactly what several hotels around the world have done.


Enjoying the spa is all very well… but why deprive your dog of it? The Capella Singapore hotel offers a butler service for 4-legged companions, with massages for dogs, no less!


Are your children bored at the Ritz-Carlton Palm Beach? A quick call to reception, and the hotel organizes a pillow fight for them!


4-star hotels for families




At Hôtel le Carlina by les Etincelles, you’re guaranteed to find a cot and a playground for the kids to enjoy, if skiing hasn’t worn them out beforehand!


Located in a traditional Savoyard village in the heart of La Plagne resort, at an altitude of 2050 meters, this hotel offers a wonderful experience for the whole family.



Hôtel Ermitage Evian ****



Filled with calm and greenery, the Hôtel Ermitage Évian offers easy access to the shores of Lake Geneva. Baby-club, kids-club and teens-club, discover all the prerogatives of happy families for a carefree vacation.


Hôtel Ermitage Evian celebrates the art of hospitality, where personalized service meets enchanting surroundings to create lasting memories.



Barceló Lanzarote Royal Level ****



A change of scenery, as we meet at the foot of a volcano against the backdrop of the Mediterranean Sea. A family-friendly address that ticks all the boxes for a trouble-free stay by the sea.


The kids’ and teens’ clubs of the Barceló Lanzarote Royal Level organize sports tournaments, keeping your children busy while you relax in the spa!



5-star hotels


Pine Cliffs Hotels, Ocean Suites & Residences



Pine Cliffs Hotels, Ocean Suites & Residence is a true haven where luxury meets nature, offering an ideal getaway for families looking for memorable moments.


Their commitment to families will be reflected in every detail of your stay. From spacious suites to private residences, we offer accommodations to suit every family. Children will love the kids-club, which offers an entertaining and educational program supervised by qualified professionals.



Club Med Val d’Isère



Nestled in one of the world’s most prestigious ski resorts, Club Med Val d’Isère is the ideal place for families in search of Alpine pleasures.


Children will find plenty to do at Mini Club Med, a dedicated area where they can take part in age-appropriate activities, supervised by caring professionals. Meanwhile, parents can enjoy their stay to the full, safe in the knowledge that their children are having an enriching and entertaining time.



Niyama Private Islands Maldives *****




Take off for the Maldives, the Niyama Private Islands Maldives is a dream destination for families in search of sunshine and a change of scenery!


Activities abound on our private islands, from exciting water sports to spectacular diving and relaxing at the spa. For young adventurers, the kids-club offers fun and educational activities, supervised by caring professionals, allowing parents to make the most of their stay.


No doubt about it! Whether you’re looking for a 4-star or 5-star hotel, you can spend your best family vacations in one of the world’s most beautiful hotels!


Have a nice trip with Little Guest!


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