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  • Writer's pictureMarissa Massa-Cirillo

The Hotel Star Rating Explained!

Ever wonder what the real difference is between a 4-star and a 5-star hotel? Read below as we try to explain it!

The Hotel Star Rating Explained!

The star rating system for hotels is a method of grading hotels based on their quality and facilities. Hotels are typically rated on a scale of one to five stars, with one star indicating a basic level of service and amenities, and five stars indicating a high level of luxury and sophistication. The criteria used to determine a hotel's star rating can vary depending on the country or region, but generally include factors such as the quality of guest rooms, the number and range of facilities, and the level of service provided by the staff. Five-star hotels are expected to offer the highest levels of luxury and service, while one-star hotels are more basic and budget-friendly. This rating system is often run by a regional governmental body or an industry association which is why it can vary a bit.


The star rating system is not an exact science and can be subjective, thus it is recommended to look at multiple resources before making a final decision or consulting with a travel agent who can best advise per your preferences. Cirillo Travel Group has direct relationships with properties across the world and we can help you find the perfect fit! Fill out our New Client Inquiry Form to leverage our expertise for your next trip!


Let's start with our 5 and 4-star hotels...


The main difference between 4-star and 5-star hotels is the level of luxury and service they provide. 5-star hotels are considered to be the highest level of luxury accommodations, while 4-star hotels are considered to be upper-upscale.


5-star hotels typically offer a wide range of high-end amenities and services, such as multiple dining options, fitness centers, on-site spas, and business centers. Guest rooms are often spacious and well-appointed, with high-quality furnishings, luxurious bedding, and modern technology. The staff at 5-star hotels are typically highly trained and provide a high level of personalized service. They can act as a guest's personal concierge with access to sought-after reservations or connections to local boutiques and services offering guests a true VIP experience during their stay.


Some 5-Star Properties we love:


- The Retreat at Blue Lagoon -

Norðurljósavegur, Iceland - We know most of you have seen photos of the popular Blue Lagoon in Iceland, but the accommodations attached to this tourist spot offer unparalleled spa experiences and complete relaxation in one of the most unique landscapes on earth.

The Retreat at Blue Lagoon

- Sandals & Beaches Properties -

Across the Caribbean - We love this adults-only resort portfolio as well as their family-friendly arm with properties across the Caribbean. Whether looking for a luxury getaway, a relaxing honeymoon, or even for an easy-to-plan destination wedding, we highly recommend checking them out. They also offer great discounts for Police, Fire, and both active and retired military.


- Hotel Captian Cook - Anchorage, Alaska -

When we have clients taking an Alaskan cruise either starting or ending in Anchorage, we book them here! The hotel's attention to detail and pride in quality make it one of our favorites. Make sure to eat or grab a drink in the Crows Nest - one of their dining options perched above the city skyline offering floor-to-ceiling windows with views of the breathtaking mountains around you.

Hotel Captian Cook - Anchorage, Alaska

4-Star Qualifications

4-star hotels also offer a wide range of amenities and services, but they may not be as extensive or luxurious as those found in a 5-star hotel. Guest rooms in 4-star hotels may be slightly smaller or less well-appointed than those in a 5-star hotel. The staff at 4-star hotels is usually professional and friendly, but the level of service may not be as personalized as in a 5-star hotel and there is usually a slight difference in the nightly rate for a similar level of service.


Some 4-Star Properties we love:

- Cala Luna Boutique Hotel - Tamarindo, Costa Rica -

Sharing the resort with curious monkeys, iguanas, and other native wildlife makes this property an immersive experience. Borrow a free bike and explore Tamarindo and all that this coastal town has to offer or stay on the resort during a wellness retreat to relax and recharge!


- Aldourie Castle - Loch Ness, Inverness, Scotland-

The only castle stay situated on Loch Ness, giving travelers a luxurious way to holiday in this folklore-filled area of Scotland. We help plan many self-guided, independent trips to Scotland and our itineraries always include a castle stay!

Aldourie Castle - Loch Ness, Inverness, Scotland


To sum up, 5-star hotels provide the highest level of luxury and service, while 4-star hotels provide a high level of comfort and amenities with just slightly less luxury and personalization of service. When searching for a hotel on Google - often you can find the star rating on the business page like we've shown here below:


Now let's move on to 3-star hotels...


3-star properties are considered to be mid-range accommodations that provide a comfortable level of amenities and services for guests. They are typically less luxurious than 4-star or 5-star hotels, but still offer a high level of comfort and quality.


The guest rooms in 3-star hotels are usually comfortable and functional, but they may be smaller and less well-appointed than those in higher-rated hotels. The amenities and services offered may also be more limited. For example, 3-star hotels may have only one restaurant, or a smaller fitness center or pool compared to 4 or 5 stars hotels. The staff at 3-star hotels is typically friendly and professional, but the level of service may not be as personalized.


These properties are a good option for travelers who are less focused on luxurious stays and are more interested in comfort, cleanliness, and basic amenities while offering close proximity so travelers can immerse more in their destination.


Some 3-Star Properties we love:

- Yosemite Valley Lodge - Yosemite Nat'l Park, California -

We stayed here recently and while it felt like a rustic motel - we could hear Yosemite Falls from our bed and had an amazing view of the Falls from our balcony!

Yosemite Valley Lodge - Yosemite Nat'l Park, California

- Les Jardins d'Eiffel - Paris France -

Even though it's only a 3-star rating - this property in the heart of Paris offers guests views of the Eiffel Tower right from their room! Sometimes the view outweighs the amenities.

Les Jardins d'Eiffel - Paris France

- Temple Bar Inn - Dublin, Ireland -

Located in the center of the Temple Bar area of Dublin, this simple yet trendy property offers guests, who want to be in the center of it all, an affordable place to do so. Be steps away from the best nightlife in the city.

Temple Bar Inn - Dublin, Ireland

How about 2-star hotels...


2-star hotels are usually less expensive than 3-star, 4-star, or 5-star hotels and are geared toward budget-conscious travelers. They typically provide only basic amenities and services, 2-star hotels may not have restaurants or fitness centers on-site, and the staff may be a little less attentive.

The guest rooms in 2-star hotels are usually small, with minimal furnishings and simple decor. They may not have many of the amenities found in higher-rated hotels, such as private bathrooms, televisions, or air-conditioning. The bathrooms in 2-star hotels may be shared, depending on location. This is most common in Hostels and some B&B-type properties.


And 1-star hotels...

1-star hotels provide guest rooms that are typically the bare basics and minimal, often just providing a bed, a small table, and maybe a chair. Amenities such as private bathrooms, televisions, and air-conditioning may not be provided at these properties. They are usually the most affordable option for travelers and may be a good fit for young adults back-packing the world or for RV/Van Lifers who may just need a hot shower! We've been there!


It is also worth noting that some places may not have a star rating system and the quality of accommodations can be hard to assess, so it's always good to read reviews and check if the hotel has any certifications or awards, as they can be a good indicator of quality.


If you need help navigating the endless options of hotels and accommodations fo next trip - reach out to us at Cirillo Travel Group - we are travelers ourselves and can advise because we've experienced it!





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