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7 star hotel ratings are now official? Nonsense!

StarsSelf-accredited hotel classifications are a bugbear of mine.   I think they only serve to deceive the public who don’t know better. For the record, no national tourist board has a classification scheme that goes beyond 5 stars; for some, the highest accolade is only 4 stars (eg. France); only if you’re really lucky might the boundaries get pushed as far as “5 star Grand Luxe” (eg. Spain).   So, to get hotels that  have  6 stars (eg. the newly re-vamped Plaza Hotel in New York) or even 7 stars (eg. the Burj Al Arab in Dubai or the Town House Galleria in Milan), you need to ‘self-award’ the classification.   That’s utterly ridiculous in my opinion and makes a mockery of official tourist board  classification schemes.   Now, though, we’re being told that ‘7 stars’ is an official rating and that the Town House Galleria is the first to attain this status… officially.   The SGS Group (which I’ve never previously heard of) is taking great pride on its website in claiming to be “the first company in the world to certify a seven star hotel”:
SGS, the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company, has created a new voluntary hotel classification criterion called “SGS 7 stars”. This certification service is designed to identify the extra luxurious services offered by the applicant hotel. On 15th December, in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, Milan, Town House Galleria, the first hotel in the world to request the “SGS 7 stars” certification , will be officially presented to the world.
On looking at their website, it seems that the SGS Group is a company that is more involved with testing for environmental hazards than it  is  with  assessing hotel classifications!   How crazy…  I think I’ll stick to accepting nationally-recognised tourism authority ratings  as a source of official information.

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Telegraph.

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  1. Star ratings have always been open to a degree of interpretation – and how and who rates hotels means that there is always going to be a difference of opinion. If the rating is purely “objective” it can’t take into account ambience, style or service. For instance, I know of a hotel, that in my view is easily “5 star” but because it doesn’t have a lift can’t get the rating – it’s all on one floor! Likewise there are some fabulous country house hotels that are like staying in private homes, but without 24 hour room service can’t get the rating either.

    In my experience of 5 star rated hotels, more often than not it is the service that differentiates them – sometimes the rooms can be almost shabby and the bathrooms not as good as you may get in a 3 or 4 star, however the overall experience is sublime – I think of places like The Carlyle in New York, which is understated, glamorous (and where the Royal Family stay) or Claridges in London.

    As for 6 or 7 star – what more can they really offer? The Burj in Dubai is fantastic – but hideous and somewhat soul-less. However, as the cliche goes – one man’s meat is another man’s poison. It really is down to personal taste. Even official ratings can’t always get it right for you.

  2. You are right in everything you say, Stephen, and raise another interesting point. Official ratings vary from country to country too, of course, as well as them changing over time. In England alone, in a relatively short time we’ve had hotels classified by stars, red stars, crowns and more. And then there’s the additional classification systems for hotel food (Michelin stars, AA rosettes, etc.), accessibility, green-ness and so on. It really is a minefield for the layperson!

    I actually preferred the old system employed by what was the English Tourist Board at the time. They used to differentiate between facilities (which were denoted by one to five crowns) and quality (denoted by words such as ‘approved’, ‘commended’, ‘highly commended’ and ‘de luxe’). As a rule of thumb, you were better off – in my opinion, at least – in a one crown de luxe hotel than you were in a five crown approved hotel, simply because you knew that the quality was there.


  3. I don’t disagree Paul, but you still are at the mercy of a subjective opinion somewhere along the line. The real issue is how does anyone not “in the industry” really understand – and even those that are may not know about different ratings in different countries. It is probably why “brands” do so well, you know what you get with Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton etc wherever you are in the world!

  4. I agree the Town House Galleria proclaimed to be a 7 star hotel before even opening..I think thats absurd you need to be officialy given the stars not give it to yourself…the Italian tourist board does not have 6 or 7 stars but 5 stars and max 5 star deluxe

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