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Understand the French Hotel Star Rating System

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Paris hotel ratings

Paris hotel ratings

Hal Wilson

Are the mentions "two star" and "three star" hotel on travel Web sites reliable? Should you rely on the French rating system? Written by the Senior Editor of a renown Paris guide, this article clears up the issue, and suggests 4 proven steps to increase your odds to pick the right France or Paris hotel.

Travel forums are gold mines of information if you care to review the postings of enchanted and disgruntled travelers coming back from abroad.

As Senior Editor of Paris-Eiffel-Tower-News, I often peruse these forums to find out about the concerns voiced by fellow travelers headed to the City of Light.

Among the postings which keep coming back, one stands out from the crowd. What does a three-star rating really mean? Travelers tend to be confused by the many star-rating systems in use. I felt the subject called for an educated explanation.

The meaning of stars in the US

First of all, let's be clear. There is absolutely no relationship whatsoever between the number of stars commercial travel sites award to hotels and the government hotel rating system in use in France.

The core business of commercial travel sites is to sell you hotel rooms, flight tickets, car rentals and cruise packages. They purport to guide your choice by awarding stars to the products they peddle.

When you book a room on such sites, a significant portion of your money goes to the travel operator which presents the hotel - up to 50% on well-known websites.

For this reason alone, you could reasonably ask yourself. "Are these ratings unbiased, or tainted by corporate greed?"

To make matters more complicated, each travel Web site uses its own rating method. Consumer Reports published an enlightening article on the topic in its November 2005 issue.

In other words, the number of stars awarded by commercial travel sites is not a fully reliable yardstick for selecting a hotel.

The meaning of stars in France

The French hotel rating system works on a completely different set of rules. For example:

  1. It is a standardized system, meaning all hotels across France are categorized on the same unique basis.
  2. The rating system was not born out of mercantile purposes. It was framed by the French lawmakers without any concern for profit.
  3. Last but not least, the French hotel rating system does not measure quality. Instead, it uses 22 measurement criteria to assess the presence or absence of certain features in the hotel.

Among the main criteria used:

  • Room sizes and numbers
  • Room soundproofing
  • Heating and air-conditioning
  • Design of bathroom facilities
  • Phone system
  • Electrical equipment
  • Elevators

Each requirement varies from one star category to another.

Subjective quality vs. objective quantity

The French rating system does not take into account subjective quality criteria. And because of this limited approach, it does not guarantee your expectations will be fulfilled.

First, there are keen differences in perception between populations. For example, American travellers are used to larger sizes of rooms and beds than the average room and bed sizes offered in Parisian hotels. This can be a source of disappointment.

Moreover, the French rating system does not measure service quality - cleanliness, absence of smells, staff attitude, speed of service, etc.

It may thus be chancy to base your hotel choice solely on the French rating system.

Click "next" to find out a safer bet for choosing a hotel, and four steps for choosing the right France or Paris hotel.

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