Tourism chiefs will launch a new star-rating system for British hotels and B&Bs next month, amid claims that it is too complicated and will mislead guests.
The new regime aims to end confusion over hotel ratings by bringing together a plethora of separate schemes run by various tourist boards, the AA and the RAC. From January, all inspectors will use a common set of criteria, awarding between one and five stars for hotels. Guesthouses, inns and B&Bs will also get stars, in place of the old “diamond” ratings.
But some hoteliers say the “simplified” scheme itself is unwieldy and misleading, with too much emphasis placed on facilities rather than the overall quality of service and welcome. The list of criteria for hotels alone runs to 39 pages and 81 quality tests, defining everything from what constitutes a “bedside table” to the variety of eggs available at breakfast.
To be graded even one-star, hotels must have a minimum of six rooms, all with private bathrooms, and staff on call 24 hours a day, with dinner served at least five days a week. Critics fear that smaller hotels will be penalised because they can’t “tick the boxes” necessary to win more stars.
Justine Hill, manager of the five-bedroom, five-diamond Bark House, in Oakfordbridge, Devon, said: “The new system is extremely confusing and inflexible. Hoteliers are being made to install extra bathrooms or bigger beds, when what people really want is friendly service that puts the guest first.”
Stephen Farrant, general manager of quality for Visit Britain, denied the regime is too prescriptive: “It’s based on thorough research about what the customer expects.”