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So you're wandering around Europe or Asia and notice stars prominently displayed in front of every hotel. Say you find one that has three stars. What does it mean?

The short answer is: just about anything!

Let's get one thing straight, there is no unified definition of hotel ratings worldwide – quite often within the same country ratings will vary widely.

Just remember - the ratings are quite often based on an objective facilities and services provided assessment, and will include things such as conference facilities, meeting rooms etc which probably won't be too relevant to you. Think government-type ratings. This is kind of how it works.

Guido, a pencil pusher for his whole life, goes into a hotel in Rome with a checklist:

Is there a restaurant? Yes or No.

Is there a pool/gym? Yes or No

Is there a toilet and shower/bath in every room? Yes or No.

In the end, a count up of all the 'yeses' will ultimately bestow the hotel with some number of stars. Don't expect a qualitative review. Guido is about as likely to rate the ambiance or romantic qualities of the room as I am to sing Don Giovanni at the Milan Opera house dressed in a garter belt and silk stockings. (As attractive as that may sound).

He's certainly not going to write, "And the drapes blend beautifully with the flocked wallpaper, enhancing the overall impression of the room without calling attention to itself. It is an ideal space in which to read or contemplate life while the flush of early morning is upon you.

5 stars indeed!"

For charm, views, friendliness of the staff etc you need to look elsewhere. Whilst our office can recommend a lot of properties from personal experience, we haven’t visited every hotel in every city of the world. We do however have a list of preferred hotels and a large network of contacts we can get personal advice from. And we stand by those recommendations.

Check out more of Kevin's wisdom here.

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