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4 Star or 5 Star?

5 Star Mombasa HotelNot only has the Internet made it easier for people to act as their own travel agents, it has also helped explain the somewhat confusing hotel rating systems. Most travel companies use their own methods for ratings because there is no standard for the industry, even though many stick to using either stars or diamonds for their systems to create some congruency. The differences between a one-star and a five-star hotel are relatively obvious; but the difference between a four-star and five-star hotel is a bit more subtle.

Hotel Amenities

Customer feedback is used by many of the largest travel sites to determine ratings. For example, a four-star hotel’s amenities include things like 24-hour room service, turndown, concierge services, and valet parking. Five-star hotel amenities include state-of-the-art health clubs, luxury spas, high-end restaurants, and butler services. AAA uses diamond ratings; according to them, the difference between four-diamond and five-diamond hotels is based on how much the hotel’s amenities exceed customer expectations. Four-diamond hotels have “extensive amenities,” while five-diamond hotels have “amenities that provide an unmatched level of comfort.”

Room Amenities

How far the hotel exceeds customer expectation for these amenities determines the rating – the same way it works for hotel amenities. Four-star hotels are elegant, upscale, and stylish. Five-star hotels provide incredible luxury and the highest quality accommodations. Typically, four-star hotels will offer upgraded amenities such as large queen or king beds, comfortable couches, extra soft mattresses, mini-bars, and name brand bath products. Five-star hotels go further with oversized marble or granite bathrooms, double vanities, electronic drapery controls, high-end sound systems, and fresh flowers and fruit.


All other things considered, hotel services are the largest factor in getting the highest ratings. Four-star hotels provide excellent patron services, frequently offering such extras as child-care services, pool service and a concierge to assist with making reservations or getting tickets. At a five-star hotel the staff will tend to personalize all services. They make it a point to use a guest’s name and anticipate the needs of every person.


Décor is not as much of a factor as services and amenities and can also be very subjective but it is taken into account. AAA defines four-diamond hotels as being stylish, with quality furnishings and a high level of attention to detail. Five-diamond hotels have decor that is “extraordinary in every manner.” Expedia.com also takes decor into account. Both will have lobbies with tasteful décor and original artwork but five-star takes it a little further with a slightly higher level of décor and the addition of fresh flowers throughout the hotel.