At the end of the 1930s, France initiated the classification of tourist hotels into five categories represented by stars. For a long time based on 30 classification criteria, since 2012 the classification has been based on 246 criteria in order to come as close as possible to the commercial standards of the large international hotel chains.
More than 300 criteria taken into account
The hotels are thus classified into 5 categories ranging from 1 to 5 stars.
It is important to note that this classification is not compulsory but is done at the request of the hotelier. The hotelier has his establishment inspected by a private auditing firm. Once the file has been drawn up, it is sent to the prefect of the department who will estimate the number of stars corresponding to the quality and comfort of the premises.
This evaluation is only valid for 5 years and must therefore be regularly renewed. Following the creation of the new selection criteria, new signage has also been put in place. Gone are the octagonal signs on a blue background. From now on, there will be rectangular signs in burgundy and matt silver, with a capital “H”, the number of stars and the year of award.
These stars are awarded on the basis of three main criteria: the quality and comfort of the facilities; the quality of the services offered; and good practices in terms of respect for the environment and the reception of disabled persons. In total, more than 300 different criteria are taken into account for this classification.
This results in the following hotel classification:
1-star hotel = budget accommodation
2-star hotel = mid-range accommodation
3-star hotel = upper mid-range accommodation
4 star hotel = high end accommodation
5 star hotel = very high end accommodation.
Some hotels in the latter category may even apply for the “Palace” distinction based on exceptional geographical, historical, aesthetic or heritage features.
As far as the 4-star hotel classification is concerned, there are already 6 basic criteria that are absolutely mandatory. It is imperative that the rooms for two people are at least 16m²; that each room allows access to international television channels, as well as internet access via ADSL or Wifi; that air conditioning is present in all rooms; that breakfast can be served; and that there is a lift if the establishment has more than two floors.
The most important criteria for 4-star hotels
If there is one key criterion in the hotel business, it is the staff, especially in a 4-star hotel. The employees owe it to the clientele who come here looking for a certain standard and an exemplary quality of welcome. Courtesy and absolute discretion are the first qualities required of all levels of staff. They must also be available and know how to personalise their contacts with customers as much as possible, while at the same time knowing how to make themselves forgotten. Mastery of foreign languages, particularly English, is of course an almost indispensable plus.
Quality of service
This must be irreproachable. Guests must be able to enjoy attentive and prompt service, whether in the privacy of their room or anywhere else in the hotel. Any reasonable request must be met as quickly as possible, whatever the time.
These will enable the hotel to make the difference with its direct competitors. These elements can be very varied from one establishment to another, ranging from the geographical location, to the panorama, to the history of the building or the intervention of certain well-known artists in the decoration.
This is one of the basic criteria expected in any establishment in this category. The rooms should be spacious as well as the common areas. Bedding and linen, sheets and towels must be of high quality. Air-conditioning is mandatory in all rooms, as well as the best possible soundproofing to ensure the peace and privacy of the guests.
It goes without saying that safety standards, which are draconian in any hospitality establishment, must be fully respected. But security is also the assurance that the property of the people accommodated will be guaranteed. This implies the provision of safes, the irreproachable honesty of the staff, the filtering of entries and exits, and reserved access to the rooms.
The number of facilities will make the difference from one establishment to another and the reputation of the hotel. The more numerous and high quality, even original, they are, the more customers will be attracted. The minimum facilities for this range ofaccommodation are television and internet. But the hotel can offer much more: fitness room, SPA, swimming pool, different bars, drivers…
Thanks to all these criteria defined for the classification of hotels, one can now rely on the number of stars attributed, at least in France!