Nearly half of UK travellers have stayed in a hotel that did not live up to its star rating, according to Which? research.
And there is a huge lack of trust in star ratings given by official bodies, hotels and tour operators, as well as widespread confusion about what ratings for foreign hotels mean.
We surveyed 1,045 members of the general public in August about their understanding and experience of star ratings. And we found 46% had stayed in a hotel in the UK or abroad that they felt did not live up to its star rating billing.
Hotel star ratings
Poor hygiene and cleanliness, shabby rooms and poor service were the most cited reasons for the disappointment, but bad food and facilities also appeared frequently.
Our survey also found consumers had little idea what star ratings meant. Only 29% said they knew what to expect from star ratings abroad, or the difference between a three or four star hotel. Only 16% said they knew who set star ratings abroad or in the UK.
There was more trust in online reviews by guests than official star ratings; 57% said they trusted online reviews of foreign hotels more than star ratings from tourism bodies or hotels, and 55% trusted online reviews more than tour operator ratings.
For the full report into star ratings and a guide to tour operator rating systems, see the November issue of Which? Travel.