Hotel reviews provide a light in the darkness, offering up key, critical, and unbiased information travelers can use to make decisions without ever having to step foot in a place before it’s time to check in. The experienced editors and writers for Travel + Leisure search the globe for the very best hotels, from charming boutiques to grand palaces. We also help travelers find the best search tools, both online as well as off. How do you spot a fake hotel review? How is TripAdvisor changing?
Hotels have traditionally been rated on a star-system. Forbes Travel Guide launched its five star system, the first in the world, in 1958. And AAA, though it began evaluating hotel and restaurants in 1937, introduced its diamond-based ranking system in 1977.
Regardless of their chosen geometric shape, both Forbes and AAA rank hotels on a scale from zero to five. Outside of these formal hotel ratings systems, many hotels advertise themselves as three, four, or five star hotels. Though there is no formal international classification system to standardize what stars mean, there is quite a bit of widespread consensus: one star signals a basic, bare-bones hotel while five stars indicate a truly luxurious establishment.
In Europe, a group of 24 countries—from Sweden to Greece and Latvia to Luxenbourg—agreed on a set of shared criteria, originally borrowed from Germany, to create the Hotelstars Union. In many other countries, their hotel rating system is outlined by national law, such as in Portugal, France, India, Namibia, and New Zealand.
Hotel ratings are often a reliable way to understand, at a glance, what kind of service a hotel offers. Travel + Leisure also paints a fuller picture with in-depth reviews and coverage of the industry, from hotel openings to interviews with mystery shoppers.
You'll know what a hotel has in store by reading one of our reviews first.