UK hotels – standard ratings introduced

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After years of baffling travellers with various symbols and criteria, UK accommodation ratings are getting simpler. This year, newly released guidebooks will be switching over to a standardised grading system for all hotels in Scotland, England and Wales.

The new ratings are based on a five-star system and will see all grading bodies following the same criteria for the first time. Visit Britain, Visit Scotland, Visit Wales and the AA are joint partners in the project and have spent 2006 applying the new rules to their inspections.

“The majority of ratings have been converted now and guidebooks will be using them from now on,” says Alison Barham, quality manager at Visit Britain. “Travellers’ standards do not change when they cross a border and we need to reflect that.”

From now on, all four bodies will follow criteria called the National Quality Assurance Standards and they aim to have all accommodation standardised by 2008. Although the scheme is voluntary, Visit Britain says they cannot promote accommodation that has opted out.

Changing times have also necessitated new categories. The “metro hotel” has been introduced for somewhere centrally located in a town or city that provides all hotel services, but may not run a restaurant because it is not cost-effective.

“It’s great to see that the decision has been taken to standardise ratings,” says Lorna Cowan, editor of Holiday Which? “By 2008, holidaymakers should know exactly what they’re getting when booking a room in the UK.”