UK Hotel Star Rating System

The AA and Visit England are the only nationally accredited bodies authorised to give star ratings to hotels

The AA have been recognising accommodation since 1908 and first introduced the star rating scheme in 1912, recognising and rewarding establishments for the quality and range of their services and facilities. In 2006, The AA developed Common Quality Standards (alongside the main tourist boards) for inspecting and rating accommodation. These standards and rating categories are now applied throughout the British Isles.

Hotel star ratings are only awarded and managed by four national and accredited bodies: The  AA (specifically AA Hotel Services which is a division of the Automobile Association), Visit England, Visit Scotland and Visit Wales. 

The AA is the British Hospitality Association’s patron supplier for quality rating and assessment within the hospitality industry. The AA's star ratings are broken down into categories based on the different types of hotel in Britain as outlined below. 


Hotel: A formal accommodation offering full hotel service.

Country House Hotel: A hotel with ample grounds or gardens set in a rural or semi-rural situation; the property has an emphasis on peace and quiet.

Small Hotel: Smaller establishments having a maximum of 20 bedrooms, and personally run by the proprietor.

Town House Hotel: A high-quality property of distinctive style with a maximum of 50 bedrooms, set in a town or city centre; possibly no dinner but room service is available instead.

Metro Hotel: A town or city property providing full hotel services except dinner, close to a range of places to eat.


The AA hotel star ratings are based on the following percentages:

30-46%   - One Star Rating
47-54%   - Two Star Rating
55-69%   - Three Star Rating
70-84%   - Four Star Rating
85-100% - Five Star Rating


In addition to standard 'Black Stars', every year hotels that significantly exceed expectations within their star classification are recognised with either 'Silver Stars' and above that 'Red Stars' as follows:

Silver Stars
Highly Recommended Silver Stars are awarded to hotels that provide superior levels of quality, high standards of hotel keeping in particular hospitality, service and cleanliness and hold an AA Rosette award for the quality of their food.

Red Stars
Inspector Choice Red Stars are awarded to hotels that stand out as the very best in the British Isles, regardless of style. These hotels offer excellent levels of quality throughout, outstanding levels of hospitality and service. Red Stars are awarded on annual basis in September.

The following is an extract from The AA's official 'Hotel Star Rating System' documentation:


4 Star hotels must meet the following criteria:
(in addition to the requirement at the 3 Star level)

  • Expectation is for higher quality of service levels in all departments and in general higher staffing levels; as well as a serious approach and clear focus to the food and beverage offering.
  • All areas of operation should meet the 4 Star level of quality for cleanliness, maintenance and hospitality, and for the quality of physical facilities and delivery of services.
  • 24 hour room service, including cooked breakfast and full dinner during restaurant opening hours.
  • Once registered, residents should have 24hour access, facilitated by on-duty staff.
  • Enhanced services offered, e.g. Afternoon tea, offer of luggage assistance, meals at lunchtime, table service on request at breakfast.
  • At least one restaurant, open to residents and non-residents, for breakfast and dinner seven days a week. Hotels without restaurants located within easy walking distance of a range of places to eat are required to serve as a minimum snacks/light refreshments in public areas/bedrooms, at least in core hours of between 7am to 11pm.
  • All bedrooms with en suite bathrooms and all with WC and thermostatically controlled showers.
  • Wi-Fi or internet connection provided in bedrooms.


5 Star hotels must meet the following criteria:
(in addition to the requirement at the 4 Star level)

  • Excellent staffing levels with well-structured and dedicated teams with depth in management levels.
  • Exceptional levels of proactive service and customer care.
  • All areas of operation should meet the 5 Star level of quality for cleanliness, maintenance, hospitality, and for the quality of physical facilities and delivery of services.
  • Hotel open seven days a week all year.
  • Enhanced services offered e.g. valet parking, escort to bedrooms, proactive table service in bars and lounges and at breakfast, ‘concierge’ service, 24-hour reception, 24-hour room service, full afternoon tea.
  • At least one restaurant, open to residents and non-residents for all meals seven days a week.
  • A minimum of 80% of bedrooms with en suite bathroom with WC, bath and thermostatically controlled shower, 20% may be shower only.
  • A choice of environments in public areas of sufficient relevant size to provide generous personal space.
  • Additional facilities e.g. secondary dining, leisure, business centre, spa, etc.
  • At least one permanent luxury suite available comprising of three separate rooms - bedroom, lounge and bathroom.

Further detail on the AA's UK hotel star rating system can be found on their website on the following page

The AA's hotel star rating system positions The Nare as Cornwall's leading hotel...

The Nare has been the highest rated hotel in Cornwall for the last 30 years according to The AA. It is one of only two AA 5 star hotels in Cornwall and the only five star country house hotel. 

The country house hotel by the sea