February 01, 2023
By Cvent Guest

In today’s social media and crowd-sourcing era, it’s hard to know if certain properties are really worthy of the ratings they claim. What is a five-star hotel? What makes it different from a four-star hotel or a seven-star hotel? We’re answering these questions and more in our guide to 5-star hotels.

Explore the technical definition, what has changed in the hotel rating system, and some real-life examples of five-star hotels you can use to compare and contrast your own property or book for your next vacation.

What is a five-star hotel?

A five-star hotel is a luxury property with beautiful facilities, top notch services, and Instagram-worthy rooms. Five-star hotels should be run by people who are polite, accommodating, and discreet.

The hotel has a high staff to room ratio and a variety of staff members available at any time. These can include a butler, doorman, and 24-hour reception. Daily housekeeping is also provided upon request.

Other amenities include a fine dining restaurant or bar, a standalone lounge or restaurant, valet or parking options, and childcare options.

Guest rooms must be plush and welcoming at a five-star hotel. They should have high thread count sheets and a bed that is comfortable. The walls should be thick, so that you can get plenty of rest even when your neighbors are loud.

As more hotels aspire to five-star status, they are expected to improve their standards of luxury. Details such as strong Wi-Fi access throughout the hotel, complete control over room temperature, and upgraded coffeemakers are expected at this level of accommodation.

Knowing all of this, you may be surprised to find out that a five-star rating, which was previously considered the best rating a hotel could hold, is not necessarily the gold standard anymore. In fact, there are now seven-star hotels. However, seven-star hotels are few and far between, so five-star hotels are still the premium to most.

What does that mean for you? You can have a world class experience in any five-star hotel no matter where you are. Expect to indulge in an exceptional experience from booking to check out.

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Ranking criteria has changed in recent years

Hotel ratings are used to describe the quality of a hotel. They were originally invented to describe the basic services a hotel offered; for example, a two-star hotel may offer food in addition to shelter. In modern times, star ratings have expanded into a more comprehensive concept, combining service options and quality.

Although there are some generally accepted qualities expected in each star category, ranking criteria is no longer standardized in the same way it once was.

Today, there are many different rating schemes used by various organizations. One of the most popular is the star rating system published by the Forbes Travel Guide. But the biggest movement towards global unification of the hotel star system comes from the World Hotel Rating project.

The objective of the World Hotel Rating project is to develop sustainable and quality hotel services. They also aim to promote celebration of all the world's cultures and heritage. As far as hotel star ratings go, the company plans to develop specialized labels to promote hotels with specific features. Past attempts at doing this were unsuccessful. However, this is one of the largest efforts to date and one that many are in support of.

While not universal, there are some systems that hotels strive to appeal to a base defined by location. In North America, AAA has a one-to-five-star rating. In Europe, the Hotel Union has a one-to-five-star rating.

The Auto Club bases its ratings on feedback from hotel guests. Each rating team's classifications are based on various factors such as guest satisfaction, safety, and cleanliness. For example, all Five Star Alliance hotels must meet specific requirements in order to gain ratings, including maintaining high satisfaction in the customer base.

Even though there is no universal classification system yet, we can make some assumptions about each hotel star rating. Here’s what people think of when they see a five-star rating on a hotel:

1. Location

Is the hotel close to a tourist hotspot or within a walkable part of town? Or is it conveniently located by the airport or other public transportation? The less isolated a location is the higher the rating will be. You can expect a five-star rated hotel to be near the action without having to sacrifice a good night's rest.

2. Amenities

Think valet services, gyms, and onsite restaurants. The fuller the hotel experience, the higher the rating. Five-star hotels may offer all of the above, plus dry cleaning, meeting rooms, and banquet halls depending on its size.

3. Facilities

How updated are the rooms, hallways, bathrooms, and shared spaces? Do they incorporate technology or trending design styles? Are they cleaned regularly and freshly tidied? Five-star hotels are expected to go above and beyond in this department.

There are some exceptions to the rule. If the hotels are located somewhere like Catalina Island, CA, where access to construction equipment and even cars is extremely limited, you can expect to see more updates around decor than structure.

4. Room sizes

Five-star hotels should offer comfortable rooms with desks, seating areas, queen or king size beds, and mini fridges or even kitchenettes. In larger cities like New York, there might not be space for all of this despite the high rating. Keep in mind that ratings are relative when booking.

5. Customer service

All hotels strive to provide excellent customer service. So it may be hard to tell a one-star hotel apart from a five-star hotel in this category. Instead of focusing on quality, it’s better to think about access.

Is there always someone physically available at the front desk to help with check in or check out? What about a door person? Can you text the hotel team if you have requests or questions throughout the day?

All of these little things add up to a convenient level of support you should expect from a five-star hotel experience.

Check out how weddings can help make your venue world class

Our favorite five-star hotels

Here are some of the top five-star hotels in America according to Cvent. Keep reading to learn more about them and what makes them deserving of a top score.

1. Bellagio Hotel & Casino

Location: Paradise, Nevada

The Bellagio resort and casino is an elegant destination and a crown jewel of Las Vegas. It is owned by The JG Blackstone Group and managed by MGM Resorts International. One of its most prominent features is a lake that is surrounded by a large, dancing water fountain which performs regular shows.

2. Hotel Emma

Location: San Antonio, Texas

The Hotel Emma used to be a 19th-century brewhouse. It’s now a spectacular new hotel that features a modern, riverfront design. It’s located close to Pearl’s cultural and culinary district. The hotel's commitment to impeccable food and service is evidenced by its numerous award-winning restaurants and establishments.

3. Fairmont Grand del Mar

Location: San Diego, California

This San Diego hotel is one of the best luxury hotels in California. Fairmont Grand del Mar features a private Tom Fazio-designed 18-hole golf course, four sparkling pools, a spa, and a variety of fitness and dining options. It’s spectacular Mediterranean-style architecture and impeccable service has earned its five-star hotel rating.

4. Wynn Las Vegas and Encore

Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

Wynn Las Vegas is a luxury resort and casino situated on the Las Vegas Strip in Nevada. It is owned by Wynn Resorts and is named after the company's founder, Steve Wynn. The 614-foot-high hotel has 45 floors and features 2,716 rooms. The entire property includes a convention center, the hotel itself, and a pool area.

5. The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota

Location: Sarasota, Florida

The Ritz-Carlton Sarasota is a resort that combines the casual Gulf Coast lifestyle with the sophisticated excitement of the city. Its elegant accommodations and impeccable dining options are impressive. Guests can enjoy the beautiful bay views and access to their own private beach.

6. The Newbury Boston

Location: Boston, Massachusetts

This Boston hotel is located in the heart of Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood. It features a reimagined lobby, elegant guest rooms, and a spectacular public garden. This carefully restored historic building marries modern luxury with vintage in a fully walkable location beloved to locals and tourists alike.

7. The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua

Location: Lahaina, Hawai’i

The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua is located on 54 acres of stunning land. It features two championship golf courses and fully updated guest rooms. Guest rooms have high-speed internet access and satellite TV. The spa at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Kapalua features a variety of treatments inspired by Hawaiian traditions. This hotel also features a fitness center, outdoor pool, and complete menu of on-site recreational activities.

Next up, learn more about types of hotel rooms to book during your next stay at a five-star hotel!

Cvent Guest

Cvent is a market-leading meetings, events, and hospitality technology provider with more than 4,000 employees, ~21,000 customers, and 200,000 users worldwide.
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