Friday, March 25, 2011

Are Hotel Star Ratings Meaningful?

I don't travel all that much, but do go away on business a couple of times a year and we often have a couple of stays away in a hotel each year. Over the years, I've ended up visiting a whole range of hotels of various ratings and price ranges.

And one thing that's become abundantly clear is that there's at best a tenuous relationship between the quality of the hotel, the price you pay, and its mysterious star rating.

Looking at quality against price, it's certainly not the case in general that better quality costs more. While within a certain locality, that may be true, but across the board I tend to see the opposite trend: increased competition tends to simultaneously drive down prices and increase quality.

And what of this star rating? In my experience that tends to correlate with size. Larger hotels offer more services, and that tends to be reflected in the rating. But it's just a measure of quantity, not of quality.

I've stayed in large hotels that feel welcoming and comforting, and those that are cold and mechanical. The same is true of smaller establishments (although recently we've tended to stay in more up-market boutique hotels that have tended to give vastly superior levels of service).

The star rating of itself is almost never a guide to how good a stay you're going to have. If anything, looking at the star rating is harmful, as it prejudices your expectations, which may be why I've been underwhelmed when I've stayed at four or five star (so-called luxury) hotels.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Rosemary, Falmouth

We recently went down to an open day at University College Falmouth.

It's quite a trek: we decided to go down the day before, taking it relatively easy, although we just flogged it up the motorway on the way back (flat out, motorway speed, no delays, five and a half hours). So we needed to find somewhere to stay.

We went to The Rosemary, and we can thoroughly recommend it. The rooms are a generous size, well equipped, and comfortable. We had the Hedford Suite, which is at the top of the house, allowing the girls to be in a separate twin room. It's in a quiet area, not on top of the town, but close and convenient, and we had no trouble parking on the street outside. There's a pleasant sitting room, with some games, and a honesty bar that allowed us to have a drink before turning in. Breakfast was comprehensive and filling - we usually fill up at breakfast and just snack in the day.

Fleur De Lis Inn, Stoke Sub Hamdon

On the way down to Falmouth recently, we stopped off for lunch at the Fleur De Lis Inn, in Stoke Sub Hamdon, Somerset.

We hadn't really got a formal plan in place, just the idea that as lunchtime came up, we would look for something off the main road to eat and rest for a while, and that was where we ended up.

And it was a good choice. The staff were friendly, the menu covered all the bases, we asked for minor variations that weren't on the menu and were given exactly what we wanted, the quality and quantity of the food were excellent.