Over the last few years I have managed to stay in numerous hotels, serviced apartments and B&B’s in Australia and have found that just because a hotel has a star rating doesn’t really mean it is a good hotel. And with the prices continually rising we are constantly looking for a good deal. But a good deal shouldn’t mean a dirty room, out of date décor, mould in the bathroom or showering in cold water.
So in my wisdom I did some research about what the star rating means and how it affects the facilities and the pricing. This is what I found.
According to www.starratings.com.au a star rating is used internationally to indicate the quality of accommodation which includes cleanliness, quality and facilities. So having said that how can a hotel have a star rating of 4 or even more and have mould in the bathroom, uneven carpet in hallways, cold water (rather than hot) in the shower, doors, shelves and more in need of repair and less than pleasant and uncaring staff. Who is it that checks on these hotels and assesses the star ratings?
I am assured on the Star Ratings website that the star ratings are a “mark of quality” and that the standards set out are met. It also suggests not to trust self-ratings as they are false exaggerations.. Again I am not in agreement of that statement at all as I have stayed in places that have no ratings but are 100% better than big name, chain hotels that promise the earth and don’t deliver. Also, do all the travel/holiday/booking sites use the same star rating system? Who and what do we believe?
Case in point. On our recent visit to Victoria, Australia we stayed 3 nights in Melbourne at the Quality Hotel Batman’s Hill on Collins Street (www.batmanshill.com.au). It is set in a lovely old building across the road from the Spencer Street train station and in a convenient location to shops, restaurants, the casino and Federation Square. The reception staff were friendly, pointing us in the right direction to the elevator but no help was offered to get our bags up to our room. We opened the door to the room and ran smack bang into a wall. The room layout was strange and the entrance cramped but once in the room it was quiet. We settled in noticing that the décor was outdated, there was mould in the bathroom and the kitchenette facilities were not very clean.
We also had trouble with the servicing of our room as one day we arrived back at 4.25pm and the room hadn’t been serviced, so we asked if it could please be done and were told the cleaning staff finished at 4.30 and had all gone home for the day. We were lucky though as they did give us clean towels!
Now having paid an average of $250 a night for this room in what has been rated as a four star property I wonder if we can even trust the start ratings or even the reviews that you see on the travel and booking sites. Yes the hotel offers all the facilities you would expect and king size beds but again the service, cleanliness and maintenance is not up to par.
Then we head to Mornington Peninsula to a lovely cottage that is not rated, is less expensive but is 100% better than where we have just stayed in Melbourne (you can read my review on the reviews page for Mornington Cottage). We had breakfast provisions provided, 2 bedrooms, a huge bathroom, a lounge dining area and the sole use of the downstairs lounge room with fireplace. It was clean, neat and well decorated and the owner/hostess of the property was friendly, helpful and would go out of her way to help in any way she could. So why would you stay at a rated property?
Now going back to the star rating system, properties are apparently inspected every three years once you have been allocated a star rating. There are a number of criteria that must be met within three keys areas of assessment being ‘Facilities & Services, Cleanliness and Quality & Condition”. Reading that I would think if I booked into a four or five start hotel I could expect great service, clean, tidy and modern surrounds, clean rooms (especially bathrooms) free of dust and mould as well as hot water whenever I wanted to have a shower.
But I wonder, when they do their inspections do they inspect all the rooms or just specific ones? I could imagine that some rooms are definitely better presented and looked after than others so could easily give the right impression to the assessor. And I do realise that there are different levels of accommodation in each hotel but I would expect the upkeep, cleanliness and overall look and feel of the rooms to be of the same quality.
In March this year (2015) my partner and I stayed at the Hotel Grand Chancellor in Launceston, Tasmania (www.grandchancellorhotels.com/au/launceston). On the Hotel Grand Chancellor website the first words you see are (and I quote) “A stay at Hotel Grand Chancellor Launceston is something special”. It was special but not in the way you would think. We had trouble with our hot water and had to have a cold shower if we wanted one in the morning. In the evening it would be warm but after one shower it would start to go cold again. When we complained to hotel staff they were not at all helpful saying they would look into the problem and get it fixed. This happened three days running and we never even got an apology of any sort.
On top of this the hotel room was very dusty and the bathroom outdated and mouldy as well. Definitely not in the condition you would expect of a 4 ½ star rated property.
As I spend quite a bit of time in Launceston with my partner we have stayed at numerous places including the Country Club Tasmania (www.countryclubtasmania.com.au) and the Clarion Hotel City Park Grand (www.cityparkgrand.com.au). Both of these properties provide great service, nice accommodation with clean rooms and all the extras you expect. We have had no problems and would stay there again and again. We have also travelled interstate staying in a serviced apartment at Glenelg (Seawall Apartments – www.seawallapartments.com.au) and a cottage in Leura in the Blue Mountains (Bridal Falls Cottage – www.bridalfalls.com.au) which both featured large living areas, bathrooms, bedrooms and of course were clean and had plenty of hot water. Don’t get me wrong nothing is perfect but if there is a problem the owners/managers of these properties are only too happy to sort things out.
The other problem I find with big hotel brands is they seem to change ownership quite regularly. How does this affect the star rating? We stayed in Sydney last year at the Adina on Shelley Street in Daring Harbour. Again this was not a cheap place to stay (as expected of the location) and the staff seemed nice and helpful. Yes the view was good but when we got to the room we immediately had to get maintenance in to fix the bedroom sliding door (which had come off its rollers), the glass shelf in the bathroom (which was hanging by a thread) and the kitchen bin under the sink which was broken and would fall out of the cupboard when you opened it.
Upon looking for some information on this property I have noticed that it seems to have disappeared off many of the accommodation sites. Does this mean, again it has changed hands? The Hotel Charles in Launceston is a nice spot but again it has changed hands as have so many of the properties we have stayed at in Melbourne. This does not give the traveller the confidence they want if they are returning to a destination regularly. And again, how does that impact on the star ratings.
We should be able to trust these ratings and believe that when we book our holiday accommodation it is clean, tidy, in good repair and the staff are friendly and helpful. We should also be able to trust the company that is assessing the properties as well as the properties themselves. But I know I have lost much trust and confidence in them and find it very hard to book accommodation these days, not knowing what on these sites is true and what is not.
Lastly, I just want to say that I am looking forward to the day Wayne and I buy the caravan as at least I will know it is cleaned to my specifications and maintained by my Mr. Handyman. And then we can be sure to travel in comfort and style (unfortunately we can’t take the caravan overseas so will still have to stay in hotels or better yet B & B’s). But until then we will keep trying and will most certainly be looking at smaller properties, B&B’s and even those that are not rated or are self-rated. What have we got to lose?!
Happy travels to you all and please let me know your thoughts and experiences booking and staying at all different types of accommodation.