What does grading mean for you?

Accommodation grading explained

When choosing your holiday accommodation, look for the Cymru/Wales quality mark of Wales’ official, nationwide quality assessment scheme, then you can be confident that it has been checked out before you check in.

Is there any difference between Visit Wales and other grading schemes?

All the national assessing bodies (Visit England, Visit Scotland, Visit Wales and the AA) now assess holiday accommodation to the same criteria and award one to five stars.  The stars reflect the facilities and overall quality of the experience.

How do Visit Wales assess properties?

The Quality Wales team of professional assessors visit each property every other year, including properties handled by self-catering agencies. Visit Wales is the premier assessing agency for accommodation in Wales.

What do the star ratings mean?

Businesses that are graded receive a rating between one and five stars based on the facilities available and the overall quality of the experience.

There are three elements involved in the processing in arriving at Star Rating for a business.

Quality of the Business 
The Quality Assessors assess every aspect of the business and that score equates to a quality level description.  A scale of 1 to 5 is used – Excellent Quality scores 5 points, acceptable quality scores 1 point.

Excellent Quality: 5 points
Very Good Quality: 4 points
Good Quality: 3 points
Quite Good Quality: 2 points
Acceptable Quality: 1 point

Once all aspects are assessed, scores are totalled and a quality score for the whole of the business is calculated.

Consistency in Key Areas of the Business
The Quality Assessor then checks for consistency in the key areas of the business.  The purpose of this approach is to ensure that one aspect of the business has not, by scoring high marks, driving up the overall percentage into the next star rating level, giving a false impression to the guest of the overall quality.  It is vitally important that the quality of the key areas matches the overall grade of the business

Facility Requirements
The Quality Assessor will check to ensure that any additional facilities/services required at a particular level are present and available, as well as those at all preceding Star Levels.  Research has shown us that the higher the rating, the more facilities and services expected by the consumer.

Does a lower star rating equal less quality?

Many lower star rated accommodations may still offer high quality, but do not meet all of the facility and service expectations for the higher star ratings.
For example, Visit Wales applies different and many more criteria requirements when assessing Hotels than they do to Guest Accommodation business (e.g. B&B’s, Guest Houses).

This is based on consumer research where there is an expectation that Hotels, by their very nature will provide more facilities than B&B’s and Guest Houses.  The grading criteria reflect this so it’s particularly important not to compare a  4-star Guest Accommodation rating with a 4-star hotel rating. Different criteria apply.

The advice – always check with the establishment before booking to check that they offer the services and facilities that meet your needs – they will be only too pleased to help.

What categories of accommodation are there?

Accommodation differs in style and therefore different rating schemes apply to different types and styles of business.  To help you make your choice, the new rating scheme includes a “designator” to describe the style of accommodation you can expect – for example:

  • Hotels are the standard term used for most establishments of this type, but you may also see a range of alternative descriptions which relate to a particular style or size of the hotel, as follows
  • Small Hotels refer to businesses which offer a range of hotel services and are differentiated by the number of rooms available – normally less than 20 – used at the discretion of the hotel owner.
  • Country House Hotels have ample grounds or gardens in a rural or semi-rural location, with emphasis on peace and quiet.
  • Town House Hotels are in city/town centre locations offering high quality with a distinctive style. High degree of personal service.
  • Metro Hotels are found in city and town centres, offering full hotel services, but no dinner.
    They will be within easy walking distance of a range of places to eat.
  • Budget Hotels are always part of a ‘branded’ hotel group offering clean and comfortable en-suite facilities, 24-hour reservations and a consistent level of facilities.
  • Guest Accommodation encompasses anything from one-room bed and breakfasts to the larger places found in our coastal resorts, which may offer dinner and may be licensed.
  • Bed and Breakfasts usually accommodate no more than six people. It’s like staying as a special guest in someone’s home.
  • Farmhouses also offer bed and breakfast and sometimes dinner, always on a farm.
  • Guest Houses tend to have more than three rooms and may offer dinner to their guests. Some may be licensed.
  • Restaurants with Rooms are just that. The restaurant is the main business and they will be licensed.
  • Inns are pubs with rooms which serve food in the evenings, as well as breakfast.
  • Self Catering: cottages and apartments where you can experience home from home comforts
  • Serviced Apartments: usually in purpose-built blocks, offering a home from accommodation with an extended range of services
  • Holiday Village: comprises of a variety of accommodation types on a large complex.  A range of facilities are also available which may or may not be included in the tariff.
  • Touring Park: welcomes touring caravans, trailer tents and motorhomes.
  • Camping Park: welcomes visitors with tents.
  • Holiday Park: where you can rent a caravan holiday home, timber lodge or chalet.
  • Campus Accommodation – the campus scheme covers the universities and colleges that are able to accommodate visitors during the vacation periods on a bed and breakfast or self-catering basis. Often the rooms are en-suite and there will be plenty of single rooms, ideal for large groups.
  • Hostel Accommodation – accommodation is often in shared rooms with bunk beds.  Maybe family rooms – could be restricted access – either catered or self-catering facilities
  • Group Accommodation – predominately group bookings in shared bedrooms.  May offer meals or self-catered facilities.
  • Activity Accommodation – usually but not exclusively group bookings associated with the provision of accredited activities on site or nearby.
  • Backpacker Accommodation – similar in style to a hostel, but may be run on less formal lines.  Often more appropriate for independent travellers – may not accept family groups.
  • Bunkhouse Accommodation – rural accommodation which can be booked by groups or individuals.  Services and facilities may be limited but will include a self-catering facility.
  • Camping Barns – not star rated – this is simple rural accommodation, often referred to as “stone tents”.  Roomy and dry – usually need to bring your own sleeping bags.
  • Alternative Accommodation – not star rated and covers accommodation such as wigwams, tipis, yurts, single caravans and accommodation that cannot provide facilities or services associated with mainstream accommodation.
  • Listed – accommodation that has chosen not be star rated but has confirmed the availability and serviceable condition of essential facilities and services appropriate to the type of business.

The above details are all taken from the information on the VisitWales website.