French hotels polish up their star ratings

France, the world's top tourism destination, is polishing up its hotel star ratings and introducing a new luxury five-star category to help travellers know what to expect.

The new rating criteria will apply to 18,000 hotels across France, many of which are showing off stars awarded under the previous ranking system that dates back to 1986.

The upgraded star system went into force at the weekend when details were published in the government gazette.

The most spectacular change is the new five-star category - already claimed by some 60 hotels such as the world-class Paris Ritz or the Hotel Negresco in Nice.

Industry leaders say the five-star category will help France face tough international competition at a time when the hotel business is struggling to recover from the global downturn.

"The terms of reference were out of date," said Christine Pujol, president of the hotel owners' main trade group Umih.

"Customers did not know what to expect any more from a two-star hotel," added Genevieve Balher, president of the Synhorcat group representing the hospitality business.

A hotel ranked in 1986 may well have kept its stars without undergoing any renovation and there is no control over the ranking, she said.

Under the new criteria, stars will be attributed for a period of five years by accredited auditors instead of a government agency. The prefect or state official for a department will however have the final word on granting stars.

The zero-star hotel is consigned to history under the new regulations, meaning that the lowest possible standard of comfort is now the one-star hotel.

A one-star room should be no smaller than nine square meters (96 square feet) and have a shared bathroom with guests from no more than seven other rooms.

More stars means a bigger room and Internet access, for instance, is now a criteria for a three-star hotel.

"Guests will know that the star ranking is a guarantee of cleanliness and furnishings that are in good condition," said Michele Le Poutre, who helped elaborate the new criteria.

But Mark Watkins, president of a committee pushing for more modern French hotels, said the new rating system was already out of sync with that of other international destinations.

"En suite bathrooms are only compulsory for three-star hotels and you will have to go to a four-star to get international channels on television," he complained.

Watkins said the new rating system would benefit mostly hotel chains and that independent owners will have a tougher time satisfying the criteria.

Industry officials estimate that up to 10 billion euros will be spent by hotel owners in the coming years for renovation work that will allow them to keep their stars.

France draws tens of millions of visitors each year to its tourist attractions, cultural sites and world-class restaurants, but the global downturn has hit the hotel sector hard.

Major chains like Accor, Europe's biggest hotel group, have reported a plunge in sales as bookings slowed dramatically over the summer months with the loss of British and American tourists.

Under the new regulations, any hotel can choose to apply for the star rating, but there is a fee.

Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Restaurant Manager / Sommelier

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Receptionists - Seasonal Placement

    £12500 - £13520 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced Hotel Receptionists...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Receptionists - Poole

    £12500 - £13520 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Recruitment Genius: Lifeguards / Leisure Club Attendants - Seasonal Placement

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Qualified Lifeguards are required to join a fa...

    Day In a Page

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn