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Decoding the Stars – Your Guide to Hotel Ratings in Southeast Asia

Decoding the Stars ⭐️– Your ultimate Guide to Hotel Ratings in Southeast Asia. Who Rates the Hotels? What does this rating mean? And why the number of stars should never be the deciding factor.

December 27, 2020

Life was a lot easier in primary school. You did good in class, and your teacher would reward you with a star. This star, which would be a sticker or a cardboard cut-out, instantly became a symbol of your achievement that you then paraded around the school playground or at home.

There is also a “star rating system” in the hotel industry. Unfortunately, this one is a lot more complex, often leaving the average business traveler confused about which hotel to book for their next work trip.

To help you better understand hotel star ratings in Southeast Asia, we look at some key factors that form the bases of this system. We talk about what a business traveler can expect when staying at a one, two, or five-star hotel. 

Who Rates the Hotels?

The answer to this question is no one, in particular. Basically, the main confusion about star ratings arises from the fact that no single worldwide organization agrees on which hotel deserves how many stars. 

Let’s begin our discussion by considering hotels in Southeast Asia. Like in the US, they are typically graded on a five-star rating system. 

While a hotel gets its stars from travel guidebooks in the US, a private organization such as AAA (who gives out diamonds), or a website, Southeast Asian nations like the Philippines, have tourism boards that decide on hotel ratings. The same holds for countries like China and India, which have some form of government organization monitoring the rating system. 

However, these different ratings alone don’t mean everything. It is necessary to consider the vast difference in the scope of services provided, with Southeast Asian hotels presenting business travelers with a “bigger bang for the buck,” so to speak. 

During your business trip in Southeast Asia, a four-star hotel in Singapore or Hong Kong will most probably have the same good location, amenities, top-class service, and contemporary conveniences as a five-star hotel in the US.  

Are Customer-Based Ratings Any Good?

Customer-based ratings are what you see on websites like TripAdvisor and These are internet-only ratings and are incredibly subjective. 

For instance, two people staying at the same hotel, at the same time, in similar rooms, can have entirely different experiences, resulting in polar opposite ratings. 

Therefore, customer-based ratings are worth checking out to get a general idea of the hotel, but should never be the deciding factor.

What About the Rest of the World?

To complicate the matter a little further, before we clarify it, you’ll notice that the star-system varies as you travel the rest of the world. 

They are, however, trying to simplify things. Therefore, if traveling through Europe and in need of a baseline, check out Hotelstars Union, created in 2009, which collectively rates hotels and restaurants across 17 European countries, bringing about a sense of consistency to the proceedings.

As a result, the gist of the situation is that hotel standards based on star ratings differ from continent to continent and country to country. Therefore, to successfully book the right hotel, you need to have a general idea about the ratings and then perform due diligence before your final selection.  

Southeast Asian Hotel Star Rating Explained

It’s crucial to set straight a widespread misconception before we explain the characteristics of different hotel types. 

Travelers should make note that a one-star doesn’t automatically mean that a hotel is not good. All it states is that the lower-rated hotel lacks certain features. These facilities can range from room size to not having a swimming pool or only one on-property dining option. 

With that in mind, you can now select the right hotel for yourself in Southeast Asia, based on the following criteria;

⭐️One Star  There are times during business trips when all you do at the hotel is sleep at night. A single-star hotel is ideal for such occasions as the rooms are very basic, having at most a bed and a side table. Bathrooms are often shared, and there is no room service. You’ll find one-star hotels near airports and train stations in Southeast Asia or else in tourist hubs, where they serve as a budget stay option.   

⭐️⭐️Two Stars – A room in a two-star hotel is similar to that of a one-star with the possible exception of having an en-suite toilet with shower, TV, and minimal furniture. The hotel might also have daily housekeeping, a designated reception area, and on a rare occasion, an on-site café.  

⭐️⭐️⭐️Three Stars – There is an explosion of choice as soon as you move up to a three-star hotel. A business traveler can select between a standard or deluxe room and indulge in services such as a business center, conference halls, and fitness center. In Southeast Asia, three-star hotels usually do not have a pool, except for some boutique properties. The rooms tend to be larger, furnished better and have modern-day appliances one needs to stay comfortable.  

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Four Stars – Popular amongst the business travel community, a four-star hotel promises luxury with minimal limitations. In Southeast Asia, you can expect your rooms to be clean, large, and well-furnished. 24-hour room service, minibar, coffee and tea makers, en-suite bathrooms, and flatscreen TVs are also standard. The only real difference between a four and five-star hotel is that the former might not have a swimming pool, only one restaurant, or occupies a less extensive property area.   

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Five Stars – The ultimate luxury accommodation, a five-star hotel, will have an impressive lobby, an army of staff, a swimming pool, multiple dining possibilities, spa and gym facilities, and all-round immaculate service. Rooms are no different, with technologically advanced features, including Smart TVs, iPod docks, multi-device charging points, and fast internet access. Moreover, they have en-suite bathrooms with bathtubs, complimentary bath amenities, and bonuses such as pillow menus and in-room dining services like breakfast in bed.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Six Stars and Above  Officially, there are no six or seven-star hotels. The “term” is typically used as a marketing gimmick to denote a place that exceeds conventional five-star practices. So, anticipate a six-star hotel to be extravagant in every aspect, be it personalized butler service, lavishly decorated rooms, or extras such as private plunge pools, albeit at an equally astronomical price.

In the end, choosing the right hotel for your business trip to Southeast Asia doesn’t have to be a worrisome job. It does involve spending a little time reading customer reviews, checking on room features, and the hotel’s location before booking.

However, an effortless way around this research is to include hotel preferences in your company’s business travel solution system. SoldoutNight will not only pick the best hotels available wherever you travel, but will also keep a watch on the room rates, so you end up with the cheapest deal possible.