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Difference Between 4 and 5 Star Hotel or Serviced Apartment

Table of Contents

Five star luxury – we’re all familiar with the term, but what does it really mean? Is there really a big difference between 4 and 5 star hotels? And, what do hotel star ratings even mean? At Sanctum, we’re here to help.

Hotel Ratings at a Glance

  • There’s no worldwide standard for ratings, so be sure to check reputable sites to find true four- and five-star accommodation.
  • The AA, Visit Britain, Visit Scotland, and Visit Wales all provide trustworthy ratings for UK-based hotels and serviced apartments.
  • If you are just looking for a good place to use as a base during your holiday, four stars is usually enough. That extra star is all about luxury.
  • Hotels aren’t the only five-star accommodation available – consider serviced apartments for more space and cost-effective longer stays.

Looking for spacious 5* serviced apartments in London?

Book with Sanctum today

Understanding Hotel Star Ratings

Everyone understands that the more stars a hotel has, the better it is, but what do hotel ratings actually represent?

The truth is, there is no worldwide standard for hotel ratings. In many countries, the US for example, there is no overseeing body whatsoever, which leads hotels to describe themselves as four- or five-star when really they’re quite lacking in services and amenities. Some even go the extra mile and declare that they provide seven-star luxury, but really, that’s not a thing. It’s a bit like saying you’ve put in 110% effort – it sounds impressive even though doesn’t actually mean anything.

Star ratings are reviews, just like those we use every day on the internet to judge whether something is worth buying, watching, or listening to. This is why sites such as Trip Advisor or Expedia can provide a good guide – although their star rating isn’t ‘official’, it represents a fairly accurate of what you can expect when you turn up to your accommodation.

As a general rule, here’s what you can expect in hotels and serviced apartments that are rated from one to five stars.

  • 1 star – A one-star rated accommodation is very simple. Very little in the room beside a bed, and typically a shared bathroom. No extra services.
  • 2 star – A basic room with few amenities, such as a television. Potentially en-suite facilities, but expect a shared bathroom. Breakfast may be available.
  • 3 star – Many standard hotels and many chains are 3-star. Clean, serviceable rooms with TV and en-suite. Breakfast typically available.
  • 4 star – Four-star accommodation is good quality. Hotels will typically have additional services, such as a gym and swimming pool, business suites, and on-site restaurant services.
  • 5 star – Luxury accommodation. A five-star venue will have everything four-star accommodation offers but to a much higher standard. Multiple room and suite options will be available, as well as a range of services such as different restaurants, top-quality spa facilities and more.

In the UK, the star rating does have some oversight. Hotel assessments are undertaken by the AA (the respected UK Automobile Association), Visit Britain, Visit Scotland, and Visit Wales (the national tourist boards). Official ratings provided by these organisations can be trusted and provide a good means for discovering true five-star luxury.

What Constitutes a 4* and 5* Hotel or Serviced Apartment?

The difference between four- and five-star accommodation is considerable. Where four stars indicates a top quality hotel or serviced apartment, the distinction of a true fifth star comes with a sense of something special.

The Luxury Details

A four-star hotel caters to everything you need, providing a top-class place to stay for your work or leisure reasons. In comparison, a five-star location gives you everything you want. The difference is in luxury.

A four-star hotel will be clean, but a five-star hotel will be gleaming.

Quality of Service

In both, staff will be courteous and accommodating, but five-star service means they will know your name and anticipate your desires.

Building Interior and Exterior

The building of a four-star hotel will be grand, but a five-star location will impress. Both the grounds and architecture will have something unique, making a day exploring the environs a relaxed and enjoyable occasion.


Restaurant facilities in a four-star stay will be delightful, but those in a five-star hotel will be gourmet and varied. It is not unusual to find multiple luxury restaurants within a single five-star location, each boasting Michelin star quality dining.


The same is true with spas, health, and fitness facilities. A four-star hotel will have a decent gym and swimming pool, but five stars mean a renowned quality pampering environment.

In almost all cases, four-star accommodation is perfectly satisfactory, but stay in a five-star location, and your experience will be sublime.

The Value of a Five-Star Experience

That fifth star can come with a significant additional cost, so is staying in five-star accommodation worthwhile?

In truth, if you don’t plan to spend much time in the hotel using its facilities, then a four-star hotel is going to offer many of the comforts of it’s five-star rivals. Four-star accommodation is clean and comfortable, provides good dining options, and has extra facilities if you find that you have a few hours to use.

It is during those holidays when you plan to spend a reasonable amount of time in the hotel that five-stars become appreciated. Knowing that your every desire is catered for, that your visit to the spa will be exquisite, and that your dinner will be sumptuous make staying in quality luxury accommodation rewarding. Fresh flowers in the bedroom, engaging art in the corridors, and the feeling of respectful privacy – these are the small things that make five-stars everything you dreamed of.

Five-Star Serviced Apartments

Hotels aren’t the only five-star option available for a stay, especially when looking at longer term accommodation. Five-star services apartments are designed with the same regard for luxury and attention to detail as their hotel counterparts, providing a similar quality experience with the larger space and additional autonomy of a dedicated apartment.

At Sanctum, we understand the extra touches that make a true five-star experience and ensure that our service and amenities are held to the same high-class standard. With high quality services such as a dedicated 24-hour concierge, premium housekeeping, and rapid laundry, our serviced apartments provide that quality feel that five-star guests deserve.

Plus, with apartments in some of the most desirable areas of North London, a Sanctum stay is guaranteed to delight in every way.

Why not book your London stay with Sanctum to discover what spacious five-star luxury feels like?

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