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How the AA rates B&Bs

How is a B&B assessed for stars?

The AA inspects and classifies over 1,900 B&Bs, guesthouses, farmhouses, inns and restaurants with rooms.

B&Bs rated under the Guest Accommodation Scheme, as it more formally known, are assessed under common quality standards agreed between the AA, VisitBritain, VisitScotland and VisitWales. AA recognised establishments pay an annual fee according to the classification and the number of bedrooms.

How does a B&B inspection take place?

B&Bs applying for AA recognition are visited by one of the AA’s qualified accommodation inspectors as a mystery guest. The inspections are a thorough test of the accommodation, food, and hospitality. The inspector completes a full report, resulting in a recommendation for the appropriate star rating. After this first visit, the B&B receives a regular visit to check that standards are maintained. If it changes owners, the new owners must re-apply for classification, as standards can change.

You can expect to find the following minimum standards at all levels:

  • Pleasant and helpful welcome and service, and sound standards of housekeeping and maintenance.
  • Comfortable accommodation equipped to modern standards.
  • Bedding and towels changed for each new guest, and at least weekly if the room is taken for a long stay.
  • Adequate storage, heating, lighting and comfortable seating.
  • A sufficient hot water supply at reasonable times.
  • A full cooked breakfast. (If this is not provided, the fact must be advertised and a substantial continental breakfast must be offered.)

When an AA inspector has visited a property, and evaluated all the aspects of the accommodation for comfort, facilities, attention to detail and presentation, you can be confident the star rating will help you make the right choice.

The star ratings

AA stars classify B&Bs at five levels of quality, from one at the simplest, to five offering the highest quality. In order to achieve a one-star rating, a B&B must meet certain minimum entry requirements. For example:

  • A cooked breakfast or substantial continental option is provided.
  • The proprietor and/or staff are available for your arrival, departure and at all meal times. Once registered, guests have access to the establishment at all times unless previously notified.
  • All areas of operation meet minimum quality requirements for cleanliness, maintenance and hospitality as well as facilities and the delivery of services.
  • A dining room or similar eating area is available unless meals are served in bedrooms.

To obtain a higher star rating, a B&B must provide increased quality standards across all areas, with particular emphasis in four key areas:

  • Cleanliness and housekeeping.
  • Hospitality and service.
  • Quality and condition of bedrooms, bathrooms and public rooms.
  • Food quality.
Three stars and above

There are particular requirements for a B&B to achieve three, four or five Stars, for example:

  • Access to both sides of all beds for double occupancy.
  • Bathrooms/shower rooms cannot be used by the proprietor.
  • There is a washbasin in every guest bedroom (either in the bedrooms or the en suite/private facility)

Four stars

  • Half of bedrooms must be en suite or have private facilities.

Five stars

  • All bedrooms must be en suite or have private facilities
Gold stars

AA gold stars are awarded to the very best B&Bs within the three, four, or five star ratings.

Silver star award

B&Bs with silver stars offer a superior level of quality within their star rating, high standards of hospitality, service and cleanliness.

Associate stars

These B&Bs have stars, but have been inspected and rated by VisitBritain, VisitScotland or VisitWales, and have joined the AA scheme on a marketing-only basis.

B&B types

The proprietors, in discussion with our inspectors, choose a description, know as a designator, which best describes their establishment. You can see these descriptions alongside the stars when you search for a B&B.

Bed & Breakfast: a private house run by the owner with accommodation for no more than six paying guests.

Guest House: run on a more commercial basis than a B&B, the accommodation provides for more than six paying guests and there are usually more services. For example staff as well as the owner may provide dinner.

Farmhouse: the B&B or guest house accommodation is part of a working farm or smallholding.

Inn: the accommodation is provided in a fully licensed establishment. The bar will be open to non-residents and can provide food in the evenings.

Restaurant with Rooms: this is a destination restaurant offering overnight accommodation, with dining being the main business, and open to non-residents. The restaurant should offer a high standard of food and restaurant service at least five nights a week. A liquor licence is necessary and there is a maximum of 12 bedrooms.

Guest Accommodation: any establishment that meets the minimum entry requirements is eligible for this general category.

Bed and breakfast awards

The AA also presents several awards within the scheme, including the Friendliest B&B of the Yearregional Guest Accommodation of the Year awards, presented to establishments in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, Unique B&B of the Year, and Restaurant with Rooms of the Year.