The star rating scheme is probably the most important way that customers choose a hotel or B&B. At a glance, a potential customer can understand that a one-star hotel will provide an informal, basic standard of accommodation while at a five-star hotel will provide more luxurious accommodation and a range of extra facilities. However, very few of us stop to think how this system of rating hotels came about.
Even before the inspection scheme began in 1912, good quality hotels had been recommended by the AA almost since its inception in 1905. In 1908, about 1,000 of the leading hotels in the UK worked with AA scouts to provide information for motorists on places to stay, which was then listed in the 1909 handbook. By 1912 it was felt that a more critical approach was necessary. The then AA Secretary, Stenson Cooke, had once been a wine and spirit salesman and felt that the star rating of brandy would be a familiar yardstick to apply to hotels. In his words, “a really decent, average, middle-class hotel” would merit the standard three stars.
The 1912 AA Handbook carried details of the new ratings and by the following edition the hotels listed carried the star ratings. In the 1913 AA Handbook there were around 1,375 hotels listed. Twenty of these hotels had five-star ratings and some are still members of the scheme today. Read a detailed timeline of our history.
The present day
More recently, in collaboration with VisitEngland, VisitScotland and VisitWales, the AA developed Common Quality Standards for inspecting and rating accommodation. Based on a rising scale of one to five stars, these standards and rating categories are now applied throughout the UK. The latest AA Hotel Guide contains over 2,000 establishments ranging from intimate, personally-run establishments to elegant country houses, fashionable boutique hotels, five-star hotels and over 700 budget hotels.
Over the past 100 years the hotel industry has seen many changes with the advent of budget hotel chains and trendy boutique hotels. There are still some favourites that remain in the guide after all these years and our team of inspectors continue to inspect and rate hotels throughout the length and breadth of the country.
Discover more about the latest guides: