This article is a travel topic
There is a virtual jungle of rating systems in the world and it is impossible or difficult as a wikitraveller to know what you get for your money. For example, the status of the rating organization may be unclear, the ratings vague or non-descriptive, etc.
The original star ratings were in the Michelin Guides for restaurants. There were only three levels:
Later, the ratings were applied to hotels as well as restaurants, and the number of levels increased.
Marketing requirements tend to dilute the terms. The Mobil Travel Guide, which covers all of North America (US, Canada & Mexico), awarded the Five Star rating to only 32 hotels in 2006, but that does not prevent dozens of hotels from claiming to be "five star". Most are more like Mobil's definition  of three star "Well-appointed establishment, with full services and amenities" or four star "Outstanding-worth a special trip".
Although every effort has been made to rate hospitality services (hotels, resorts, etc.) and, recently, restaurants, very few systems exist for rating other travel organizations and specialists like agencies, tour operators, transportation service providers and a few other categories.
The only system for rating travel organizations is currently based on tourist-supplied reviews, which can often be biased or subjected to manipulation. Travel rating system that is impartial, contains no marketing affiliations, uses well-constructed algorithms, paired with customer reviews can certainly make travel industry more efficient, caring and responsible.
TripCook’s Travel Specialist Ratings use three main categories to assess a travel company: online indicators, offline indicators and third party (customer) reviews. Offline indicators include corporate information, valid contact details, and membership in national or international travel associations, insurance coverage, years of experience and others. Third party opinions include any reviews and comments from independent sources that can be found online or in offline printed materials.
Establishments in South Africa may choose to have themselves graded by the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa on a 5 star basis. Many establishments make use of this service and you will see the star grading displayed on most advertising material.
The national accommodation rating service is Canada Select, http://www.canadaselect.com. This industry-based organizations bases ratings on periodic inspection of facilities, and only takes service into account at the higher star levels.
Properties are evaluated for physical quality, content of facilities, services and amenities provided. All properties, regardless of their star level, must also meet stringent cleanliness and state of repair guidelines.
Each category and star level has distinct criteria which must be achieved.
A star rating from (1 to 5, in ½ star increments), is awarded based on the results of the evaluation. Each star level reflects specific consumer expectations.
A one star rating reflects that a property is clean and comfortable and has met or exceeded nationally accepted criteria in the areas of facilities, services, amenities and quality of the accommodation. Additional stars are awarded depending on the extent of facilities, services, amenities and quality of accommodations.
Where the quality of facilities is superior, a property may be awarded a half-star above its criteria rating, i.e. a two star property may warrant a 2½ star rating, depending on the overall quality assessment.
The following are the star rating descriptions:
Support for the Canada Select program has been dropping. As of January 1, 2012, the Canada Select accommodations rating program in Yukon will no longer be in service. Beginning January 2012, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario will begin implementing a new program called the Canada Star Quality Accommodation (CSQA) rating program. This will effectively end the Canada Select program in Western Canada. The Province of Newfoundland & Labrador legislates the use of the Canada Select star rating service as a component of the qualification for a Fixed-roof Tourist Accommodation License.
The three biggest organizations for rating are VisitBritain, Automobile Association (AA) and Royal Automobile Club (RAC). They cooperate when it comes to rating which makes it easier for the wikitraveller.
 One star
Practical and acceptable accommodation. A limited range of services and facilities. High standard of cleanliness. 75 % of all bedrooms have their bathrooms and toilets en-suite or private. The staff is friendly and helpful and help you with what you might need for your stay. Breakfast restaurant open to you and your guests. Alcohol may be served in a separate bar or lounge but the selection is limited.
 Two stars
A two star hotel offers a personal service and extra facilities. The bedrooms are generally more comfortable with colour television and en-suite bathrooms. The hotel has a restaurant open for breakfast seven days a week and for dinner at least five days a week. The food is of a slightly higher standard.
 Three stars
The three star hotel offers very good accommodation with spacious public areas. The bedrooms are comfortable and offer a higher range of facilities and services. The hotel is more formal with a reception. Light lunch, snacks and a wide selection of drinks are served in a high-quality bar or lounge. The hotel offers room service (continental breakfast only). There is also a laundry service.
 Four stars
Excellent comfort and quality accommodation. All bedrooms have en-suite bathrooms, an overhead shower and WC. The public areas are very spacious and the establishment has a strong focus on food and drink. The staff is experienced and the service is very good. The room service servers all meals 24/7, including drinks and snacks.
 Five stars
Luxury accommodation, spacious and exceptional quality. The facilities and services are extensive and the cuisine is of the highest international quality. The staff is highly professional and attentive. The comfort is superb and the hotel has a sophisticated atmosphere.
 Guest accommodation
The diamond symbol is used by the RAC.
 One diamond
An acceptable overall level of quality. As minimum, a cooked or continental breakfast is offered. If other meals are on offer, they will be freshly prepared.
 Two diamonds
The level of overall quality and comfort is higher and the establishment has a higher emphasis on guest care.
 Three diamonds
The overall quality is very good. The bedrooms are comfortable and well maintained. There is a good choice of quality items for breakfast, all-round comfort and guest care.
 Four diamonds
The overall quality is excellent, which also shows when it comes to customer care and attention to detail.
 Five diamonds
The overall level of quality is truly exceptional, for example high-quality interior design and furniture. The customer care meets your every need.
 One star
The overall level of quality is acceptable. There is an adequate provision of your needs regarding furniture, furnishings and fittings.
 Two stars
All units are self-contained and the quality level is good.
 Three stars
The standard of maintenance and decoration is very good, and so is the overall level of quality. There is ample space and quality furniture. All beds are double with access from both sides. Microwave oven.
 Four stars
The level of quality is excellent, and there is no access to washing machine and a dryer, the establishment provides a 24/7 laundry service.
 Five stars
The overall level of quality is exceptional and so is the interior, fittings and fixtures, often with a personal touch. The management is highly efficient and customer care is paramount. There is an excellent range of accessories.
 Restaurant with rooms
This category includes restaurants, bistros and brasseries. Establishments included will:
 Branded hotels
Many well known hotel companies have their own consistent style of service and quality to such an extent that the chain name is a guarantee for high quality.
 VisitBritain Silver & Gold Award
The VisitBritain Silver & Gold Awards are awarded to establishments with the highest levels of quality within their rating. The overall rating is based on a combination of the range of facilities, the level of the offered services and the general quality, the gold and silver awards focuses solely on the quality aspect.
 See also