Most travelers are conversant with the rules of classification and ratings for hotels. Ratings have long been the preserve of Mobil with its stars and AAA with its diamonds. Traditional classification within the industry takes a broad brush division of hotels into Luxury, Mid-scale and Economy. Of course a whole host of names have been added to the list resulting in a more nuanced classification system that varies by country and regions. Within the industry there is an on-off debate on whether a uniform system of classification should be used – that has as much validity and rationale as a need for a worldwide currency.
Travelers headed to different locales expect diversity albeit and have historically been quite adept at discerning the difference between a genuine five star hotel and a pretender. With the addition of numerous customer driven reviews available on the worldwide web, a hostelry that makes tall claims is usually cut down fairly quickly and mercilessly. To be sure the presence of a recognizable marque such as Sheraton or Hilton reassures customers around the globe but it is when guests visit lesser branded hotels in remote locations, there are still unwelcome surprises and that’s when locally generated classifications are helpful. However, major brands like Starwood and Accor seem determined to obviate the need for that with their push in a variety of hot new hotel markets like China and India.
In the end, few purveyors of classification are as eclectic in their choice of monikers as The Economist. The newspaper classifies hotels as “Decadent” and “Stylish”! The first could not convey more aptly the hotels they include under that heading. Among the occupants of the list is the Alvear Palace in Buenos Aires. While words such as opulent and stiff and old-fashioned are used to describe the hotel, it is also accompanied by others such as impeccable and top-notch. And the latter is what it is about as any occupant of that regal edifice of BA always comes away feeling like royalty.