Star ratings in hotels have long been an essential and easy rubric for customers to assess the quality of hotels. Frequent patrons at five star hotels often find that not all are created or operated equally with some lux hotels boasting outrageously expensive and outlandish finishes such as a gold plated Ox statue at the Longxi International hotel in China while others up the ante for service levels by offering "couples" massages where the partner is the guest's pet.
The foregoing is often true for hotels with fewer stars which, predictably, garner less attention. Guests often find that fewer stars do not necessarily mean fewer amenities with many offering give aways such as free wine and Tees on their facebook or twitter campaigns. However, a new survey by Expedia affiliate, Cheaphotels.org has found that budget hotel quality is a function of its locale.
The report from the "leading provider of budget accommodations worldwide, evaluated budget hotels of the 25 biggest cities in the United States on their overall quality" and found that Washington D.C. topped the list with 60% of the capital city's hotels in the budget category receiving a positive rating. The company based its ranking on feedback from hotel customers who rated 2 and 2.5 star hotels over the past year. Los Angeles ended up at the bottom of the stack at number 25 but not far from the pit lay the nation's two leading cities for room rates, New York and San Francisco at 22 and 23 with an anemic 39 and 34 percent of respondents going for the +ve button for the two cities .
Cheaphotels offered no analysis for the fairly strong divergence, based on location, in positive ratings within the budget hotel class. That has prompted some speculation on why the nation's capital topped the charts. In the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis of September 2008, Washington DC's hotels were full with rates briefly topping the nation's leading hotel city, New York prompting some to remark on the, premature as it turned out, shifting of economic capital to the seat of government.
An op-ed in Digital Journal plausibly suggests that "there is a greater demand for affordable rooms. It is a hub of political activity, drawing great numbers of average Americans throughout the year for the purpose of participating in the political proces." However, a greater demand need not translate into greater quality. The more likely reason for the lower levels of satisfaction for New York and San Francisco is that they have higher, sometimes significantly, rates.
A search for New Year's eve rates on Cheaphotels for the three cities shows San Francisco's rates, on average, at nearly double while New York comes in at triple those of Washington DC. Sticker shock can and often does lead to dissatisfaction. Overlooked is the fact that fares are necessarily higher than those of the rest of the country owing to the significantly higher acquistion and operating costs in the Big Apple and The Golden Gate City.