To make your holiday decisions easier, choose accommodation from the national assessment schemes. VisitBritain and The AA operate a star grading scheme which shows you what facilities to expect at a property. So that you can plan your visit with confidence, we have prepared a summary of the grading schemes for accommodation, as well as those for attractions and restaurants.
VisitBritain and the AA operate rating schemes for accommodation, using Stars to represent Hotels, Guest Accommodation and Self Catering Accommodation. The ratings are a clear guide to what to expect, in an easy-to-understand form. Properties are visited annually by trained, impartial assessors.
Hotels - Star Ratings:
In a one Star Hotel you will find an acceptable level of quality, services and range of facilities. Moving up the one to five Star rating scale, you will find progressively higher quality standards providing better guest care as well as a wider range of facilities and a higher level of services.
The Star ratings (previously diamonds) for Guest Accommodation reflect visitor expectations of this sector. The quality of what is provided is more important to visitors than a wide range of facilities and services. Therefore, the same minimum requirements for facilities and services applies to all Guest Accommodation from one to five Stars, while progressively higher levels of quality and customer care must be provided for each of the one to five Star ratings.
Self-Catering Accommodation - Star Ratings:
Quite simply, the more Stars, the higher the overall level of quality you can expect to find. For instance, you'll find acceptable quality at one Star, good to very good quality at three Stars and exceptional quality at five Stars. Establishments at higher rating levels also have to meet some additional requirements for facilities.
Gold, Silver Awards and Red Stars:
Look out for VisitBritain's Gold and Silver Awards, which are awarded to those establishments achieving the highest level of quality within their rating.
AA Red Stars denote an establishment within the top 200 as graded by the AA.
The Pennant rating scheme is operated by the AA. Parks are classified on a 5 point scale according to their style and the range of facilities they offer. As the Pennant rating increases, so the quality and variety of facilities and amenities must be greater. The AA Pennant rating is only based on the touring pitches and the facilities at campsites and caravan parks. AA inspectors do not visit or report on rented static caravans or chalets.
The VisitBritain Star rating for Holiday, Caravan and Camping Parks uses Stars to reflect the overall quality of the park and the highest rating of five Stars is reserved for those parks of exceptional quality, which also provide specific key facilities and services.
Hostel Accommodation - Star Ratings:
Hostel Accommodation includes independently owned hostels, youth hostels, bunkhouses and camping barns.
Hostels are rated from one to five Stars. For eligibility hostels must meet a minimum entry requirement for both the provision and quality of facilities and services, including, fixtures, fittings, furnishings, décor and any other facilities. Progressively higher levels of quality and customer care are provided for each of the Star ratings. Quite simply the more Stars, the higher the overall level of quality you can expect to find.
Narrow Boats & Cruisers and Hotel Boats - Star Ratings:
Five grades of award reflect the range of quality standards and facilities provided by a craft, and they are indicated by a simple one to five Stars system. The rating is awarded after assessing a combination of facilities and the overall quality of accommodation - so the more Stars, the higher the overall level of quality and comfort you can expect to find.
National Accessibility Scheme
The National Accessibility Scheme for self-catering, holiday parks and serviced accommodation includes standards for hearing and visually impaired guests in addition to standards for guests with mobility impairment.
Accommodation that displays one of the signs below is committed to accessibility. When you see one of the symbols, you can be sure that the criteria has been thoroughly assessed against demanding criteria.
Many properties and establishments now cater directly for your interests or needs. Whether you are in a family group, a keen walker or cyclist, or want to bring your pet with you, there are places to stay in Norfolk which have earned the 'Welcome' awards - making them ideal for you:
Cyclists welcome. Establishments displaying a Cyclists Welcome symbol have made a commitment to offer specialist services to visiting cyclists, including safe storage areas, puncture repair kits, drying area for clothes and more.
Walkers Welcome. Establishments displaying a Welcome Walkers symbol have made a commitment to offer specialist services to visiting walkers, such as a drying area for muddy boots and wet clothes, boot scrapers and more.
Families Welcome. Establishments displaying a Families Welcome symbol have made a commitment to offer specialist services to visiting families. These can include providing nappy bins, storage space for pushchairs, cots and highchairs, baby listening facility, information on child friendly local walks, nearest doctor, and many more.
. Establishments displaying a Welcome Pets! symbol have made a commitment to offer specialist services to holidaymakers bringing pets. Nearly 2 million dog owners and 1 million cat owners in England take their pets on holiday. Services can include water and food bowls, waste bins / trays, pet washing facilities, info on dog friendly local walks, details of local vets and more.
AA Rosettes for Food
The AA awards annual rosettes on a rising scale of one to five for the quality of food served in restaurants and hotel restaurants. Only those offering the highest international standards of cuisine and service will merit the AA's top awards of four or five rosettes
5 Rosettes - Supreme accolade. Superlative standards of cuisine at an international level. Menus may be innovative or classical.
4 Rosettes - Innovative cuisine, daring, highly accomplished and of a consistently high standard.
3 Rosettes - Only cooking of the highest national standard receives three or more rosettes. Imaginative menus, using first-class ingredients. Most items - breads, pastries, pasta, petits fours - will be made in the kitchens, but if any are bought in, the quality will be excellent.
2 Rosettes - Cooking that displays a high degree of competence on the part of the chef. Some imaginative dishes as well as tried and tested favourites.
1 Rosette - Simple, carefully prepared food based on good quality fresh ingredients. Sauces and desserts will be homemade and the cooking will equate to first class home cooking.
The Green Tourism Business Scheme is the national sustainable tourism certificate for the UK, and is validated by Visit Britain. Businesses are assessed by a qualified grading advisor against a rigorous set of criteria, covering a range of areas, like energy and water efficiency, waste management, biodiversity and more.
The David Bellamy Conservation Awards are given to parks that can demonstrate active policies for conservation and the environment, across all aspects of park management. Many are champions at protecting animal and plant habitats; have energy and recycling plans, as well as sharing their passion for conservation with visitors, through wildlife trails, activities and events, or interpretation centres.
EnjoyEngland Breakfast Award
EnjoyEngland's new Breakfast award recognises those hotels and B&Bs that offer their guests a quality and choice of breakfast, service and hospitality that exceeds what would be expected at their star rating. It will help visitors find those places where the owners, managers, chefs and staff have gone the extra mile to ensure the breakfast will exceed expectations.
Visitor Attraction Quality Assurance Scheme
When you are looking for a place to visit, you need to be able to choose with confidence. The VisitBritain "Visitor Attraction Quality Assurance Service" or VAQAS award offers you reassurance about the quality of the visitor's experience.
Participating attractions are visited annually by trained, impartial assessors. They look at all aspects of the visit, from customer service to catering, and all aspects of the "visitor experience", including interpretation and activities for visitors, giving you the confidence that the attraction has been thoroughly checked before you plan your visit.
Alastair Sawday's Special Places
Each accommodation property picked by Sawday's has been inspected by an informed, friendly team before being accepted into the collection.
Sawday's seeks interesting, quirky, beautiful properties and owners who give a genuine welcome. Special importance is placed on local and organic food, and on places and people that support their local economy.
Additional information on this classification scheme is available from Alastair Sawday