Here at Travelzoo, we pride ourselves on being thorough in our research. That means presenting you with all the facts on why we think a deal has all the trimmings. You've probably seen a number of sources that we use, but might not know their significance. So, here's a little explanation of what exactly this information means:
Condé Nast Traveller's/Traveler's Gold List
We search both the British and American versions of this luxury publication to see if a particular 5-star hotel or resort has been listed. As chosen by the magazines' discerning readers (see next entry), the Gold List highlights the top luxury places to stay in the world, ranking them with scores out of 100, based on criteria such as rooms, service, food, location and design.
Readers' Travel Awards/Readers' Choice Awards
Another one from Condé Nast Traveller/Traveler, these awards are based on the results of a subscriber survey regarding airlines, hotels and destinations. The cream of the crop are then selected to appear in each magazine's Gold List a few months later.
First published in France in 1900, the Michelin Guide is a series of annual reference books published in more than a dozen countries, rating everything from travel and tourism to hotels and restaurants. "Very good cuisine in its category" earns one star; "excellent cuisine, worth a detour" earns two; and "exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey" gains the coveted three Michelin stars.
The UK tourist authorities (VisitBritain, VisitScotland and VisitWales) and the AA have a set of common standards by which properties are assessed. There are three broad categories: hotel (ranging from formal accommodation with full hotel service to a city property that provides everything but dinner); guest accommodation (includes B&Bs, guest houses, farmhouses, inns and restaurants with rooms); and self-catering. Star ratings range from one to five, with different criteria for each category.
For hotels to get a 4- or 5-star rating, this criteria includes a uniformed, multilingual staff greeting guests; a high-quality menu and wine list; a dining room open to residents and non-residents; and well-appointed public areas. For guest accommodation to receive a 4 or 5-star rating, the criteria includes high-quality furniture, personalised service, fresh ingredients and private bathrooms. For self-catering accommodation to get a 4- or 5-star rating, the criteria includes high-quality fixtures and fittings, a very good or excellent range of kitchen equipment and outstanding levels of comfort throughout the property.
Awarded by AA hotel and restaurant inspectors, Rosettes are given to approximately 10% of restaurants in the UK. One and two Rosettes are awarded at the time of inspection, for use of good quality ingredients. Three and four Rosettes are announced twice a year, but never at inspection. Criteria for these include "standards that demand recognition well beyond their local area", wine lists and "intense ambition". Five Rosettes are awarded once a year (never at inspection) to represent the best in the world.