Understanding how hotels are rated can help you find the best accommodation for you. In the US, they are rated from 1 to 5 stars, with Europe having one less. The higher the star, the better the accommodation., and knowing what they each offer can help you chose the one that is best for you and your budget.
1 star means that the rooms are small and typically owner operated. There are few, if any, amenities for you to have, and often these are slightly apart from entertainment districts. You should have affordable restaurants and entertainment close by.
2 star ratings are typically part of a chain, with smallish rooms. They offer few amenities like premium cable TV. You should expect to have a restaurant next door to these places.
For the 3 stars, you can expect to find these off of highways or in busy shopping or business areas. Rooms are large, and many include a free breakfast in the morning and room service at other times. Many also include a pool and fitness center for your benefit.
4 star accommodations have very large rooms with nice furniture. A lobby is included in these places, and they are generally right in the middle of an entertainment district, clustered with other hotels of the same quality. They can contain jacuzzi suites, concierge service and valet parking.
5 star is the best in the US, and these have all the amenities of the other types, but with more personalized service. They have the largest and most richly furnished rooms. Many include gourmet restaurants on suite and room service, and have state of the art fitness centers and often Olympic sized swimming pools.
There is no standardized formula for these ratings. In the US, many groups create their own criteria, and with many websites offering rooms they also have their own standards that are met. Europe is done by local government and it is not uncommon for a place to have different ratings within the same area because of this. It should be used as a guide to quality only, and you should use your own judgment to determine if they are suitable for you.
Deals can be found for hotels, and these ratings will come into play. Decide what you are willing to stay at before you begin to look to narrow your choices even more, and you can use this to help you save a lot of money on your room for your vacation.