Star vs. Diamond

by  Stephanie Johnnidis | Feb 9, 2009
Gold stars
Gold stars / nil karaca/iStock

Hotels vie for their stars and diamonds. After all, these status symbols represent the best of the best accommodations in North America and are valued and respected by the travel community. And, although, a hotel’s number of stars or diamonds (5 being the ultimate grade) is one of the major descriptors we all take into account when looking for lodgings, most of us use the two interchangeably and aren’t quite sure what either really mean. So what’s the difference? Is one better than the other? Eh, not much. Not really. Here’s the story:

The Mobile Star rating vs. the AAA Diamond award

* Both lists represent the highest quality of service, atmosphere, and appearance.
* Both correspond to price; 5 star/5 diamond being the most expensive
* Both evaluate hotels incognito by anonymous overnights

* AAA’s Diamond inspection staff comprises some 60 travel editors, while Mobile’s Star uses a smaller staff for deciding on top-tier, potential 5-star contenders with a separate field staff that inspects lower-caliber, less-expensive properties
* Mobile’s Star has fewer rated hotels but does not evaluate as many as AAA’s Diamond
* Star and diamond ratings overlap but are not always synchronized so you could find a hotel awarded the Mobile Four Star and the AAA Five Diamond or vice versa
One key thing to remember: both rating systems apply to North America only. Pay absolutely no attention to star ratings awarded to European hotels. Stars do not distinguish quality. These stars are usually supplied by the local government and denote the hotel’s price range and/or tax obligation. That said, you could assume the higher the price, the higher the caliber – although, I wouldn’t recommend it. The best way to decide on a hotel abroad is to do your research.

Check out our European Hotel Reviews.

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