Joe McClain - Jun 27, 2023
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Many tourists visiting France are curious about the country's classification system, which is unique and distinct from other countries. Is a palace category necessarily a 5-star hotel? What is the difference between these two categories?

It's important to note that a new system for awarding stars in hotel classification took effect on April 1, replacing the previous one from 2009. The updated system, which includes 243 criteria, places increased emphasis on sustainable development, with 12 mandatory criteria rather than the current 3, and also considers new developments in the hotel industry.

In France, a law from June 7, 1937, requires hotels to undergo a classification process based on their star rating. This process includes inspections for hotels with one to three stars and a mystery visit for those with four and five stars. The aim is to promote the best of the French hotel industry. However, sometimes the criteria used for these classifications are surprising. For a 3-star hotel, a clean and well-maintained exterior is necessary. Even a 1-star hotel can provide extra pillows and blankets upon request. However, if you need to remember your hair dryer, expect one once you reach a 3-star hotel where brushing amenities are available.

The Palace Award, given only to 5-star hotels

You must book a higher category room to receive breakfast service in your room and individual ironing facilities. If you need a toothbrush or toothpaste, you can obtain them from a 5-star hotel where a hygiene kit is provided. The same applies to bathrobes. However, you can complain if you have nowhere to hang your coat. A wardrobe with at least six hangers should be available from the first star.

The Palace Award is only given to 5-star establishments with exceptional features, such as location, history, aesthetics, and cultural significance. They must also provide personalized services to be eligible for the award.

The Palace designation is an esteemed recognition the Minister of Tourism Commission granted for five years. Only 31 hotels have been awarded this distinction in France, with 12 located in Paris, 6 in the Alps, 9 on the Côte d'Azur and the southeast, three in the southwest, and one in the Caribbean, specifically the Cheval Blanc in Saint Barthélemy. The objective of this exceptional French recognition is to promote these hotels globally, given the increasing competition. Moreover, it should contribute to propagating French culture and France’s allure as a tourist destination. Not the hotels themselves aspire to the "palace" status.

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