Quality Awards and Schemes for Self Catering Accommodation

Rating Schemes within the UK & Ireland

When searching for self catering accommodation in the UK please be aware that there is a national accreditation scheme that properties can opt to be included in although there is no obligation for them to do so.  Each country within the UK has its own organisation which runs the scheme: Visit England, Visit Scotland and Visit Wales all run their own schemes but these are all essentially based on very similar criteria and come under the umbrella of the Visit Britain national scheme.  Ireland has its own accreditation system.  The Irish scheme is known as Failte Ireland and is a little different in that the maximum award under the Irish system is 4 stars whereas in England, Wales and Scotland the highest award is 5 stars.  Common to all of these is an annual inspection process and subscription fee.   Looking for star ratings can be a useful indication of quality.  However, do remember though that there is plenty of good quality accommodation on offer from owners who do not opt to be included in a scheme due to the annual inspection process and costs involved.  Different schemes operate in other European countries.

Within the UK, properties that do opt for the national accreditation scheme are in due course awarded a 1 star, 2 star, 3 star, 4 star or 5 star rating if they meet the requirements set out in the scheme.  These star ratings can be considered as an indication of the quality of the accommodation.  The higher the star, the higher the grading or rating of a property, so the higher the standard is deemed to be. 

When searching for holiday accommodation, many people do search only for those that have achieved a certain rating under the Visit Britain scheme.  This is because they want to be assured that the property is of a certain standard before making a booking.   Booking a star rated property can be a useful guide in terms of assuring you of the quality of accommodation on offer but is not always the whole picture.

Do remember though that some self catering properties opt not to be assessed for their own reasons.  It is still possible to find high quality accommodation that has not been rated.

The Rise of Customer Feedback and Online Ratings

Although one indication of quality, star ratings are not the only guide.  Nowadays, lots of individuals rely on feedback and ratings from other people who have stayed at a property when choosing where to holiday.  Such feedback is readily available online.  This is not quite the same as getting a personal recommendation but is considered by many when looking at which accommodation to book for their holiday.  Booking a holiday can be a big decision and expectations can be high which means that it is important to do your research and gather all the information you can before making your choice.  Feedback and user ratings should always be considered with a little pinch of salt.  Although companies are not supposed to get their friends or other organisations to post positive feedback and although the larger review sites do take extensive steps to avoid false reviews, it is a very hard area to police and you have no guarantee that all reviews are genuine.  Where there are a sufficient number of reviews though, you can always read through and pick up on any patterns and useful information contained within them.

Accreditation Schemes Overseas:

When it comes to Europe remember that there is no single scheme of assessment or star rating system.  Most countries will have their own specific rating scheme which should ordinarily involve an annual inspection process, a fee and the awarding of a rating where properties meet the required standard.  As mentioned above, star ratings are part of the picture but you also have other information at your fingertips nowadays like traveller reviews.

How star ratings are displayed on this website:
5 star rated 4 star rated 3 star rated 2 star rated 1 star rated

On this website you will notice that certain properties display 5 star, 4 star, 3 star, 2 star, 1 star or indeed no rating at all.  Where a star rating is given this information has been entered by the owner or agency advertising their accommodation and is their self declaration that they have been awarded a certain level of rating by the relevant national scheme.  With Sykes cottages this agency has their own assessment tick scheme where properties are awarded 1 to 5 ticks.  These ticks are displayed on our site as star ratings.

5 star awards are the highest awards (except for Ireland where 4 stars is the highest accolade), whereas 1 star is the lowest quality award.  It is also possible to enter for owners to put their cottage accommodation forward for Gold Awards or Silver Awards which are awarded to recognise outstanding achievement in certain areas.  Those who value eco-friendly credentials may also opt to go for a Green Award.