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Abuse of hotel star ratings leave consumers frustrated

According to the German Association of Hotels and Guest Houses many hotel star ratings are often abused by establishments. The association receives daily complaints from consumers. Hotels in Germany which fraudulently advertise risk receiving injunctions.

Abuse of hotel star ratings leave consumers frustrated ©-Thomas-Jansa-Fotolia
Abuse of hotel star ratings leave consumers frustrated ©-Thomas-Jansa-Fotolia

Hotel star ratings

Guest houses and hotels in Germany are awarded star ratings by the German Association of Hotels and Guest House (DEHOGA) after passing a standardised and neutral classification procedure.

The association recently announced that it receives daily complaints from consumers about hotels which advertise with star ratings, having never been awarded them in the DEHOGA classification procedure.

Germany’s Unfair Competition Agency is well aware of the problem and recently sought injunctions against a number of hotel establishments which falsely advertised a star rating.

The court in Berlin found that the behaviour breached German competition law and ordered the hotel operators to stop using the star rating in their advertising.

Misleading advertising

Hotels in Germany which falsely advertise a star rating in this way mislead consumers into thinking that the rating has been officially awarded in accordance with the DEHOGA standardised certification procedure.

Hotel operators should therefore clearly indicate whether their star rating is based on a different procedure.

If hotel operators fail to mention this difference, they breach German competition law by misleading consumers (see German Unfair Competition Act §§ 5(1), 3(1); and 3(3) taken together with paragraph 2 of the appendix).

Public warnings

Germany’s radio broadcaster, Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk, reported on the misleading practice of false star rating advertising in a contribution from 20.08.2013 entitled “The hotel star ratings lie: How hotels embellish themselves with false feathers”.


The misleading practice also concerns those hotels which chose to forego a reclassification after the three year validity of the star rating has ceased.

During this period, the conditions at the hotel could have deteriorated, or the classification could have been restructured. In this case the hotel is no longer entitled to purport to possess the relevant classification.


To avoid false hotel star ratings, be sure to check that the award comes from DEHOGA. If not, we would advise, you ask the hotel operator for the source of the rating and that you research it thoroughly to ensure it is reputable.