On 1 January 2015, the mandatory hotel star classification in the Netherlands has been abolished. It has been replaced by new European star classification regulations for hotels that came into force on 1 January 2017.
Under the patronage of HOTREC, an umbrella association of national trade associations representing hotels and catering companies in Europe, the Hotelstars Union has been created with the aim of a harmonising hotel classification with common criteria and procedures. The harmonised criteria are reflected in the European Hotel Classification (the "EHC"). In the Netherlands, awarding stars to hotels has been delegated to Hotelsterren. Hotelsterren applies the EHC criteria as of 1 January 2017.
The EHC is deemed to constitute a better and fairer classification system than the old system. Within the EHC it is possible to receive a "superior" qualification in addition to the number of stars, allowing a hotel to distinguish itself within its star category by providing additional facilities. The EHC also offers more flexibility within various levels than the previous system by allowing certain features that may not justify a certain classification to be compensated by others that do.
Lodging businesses and hotels can voluntarily apply for a star classification on the website of Hotelsterren. An expert will then visit and assess the hotel on the basis of the EHC criteria. Key criteria for any star classification include hotel hygiene, daily room cleaning, sanitary facilities and a 24 hours reception service. If the hotel complies, it shall receive a star shield as a quality label which should be placed at the entrance of the hotel. The hotel shall be inspected every four years to ensure that it still complies with the criteria. Interim visits shall be made if a hotel wishes to switch to a higher star classification or if there are complaints and negative reviews from guests or patrons.
To participate in the star classification system, hotels are required to pay a fee. The amount is determined annually and is based on the number of beds the hotel has and on whether the hotel is a member of Koninklijke Horeca Nederland.
Using or advertising a star classification that has not been granted or using or advertising a different classification from the one granted, is likely to constitute an unfair trade practice or a misleading advertisement and may lead to liability or administrative penalties.
According to Hotelsterren, more than 1,250 hotels have already applied for a star classification and the number is increasing daily.