The hotel classification system

In the year 2000 the hotel classification system was established in Iceland, giving all lodging facilities in Iceland the opportunity to be classified. The star rating system has, without a doubt, been an important factor in building up quality tourism in Iceland – not only in reference to hotels and guesthouses, but the domestic travel industry as a whole. The classification is voluntary and is in the charge of The Icelandic Tourist Board. Look for the blue-red sign placed near the entrance which indicates the present classification of the facility.

The Nordic-Baltic Classification

The classification in Iceland is based on the Danish system from HORESTA that was established in 1997.  The Danish system is also the blueprint for similar systems in Greenland, The Faroe Island, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The countries involved have formed cooperation under the name Nordic-Baltic Classification.

The criteria

The criteria is divided into five categories, i.e. 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 stars. It is by no means an all-embracing assessment of the quality of the accommodation in question, the classification is solely based on factors which can be objectively measured, regarding offered service, public areas and the interior of the rooms. The grading consists of more than a 120 different items which are verified at least once every year to ensure that the hotels consistently meet the requirements of their current classification. The criteria is subject to annual review to ensure that it reflects the market's development and customers' requirements.

Examples of requirements for star rating:

One star:

All rooms are equipped with a washbasin and there is at least one bathroom for every 10 rooms. Breakfast is available; there is access to a public telephone, and a round-the-clock admittance.  

Two stars:

In addition to the one star facilities, there is a telephone booth or a public telephone where guests can speak in privacy, a bar service counter offering light refreshments, as well as a dining room where breakfast is served. The rooms may be equipped with a private bathroom, but this is not a condition.

Three stars:

In addition to the above, all rooms are equipped with a private bathroom, television and radio. There is a service counter open throughout the day with light drinks and small items for sale. A computer is accessible for guests in the reception area and the hotel is staffed during daytime. There is a lift in the building, if guest rooms are on three or more levels above the reception. Size of rooms: Double rooms at least 17m2 and single at least 14m2.

Four stars:

In addition to the classes above: TV with remote control, international channels and a movie or video channel. 24 hrs room-service with light refreshments or a minibar, and an “a la carte” restaurant in the hotel or within 200 m radius from the hotel. Internet connection in every room. Lift in the building, if the guest rooms are on two or more levels above the reception. Furnishing must meet certain comfort requirements and the standard of cleanliness is exceptionally high. Size of rooms: Double at least 20m2 and single at least 16m2.

Five stars:

In addition, the interior decor of rooms as well as general areas are luxuriously furnished. Secretariel service available. There are safe compartments in every room, bath ropes for each bedside and a turndown service. Room service with meals can be ordered until 23:00. There is an indoor swimming pool and/or exercise facilities with professional staff. Suites. Size of rooms: Double rooms at least 26m2 and single at least 18m2. 

What the criteria doesn’t involve

The classification is based on factors which can objectively be measured. Nevertheless there are other important factors to be valued when marketing lodging facilities, and which the criteria doesn’t involve, such as: 

• View and/or surroundings
• Friendly atmosphere
• Special architecture
• Walking paths in the neighbourhood
• Service in the vicinity
• Location
• Access for travelers with disabilities
• Playground for children

The Classification Committee

The Icelandic Tourist Board is in charge of the classification system in Iceland and is responsible for the overall operation. It is backed up by a classification committee of 6 representatives, three designated by the ITB (Icelandic Tourist Board) and three from SAF (The Icelandic Travel Industry Association).

Elías Bj. Gíslason, ITB, Dir. of Information and Development ITB (Chairman)
Pétur Rafnsson ITB, Chairman The Icelandic Tourism Association
Sigrún Magnúsdóttir, ITB, The Education and Training Service Centre
Kristófer Oliversson, SAF, GM, Center Hotels in Iceland
Áslaug Alfreðsdóttir, SAF, GM, Hotel Isafjordur
Diljá Gunnarsdóttir, SAF, Iceland Incentives Inc.

The function of the committee:
• To maintain the criteria and follow up on hotel market development and international quality standards.
• To authorize exceptions from the regulation, if the grounds are clear and relevant arguments are found valid.
• To solve any problems or disagreements which may arise.

The Classification committee:
Icelandic Tourist Board
Strandgata 29
600 Akureyri
Iceland
elias@icetourist.is

Hotel inspector:
Alda Þrastardóttir, project manager.
The Icelandic Tourist Board
Strandgata 29
600 Akureyri
Tel: + 354 464 9990
Fax: + 354 464 9991
alda@icetourist.is