Our story

Follow our history – we've led the way in quality ratings since 1908.

Rating and recommending accommodation since 1908

Recognising accommodation since 1908, AA Hotel Services first introduced the star rating scheme in 1912. For over a century we have inspected and rewarded establishments for the quality and range of their services and facilities.

Set and agreed with VisitEngland, VisitScotland, and VisitWales, we assess and rate under common quality standards. To ensure our ratings remain accurate, consistent, and reliable, our standards continually evolve to reflect industry changes, customer demand, and consumer expectations within the industry.

With our many years of experience and expertise, we have truly developed a wealth of industry knowledge. From training courses to mystery guest visits, we know that establishments can benefit greatly from this know-how.

As a result, in addition to our world-renowned hotel inspection, star, pennant, and Rosette rating schemes, we offer a comprehensive range of training and consultancy services.

Key events in our history

2020 – AA Hotel & Hospitality Services launches RatedTrips.com.

2017 – AA Hotel & Hospitality Services takes on the operation of the VisitEngland Quality Assessment Schemes.

2016 – The AA’s new Serviced Accommodation scheme is launched; the 50th edition of AA Hotel Guide; launch of the Hotel Breakfast Award, introduction of the AA Glamping scheme.

2008 – AA Hotel Services celebrates its 100th year.

2007 – The AA Hospitality Awards, previously a luncheon event, is hosted as a black tie evening event for the first time.

1997 – The AA leads the agreement to harmonise the AA, RAC and English Tourist Board rating schemes; up to this point, inspection and quality standards for hotel appointments had varied considerably.

1994 – AA Hotel Services launches a bespoke consultancy service for clients requiring special reports.

1992 – The AA Rosette scheme is revised as a 5-tier rating system; and the “Hotel of the Year” award is introduced, an annual ceremony that awards oustanding hotels.

1979 – The AA Campsite and AA Guest House of the Year Awards are launched. Also this year, AA Hotel Services gets its first contract with a hotel group to help raise industry standards.

1971 – The first edition of the AA Budget Guide is published, introduced to list the vast range of AA-appointed farmhouses, guest houses, small hotels and inns at the lower end of the price scale that aren’t covered in the AA Guide to Hotels and Restaurants.

1971 – The first edition of the AA Budget Guide is published, introduced to list the vast range of AA-appointed farmhouses, guest houses, small hotels and inns at the lower end of the price scale that aren’t covered in the AA Guide to Hotels and Restaurants.

1968 – A more discerning system, similar to hotel star ratings, is launched to classify camping and caravanning sites. 4 years are spent inspecting and rating AA-appointed sites, and in 1972 5-pennant ratings were introduced in that year’s AA Camping & Caravanning Guide.

1967 – Introduction of the AA restaurant inspection scheme.

1960 – The system of paying to be inspected and rated is introduced. This of course did not guarantee inclusion in the star-rating scheme – of the 826 hotels inspected for the AA Hotel scheme in that year, 408 were refused. Nevertheless, numbers continue to grow and by 1961 5,282 were appointed, having paid their annual fee of £2 2s for an inspection.

1956 – The AA starts to produce listings of camping and caravanning sites.

1955 – Rosettes are introduced in the 1956 AA handbook, a subjective award system reflecting the emergence of British hotel cooking after 15 years of rationing. A 3-tier system was used: 1 Rosette indicated a “hotel or restaurant where the cuisine is considered to be of a higher standard than is expected in an establishment within its classification”; 2 Rosettes indicated a hotel or restaurant “offering very much above the average food irrespective of classification”; and 3 Rosettes indicated a hotel or restaurant “offering outstanding food, irrespective of classification”.

1927 – Some 15 years after introducing the star rating scheme, the AA is rating and inspecting over 2,300 establishments in England, Scotland and Wales.

1912 – The AA Secretary, Stenson Cooke, adopts the star rating system used for rating brandy to classify hotels with the middle-ranking 3-star classification used as the standard. Right from the start, the important principle was established that the inspector always paid for themselves and accepted no favours.

1909 – Listings of appointed hotels appears in the 1909 handbook. At this stage hotels were only required to provide lunch and overnight accommodation and to show a bulletin board.

1908 – Due to the difficulty many motorists were having finding reasonable meals and accommodation while on the road, the AA introduces a new scheme to include “about one thousand of the leading hotels” in the 1909 Members’ Handbook; and to indicate these appointed hotels by a newly designed sign. 

1905 – Automobile Association is formed by a small band of motorists with the intention of using a patrol system on main roads to warn motorists of speed traps ahead.

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